Touring the Byway
385 miles | 11 Days/10 Nights | Gateway City: Albuquerque, New Mexico
The traditional way to travel Historic Route 66 is from East to West – the same direction those escaping the Midwest headed for California. We begin this itinerary in Albuquerque, now with the longest urban stretch of Route 66 in the country (Arizona’s stretch is rural), winding its way through four of the city’s historic neighborhoods.
As you pass through the Painted Cliffs, you’ll come upon Lupton, the first Arizona town on Historic Route 66. As you travel west, take in the classic attractions such as tipi lodging, roadside diners, motor court hotels, and the famous neon signs!
Along the way, you’ll pass through the town of Houck before getting a chance to stand on that famous corner in Winslow! Head for Flagstaff next and make sure to visit Meteor Crater Natural Landmark and Walnut Canyon National Monument. At the Flagstaff Visitor Center, which was once the Santa Fe train depot, take the “Walk the Talk” Route 66 Audio Tour, through the Southside Historic District, with great stories at every turn.
In Williams, be sure to visit Route 66 Visitor Center and take the Downtown Historic Walking Tour. Bearizona Drive Through Wildlife Park is completely unique. In Peach Springs you are in the capital of the Hualapai nation as well as having an opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk—the glass-bottomed bridge hovering 4,000 feet above the canyon floor.
Side trips along the way to consider include the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, the oldest continuously operating trading post in the American Southwest, Sunset Canyon Volcano National Monument, and the Wupatki National Monument, and the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
When you reach the end, you can head for the bright lights of Las Vegas, or continue on Route 66 into California, heading for Los Angeles. Whichever you choose, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.
A World Heritage Site and geologic wonder, the Grand Canyon encompasses over 1.2 million acres. Over 1,500 plant, 355 bird, 89 mammal, 47 reptile, 9 amphibian and 17 fish species are present. At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center get information about shuttle buses and ranger-led programs. Get your first view of the canyon by walking to Mather Point. An eight-mile round trip on Hermit Road takes you to the river at Hopi, Mohave and Pima Points, as well as to Hermits Rest, a historic landmark with a great view of the river. Refer to the shuttle information to visit other parts of the Park.
The nearly 350 square miles of Petrified Forest National Park are littered with petrified wood pushed upward by cataclysmic natural events, the same ones that created the highly eroded and colorful surrounding badlands. The Rainbow Forest, strewn with colorful petrified wood, surrounds the Rainbow Forest Museum that explains the geologic history that created the Park. Be sure to see the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, the ruined village of Puerco Pueblo, and the Painted Desert Inn, a 1930s adobe building that serves as a Hopi museum.
The Hualapai tribe, “People of the Tall Pines” created new attractions to feature different views of the Grand Canyon from their reservation. The Skywalk is a 10-foot-wide horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass walkway to view the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. You can also immerse yourself in Native American culture through dance performances and a self-guided tour on a path lined with traditional housing, ovens and sweat lodges, all the while imaging simpler times when the Hualapai, Navajo, Plains, Hopi, and Havasupai roamed the lands.
Once suppling power to the area’s towns and mines, today you’ll find that the 1907 building of the Desert Power and Water Company has been completely transformed into the Arizona Route 66 Museum featuring vintage cars and motorcycles dioramas, the Route 66 Electric Car Museum, the Carlos Elmer Photo Gallery, Bob Boze Bell’s ‘The 66 Kid’ Exhibition, the offices of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, and Kingman Visitor Center.
Everybody has to experience Las Vegas once in a lifetime! There’s no other city like it in the world. Interestingly, Las Vegas began as a Mormon settlement in 1855, but it wasn’t until the land was auctioned off in 1905 that the town began growing. Gambling was legalized in 1931, the same year that construction on the Hoover Dam began. When the first hotel opened on the strip 10 years later, Las Vegas had a population of 8,500. Today the population is over 1 million and the city welcomes over 30 million visitors each year. The route referred to as “The Strip” is a National Scenic byway lined with mega monolith resort casinos hosting every fantasy land imaginable. In addition, another National Scenic Byway, the Las Vegas Boulevard, traverses downtown. If you are under the impression that Las Vegas is all casinos and neon lights, granted, there is a lot of that. Yet, within the glitz and glamour, you’ll find an amazing number of art galleries and museums that punctuate the town.