Arizona: The Pulse of Route 66

A motel sign on Route 66 in Arizona.

Route 66 has always been more than just a highway. It is a symbol of America’s spirit of adventure and a testament to the country’s love for the open road. Route 66 stretches from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Santa Monica, California, in the west. One of its most memorable and breathtaking stretches lies in the picturesque state of Arizona, crossing through awe-inspiring beauty, rich historic sites and charming small towns. 

Arizona and Route 66: A Love Story 

The section of Route 66 that passes through Arizona is a captivating journey through time. Covering nearly 400 miles, it takes travelers through historic towns, Native American reservations and stunning natural wonders. 

Driving west on Route 66 through Arizona, the road first takes you through Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert, two natural wonders that offer an unparalleled visual feast. Next, stop in Flagstaff, one of the first cities you will encounter. Nestled in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff is a vibrant college town with a lively downtown area that is rich in Route 66 history.   

In addition to its natural beauty, Arizona’s stretch of Route 66 is steeped in history. The road played a crucial role in the migration west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and facilitated the economic development of the towns along its route, serving as a lifeline for communities that might otherwise have been left behind. 

Route 66 has undergone many changes over the years, with some sections being replaced by the interstate highway system. However, in Arizona, a significant portion of the original road still exists, and many towns along the route have made efforts to preserve its history and character. 

The Incredible Scenery of Arizona 

Beyond Route 66, Arizona has much to offer. It is a state of contrasts, with geography ranging from the towering peaks of the San Francisco Mountains to the scorching heat of the Sonoran Desert. The Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is perhaps Arizona’s most famous attraction, drawing millions of visitors from around the globe each year. 

Arizona is also home to a rich cultural heritage, with a history that spans thousands of years. The state is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, and their influence can be seen in everything from the architecture to the cuisine.