Route 66 Winslow, Arizona

Route 66 Winslow, Arizona

One simply cannot go wrong when taking a scenic day trip to a couple of Route 66 destinations in Arizona!  It takes about one hour to drive from the Grand Canyon to Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Doing the Flagstaff Route 66 scene is an all day venture of its own and there are several other historic Route 66 towns a little further on down the road. Two Guns Ghost Town and Meteor Crater are within range and so are Winona and Winslow. For those who head in this direction, it only takes a few minutes to see what is left of old Route 66 in Winona, while the better half of a day can be spent exploring all there is to see and do in good old Winslow, Arizona a little further on down the line.  

Route 66 is now Interstate Highway 40 going to Winslow, so the travel time moves along fast. When the roadside signs for Winslow appear on the horizon, try not to blink an eye or you might end up driving right by this historic small town!  

Winslow began in the late 1800s as a major railroad crossover town.  The Little Colorado River was nearby and the water kept the steam engines running.  Railroad tourism became a primary Southwestern market back in those days and Winslow evolved as a great stopover that provided luxurious accommodations.  Winslow was home of one of the greatest historic Harvey House Railroad Resorts in the entire west. White glove table service was par for this resort back in the old days, so Winslow was indeed a hangout for the rich and famous way back when.  

Eventually the age of automobile tourism left railroad tourism behind the times.  During the peak of Route 66 tourism from the late 1940s through the 1960s, Winslow was still a bustling tourist destination.  Winslow was close to nearly every major tourist attraction and National Park in the local region, so this town was well known nationwide.  A lot of famous people stayed in Winslow and this city truly was a Route 66 cultural center.

Eventually the Interstate Highway 40 project tragically laid Winslow to waste, like so many other great Route 66 towns.  When Winslow became a ghost of the past after being bypassed, it was like the heartbeat of America died.  Bypassing Winslow with a major highway resigned this old historic town to being nothing more than a time capsule of the past.  

Fortunately, Winslow is one of the best preserved Route 66 time capsules that exists in modern times.  The tall buildings and historic sites from the long gone railroad days have survived.  Because Winslow is now considered to be just another small town out in the middle of nowhere along a major highway, relatively few tourists visit this place.  The streets of Winslow are rarely jammed up with traffic and there are few waiting lines, so Winslow is a great place for those who seek plenty of elbow room when touring Route 66!    

Many of the old Route 66 towns have been revived in recent years and Route 66 tourism is stronger than it has been for many decades.  The renewed interest in old Route 66 has helped to rejuvenate Winslow in recent years, yet this old historic town has gained more strength as a modern Navajo community.  The Navajo certainly respect tradition and Navajo Nation Tourism has grown tremendously in recent years.  Navajo Tourism may end up being the saving grace for old historic Route 66 towns like Winslow in this region.

Homolovi State Park is located next to Winslow and this landmark is famous for ancient petroglyphs and pueblos.  Homolovi State Park is a great place to spend an afternoon and for those who yearn to learn more about native cultures there are several more options in Winslow. Winslow hosts several trading posts and native art galleries. Winslow is a great place to shop for Navajo hand crafted rugs, pottery, Zuni silver jewelry, turquoise bolos, Apache baskets and Hopi Kachina Dolls!  There are also a couple of places to grab a bite to eat and something ice cold to drink in Winslow too.  

Touring Winslow is like visiting a modern ghost town that has been locked in a time capsule long ago.  Many of the streets are empty and several of the businesses are only open for weekends. Upon a first impression, it is easy to see that Winslow has the potential to return to its former glory, but because Winslow was bypassed by the major highway, the slow trickle if tourist dollars keeps this old Route 66 a relic of the past.

The one big attraction in Winslow that draws the most tourists in modern times actually has nothing to do with the history or native culture in this town. Fans of the classic rock band The Eagles from around the globe flock to a famous Route 66 intersection in this town just to take a selfie while “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” just like the old Eagles Song goes! The exact spot to look for is downtown where a gigantic Route 66 emblem is painted on the middle of the intersection. There is usually a wooden cowboy silhouette standing on the corner, so this ultimate Eagles selfie photo mission destination is very easy to spot!

Route 66 destinations are relics of the past that always seem to be waiting for the golden age of Route 66 tourism to return. Taking the time to venture off the major highway is what keeps these places alive.  There is plenty to see and plenty to learn when touring the long stretch of old Route 66 that runs through Arizona. Winslow is an old Route 66 town that is definitely well worth checking out, even if you only want to go there just to take a selfie while standing on the street corner!            


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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