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Route 66 & Northern Arizona
Grand Canyon, Red Rocks & Painted Desert
You won’t find much cactus in northern Arizona. The diverse landscape of the northern Grand Canyon State is home to just that, the Grand Canyon – plus other famous national parks, historic sites, and cities like Williams, Sedona, and Winslow. The best part? Most everything is found on Historic Route 66.
AZ Route 66
Known as “The Heart of Historic Route 66,” Kingman is located in northwestern Arizona along what is also referred to as Interstate 40.
Though Kingman is chock-full of small-town charm, the city has been used as a backdrop for various films and television shows – including "The Soprano" and "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas."
Teeming with World War II roots, the Kingman Army Airfield Museum is a former Aerial Gunnery Training Base turned museum, and commemorating all American conflicts.
Operated by the Kingman Army Airfield Historical Society, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday at the Kingman Airport & Industrial Park.
For a real Old West attraction, nearby Oatman is a former mining town set in Arizona’s Black Mountains. Here, visitors may catch a shootout with the Oatman Ghost Riders Gunfighters, try antique shopping, country cooking, or old-timey photo sessions, and even hand-feed wild burros.
Spanning over 2,300 acres and reaching up to over 8,000 feet, the Hualapai Mountain Recreation Area is just 14 miles southeast of Kingman. Developed for hiking and picnics by the CCC, Hualapai – meaning Pine Tree Folk – is a great place to stretch your legs.
Roughly 116 miles east of Kingman along Route 66 – or Interstate 40 – Williams is located in the Kaibab National Forest.
Open throughout the year, Bearizona is a drive-thru wildlife park offering visitors a way to experience wildlife in a natural setting. Drive past the Arctic Wolf, White Bison, Big Horn Sheep, and of course, Black Bear – or get out of the car and interact with the animals through Fort Bearizona and Bearizona Barnyard.
Intersected by Route 66, Historic Old Town Williams is busting with boutique shops, art galleries, souvenir shops, and plenty of roadside restaurants. Downtown Williams also hosts the annual Route 66 Cultural Heritage Days.
Though northern Arizona features hiking, biking, and horseback riding galore, golf finds a home here, too. Head to the 18-hole Elephant Rocks at Williams – a public course with a par of 72 and a 40-tee driving range.
Side Trip: Grand Canyon
Known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, Williams lies just 54 miles south of this famous national park. Take a quick sidetrip to Grand Canyon National Park, or grab seat on the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim.
A U.S. Historic district listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the GCRX connects Williams to the Grand Canyon Village with 2.5-hour scenic ride – and open throughout the year.
Once at the South Rim, be sure to hike the Rim Trail, explore the many visitor centers, and enjoy views of the Grand Canyon from Mohave Point, Hopi Point, Hermit's Point, and more.
About 34 miles east of Williams along I-40, Flagstaff is a busy college town backdropped by the San Francisco Peaks and Humphreys Peak – Arizona’s highest peak. Known as the home of Northern Arizona University, Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area, and a historic downtown district.
Established in 1894, Lowell Observatory is a National Historic Landmark also found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Set on Mars Hill, Lowell still uses the original 61-centimeter Alvan Clark Telescope, plus the Discovery Channel Telescope, Perkins Telescope, John S. Hall Telescope, and more.
Visitors can explore the Steele Visitor Center, sign up for the Pluto Tour or celebrate Pluto Week, or see if you can catch a meteor shower.
An educational city, Flagstaff offers many ways to get to know the heritage of northern Arizona. Start with, of course, the Museum of Northern Arizona, then check out the Riordan Mansion, the Elden Pueblo Heritage Site, the NAU Art Museum, and the Pioneer Museum operated by the Arizona Historical Society.
Flagstaff features skiing, hiking the Coconino National Forest, and golf, but for a unique outdoor undertaking, check out the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course. Found at the Historic Fort Tuthill County Park, this exciting obstacle course is set in through the top of the Ponderosa Pines.
Side Trip: Red Rocks & Old West
You can’t talk northern Arizona with having been to iconic cities like Sedona, Jerome, and Prescott. Take State Route 89A from Flagstaff, where you’ll pass the scenic “Switchbacks,” Oak Creek Canyon, and Slide Rock State Park.
The best example of Red Rock Country, Sedona offers great views of Coffeepot Rock, Cathedral Mountain, Snoopy Rock, and more. Get a closer look with the famed Pink Jeep Tours, or head downtown for shopping, restaurants, attractions like the Sedona Arts Center and the Chapel of the Holy Cross – all followed by dessert at the Sedona Fudge Company.
Continue on 89A to Cottonwood, home to Tuzigoot National Monument, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, and of course, a quaint downtown district.
AZ Route 66
Continue to Jerome, an elevated tourist destination featuring great art galleries, wine, boutiques, and restaurants. Make your way to the top of Cleopatra Hill and check out Jerome State Historic Park, the Mine Museum, and Audrey Headframe Park.
Known as the country’s largest ghost town, Jerome also features Ghost Town Tours, Haunted Hamburger, The Spirit Room, Jerome Ghost Pepper Co., and more.
Stay on 89A to Prescott, Arizona’s original Capital City and pronounced to rhyme with “biscuit.” A truly Old West town, Prescott yields the Phippen Museum, Sharlot Hall Museum, and the legendary Whiskey Row.
Former stomping grounds of the Wyatts and Doc Holiday – and filming site of Steve McQueen’s rodeo hit “Junior Bonner” – Whiskey Row offers The Palace, Jersey Lily Saloon, and plenty of shopping.
For those traveling with kids, try the Courthouse Square, old-fashioned ice cream parlors, and the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary.
Roughly 60 miles east of Flagstaff on Historic Route 66, Winslow is yet another charming, northern Arizona city – teeming with Native American, Old West, and even Rock 'n' Roll heritage and attractions.
Set 20 miles west, the 2.4-mile-wide Meteor Crater is known as the world’s best preserved meteorite crater site – and what an impressive site it is. A National Natural Landmark also known as the Barringer Crater, the crater features guided tours, a Visitor Center, and the Astronaut Memorial Park.
Winslow may sound familiar if you’re an Eagles fan. The setting for the song “Take It Easy,” Winslow is now home to the Standin' on the Corner Park & Mural, a public park featuring a two-story mural and bronze statue depicting the hit song’s lyrics.
This is quite the photo op – and all surrounded by Winslow art galleries, restaurants, and shopping.
Just north of Winslow, Homolovi State Park preserves more than 300 Ancestral Puebloan archaeological spots, plus a visitor center and guided tours. Visitors may utilize six miles of onsite trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback ridiing, and wildlife viewing.
Just 34 miles east of Winslow, Holbrook and a natural and human history hotspot. With tough Old West roots thanks to Bucket of Blood Street and the annual Old Western Days, and plenty of dinosaur sightings, Holbrook is the perfect city to end our tour.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Historic Navajo County Courthouse & Museum is located in downtown Holbrook. Housed in the Historic Navajo County Courthouse built in 1898, this Old West Museum features archives, artifacts, and exhibits on Arizona and the American West.
Historic Route 66, Holbrook’s Main Street, and other stretches offer up unique shopping and dining. Be sure to visit the iconic Wigwams, Rainbow Rock Shop, El Rancho Restaurant, Wayside Café, and more.
Known as the Gateway to the Petrified National Forest, Holbrook is the closest city to the illustrious Petrified Forest National Park. Covering over 220,000 acres, the park features petroglyphs, stunning petrified wood, and a vibrant badlands area known as the Painted Desert. Explore the Painted Desert Visitor Center, the Rainbow Forest Museum, and the Painted Desert Inn – a National Historic Landmark.
Outdoor activities include hiking the Painted Desert Rim Trail, and other paths near the Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, and more. Horseback riding and the Historic Route 66 Geocaching Project are also available to visitors.