Leaving Needles CA, 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.
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 in California through to Kingman Arizona. One of the interesting things is that I was there during 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
new growth on the cacti
your author examining the cacti
The next town you get to is Oatman AZ. 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 in low gear.
From the bottom of the Black Mountains it is a straight, flat road into 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 Powerhouse 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
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, the next pit stop. More on Flagstaff next week.
Next Week - Flagstaff to Gallup