Route 66 Leg 6: Flagstaff to Santa Monica

Wild burros, stargazing in Hollywood, and the one-and-only Grand Canyon

  • 109
  • 18:46
  • 756 mi
  • $115
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Created by robmccauley - August 5th 2021

This last stretch of the Mother Road—from western Arizona to the coast of California—is pretty lengthy, but there are plenty of detours and attractions to break up the drive.

Surrounded by national forests and designated wilderness areas, and just 80 miles south of the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is an oasis of natural beauty with all the comforts and conveniences of a big city. Home to Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff somehow manages to be a bustling college town with a quaint, small-town vibe. Its historic downtown is home to breweries, restaurants, and shops located in buildings from the 1890s. Unlike the dry, sweltering desert cities in southern Arizona, Flagstaff—thanks to its elevation of nearly 7,000 feet—has a more comfortable four-season climate with plenty of snow in the winter, so plan accordingly.

Walnut Canyon National Monument
4.5

3 Walnut Canyon Rd, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument is a geological wonder. Established in 1915 to protect ancient cliff dwellings, the National Park Service took over the 3,600 acres in 1934. Step inside curved canyons, ascend towering cliffs, or hike the Rim and Island Trails. Remember to wear decent walking shoes and bring plenty of water.

Elden Pueblo Archaeological Site
3.9

Hwy 89 North, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Elden Pueblo Archaeological Site

Eden Pueblo, a fascinating and quick stop in north Flagstaff, was once the site of a Native American village. Located at the foot of Mount Eldon, it is believed to have been a part of a large-scale trade route for the Pueblo peoples.

Woody Mountain Campground & RV Park
3.7

2727 W Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Woody Mountain Campground & RV Park

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Woody Mountain Campground is a family-owned and -operated campground nestled into a gorgeous and peaceful pine forest. The campground is a 40-minute drive from Meteor Crater, and features an old fashioned general store.

Hotel Monte Vista
3.6

100 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Hotel Monte Vista

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The Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff has a rich history of famous guests, including Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne. It also might be the most haunted hotel along Route 66. Wayne was one of the first people to suspect that the Monte Vista might have a bit of a ghost problem. He reported seeing the figure of a bellboy—but don’t worry, he claimed it was friendly. In 1970, the hotel allegedly picked up yet another ghost when a wounded bank robber died at the bar in the lounge. There have been several more ghost sightings throughout the years, including a lady in a rocking chair and a crying baby in the basement.

Diablo Burger
4.3

120 N Leroux St, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Diablo Burger

Grab dinner at Diablo Burger if you're craving fresh food. The burgers are all made with open-range, antibiotic-free beef raised on local ranches.

Lowell Observatory
4.5

1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Lowell Observatory

The Lowell Observatory is considered one of the most important astronomical observatories in the world. Designated a National Landmark in 1965, the observatory’s historic telescope is now available for public educational use. Head to the Steele Visitor Center to take a guided tour. Tours are available day or night, but the best time to visit is after dark, when the big telescope is set up along with several smaller ones. Regardless of the time, plan on spending at least a few hours here.

Starlight Pines Bed And Breakfast
5.0

3380 East Lockett Road, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Starlight Pines Bed And Breakfast

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Flagstaff is a great place to spend the night. Starlight Pines Bed and Breakfast—with its clawfoot tubs, private balconies, delicious breakfasts, and comfy beds—will make you feel like royalty. Located just 10 minutes from downtown, this bed and breakfast only has four guest rooms, so you’ll want to book in advance.

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2mi 00h 06m
Miz Zip's
3.9

2924 E Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ, US

Miz Zip's

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15mi 00h 20m
Route 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grill
4.3

11840 W Rt 66 W, Bellemont, AZ, US

Route 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grill

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Williams, Arizona, United States

Williams was the final Route 66 town bypassed by I-40. The town took its battle against the bypass to the courts, but stopped fighting in 1984. Despite the setbacks, Williams has held on thanks to its status as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” This stretch of the Mother Road is particularly well-preserved and features many eateries, shops, museums, parks, and lakes. Williams’ Main Street has been designated a National Historic District, and it’s a great place to relax and refuel before you tackle the Grand Canyon.

Rod's Steak House
3.7

301 Historic Route 66 Loop, Williams, AZ, US

Rod's Steak House

Grab a bite to eat at Rod's Steak House, known for its homemade rolls, steaks, and desserts. Located about an hour from Grand Canyon National Park, Rod’s has been a Route 66 icon since 1946.

The Grand Canyon Railway
4.5

233 N Grand Canyon Blvd, Williams, AZ, US

The Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway was established in 1901. Jump on board to enjoy champagne, live entertainment, and gorgeous views.

Grand Canyon Railway Pet Resort
4.1

601 W Franklin, Williams, AZ, US

Grand Canyon Railway Pet Resort

This is a good place to camp for the night if you are looking to explore the Grand Canyon during your Route 66 adventure. It’s only two blocks away from the route and downtown Williams. Take the Grand Canyon Railway into the national park and save yourself the drive.

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31mi 00h 32m
Twisters
4.0

417 E. Route 66, Williams, AZ, US

Twisters

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0mi 00h 00m
Goldies Route 66 Diner
4.3

425 East Route 66, Williams, AZ, US

Goldies Route 66 Diner

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0mi 00h 02m
Rodeway Inn
4.4

201 E SR 66, Williams, AZ, US

Rodeway Inn

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0mi 00h 01m
The Lodge On Route 66
4.0

200 E Route 66, Williams, AZ, US

The Lodge On Route 66

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1mi 00h 04m
Canyon Motel & RV Park
4.0

1900 East Rodeo Road, Williams, AZ, US

Canyon Motel & RV Park

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1mi 00h 04m
Red Garter Inn Bakery
4.5

137 W Railroad Ave, Williams, AZ, US

Red Garter Inn Bakery

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Congratulations! You have reached the end of the Mother Road—and by now you know it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey. But whether the Santa Monica Pier is your ending or starting point, take some time to celebrate and reflect. With more than 2,000 miles of classic neon, motels, larger-than-life roadside attractions, museums, diners, and countless colorful characters, it should be obvious why the allure of Route 66 is as strong as ever. The road may look different today than it did decades ago—or even yesterday—but that’s all part of the fun.

Banner Photo Credit: Flickr/Grand Canyon National Park