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A Grand Canyon November visit can be a rewarding experience. The summer crowds are gone and the weather is beautiful: chilly at night and mild during the day. A trip to the Grand Canyon is one of the best road trips in Arizona, so consider visiting when you’ll have more of the park to yourself.

According to the National Park Service, in an average year the Grand Canyon gets a smaller number of visitors in the late fall than in the park’s busiest months in summer. And we mean a significantly smaller number: in 2019 there were roughly 300,000 fewer visitors in the November than in either July or August. That translates to 10,000 less people per day. Which means there’s a LOT more space to enjoy the park. [NOTE: Statistics are similar for most prior years; 2020 visitation numbers are all out-of-whack due to the COVID-19 pandemic.]

Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park with snow-Grand Canyon November
A little bit of snow and a whole lotta space to yourself at the Grand Canyon in November

What is the Grand Canyon weather in November?

Grand canyon National Park entry sign

Temperatures at the Grand Canyon in November range from a high of 52 to a low of 27 degrees (Farenhiet). We visited in late November during Thanksgiving Week and were surprised to see a bit of snow. While it was a brisk 42 degrees, between plowing and solar melt the roads were very clear so there was no problem getting around. In a strange phenomenon, when it snows at the Grand Canyon by the time it gets to the lower elevation canyon floor the snow has melted and becomes rain.

Is the Grand Canyon North Rim open in November?

Yes, but only for day visits. Due to its higher elevation (more than 8,000 feet), the North Rim gets more snow. All park services at the North Rim close October 15 and do not reopen until May 15. Anyone looking to make a Grand Canyon November visit should probably focus on visiting the South Rim.

So now that you know you’ll experience less crowds and mild-to-chilly weather, what’s so special about visiting in November? We’ve put together a list of expert tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon in late fall:

Spend more time at the Overlooks

standing at an overlook of the Grand Canyon November
Lots of space to yourself on a Grand Canyon November visit. Full disclosure: this is NOT at the edge–just a creative photography angle 😉)

In the summer months the overlooks are jam-packed with people, making it difficult to appreciate the majesty of the view in front of you. However, with much fewer people around at the Grand Canyon November it’s easier to get a front-row view of the canyon in all its glory. The view is so massive and so magnificent it’s impossible to absorb it all in a single glance and quick snap of your camera. Stop. Breathe. Look around. This is truly one of the wonders of the world–take the time to savor it.

One the joys of visiting in November is with so few people you can go back to the same spot hours later just to see how the shifting light changes the view. (This is awesome for photography buffs!)

Stay right in the park (or near the entrance)

It’s easier to get a room in (or very near) the park in November

This sounds like a no-brainer, but anyone who’s tried to get a reservation at one of the park lodges (or even within a few miles of the park entrance) during high season knows you have to book waaaaaay ahead of time, making it almost impossible. Not so with a Grand Canyon November stay, when less crowds also translates into more hotel rooms. For our most recent trip we visited the park during Thanksgiving week (although not during Thanksgiving itself).

The historic El Tovar Hotel was full (that hotel always books up way ahead), but we were still able to book a room at the nearby Yavapai Lodge (also in the park) just a few weeks prior to our trip. We were within walking distance of the rim path, which meant we could stroll along and view the canyon by moonlight. It was a magical moment: gazing out at the Grand Canyon as the multi-colored layers of ancient rock were kissed by a glimmer of silvery moonlight with absolutely no one else there to spoil the view . . . and talk about QUIET! I’m convinced you can hear the pine cones grow.

Interior of the El Tovar Hotel is much less crowded in the fall. And doesn’t that fire look cozy?

Even if the park lodges are full, you still have a pretty good chance to score a room at one of the hotels in nearby Tusayan, which is just outside of the park’s South Entrance Station. The park is open 24 hours a day, so you can still make the short drive to the rim for that moonlight stroll.

When staying in or nearby the park, you also have an opportunity to view the canyon at sunrise on your Grand Canyon November visit. If you’re an early riser, that is. [Full disclosure: we opted to sleep in, and have breakfast with a view instead . . .see below]

Have breakfast with a view of the Grand Canyon

Imagine nibbling on this while looking at the Grand Canyon!

You might not be able to get a room at the El Tovar hotel during your Grand Canyon November visit, but the next best thing is to have breakfast there. The classic grand El Tovar Dining Room serves up a morning meal that’s a notch or two above classic breakfast fare, all with a view over the Grand Canyon

On our last visit we enjoyed buttermilk pancakes with Arizona prickly pear syrup and pan-seared rainbow trout with eggs. Sitting in the log-paneled room with a fire crackling by the picture windows with soft music in the background was delightful. It was a cosy and delicious way to watch the morning sun play over the canyon’s walls.

Note: The El Tovar Dining room does not take breakfast reservations, however there are rarely long waits for a table in November.

The view from our breakfast table at the EL Tovar Hotel. Okay, so not everyone was impressed with the view like we were.

See the Grand Canyon with snow

Rare view of architect Mary Colter’s 1932 Desert View Watchtower in the snow

At an elevation of 7,000 feet the Grand Canyon November weather can be surprising, with mild daytime temperatures dipping to below freezing at night. But those chilly temperatures can yield a wonderful surprise: on our first morning we woke up to snow dusting the ground. We were treated to rare vistas of snow in the Grand Canyon and a few people (okay, I was one of them) had fun tossing snowballs into the gaping maw. That is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Even though it snows the roads are clear.

Grand Canyon November: Dress in Layers!

Layered clothing-down jacket over thermal turtleneck

Those wide swings in temperature mean different clothing needs throughout the day. Unless you’re sleeping in a tent, you don’t want your Grand Canyon November trip to involve packing a bulky coat you only wear for an evening stroll.

Our advice: dress in layers. We like base layers in both silk and merino wool. They’re thin and lightweight, yet amazingly warm. You’ll still be warm and cozy, but you’ll have more room in your suitcase for souvenirs. And since there’s a chance you might get snow, it’s a good idea to wear shoes (or boots) that are waterproof or water resistant. (And layer with wool socks to keep your tootsies warm 😊)

Free Admission on Veterans Day

If you’re planning a Grand Canyon November trip, it’s good to remember that admission to the park is free on Veteran’s Day! In addition to the many battlefields and memorials that are national treasures, the National Park Service says, “every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the ideals, and the freedoms that our veterans protect.” Thus, they honor our veterans and active military by making the park (and all National Parks!) free to EVERYONE on that day. Way cool.

Please note: Free admission is only valid on Veteran’s Day itself. The regular admission to the park ($35 per vehicle) is good for 7 days. If you are planning to spend more than just Veteran’s day at the park, you’ll still need to pay for the additional days. Also, keep in mind that while visitor traffic during most of November is typically low, there may be slightly bigger crowds on free admission days such as Veteran’s Day. (However there will still likely be less people than during the busy summer months.)

Snow on the rim of the Grand Canyon in late November.

There are 6 expert tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon November vacation. The Grand Canyon is so spectacular you’ll want to enjoy every moment there. Hopefully these tips will help you do so.

What are your tips for visiting the Grand Canyon in the late fall? If you’ve got any thoughts, click the “contact us” tab and send us a note–we’d love to hear from you!

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There are plenty of motels and hotels on Route 66 in Arizona. But a select few really kick it up a notch in the “atmosphere” department. If you’re taking a road trip in Arizona and you want the full “get your kicks” experience, check out one of these motels and hotels on Route 66 in Arizona.

Some motels have a vintage homey charm, where you half-expect someone’s grandma to pour you a cup o’ joe. Others are more traditional motels that have really taken the Route 66 theme seriously, with giant murals and lots of neon. A few are vintage buildings that have been converted to charming inns. One hotel on Route 66 is a luxury property that dates back to the mother road’s earliest days . . . when taking the train was as popular as a road trip! And then there are the tepees . . .

All of these motels and hotels on Route 66 in Arizona are on (or very near) Old Route 66. So when staying here, you can immerse yourself in that old midcentury experience of taking a classic American Road Trip!

Two 1950s classic cars parked in front of the Wigwam motel

The motels are listed from east to west below:

Motels on Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona

Holbrook is the easternmost town on Route 66 in Arizona where there are cool retro places to stay. This town is about 20 miles west of Petrified Forest National Park and The Painted Desert. That makes Holbrook a great place to stay if you want to spend time exploring those two magnificent parks.

Brad’s Desert Inn

Front of Brads Desert Inn motel, painted mustard yellow with neon signs and cowboy motif out front

Rated 8.4/10 on Booking.com

Brad’s Desert Inn is retro-chic with modern touches. This classic Route 66 motel was purchased by Peter Schmidt, an Austrian with hotel management experience who loves the American west 🤠. The outside is painted desert gold, and bedecked with all sorts of western paraphernalia. The rooms have thematic touches, such as full wall murals of trains or desert scenes, and cozy western blankets.

Reserve on Booking.com

The Wigwam Motel

antique cars in front of kitschy teepee motel rooms route 66 holbrook arizona

Rated 4.5/5 on Google

The uber-retro Wigwam has been family-owned and operated by the Lewis family since it was built in 1950. The rooms are in concrete tepees (not wigwams, go figure), and furnished with updated updated western-style hickory furniture. Classic cars parked outside of each unit give you that “midcentury feel,” even if you’re driving a boring old rental car. Reserve direct with the hotel: 928-524-3028.

Looking for other places to stay in Holbrook? Check all hotels and compare prices across booking sites with Hotels Combined.

Hotels on Route 66 in Arizona: Winslow

Long before Glenn Frey of the Eagles sang about “a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford” in the song Take it Easy, Winslow, Arizona was a natural stopping point on old Route 66. In addition to roadside motels, Winslow also boasts one of the best hotels on Route 66 in Arizona: La Posada. During your stay here, Be sure to allow time to visit “Standin’ on a Corner” park, which commemorates the famous song.

La Posada Hotel & Gardens

Rated 9.1/10 on Booking.com

Arguably the grandest hotel on Route 66 in Arizona, La Posada opened in 1930 for guests traveling west on the railroad. It’s been renovated recently and is decorated in a traditional old southwest style, with lots of adobe and Mexican tile. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens and has galleries featuring southwestern art. If you want to treat yourself during your route 66 road trip, this is the place!

Reserve on Booking.com

Earl’s Route 66 Motor Court

hotels on route 66 in Arizona at night with neon lights

Rated 4.9/5 on Google

Earl’s has been locally owned since it opened in 1953. Current owners Blas Sanchez and Angela Archibeque both grew up in Winslow. (Angela worked at La Posada as a teen!) The atmosphere is a cross between retro-motel and grandma’s spare bedroom, which is just how the owners like it. Wonderful old two-tone tile bathrooms and handmade quilts offer a cosy stop in a true relic from bygone days.

Contact the hotel directly for reservations: (928) 224-0161

Looking for other places to stay in Winslow? Check all hotels and compare prices across booking sites with Hotels Combined.

Flagstaff, Arizona Route 66 motels

Flagstaff is the largest of the towns with hotels on Route 66 in Arizona, an as such there are a lot of places to stay here. Over the years many of the wonderful old roadside motels that used to line Route 66 on either end of town have been replaced by modern hotels. They’re all nice places to stay, but they don’t have that retro vibe you might be craving. Fortunately, there are still a few spots that offer that “get your kicks” ambience.

Flagstaff makes a great base if your planning to explore some of the many fabulous Arizona National Monuments nearby, such as Sunset Crater Vocano, Waupatki and Walnut Canyon.

Super 8 by Wyndham Flagstaff

Rated 8.0/10 on Booking.com

Although it’s a chain property, this motel on Route 66 has really gone the extra mile to provide some atmosphere. The well-maintained exterior of the building is clad with wonderful Tudor-style beams and the interior is freshly decorated in earth tones that will have you thinking the Brady Bunch are staying in the room next door. Massive Arizona-themed photos above the bed complete the, er, picture.

Reserve on Booking.com

Little America Hotel

Rated 9.3/10 on Booking.com

A soaring peaked roof with beamed ceiling tucked among the pines give the Little America Hotel a feeling of a western wilderness lodge. The lobby has a chic midcentury design and the rooms have beautiful natural wood slab headboards. This full-service hotel is located just a few hundred yards off Route 66, and its got great atmosphere, so we felt it should be on the list. 😊

Reserve on Booking.com

Looking for other places to stay in Flagstaff? Check all hotels and compare prices across booking sites with Hotels Combined.

Hotels in Williams, Arizona on Route 66

Williams is a wonderful old town on Route 66 that has a combination midcentury/old west feel. Williams is also the closest town to the main entrance of Grand Canyon National Park (which is a scant 50 miles away!). Of all the towns with hotels on route 66 in Arizona, Williams may have the most per capita. The proximity to the park, as well as the many tour operators nearby, makhttps://www.booking.com/hotel/us/rodeway-inn-suites-downtowner-rte-66.en.html?aid=2147336&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2es Williams a good stopover point on your Arizona Route 66 road trip.

The Lodge on Route 66

Motel on route 66 in Arizona with Front porch with bent willow furniture

Rated 8.6/10 on Booking.com

This is a midcentury motor court that’s been updated with 2020s country charm. Rooms are decorated with wood and wrought iron details that would be right at home on a local ranch. The owners have created cosy “living room” in the center of the courtyard, complete with outdoor fireplace. Settle yourself in the bent willow chairs on the front porch alongside a few painted tin roosters and watch Route 66 roll on by.

Reserve on Booking.com


Grand Canyon Hotel

Brick and stucco front of Grand Canyon Hotel on route 66

Rated 8.5/10 on Booking.com

Get a double dose of history when staying at the Grand Canyon Hotel. Opened in 1891, it’s the oldest hotel in Arizona, dating back to the days when Williams was a logging and mining town. It was revitalized when Route 66 became a popular route west. Rooms are furnished with period (mostly Victorian) antiques. Several rooms have lofts and/or bunks, which are great for families.

Reserve on Booking.com

Rodeway Inn & Suites Downtowner

Front of hotel on route 66 in Arizona

Rated 8.2/10 on Booking.com

Come on, with a name like the “Downtowner” don’t you just have to check it out? (Or maybe more accurately, check in?) This classic old motor court on Route 66 is now part of the Rodeway chain, but still retains a lot of unique charm. Rooms have an updated 50’s vibe–think Marilyn & Elvis–and the exterior architecture is right out of “Leave it to Beaver” . . . in a good way.

Reserve on Booking.com


Red Garter Inn

Hotel room with 2 double beds, high ceilings and victorian furniture

Rated 9.1/10 on Booking.com

It’s not every day you get to stay in a former bordello! The Red Garter was built for that purpose in 1895. The building on Route 66 went through several changes before it was reopened–this time as a respectable place of lodging!–in 1994. Victorian-style rooms are named for former “hostesses” and feature period touches, like clawfoot tubs. There is a bakery and cafe downstairs for breakfast and light meals.

Reserve on Booking.com

Looking for other places to stay in Williams? Check all hotels and compare prices across booking sites with Hotels Combined.

Seligman motels on Route 66

No road trip on Route 66 in Arizona would be complete without passing through Seligman, Arizona. Said to be the inspiration for the fictitious town of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars, Seligman is a little slice of road trip nostaligia. Spend the night at one of these cool retro motels, and you might just meet Tow-mater (or a bruuther, or a cuhzin . . . )

Historic Route 66 Motel

Lit up neon sign of Historic Route 66 motel, Seligman Arizona

Rated 8.4/10 on Booking.com

This traditional motel, right on route 66 in Seligman, Arizona channels “Radiator Springs.” The decor of the rooms is pretty classic “motel style,” with some Route 66, automotive, and Harley paraphernalia to spruce it up. Be sure to have a meal in the adjacent Road Kill Cafe (no judgement!)

Reserve on Booking.com

Deluxe Inn

Room at Deluxe Inn Seligman Arizona, showing bed with Route 66 bedspread and Marilyn Monroe photo

Rated 8.5/10 on Booking.com

Who can resist a place with such a swanky name? (Don’t you just wanna say “Dee-luxe”? 😉 ) With it’s geometric sign out front and 50s memorabilia in the rooms–not to mention a Route 66 bedspread–you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back to 1956 . . . except now there’s A/C and wifi!

Reserve on Booking.com

Looking for other places to stay in Seligman? Check all hotels and compare prices across booking sites with Hotels Combined.

Kingman, Arizona Route 66 hotels

Kingman is the westernmost town with motels and hotels on Route 66 in Arizona where there are places to stay. There are some cool Route 66 Attractions here, including the Arizona Route 66 Museum and the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum. Kingman is also only about 75 miles from Hoover Dam, making it a great place to stop for a night or two.

El Trovatore Motel

Midcentury El Trovatore Motel sign, red and white, Kingman, Arizona route 66

Rated 8.1/10 on Booking.com

The El Trovatore is worth a visit just for its signage. Between the giant geometric marker out front and the neon-lit radio-style tower on the bluff behind the original 1937 building, you’ll have no trouble finding it. Themed rooms are decorated in a 50s-glam-hollywood style complete with gold brocade bedspreads. Wowza!

Reserve on Booking.com

Super 8 by Wyndham Kingman

Hotel with 2 double beds, bright yellow walls, large black & white desert murals above beds, route 66 Arizona

Rated 7.1/10 on Booking.com

A little more understated than some of the other hotels on this list, the Super 8 by Wyndham still manages evoke some Route 66 road trip atmosphere. Giant black-and-white desert murals over the bed serve as a reminder of the local terrain, while the neon-yellow color scheme transports you right into midcentury America.

Reserve on Booking.com

Looking for other places to stay in Kingman? Check all hotels and compare prices across booking sites with Hotels Combined.

Which of these fabulous motels and hotels on Route 66 in Arizona would YOU like to stay in on your next trip? It’ll really help get you in the mood!


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One of the more recent additions along the so-called “Mother Road” is the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum. Located in Kingman, Arizona, the museum opened in 2014. It’s billed as “the only museum in the world devoted to electric vehicles.”

It seems fitting that Route 66, the ultimate Road Trip route, should have a car museum on it. Kingman is part of the longest continuous remaining stretch in of the original Route 66. The Powerhouse complex contains multiple attractions to augment a museum visit. In addition to the auto museum, inside you’ll fine the Kingman Visitors Center, Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and Route 66 Museum.

electric race car, route 66 electric vehicle museum arizona
The electric-powered Buckeye Bullet

The birth of the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum

The Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum is the brainchild of Roderick Wilde. Wilde founded the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation with support from the city of Kingman. A long-time proponent of electric propulsion, Wilde started racing electric vehicles in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway. In 1995, he and his business partner Bob Rickard built what is considered the first all-electric hot rod. They fabricated the canary-yellow car, which is now in the museum, on a 1929 Ford Roadster.

Bright yellow street rod with battery engine
Looks like a classic street rod . . . until you peek under the hood

En route to the electric cars, visitors detour through the Route 66 Museum. This museum highlights the history of the historic road. View exhibits from its days as the National Old Trails Highway up through mid-century. with a 1950 Studebaker Champion parked outside a reproduction Richfield service station. The museum exits via descent into an indoor basketball court-sized space to see the electric cars. Due to the relatively tight quarters, Wilde can only display 30 cars at any one time. The museum’s has almost 1,0 cars in its collection. One of the goals is to find larger space to showcase the entire collection.

Light color brick powerhouse building with cars parked out front
The Powerhouse, home of the Route 66 Electric Vehicle museum; photo courtesy of Jared via Flickr

Electric Cars & a Need for Speed (sort of)

You can view both former and current electric vehicle technology at the museum.

A 1930 Detroit Electric represents “what might have been” for the future of automotive propulsion. It was powered by 14 (count em!) 6-volt Edison batteries. Thanks to all this “power,” it reached a top speed of 20 mph. Not exactly ground-breaking, but batteries were in their infancy back then. Who knows what efficiencies and technological improvements might have been achieved with greater development funding?

White Detroit Electric Antique car
Hard to believe there were electric cars 90 years ago

Flash forward about 80 years. Ohio State University students built the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 racecar (also on display). Because it was powered by lithium-ion batteries, the the car could go much faster than than it’s ancestor from the 1930s. The Buckeye Bullet zipped up to a staggering 320 mph (!) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2011.

Sleek electric race car, route 66 electric vehicle museum arizona
Not hard to believe this beauty can reach speeds of over 300 mph!

Not so speedy, but they work . . .

Because electric vehicles represent an alternate energy source, they’ve taken a few detours finding practical application.

One of Wilde’s favorite pieces in the collection is the Custer Chair, manufactured between 1919 and 1933. As the name implies, it resembles a motorized tricycle version of a wheelchair. Since few survived World War II scrap metal drives, the model on display here is a rarity.

Luzern Custer developed the Custer Chair. His friend and business neighbor in Dayton, Ohio–Orville Wright–inspired his invention. Custer also produced four-wheel versions of the chair. Because of its diminutive size, Wilde describes the Custer as “the smallest street-licensed vehicle ever made. The license plate is wider than the front of the car!” Not surprisingly, many Custers were later sold as amusement park rides.

A rare example of a Custer Chair

Not so speedy . . . but they’re fun!

You can find many electric vehicles out and about . . . if you know where to look. Due to their small batteries and low speeds, the majority are golf carts. Here, they are represented in style with two tricked-out versions from country music greats: Waylon & Willie. Willie Nelson’s 1981 Rolls-Royce themed golf cart comes complete with an on-board wet bar. And why wouldn’t you stitch “Willie” on the crushed velvet seats? Sitting right alongside it, Waylon Jennings’ Mercedes-Benz-themed model seems almost tame by comparison.

Red golf cart with Rolls Royce front grille
Willie’s “Rolls” & Waylon’s “Benz” electric golf carts

Electric cars on Route 66

But the museum is much more than one-off racecars and quirky golf carts. If you follow the automotive industry you know that electric vehicles are very much the wave of the future. The Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum gives us a glimpse into cars that paved the way for today’s Teslas and Chevy Volts and the like.

In 1959 and 1960 Henney Motor Company produced the Henney Kilowatt. US-based Henney Motor Company built the cars using Renault Daphine bodies. Henney delivered a few dozen Kilowatts were to utility companies for promotional purposes, but the line never sparked much interest. Despite low-wattage sales, its transistor-based electric technology was a precursor to electric vehicles like GM’s EV1.

Henney Kilowatt electric car at the museum on route 66
The midcentury Henney Kilowatt

Fun Fact: Henney Motor Company invented first electric-powered casket mover—a niche market it there ever was one.

Moving up to the 1990s, we can see two odd-looking cars that demonstrate the evolution of the three-wheeled Personal Electric Vehicle (PEV). A Danish 1993 Citycom City El Targa had a range of 30 miles with a top speed of 35 mph. Corbin produced the turquoise Sparrow sitting next to it Ohio from 1999 through 2003. With an MSRP of $29,999 its range expanded to 40 miles with a top speed of 70 mph. Due to its sinewy lines, it earned the nickname the “Jelly Bean.”

Electric cars at the route 66 electric vehicle museum
A pretty lil’ turquoise Corbin Sparrow, with a red City El Targa just beyond

What’s next . . .

The Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum explores the possibilities of electric propulsion for the future. As recent announcements from the Big 3 automakers show, “Detroit” and “Electric” can once again be uttered in the same sentence. Tesla continues to make progress, and the technology appears to finally be emerging from its former role as a quirky sidecar to the mainstream automotive industry. The industry’s eccentric forbears warrant a visit.

After your visit, stroll across the Mother Road to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. The retro café has a few classics parked out front, including a wedge-shaped electric circa 1980 Comuta-Car and a decidedly non-electric 1954 Chevy pickup truck.

old chevy pickup, bright blue, with funny electric car in background
The “Tow Mater”-like chevy pickup is definitely NOT electric!

If you’re hankering to see more of Route 66, check out our Route 66 in Arizona post! And if you really love classic cars, check out our Road Trip Through Arizona post, where we showcase classic cars “in the wild”!

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There is no more iconic road in America than Route 66. To experience the best that the “Mother Road” has to offer, take a road trip on Route 66 in Arizona. Here, the 300-mile drive offers most of what makes this travel back in time so memorable. You’ll see National Parks like the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Wayside villages that seem lost in time have Route 66 running right through them. Ruins of abandoned sights from yesteryear and sterling desert scenery that pop out at every turn. Best of all, it’s under that cerulean blue high desert sky. You can even take a side trip to a giant hole in the ground known as the Grand Canyon. 😉

Best way to travel Route 66 in Arizona

The rise of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s obliterated many classic old U.S. highways and Route 66 is no exception. These days Interstate 40 is now the main east/west transit way across northern Arizona. Despite this, traces of the old road still exist. Therefore, it’s still possible to cobble together a ride that would reenact cruising along Route 66 in Arizona in the pre-superhighway era.

There are many miles where I-40 actually overlays the original Route 66 in Arizona. Typically, this is in wide-open stretches where there isn’t much to see beyond Arizona’s wide open skies. Old Route 66 detours are generally near towns or other points of interest. Because of the combination of 21st century highway and old US route, you have the benefit of motoring through the desert and slowing down for the interesting bits. In short, a perfect Arizona road trip! 😃

Green road sign showing directions to Payson and Winslow Arizona

Although you can make this journey in either direction, we recommend traveling from east to west. By doing this, you’re traveling in the footsteps (or tire treads) of the Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl in Depression-era America. Imagine encountering the harsh landscape when they set their weary eyes on the Arizona desert for the first time. It must have looked like the parched land they were fleeing. Fortunately, we modern day travelers can glide along in air-conditioned comfort to experience one of America’s most iconic road trips.

And if you really want to get into the road trip spirit, be sure to check out our recommendations for hotels on route 66 in Arizona. They’re all super-atmospheric, either mid-century motels, historic properties, or contemporary hotels that have taken the “route 66 in Arizona” theme seriously. Check them out, and get your kicks!


Visiting the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

Rusted out antique car in desert

About 50 miles west of the New Mexico border you’ll come to Petrified Forest National Park (I-40 exit 311). The park is smack-dab in the middle of the Painted Desert. Polychromatic layers of red, yellow, purple, green, and grey sand in the Painted Desert. Formed more than 200 million years ago, these colorful striations reveal the history of the formation of the earth. A section of the Painted Desert is conveniently located right in the Petrified Forest National Park. Here, nature lovers are awed by psychedelically colored mineralized logs that looks like tie dye t-shirts turned to stone. They are the remnants of an ancient forest of tall conifers dating from when dinosaurs rumbled through the area.

Rust-colored petrified log lying amid gray stones

Sleep in a Tepee on Route 66 in Arizona

Paint peeling on "Sleep in a Wigwam" sign with concrete teepee in background route 66 in Arizona

After a day of exploring the outdoors, lay your head down at a rare vestige of mid-century Route 66 travel: The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook that’s located on the old Route 66 (now known as West Hopi Drive/Route 40). Built in 1950, travelers sleep in 28-foot-tall fully furnished concrete teepees with classic cars parked outside each one. It’s a unique experience that hearkens back to early American road trips. (Yes, despite the name of the motel, they are teepees, not wigwams.)

antique cars in front of kitschy teepee motel rooms route 66 holbrook arizona

At dusk, cruise slowly along the main drag of Holbrook to view surviving vintage neon signs as they flicker to life for the night, providing a spectral glow to the streetscape. One of those signs is a pulsing beacon for the Roxy Theater, opened in 1954 it’s the only operating movie theater along Route 66 in Arizona so you can even take in a film. Stop in for a some Mexican & American Food at Joe & Aggie’s Cafe. Pink and neon outside, wood-paneled inside, this mid-century spot is perfect for a burger . . . or huevos rancheros . . .or both! 😋

Joe and Aggie's Mexican Cafe

Winslow: Standin’ on a Corner

Route 66 sign on roadbed, Winslow Arizona

For the town of Winslow, Arizona, Route 66 connections are serious. The town has painted giant route markers on the main street. Here you’ll find an intersection made famous in the Eagles’ hit song Take it Easy. Jackson Browne penned the famous line: “Well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see.” The town commemorated this lyric with a statue of a folk singer representing Browne. (And recently added a statue of the late Eagles singer Glenn Frey.) They are staring at “a girl, my lord” in an actual flame-red 1960 Ford flatbed pickup truck.

Statue of folk singer with front of ford pickup in foreground, Winslow Arizona route 66

One block east of the intersection is a relic of old Route 66 in Arizona, the La Posada Hotel. For a true trip back in time stop in for either a meal or for the night. Designed by Mary Colter, the Fred Harvey Company built the hotel in 1930. Many credit The Harvey Company with civilizing the rough-and-tumble American southwest. Art galleries throughout the building are open to the public and range from traditional southwestern motifs to the truly bizarre.

The elegant La Posada Hotel in Winslow; photo courtesy DesignsbyKari via Flickr

Arizona Route 66 Attractions

Thirty-five miles west of Winslow you’ll come across a poignant reminder of the hopes and dreams both travelers and those who served them on Route 66 in Arizona. Two giant 25-foot long yellow arrows with red arrowheads and feathers are thrust into the ground at a sixty-degree angle, marking the ruins of the old Twin Arrows Trading Post. Only the abandoned, graffiti-scarred buildings remain of this former business that attracted generations of road weary travelers.

On this section of the road Humphreys Peak a constant marker off to the north. At 12,633 feet it’s the highest point in Arizona and is snow-capped for much of the year.


Flagstaff: a Route 66 road trip midpoint

Tudor-style train station building along railroad tracks

The next major town, Flagstaff, is the halfway point of a Route 66 road trip in Arizona. Stroll around the old Western town, which has a cool Victorian vibe. Be mindful that you are now at nearly 7,000 feet in elevation and may feel the effects. Be sure to visit the Flagstaff Visitor Center, which also has a terrific Route 66 gift shop. It’s located in the old train station along Route 66 just south of town. Trains still pass by just outside, you’ll definitely hear the “toot, TOOT!” 🚂

Orange freight train engines alongside teal streetlamps

In 2001, Flagstaff became the first International Dark Sky Place, providing stargazers with incredible sights. Head over to the Lowell Observatory, where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930, for nighttime constellation tours.

For nightlife of another kind, the Museum Club on the eastern approach to Flagstaff has been a honky tonk bar offering up country music fare—Willie Nelson and Wanda Jackson have performed here—since the 1930s. Two step through the giant inverted forked ponderosa marking the entryway and enter a décor festooned with wagon wheels, animal trophy heads and Native American artifacts, all underneath a wooden ceiling supported by tree trunks that are so large you can’t even hug them. 


Williams: Old-School Arizona (& gateway to the Grand Canyon)

For a classic road trip stop along Route66, Willams, Arizona fits the bill. The town, also known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, has some great Old route 66 attractions on its own. For a “good old American steak dinner,” head to the circa 1946 Rod’s Steak House. Look for the building with the large steer perched on top. The interior is so old school you’ll be forgiven for thinking you left your ’57 Chevy out in the parking lot.

building with statue of cow in front

Seligman Arizona: Route 66 starts here

No trip along Route 66 in Arizona would be complete without passing through Seligman. There’s nary a stoplight in this town that got bypassed by the interstate, but it’s well worth a stop anyway. Seligman is known as “the birthplace of Historic Route 66” due tohistoric preservation efforts by local barber Angel Delgadillo. Along with other local residents, he spearheaded efforts to have the road declared a historic highway by the state of Arizona. Along with some awesomely retro motels and memorabilia shops, there are some wonderful old cars scattered around. (Seligman is said to be the inspiration for the fictional town of Radiator Springs in the movie Cars.) You might even get to meet Tow Mater!

Tow Mater look-alike (or inspiration!) in Seligman, AZ. Photo courtesy of Scott Blackwell via Flickr

Route 66 Kingman, Arizona: Classic cars & museums

End your Route 66 in Arizona journey just 30 miles from the California border with a stay in Kingman, a town that’s part of the longest continuous remaining stretch of the original Route 66. The 1907 brick Powerhouse Building contains multiple attractions to augment a Route 66 journey with the Kingman Visitors Center, Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, Route 66 Museum, and Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum.

Red and blue neon sign stating “route 66 museum”

The Route 66 Museum highlights the historic road, from the early days of the National Old Trails Road up through mid-century, with a 1950 Studebaker Champion parked outside a reproduction Richfield service station.

After your visit, stroll across the Mother Road to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. The retro café has a few classic cars parked out front, including a wedge-shaped electric circa 1980 Comuta-Car and a decidedly non-electric 1954 Chevy pickup truck.

Old diner with antique pickup truck in front

For one last touch of the Arizona portion of historic Route 66, spend the night at the El Trovatore Motel. Welcoming guests since 1939, you can’t miss the “El Trovatore” neon sign that soars 100-feet in the air like a large radio tower marking the place. Take a look at the 200-foot-long Route 66 map (billed as the world’s longest) painted on the outside of the building and review all the places you’ve visited. It’s nice to know that in the modern era of the Internet and selfie sticks, intrepid travelers can still embark on a classic Route 66 road trip.


Bonus: How to Find the Original Historic Route 66 in Arizona

While much of the original Route 66 in Arizona was covered over by Interstate 40, there are still remnants of the original road that snake around back country rock formations and canyons and through old towns that were bypassed by the modern highway. In fact, in-town sections of the route often reveal the most highlights from the old days. To find the original Route 66 we recommend the Route 66: EZ Guide for Travelers by Jerry McClanahan. This spiral-bound book provides detailed drawing and descriptions of the multiple routes of historic Route 66 while pointing out all the sights of interest along the way.

This road trip on Route 66 in Arizona is only one of many great itineraries you can explore. For more ideas, check our complete list of Arizona road trips–you can mix and match them to make up your own perfect trip!

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