Route 66: Arizona

Healing vortexes, dinosaur statues, and the only national park crossed by the Mother Road

  • 104
  • 34:05
  • 1,501 mi
  • $218
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Created by Roadtrippers - October 11th 2021

Today, the New Mexico section of Route 66 clocks in at just over 250 miles of remaining road, but that wasn't always the case. The original alignment, mapped out in 1926, covered more than 500 miles through the Land of Enchantment and included an S-shaped detour in the middle of the state. When the New Mexico portion of the route was redrawn in 1937, more than 100 miles were knocked off.

Ganado, AZ, US

Hubbell Trading Post

The historic Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado is the oldest operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. It is also a testament to the impact of Navajo culture, history, and traditions in the Southwest.

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53mi 01h 01m
Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post
3.7

359 Interstate 40, Lupton, AZ, US

Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post

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Once you cross the border into Arizona, Yellowhorse Trading Post, conveniently located on I-40 in Lupton (and next to the Teepee Trading Post), should be your first stop. This Navajo-owned trading post has been run by the Yellowhorse family since the 1950s, when they began selling Navajo rugs and petrified wood to travelers.

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26mi 00h 27m
Allentown Bridge
4.7

puerco river, Houck, AZ, US

Allentown Bridge

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The Allentown Bridge, located in Apache County, is a great photo op. Built in 1923, the bridge crosses the Puerco River and is on the National Register of Historic Places. While you’re in the neighborhood, the Querino Canyon Bridge on old Route 66, just a few miles away, is another stunner.

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40mi 00h 40m
Painted Desert Visitor Center
4.4

Petrified Forest Road, Holbrook, AZ, US

Painted Desert Visitor Center

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The Painted Desert Visitor Center is a good first stop on your tour of the park. It has an educational film, a gift shop, and plenty of petrified wood for sale.

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0mi 00h 00m
Rainbow Forest Museum
4.5

1 Park Road, AZ, US

Rainbow Forest Museum

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Inside the national park, tour the Rainbow Forest Museum featuring hands-on exhibits and displays. Behind the museum is one of Petrified Forest's best hikes, the Giant Logs Trail. If you're limited on time and looking to get as much out of the park as possible, this is a great place to start.

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1mi 00h 06m
Kachina Point
4.0

Petrified Forest, Adamana, AZ, US

Kachina Point

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For the best views—and to see how the Painted Desert got its name—head to Kachina Point. Bands of different colored sediment in the rolling hills make for a perfect photo op.

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0mi 00h 00m
Painted Desert Inn
4.5
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The national park is home to the famous Painted Desert Inn, and even though you can't spend the night here anymore, you should definitely stop in to check out the exhibits (the Inn was originally constructed of petrified wood, until a makeover in the 1930s). Don’t miss the displays of artwork from the park's resident artist program.

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0mi 00h 02m
Petrified Forest National Park
4.5

1 Park Road, AZ, US

Petrified Forest National Park

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A forest in the middle of Arizona’s grassland may sound odd, but Petrified Forest National Park is unlike any other forest in the country. The park is packed with gems—quite literally, since the ancient wood has been turned into sparkly stone—that anyone, from the outdoor enthusiast to the science geek, can enjoy.

The park’s location right off the highway means that many people at least drive through it (though it closes as early as 5 p.m., so plan accordingly). A portion of old Route 66 is located within the park—the only portion of the classic road to still be preserved within a national park (the asphalt is gone so it’s not driveable, but look for the old telephone poles marking the route). Wilderness camping is available within the park. Homolovi State Park, about an hour away, also offers camping options. Nearby in Holbrook, Arizona, are additional accommodation and camping options, including a KOA.

Don't let the glittering logs temp you into snagging a souvenir—removing any petrified wood from the park is illegal. You can purchase a box of petrified wood from a gift store (sourced from private lands), but don’t open it until you’ve left the park premises.

Summers in the park can get hot, with little to offer in the way of shade, and winters are often cold and snowy. Wildflowers pop up throughout the desert between March and October, especially in May, July, and August, so if you're looking for an extra colorful landscape, this is a good time to visit.

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9mi 00h 11m
Stewarts Petrified Wood
4.4

Washboard Road, Holbrook, AZ, US

Stewarts Petrified Wood

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At Stewart's Petrified Wood, you can buy the world’s most colorful petrified wood—some of which the store claims is more than 225 million years old. If that’s not reason enough to pull over, Stewart’s also has ostriches and ostrich eggs for sale.

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21mi 00h 32m
Puerco Pueblo
4.0

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, US

Puerco Pueblo

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There's more to Petrified Forest than its eponymous sparkly logs—it's also an important archaeological and anthropological site. Visitors can still check out the sandstone ruins of Puerco Pueblo, a once-bustling community that dates back to the 1200s.

Near Puerco Pueblo you’ll find a spiral petroglyph on a boulder that aligns perfectly with a beam of sunlight for about two weeks near the solstice. The shaft of sunlight travels down the side of the spiral and touches the center as the sun rises, peaking at 9 a.m. If you happen to be visiting outside of the 2-week window, you can still see the boulder and read the informative interpretive sign nearby.

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1mi 00h 03m
Newspaper Rock
4.0

14,5 Miles North of South Entrance (Rainbow Forest Museum), AZ, US

Newspaper Rock

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For a park that's less than 150 square miles in size, it's pretty impressive that more than 600 archaeological sites have been found within Petrified Forest's boundaries. The cryptic petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock were carved between 650 and 2,000 years ago. Visit and try to decipher their meaning yourself.

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2mi 00h 04m
Blue Mesa Trail
4.5

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, US

Blue Mesa Trail

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The 1-mile Blue Mesa trail takes you further into the Painted Desert, where the hills take on hues of gray, purple, and blue. It's definitely not a typical desert landscape—seriously, it looks like you're on a different planet—which makes it well worth a visit.

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6mi 00h 11m
Crystal Forest Trail
4.6

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, US

Crystal Forest Trail

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The Crystal Forest is an easy hike along a paved walkway. The loop, named for the quartz crystals sometimes found in the wood, takes you past piles of petrified wood. It's only three-quarters of a mile, but take your time and enjoy the views.

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5mi 00h 10m
Rainbow Forest Complex
4.5

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, US

Rainbow Forest Complex

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Watching educational videos and looking at displays is a good way to get background on the petrified wood, but nothing beats seeing the actual thing up close. It’s a surprising experience to see so many sparkly, colorful logs in one place, and it’s hard to believe that these trees are 220 million years old.

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0mi 00h 01m
Agate House
4.3

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, US

Agate House

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The eight-room Agate House was likely built between the years 1050 and 1300, and was reconstructed in the 1930s. It was built using petrified wood and is still in remarkably good condition. See it for yourself by hiking the 2-mile round trip trail from the Rainbow Forest visitor center.

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20mi 00h 25m
Wigwam Village Motel No. 6
4.0

811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ, US

Wigwam Village Motel No. 6

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Drive through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park in the late afternoon and then stop at Wigwam Village Motel #6 for the night. The rooms of this charming historic motel—located inside individual concrete and steel teepees—are pure roadside kitsch. There are only three remaining Wigwam Motels, and the vintage cars parked outside of each room make this the best one for photos.

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0mi 00h 00m
Globetrotter Lodge
4.5

902 West Hopi Drive, Holbrook, AZ, US

Globetrotter Lodge

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If the Wigwam Motel is full, head across Route 66 to the Globetrotter Lodge. This classic motel features 10 adorable, unique, and cozy rooms with ample parking space for trailers or large RVs.

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0mi 00h 01m

120 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ, US

Joe and Aggie's Cafe

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This classic Route 66 restaurant is best-known for its homemade red and green chile sauces. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth stopping for a photo in front of the building, which features a hand-painted map of Route 66.

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0mi 00h 01m

100 E Arizona St, AZ, US

Navajo County Historical Society

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0mi 00h 02m

Holbrook, Arizona, United States

Holbrook is a town that’s defied extinction, in more ways than one. It’s one of the rare Route 66 towns that managed to scrape by after the Mother Road was decommissioned. Holbrook is steeped in retro vibes and remains filled with “touristy” kitsch; its proximity to Petrified Forest National Park hasn’t hurt its popularity. Whether you’re trying to find the best deal on gemstones and souvenirs—or you’re in search of as many dinosaur statues as possible—Holbrook is worth exploring. It also happens to be home to the iconic Wigwam Village Motel #6, so you can spend the night and grab a breakfast burrito smothered in red or green chile from Joe and Aggie’s Cafe in the morning.

There’s only one more section of the Mother Road left to complete—and while we don’t want to play favorites and say we saved the best for last, there are still plenty of roadside gems left to see. This is the home stretch, so slow down, take that detour, and savor every last bit of this epic Route 66 journey before you hit the “End” sign on Santa Monica Pier.

Banner Photo Credit: laurencc1031

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