Flagstaff-Route 66 

Formerly the only road west, Route 66 is now more of a memory than a journey, but the route will always remain the most revered two lane road in America. Route 66 gained historical status in 1988 and since then its popularity has skyrocketed as its importance to America’s western development is more widely recognized. 

In Arizona, where you can vacation any season of the year, the stretch of the original “Mother Road” might be the most picturesque along the entire Route 66. From the lush, green forests and historic buildings to the 50,000 year old meteor crater, northern Arizona’s piece of Route 66 is packed full of nostalgic, natural and cultural experiences.

Some visitors, believing the “Mother Road” should be done slowly, taking time to savor the sites and sounds, set aside months to drive the entire length. View highlights and photos of a short, three day exploration around Flagstaff, Arizona — enjoy as we did.

day 1 – Phoenix to Flagstaff Under clear blue skies Open Road Tours shuttled us from the Sonoran Desert floor up into the higher, cooler Pinon Pine forests and Flagstaff, where we began our leisurely journey back into time on famous Route 66. Traveled west at an elevation of about 6,700 feet, for about 25 miles along Historic Route 66 to visit Williams. The town, population almost 3000, made famous by the Bill Williams Mountain Men and Buckskinners, maintains its western heritage while celebrating its Route 66 history. Most buildings were constructed in the early 1900’s and are being carefully preserved. The town’s past history comes to life in bits and pieces through the signage still visible around town.

Williams is the headquarters of the Kaibab National Forest, has 7 lakes & reservoirs that carry trout + other fish, and has produced state, national & world records for hunters of elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

While in Williams, lunched at world famous Rod’s Steakhouse, the oldest continuous restaurant on the “Mother Road”
and had our dessert at Twisters, the 50’s style soda shop.

Returned to Flagstaff to visit the Lowell Observatory go (about one mile west of Flagstaff). Viewed the educational displays, their mini-planetarium show, the original Lowell telescope, (24-inch refractor built in 1896), and the telescope Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto in 1930.

Founded 1894 by Percival Lowell, the observatory is active in research; visitors come year-round to browse exhibits and explore the night sky.

Movies on the Square go A free event and Flagstaff summer highlight. From May through mid-September on Heritage Square in historic downtown, townsfolk and visitors enjoy live entertainment and a feature film under the stars.

Stayed at InnSuites Hotels & Suites Flagstaff go on Route 66, with free full breakfast, internet and late afternoon social hour. day 2 — Flagstaff Breakfasted at Galaxy Diner on well prepared, lip smacking good food and lots of orange juice. This classic 1950s style diner is a blast from the past! “Enjoy ’50s Fun on the Route 66 Run.” Menu favorites include: Potsie’s Potroast, Wolfman Onion Rings. and Chubby Checker Triple Decker.

Flagstaff, Northern Arizona’s attraction hub, is a destination for all seasons. Surrounded by natural wonders, clean mountain air, alpine forests, and scenic vistas, it has a strong Western legacy rooted in the pioneer ranchers, railroad builders and lumbermen who founded the city. Seekers of adventure, natural beauty, and the peaceful solitude of the American West will find it all in Flagstaff.

Toured the historic Train Station, built in 1925, which houses the Flagstaff Visitor Center go, Amtrak and Open Road Tours. Flagstaff’s roots are built around the railway industry; to this day the trains passing through town are a favorite of young and old – offering a unique visitor experience. Open Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm; Sunday 9am-4pm.

Lunched on “pulled pork” sandwich, “sweet potato fries” and beer at the Bigfoot BBQ , as recommended by local residents.

Roamed the historic downtown and took in one day of Flagstaff’s 2 day Route 66 Days Festival. Attracting visitors from all over, the popular celebration takes over the charming historic downtown with a classic car show and competition – this year 300 entries, a craft fair and performances by local bands and some classic ’50’s look-a-likes.

Dined at Salsa Brava’s casual comfortable outdoor patio. Specializing in Guadalajaran-style Mexican dishes with unique guacamole – prepared at table-side, and their own “sangria” recipe. Following the wonderful food with great variety and beautiful presentations, John Conley, the owner/chef created the dessert “Bananas Foster” at the table – a flaming spectacle!

Stopped by the famous roadhouse, Museum Club listed in the National register of Historic Places. Rich in country legends and ghost stories, it is the Southwest’s largest log cabin.

Built in 1931 to house Native American artifacts and a collection of genetically unique animals preserved through taxidermy it later became a nightclub, nicknamed “The Zoo,” where musicians traveling Route 66 stopped to perform. The Museum Club continues to host rising country stars while patrons two-step around the trees or browse in the Route 66 gift shop.

Returned to InnSuites Hotels & Suites Flagstaff in time for late afternoon social hour and reflection on events of the day.

day 3 — Flagstaff to Winslow Drove east to Winslow, a very small community about an hour to the west, made famous by its corner at Second Street and Kinsley Avenue. The site, referred to in the song written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne became The Eagles first hit single in the 70s.

Route 66 and the Sante Fe Railroad parallel to each other pass through the town and between them is located a national treasure, La Posada Hotel.

This magnificent property, reminiscent of a Spanish Castle. was the last and most elegant of the great Harvey Houses (railroad hotels) built to serve passenger trains running between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Designed by renowned southwest architect Mary Jane Colter, who considered it her masterpiece, La Posada was the showplace of the entire Santa Fe Railroad system when the hotel opened in the 1930’s. While many of the great hotels from that era are gone, La Posada, which had been closed for 40 years has been beautifully restored by Allan Affeldt and his associates. Now in full operation there are 70 guest rooms, three dining rooms, art/gift shops and acres of gardens.

Two of The Winslow Harvey Girls, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of Fred Harvey – who introduced linen, silverware, china, crystal and impeccable service to railroad travel- and the Harvey girls, regaled us with stories and escorted us through the public rooms, guest rooms, patios and gardens.

Lunched in the hotel’s Turquoise Room – named after the famous Santa Fe private dining car that was a favorite of movie studio chiefs and the stars of the day – operated now by renowned Chef John Sharpe. His menu features retro Fred Harvey specialities and Native American inspired nouvelle cuisine.

Chef John prizes locally grown herbs and vegetables and the finiest fresh ingrediants are brought in daily.

Walked through the Historic Winslow downtown to “Standin’ on the Corner” Park. The Eagles 70s hit single has peaked peoples interest in Winslow. The verse “Standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,” draws visitors from far and wide to stand on this famous corner. The Park features a life size bronze statue and two story mural depicting the tale behind the famous song.

Winslow is in its second year of a three year town revival project. Toured the first year’s accomplishment – a park along the old Sante Fe rail line featuring an ambling path with “Burma Shave” style signs along the way adding unexpected humor to the walkway.

On the drive back toward Flagstaff detoured to view Meteor Crater, the “Best Preserved Meteorite Impact Site on Earth”. Formed nearly 50,000 years ago by a giant meteor weighing several hundred thousand tons, this crater is 550 ft. deep, 2.4 miles in circumference and nearly one mile across.

The Visitor Center features interactive, informational displays, a large-screen theater, the Astronaut Wall of Fame, an Apollo Space Capsule, a gift shop and fast food restaurant. Guided trail tours of the rim are offered daily (weather permitting).

Returned to Flagstaff via Townsend/Winona Road -part of the original Route 66 – in time to enjoy the late afternoon social hour, reflect on the three day exploration of Route 66- Flagstaff and to catch one of the magnificent Arizona sunsets from the InnSuites Hotels & Suites Flagstaff.

day 4 — Flagstaff to SedonaDrove 27 miles (paved highway) from Flagstaff through spectacular Oak Creek Canyon to the Sedona red rock country in central Arizona.

A wonderful scenic drive with many special recreation opportunities and attractions:
scenic views
camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, nature study, rock climbing
Coconino National Forest
Oak Creek Canyon Recreation Area
Oak Creek Canyon Natural Area
Slide Rock State Park
Oak Creek Vista
Red Rock–Secret Mountain Wilderness Area
West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon

Credits and acknowledgements

Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau go

InnSuites Hotels & Suites Flagstaff go

La Posada Hotel go

The Turquoise Room go

The Winslow Harvey Girls, PO Box 1, Winslow, AZ 86047

Standin’ On the Corner Park go

Kodak EasyShare V705 digital camera go

Olympus SP-550 UZ digital camera go

Thanks to all who helped create this fine experience

Article courtesy Joseph Cillo, http://www.forallevents.com/

Photos courtesy Mary Buttaro, http://www.forallevents.com/