Route 66 Holbrook, Arizona

Route 66 Holbrook, Arizona

Skimming the surface is not what Route 66 tourism is all about.  One simply has to make the decision to dive in head first and go for the gusto when touring old Route 66 towns!  There has to be some genuine excitement generated about the nostalgic past to make the travel plans click.  Visiting the cheesy tourist attractions, choosing to eat the daily special at a local diner and opting to stay at a 1950’s style motel that has a weird theme is all part of the charm! Delving into all that the nostalgic past has to offer when touring Route 66 is guaranteed to generate plenty of good memories back home!

Holbrook, Arizona certainly is a Route 66 destination where visitors can relive the nostalgic past and there are plenty of intangibles here awaiting to be discovered too.  Back in the old days when Route 66 tourism was a wild and wooly new frontier, Holbrook was a premier destination for travelers on the Mother Road.  Holbrook was the perfect place to set up a base camp for adventures in the nearby Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.  The same holds true in modern times and the ancient Petrified Forest theme is still ever so present in this old town. 

Dinosaur statues, rock shops and native trading posts line the streets of Holbrook, just like back in the old days when everybody wanted to experience the exotic Southwestern vacation lifestyle.  Instead of just looking through glass at dinosaur fossils and petrified wood at a museum back home, visitors can actually touch these artifacts at a trading post or in the fields of the Petrified Forest National Park.  Something is gained by making direct contact with items from the ancient past.  By just holding a piece of petrified wood, one cannot help but to be captivated by thoughts of what this barren desert region was like a few million years ago.  The captivation leads to fascination and an opportunity to learn a little something.  Before long, the Route 66 venture takes on an archaeological theme.  This is the magic of the Holbrook Route 66 tourist trap experience!

Holbrook tourism also has its roots in the old wild west.  Cattle rustling was a major problem in this region and many ranch wars took place.  There were a few famous gun battles that happened in Holbrook before the Arizona Territory was settled.  In fact Holbrook was so rough and tumble, that in the early 1900s this town was deemed as being too tough for women and churches. 

The toughness of Holbrook in the old wild west days actually benefited this town in one big way.  It made it easy to find strong characters that were tough enough to be recruited as Pony Express riders.  The Hashknife Pony Express is one of the most famous mail delivery systems of them all and this tradition still runs strong in Holbrook.  Every January or February each year, a commemorative Hashknife Pony Express run takes place from Holbrook all the way south to Scottsdale and all points in between.  A team of duly appointed Pony Express Riders deliver the mail the old fashioned way by horseback over the old west trails that are cut through the rough terrain. 

The official start date of the Hashknife Pony Express event is usually early in February, while the weather is cool.  Visitors who are lucky enough to be in Holbrook on this date can get their letters and postcards stamped with an official Pony Express ink mark, which instantly adds collectible value.  The celebratory events surrounding the annual Hashknife Pony Express Run provide plenty of entertainment for visitors of all ages.  It is not everyday that one gets a chance to meet a real Pony Express rider in this modern age, but is possible to do so while touring Route 66 in old historic Holbrook!           

“Dinosaurs, fossils, petrified wood, native trading posts and the Pony Express … Does a visit to Holbrook get any better than this?” … The answer that all Route 66 nostalgia buffs are hoping for is yes!  Holbrook absolutely is a time capsule of the golden age of Route 66.  The two main drag roads through town are lined with one classic original Route 66 style theme motel after another. There is also one particular lodging option that is very much en vogue in the opinion of die hard Route 66 enthusiasts.  Holbrook happens to be the home of the Wigwam Motel! 

The Wigwam Motel is like stepping back into the past to a time when selecting a corny theme motel on Route 66 was part of the travel adventure.  The Wigwam Motel rooms actually are individual concrete teepees, so as one can imagine, the accommodation experience is beyond compare from the start.  With the resurgence of classic Route 66 tourism, spending a night at the Wigwam Motel is something that ranks high on the vacation itinerary list of most people that pass through.  Needless to say, it is best to call and make reservations well ahead of time, so you are guaranteed to get a teepee of your very own to call home for the night!   

The Hashknife Pony Express Event is reason enough to visit Holbrook during the winter season, but this time of year is also the best for exploring the Petrified Forest National Park next door, because the triple digit heat of summer has a way of calling the day short.  Letting the kids play with the dinosaurs while shopping for native jewelry made of silver, turquoise and petrified wood, before munching on a Chili Size at a local diner, then settling into a slumber inside the comfort of the concrete teepee is how a visitor spends a typical day in Holbrook.  Nowhere else but in Holbrook can one find a vacation experience like this when traveling on good old Route 66!                     


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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