Traveling Route 66 Through the Southwestern United States

Town by Town Route 66 Guide - Texas

Route 66 Map
••• From Chicago to Santa Monica, CA. Photo Courtesy: Irish Route 66 Challenge

Many of the towns known along the Texas portion of Route 66 were started as railroad towns. The Rock Island Railroad established stations across the Texas panhandle. Ranching and farming were also important to the economy. During the Dust Bowl years, many farms in the Texas panhandle suffered the fate of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and people moved on West, many via Route 66. After World War II, tourism was a boon to the economy and many small Route 66 towns did rather well.

Once Interstate Highway 40 siphoned off the tourists, many of these small towns fell into disrepair. You can still travel portions of Route 66 in Texas and happen across some great mementos of the era and even dine in a Route 66 diner.

Route 66 - East to West

Texas Route 66 Reference Maps

Texas

Shamrock - The name Shamrock was first suggested by Irish immigrant sheep rancher George Nickel. In Shamrock you can see the famous business, a holdout of old Route 66, the Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn. The building has been lovingly restored.

McLean - Murals along Main St.(old U.S. 66) depict the history of McLean. A restored 1930s Phillips 66 station lies on old westbound U.S. 66 road and is considered one of best re-created sites by the Old Route 66 Association.

Alanreed – Alanreed is almost a ghost town at this point. However there are some remnants of Route 66 which are worth a visit. For example, Alanreed Church, founded in 1904, is the oldest church on Texas Route 66.



Groom - Groom was named after Colonel B.B. Groom who established a ranch in the area. Groom was an important Route 66 stop. Westbound travelers breathed a sigh of relief upon reaching this point.

Conway – There isn’t much in Conway anymore. But you can have a look at the “Bug Farm” with five VW beetles buried nose down adjacent to the Trading Post.



Amarillo – Spend a while in Amarillo. You can shop for antiques and collectibles right on Historic Route 66, one of the city’s first residential and business districts. Located along an original stretch of historic Route 66, the street features historic buildings that once housed theatres, cafes and drug stores and are now antique, craft and specialty shops. Some of Amarillo’s most unique dining experiences are along Historic Route 66. Located along 6th Ave. between Georgia and Western Sts. Amarillo is where you can see the “Cadillac Ranch.”

Bushland – Bushland is west of Amarillo, another of the small Texas panhandle towns on Route 66.

Wildorado – The town was founded as a railroad stop. Just like the folks from the dustbowl in Oklahoma, Wildorado residents loaded up their belongings seeking a better life and headed down Route 66. After WWII, Wildorado enjoyed a brief boom when tourists traveled Route 66.

Vega - The name Vega was chosen for this little town because it reflected the surrounding country side; Vega is Spanish for meadow. The town, a typical Route 66 stop, once had motels, a drive-in restaurant and gas station. You can still see some remnants of old Route 66 buildings in Vega.

When in Vega, seek out the old cold storage building at 105 N. 12th. Dot Leavitt and her husband arrived in Vega in the 1940s and remodeled a building one block north of Route 66. Today, Old Route 66 ends at Dot's Mini Museum, which includes a wonderful display of Western artifacts and Route 66 memorabilia.

Adrian – Adrian is another town that was established because of the railroad. As businesses developed, Adrian became known as the midpoint of Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles, a popular stopping place for Mother Road travelers. Today, you can still stop at the Midpoint Café in Adrian. There are other Route 66 remnants such as the “Bent Door” trading post.

Glenrio – Glenrio is another little down that has fallen into disrepair. Portions of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath were filmed in Glenrio.

Now you can see a few buildings from the Route 66 era in Glenrio, all in a state of shambles.

Next... On to New Mexico

Route 66 pretty much followed the current Interstate 40. However, in the early days of Route 66, the road took travelers thorough the capital, Santa Fe. In the 1930's that part of the route was eliminated bypassing Santa Fe and entering Albuquerque from the east. In Albuquerque, especially, there are some great Route 66 businesses to visit.

Route 66 - East to West

New Mexico Route 66 Reference Maps

New Mexico

Tucumcari - Known as a Route 66 city, Tucumcari is also a city of murals.

It is full of attractions including a world-class Dinosaur Museum, Historical Museum, legendary Route 66 motels as well as National, State and Historic Scenic Byways. Head for the Tucumcari Convention Center to see their Route 66 attraction sculpture. Then at night, take a drive drive down Tucumcari's Route 66 to see the dazzling neon lights. In the hey-day of Route 66 these colorful flashing signs were meant to entice the weary traveler into stopping at that particular motel rather than another down the street. During the day, take in Tucumcari's beautiful murals, 17 life-size and bigger than life-size murals throughout the city of Tucumcari and Quay County.

Santa Rosa - Santa Rosa, on the Pecos River, began as a Spanish rancho. There are many remnants of the old Route 66 in Santa Rosa. Head for Bono's Route 66 Auto Museum, and then drop by the Comet Drive-In, Joseph's Bar and Grill, and the many old historic buildings in the Santa Rosa downtown.



Santa Fe Side Trip (original alignment) - When the early Route 66 was planned, it went through the State Capital of New Mexico. Founded in 1610 on the ruins of an abandoned Tanoan Indian village, Santa Fe has been a capitol for nearly four hundred years making it the oldest capitol in the United States.

When in Santa Fe, visit the Historic La Fonda Hotel.

Albuquerque - There is so much to do and see in Albuquerque for the Route 66 enthusiast. Central Avenue is old Route 66. There are many old motels and cafes that were doing business when the old road brought tourists to Albuquerque. Head out to 1216 Central Ave Sw and have a hot dog at The Dog House, a famous Route 66 Drive-in. Enjoy our photo tour of historic downtown Albuquerque. You can enjoy the old "Pueblo Deco" KiMo Theater, shops and restaurants. Farther out on Central you can have lunch at the Route 66 Diner, and, by night, take a tour of the Albuquerque Route 66 neon signs.

Grants- Grants is the seat of Cibola county and is located approximately half way between Albuquerque and Gallup. Some of the historic Route 66 motels and curio shops still exist as the highway runs along the Rio San Jose. Grants is home to the Route 66 Fire and Ice Motorcycle Rally.

Gallup- Gallup is a noteworthy Route 66 city. You can still enjoy the Trading Posts and motels. Gallup was one of the first cities along Route 66 to have paved streets from end to end. Visit the historic El Rancho Hotel, hotel of western movie stars and Route 66 travelers. Gallup also has a fantastic motel row which is brilliantly lighted with vintage neon signs.

Gallup is also known as "Indian Country," and borders the Navajo Reservation to the north and the Zuni Pueblo is to the south. It is a great place to shop for Native American collectibles and art.

Next... On to Arizona

Arizona boasts the best preserved section of Route 66 in the Southwest. This preserved route, about 165 miles in total, includes the main street of Kingman, the largest town on the route. Further east, another short stretch of original road runs through the center of Williams, another historic Route 66 town. Kingman has a Route 66 museum and in Flagstaff, many Route 66 buildings are preserved. The Route ends it's Southwest journey in Oatman and Bullhead City after, what I believe is, the most beautiful and winding section of Route 66.



Route 66 - East to West

Arizona Route 66 Reference Maps

Arizona

Holbrook- Holbrook was a very small town when Route66 first followed several streets through town. Holbrook's current claim to fame is that you can still sleep in a wigwam at Holbrook's Wigwam Village Motel. Wigwam Village is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Petrified Forest National Park - The Petrified Forest is the only National Park to contain a section of Historic Route 66. Visitors stayed at the Painted Desert Inn, which is now closed as an Inn but open to day visitors.

Winslow- Historic Route 66 runs through the center of Winslow, and it is bordered by the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation. The La Posada Hotel, a Harvey House built in 1930, provided fine cuisine and elegant lodging for the road weary traveler and railroad passenger alike. Remnants of Route 66 can still be found throughout the town. Have a look at the famous Lorenzo Hubbell Trading Post.

Winslow is known for the corner made famous by the song, "Take it Easy," sung by The Eagles.

Flagstaff - Historic Route 66 runs through Flagstaff. Today there are several motels and old buildings that still stand. The famous roadhouse, The Museum Club, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Mueseum Club is rich in country legends and ghost stories. The Southwest’s largest log cabin, it was built in 1931 to house Native American artifacts and a collection of genetically unique animals preserved through taxidermy. Later, it became a nightclub, nicknamed “The Zoo”, where musicians traveling Route 66 performed. The Club continues to host rising country stars while patrons two-step around the trees, or browse in the Route 66 gift shop. Flagstaff hosts an annual Route 66 Festival.

Williams - Williams, known as "The Gateway to the Grand Canyon," is home to the Grand Canyon Railroad. The main street is a walk down Route 66 memory lane. You can still stay at the Route 66 Inn. You can dine at Rod's Steakhouse which hasn't changed a bit since the '40's.

Seligman - Seligman calls itself "the birthplace of Historic Route 66." In the early Route 66 years, Seligman housed many travelers with motor courts galore. Seligman is the beginning of the remaining 158 mile stretch of Old Route 66 to Topock and is rich in Route 66 memories. Seligman is worth a stop. Evidence of the glory days of the old road could be seen all along the main street. Motels such as the Aztec across the street from the famous Snow Cap, with its quirky joke menu, cafes such as the Copper Cart and 66 Road Kill, and numerous Route 66 gift shops are all survivors of the Mother Road.

One of the few remaining A.T. & S.F. railroad stations and Harvey House structures still stand in Seligman.

Kingman- Kingman claims that they are "The Heart of Historic Route 66," and they do indeed have quite a bit to offer. Kingman is home to the Route 66 Museum. You can pick up a map at the Powerhouse Visitor's Center and drive or walk along Kingman's historic streets. The historic Hotel Brunswick, was originally built in 1909, and has been serving customers for almost a century. It is currently owned by a young couple who fled the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. For a typical Route 66 experience, check out the White Rock Auto Court, one of the last auto court motels on Route 66. If you’ve got an appetite, have a burger at Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner. You can find Mr. D's at 105 E. Andy Devine Avenue right downtown.



Oatman - Taking Route 66 along the winding road to Oatman is half the fun. The other half is reaching the little Wild West town, feeding the burros and fending off the tourist traps. It is a great trip.

Bullhead City - Bullhead City is the end of the line when it comes to Route 66 running through Arizona. Bullhead City actually has an airport. Many travelers are coming to the area for the gambling and shows across the river in Laughlin, Nevada. Bullhead City is known for access to the Colorado River, miles of natural hiking, thousands of acres of public lands, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona's Veteran's Memorial, the Colorado River Museum and 24-hour entertainment across the river.