Route 66

If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, mom-and-pop motels in the middle of nowhere, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Old Route 66 Loop: Grand Canyon Skywalk

Midway along the Historic Route 66 loop between Seligman and Kingman, the road comes close to the Grand Canyon as it passes through the large and lonely Hualapai Indian Reservation. The 2,100-strong Hualapai tribe has its community center at the town of Peach Springs, which marks the halfway point of this 90-mile, old-roads loop and offers at least one reason to stop: the comfortable Hualapai Lodge (928/769-2636, $70 and up) and Diamond Creek restaurant, right on Route 66. Apart from this, Peach Springs is mostly a prefab Bureau of Indian Affairs housing project with few services, though there is a photogenic old Route 66 filling station at the center of town.

The lodge was the first sign of tourism in Peach Springs, but the Hualapai tribe seems to have embraced commerce in a big way: 2007 saw the opening of the much-hyped (and much-troubled) Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass-floored steel horseshoe that juts out from the edge of the Grand Canyon, 4,000 feet higher than the Colorado River. Installed at a cost of $30 million, the very daring and impressive Skywalk is certainly unique, but it’s also very expensive (count on it costing close to $80 per person, including lots of annoying fees and charges to park and ride the bus out to the Skywalk itself). The Skywalk is most popular as a day-trip destination from Las Vegas, but you can get here from Peach Springs via 78 miles of rough roads. The recommended route is to take I-40 or Route 66 to Kingman (50 miles southwest of Peach Springs), then head north via US-93, Pierce Ferry Road, and Diamond Bar Road, sections of which are still unpaved.

A museum is planned and facilities are supposed to start being improved once the money rolls in, but for now there isn’t much apart from the Skywalk itself. There’s an ambitious long-term plan to develop the entire western end of the Hualapai Reservation into “Grand Canyon West,” with all sorts of water-rafting tours and outdoor activities on offer; time will tell if the Skywalk endures once the novelty wears off.

West of Peach Springs, Route 66 winds along the railroad tracks, passing through a few ghost towns (like Hackberry, where the old gas station still stands in rusting splendor) before zooming into Kingman.

Hualapai Lodge
Grand Canyon Skywalk