Across Arizona, Interstate 40, which runs from Barstow, California, all the way to Wilmington, North Carolina, runs parallel to or overlays that famed Mother Road — Route 66.
And while the high-speed highway makes travel a bit easier, it retains much of its historic charm.
Take, for example, this handful of attractions. You’ll find them along the main drag, as well as just a bit off the beaten path.
Although Burma-Shave’s original ads along Route 66 didn’t withstand the test of time, heat or history, replicas dot the highway between Kingman and Ash Fork. Among the clever rhymes? “You can drive a mile a minute, but there is no future in it.” Catch them running both east and westbound, but remember: “Thirty days hath September, April, June … and the speed offender.”
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In
Since Juan Delgadillo opened this quirky, iconic eatery in 1953, it’s become a must-stop for international tourists, as well as hungry hikers returning from the stunning waterfalls of Supai. When you go, expect to relish juicy burgers, piping hot French fries, shakes, sodas and the wild character of the place.
Think: a wildly decorated 1936 Chevrolet, vintage ads, old railroad signs and thousands of business cards. Plus, chances are you’ll be served by one of the Delgadillos — the family still runs the Snow Cap, adding to its inimitable charm.
The Snow Cap is located at 301 AZ-66, in Seligman. Information: 928-422-3291.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
When writer Willa Cather visited Flagstaff in the spring of 1912 on behalf of McClure’s magazine, Walnut Canyon was on her list of destinations. Ultimately, it — well, what she called “Panther Canyon” — became one of the settings for her 1915 novel Song of the Lark. Today, visitors to the national monument can hike to ancient pueblos via the Island Trail, breathe in the scenery from the Rim Trail, hang out with a ranger and explore more than 1,000 years of human history.
Walnut Canyon is located approximately 7.5 miles east of Flagstaff on I-40. To access the monument, take exit 204. Information: 928-526-3367 or www.nps.gov/waca.
Built along Route 66 during the trading post-boom of the early-to-mid 20th Century, Twin Arrows was once home to a diner and a series of small shops, just west of a similar establishment at Toonerville. Sadly, though, the installment of Interstate 40 led to Twin Arrows’ decline, and all that remains today is the site’s eponymous 25-foot-tall arrows and a row of dilapidated buildings.
If you go, bear in mind that the property is on State Trust land. So, be mindful of no-trespassing signs and the fragile nature of the buildings — you’ll see right away that they’re now home to some incredible local art in the form of spray-painted sayings, images and more.
Twin Arrows is located at Exit 219, heading east on Interstate 40 from Flagstaff.
Petrified Forest National Park
Back when the dinosaurs roamed, this section of the Arizona desert was actually a tropical swamp, home to phytosaurs and more. And, of course, the park is home to the remnants of countless trees that fell during the Late Triassic Period, some 225 million years ago.
These rock-like, fossilized stumps decorate Petrified Forest in myriad colors and sizes, and in addition to exploring the science and history at the park, visitors may also hike the Wilderness Loop or wander into the backcountry during an overnight backpacking trip. No matter how you explore, chances are good you’ll be blown away by the grandeur and size of this incredible Eastern Arizona landmark.
Petrified Forest National Park is located off Interstate 40 in Northeastern Arizona, approximately 50 miles from the New Mexico state line. Information: 928-524-6228 or www.nps.gov/pefo.
Sign up for our free email to join thousands of readers getting epic travel, hiking, camping and gear ideas every week.
Seen in: Arizona, Road Trips, Southwest