Northwest Arizona and Southeast Nevada Feature

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Get Your Kicks on Route 66

In 1938 the 2,400 miles of roadway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles was declared "continuously paved." U.S. Route 66 had been transformed from a ragged string of local lanes connecting isolated small towns into an "all-weather" highway that eased travel.

Just as the road crews changed what had been a string of rutty dirt roads into a paved roadbed, Route 66 changed the social landscape as communities adapted to the new road. The needs of travelers were met by new concepts, such as the gas station, the diner, and the motel. Nostalgic remnants from this retro road-tripping culture still exist along this stretch of the "Mother Road."

Most of old Route 66 has been replaced by the modern interstate system, but at Exit 139 from Interstate 40 you'll find yourself at the beginning of the longest remaining continuous stretch of the original Route 66. This 160-mile journey leads through Seligman, Peach Springs, Truxton, Valentine, Hackberry, Kingman, and Oatman, and on to the Colorado River near Topock.

Best Time to Go

Although Route 66 is accessible year-round, spring and fall are the best times to explore roadside attractions or partake of nearby hikes.

Fun Fact

Route 66 is no longer an officially recognized U.S. highway—it hasn't appeared on maps or atlases since 1984, except for certain sections that have been designated as special historic routes.

Shop for retro collectibles in Oatman

The Leather Shop of Oatman. You can get in the spirit of the Old West with the leather jackets, Western gun holsters, and moccasins offered at this shop. 162 Main St., Oatman, AZ, 86433. 928/768–3833.

Main Street Emporium. This emporium offers a wide array of handcrafted items including Western-themed wall art, handwoven blankets, and cholla cactus candles. 150 Main St., Oatman, AZ, 86433. 928/788–3298. www.main-st-emporium.com.

Ore House. Browse through a nice selection of Indian jewelry, colorful gems, pottery, textiles, and Southwestern art at the Ore House. 194 Main St., Oatman, AZ, 86433. 928/768–3839.

Sign here

One of the joys of exploring Route 66 is admiring the vintage signage along the way.

Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-in. In Seligman, you can stop here for a "small soda" and to view the old Coca-Cola and Burma Shave signs. In fact, the whole town is rife with old signs and cars. 301 W Chino Ave., Seligman, AZ, 86337. 928/422–3291.

Hackberry General Store. At this store, which is both a shop and museum dedicated to Mother Road memorabilia, you can pose for pictures with vintage cars, kitschy signs, ancient gas pumps, and highway memorabilia while sipping a bottle of sarsaparilla. 11255 E. AZ 66, Hackberry, AZ, 86411. 928/769–2605. hackberrygeneralstore.com.

Wigwam Motel. In eastern Arizona, the parking lot of the Wigwam Motel—where the rooms are inside 30-foot-tall wood-and-concrete tepees—you'll see a vast collection of classic cars, from a '59 Chevy Impala to a '51 Studebaker Land Cruiser. 811 W. Hopi Dr., Holbrook, AZ, 86025. 928/241–8413. www.sleepinawigwam.com.

Cool off in the caverns

Grand Canyon Caverns. Nestled among rolling, juniper-covered hills 60 miles east of Kingman, the full extent of Grand Canyon Caverns, a massive dry cave, is still unknown. Daily tours include an elevator descent to the main floor of the caverns, 210 feet belowground. The 0.75-mile walking tour takes 45 minutes. A new cluster of massive caves was recently discovered next to the existing caverns—the owners expect to start offering tours of these by 2015. In the rodeo arena behind the basic 48-room motel, restaurant, and curio shop, area cowboys often hold calf-roping competitions that are a hoot to watch, and free to boot. AZ 66, Mile Marker 115, Peach Springs, AZ, 86434. 928/422–3223 Motel; 928/422–4565 Caverns. www.gccaverns.com. $18.95. May–Sept., daily 9–5; Oct.–Apr., daily 10–4.

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