Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Route 66 Day 2 - Needles CA to Flagstaff AZ

Today I drove a route that is a MUST DRIVE if you are the kind of person that loves road trips. The main portion of my day was spent on the longest continuous stretch of the original Route 66 that is still in place - From Topock AZ to the Crookton Rd entrance of I-40.

Desert Travel

 After passing through the very small town of Golden Shores (don't miss the old POLARIS silo just south of town)you have a 20 mile trip across the Mojave Desert.

The eastern edge of the Mojave Desert along Route 66

The Mojave Desert spreads from the San Gabriel Mountains into through to Kingman Arizona. One of the interesting things is that this is monsoon season in Arizona, so the desert has been getting rain. This has made the desert green. The plants were drinking up that rain water and spouting new growth

signs of life in the desert

green leaves

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new growth on the cacti

your author examining the cacti

Oatman AZ

The next town you get to is Oatman. Oatman started as a gold mining town, and may be best know as the site of Clark Gable and Carol Lombard's honeymoon.  Now Oatman is total tourist trap. The whole strip is souvenir shops along with a western outlaw show twice a day. There are two good reasons for stopping there. First, it is a good bathroom break. Second, the town is inhabited by wild burros

Burros walking down the main drag of Oatman AZ

Main Street in Oatman AZ

Burros stopping traffic

Sitgreaves Pass - The Black Mountains

 The ride east from Oatman is not for the faint of heart. The road cuts back and forth as it climbs to Sitgreaves Pass. There are sharp drop-offs ad few safety barriers.

It is a slow drive (20mph) best taken on low gear.

 From the bottom of the Black Mountains it is a straight, flat road into Kingman AZ.

Kingman AZ

Kingman started as a rail siding, but has grown to a bustling 28,000 people. There is a great visitor's center - The Powerhouse. It is in a building that was the largest steam generated power plant in the west.

The Power Plant Visitor's Center

Train park across from the Power Plant

 The Power Plant includes a Route 66 museum and a couple of souvenir shops. The staff there was extremely helpful.

Across the Colorado Plateau

Driving East along Route 66 from Kingman is a pretty east drive. it is relatively flat, with towns popping up at reasonable distances. Some things to note:

  • During monsoon season it is important to pay attention to the weather. Large storms can come through and Route 66 has a very high chance of flash floods, so pay attention to what is happening around you.
  • Route 66 passes through the Haulapai Indian Reservation and passes by the western end of The Grand Canyon. The Haulapai run tours through that part of canyon and have a pretty nice hotel in Peach Springs

Seligman AZ

Route 66 comes back in touch with I-40 at Seligman AZ. Seligman is a small town with the requisite tourist shops. There is also a good collection of classic cars:

It is worth stopping at the Snow Cap - a drive-in with a sense of humor - one practical joke after another. The reason it is worth stopping - Real Chocolate Malteds!

From there it was back onto I 40 and on into Flagstaff, tonight's pit stop. More on Flagstaff tomorrow. 


  1. First of all I'm so glad you are having a good time. This is definitely your kind of trip. Secondly, I'm so glad I'm not with you. That mountain thing would have never happened if I were in the car. Thirdly, I see your sense of humor throughout. David and Jim would have loved the Snow Cap, I'm sure. The vintage cars sound good. and you know if I were there we would have had to investigate what is left of the Kingman Silver Mine operation. The mine itself is closed but there must be an acknowledgement of the huge silver deposits in that area. And I imagine there must be a silver museum somewhere. Caching! What I missed! I've experienced life with burros. Can't say as I missed that town! And although I am interested in topography, I think the Mojave would have worn thin on me after five or six miles. Can't wait for your next installment. I wish there were some way I could share your blog with Bert & Ruth. Maybe we can print the photos and do it that way. See you soon. AMD

  2. I would love the trip with a tour group.