If you’re not yet a die-hard Route 66 fan, traveling the old route across Arizona is bound to convert you. The high-speed I-40 freeway gives quick access to some of the best surviving stretches of the old road, and these are some of the most captivating parts of Route 66 anywhere. Between the red-rock mesas of New Mexico and the arid desert along the Colorado River, the route runs past dozens of remarkable old highway towns along some of the oldest and longest still-driveable stretches of the Mother Road.
East of Flagstaff, the old road is effectively submerged beneath the freeway, which drops down to cross desolate desert, passing through desiccated towns and Petrified Forest National Park. Remnants of numerous old roadside attractions—Native American trading posts, wild animal menageries, and Holbrook’s famous “Sleep in a Teepee” Wigwam Village—all survive in varying degrees of preservation along Arizona’s section of Route 66.
Midway across the state, the route climbs onto the forested (and often snowy) Kaibab Plateau for a look at the mighty Grand Canyon, one of the true wonders of the natural world.