For Route 66 lovers, Kingman, Ariz., is a living tribute to the Mother Road, but it also has great trails to explore juniper and pine forests, as well as desert landscapes. With elevations between 4,984 to 8,417 feet, the pine and juniper forest-covered hills at Hualapai Mountain Park offer cooler temperatures than downtown, great trails and a chance to see elk. Download a map from GoKingman.com and follow it to hike the Aspen Peak Trail, a 5.5-mile loop. Be ready to pay a $10 park entrance fee.
At Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area, mountain biking and hiking trails await on 11,300 acres of grasslands speckled with yucca, mesquite and prickly pear in the Mohave Desert. The Monolith Gardens Loop Trail stretches 7 miles with connector trails, so you can go as short or long as you want. It’s known to locals as the mini-Monument Valley because of its fun-shaped boulders.
And then there’s Route 66 and its living history in Kingman. Few know that Egyptian camels are to credit for helping break trail on what would 75 years later become Route 66. Valued as a “winter-proof” route across the Southwest to California, Route 66 would become one of America’s most iconic roads.
There’s no better place to learn of its storied history than the Arizona Route 66 Museum.
“Until people go through the museum, they don’t really see the big picture,” says Joshua Noble of Kingman’s tourism department, referring to the Arizona Route 66 Museum. “We really fill in the blanks.”
You’ll see heartbreaking photos and life-sized depictions of the Dust Bowl refugees and whimsical stories of post-World War II America. There’s even an exhibit on the legendary Burma-Shave signs that lined the route, promoting Al Odell’s father’s ailing shaving cream business with silly sayings like “He’s nifty and thrifty–looks 30 at 50.” Some of the Burma-Shave signs have been restored and you’ll see them lining Route 66 as you drive the road, especially through the stretch from Seligman, Ariz., through Peach Springs to Kingman, Ariz.
“Initially, it was about nostalgia,” says Noble about the many people who travel on Historic Route 66. “But now it’s part of a cheap and easy family road trip. It’s not just about going to Disneyland or going to Phoenix for spring training. People want to experience the drive as well as each destination.”
Visit the museum at Kingman’s historic Powerhouse at 120 W. Andy Devine Ave. 928-753-9889; gokingman.com/attraction-Powerhouse-Route-66-Museum.
Eat, Drink and Sleep in Kingman
Fuel up with a Route 66 classic, get a taste for Kingman’s trendiest restaurants in the town’s quaint old town area and spend the night in one of the last remaining pre-World War II tourist motor courts in Kingman.
With more than 20 downtown buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places, stroll this quaint downtown area that’s home to beautiful architecture, Black Bridge Brewery, Rickety Cricket Brewing, coffee shops and gift shops. Stop in Diana’s Cellar Door Wine Bar for a wide selection of wines, great hospitality and live music.
A short drive from downtown, stop by Diamond Desert Distillery for a tour of how craft spirits are made in Arizona’s oldest craft distillery. If you’re more into wine, visit the award-winning Cella Winery.
And there’s the great Route 66 vintage signage and businesses that are still going. Here are three Route 66 classics to see while in town.
El Trovatore Motel
Built in 1938 by a Las Vegas developer, this classic 66 landmark was Arizona’s first air-conditioned hotel. See the restored 100-foot-high neon sign, the world’s longest Route 66 map (painted on the building’s side) or stay the night. The renovated Hollywood-themed rooms still retain their original charm; 1440 E. Andy Devine St. 928-753-6520; eltrovatoremotel.com.
House of Hops
Look for the vintage neon Kingman Club sign, which had been dark for 21 years until owners Terry and Stacy Thomson opened up Kingman’s first and only craft beer, nitros and fine wine tap house in 2015. It’s in Kingman’s historic downtown. A 50-year mainstay, the former Kingman Club has only gotten better with age; 312 E. Beale St.; 928-753-2337; thehouseofhops.com.
Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner Restaurant
It started off as a gas station in 1918, but this classic diner, complete with black and white floor tile, jukebox and pink-and-turquoise booths, started serving hungry locals and travelers in 1929. You’ll feel as if you traveled back to the early 1960s when you eat at this great roadside diner. Don’t miss out on the incredible homemade root beer;
105 E. Andy Devine Ave.; 928-718-0066; mrdzrt66diner.com.
For more information:
Call or visit us at the Kingman Visitor Center.
120 W. Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ 86401