OLD RT 66

Article & Photography by: Rick Beach

Today I stumbled into information related to Old Route 66.  Often referred to as the “Mother Road”

Have you ever gotten to a page on the internet you have no idea how it happened?  Suddenly into some obscure website that piques your interest?  Subject related to something you would have never thought to go searching for?  Ah, the pleasures of modern technology.  It allows you to travel the world in micro-seconds.

I have traveled sections of Route 66 over the years.  I know I have been on parts of it across the U.S.  Though at this stage most of my recollection is isolated to some Arizona sections.

On the the subject I really wish to share.  I stumbled into a blog an artist (Willem Bor) created to show his craft of model making.  Oddly he did not live in USA.  But fell in love with the buildings along Old Route 66 during a visit.  Then set off to recreate them in miniature form.

One building in particular is currently still standing and called “Hackberry’s General Store”.  I have actually been there on numerous occasions, and have done my own photography.

Check out his blog link below.  I will let you find this very building built in model size, and showing on his blog.  Then you judge how cool these model buildings are.  I also love the history that is provided with each piece.

Sadly, in researching and going to his Facebook page I believe he is no longer with us since January 2017?  His work and website lives on, at least for now.  We can only hope he is traveling along Route 66 and comparing his work.

See some of his work at the below link:

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SELIGMAN ARIZONA

 

Seligman is on the original Route 66.  In recent years Interstate 40 bypassed the town a few miles away.  Traffic for the most part no longer passes through town.

The town still vies for tourist dollars to exist.  Now a small town of about 500 people.  If you stop and take some time, photo ops abound in every direction.  Old vehicles, Elvis, Burger joints, Frozen Custard, Road Kill Cafe, Gas stations, and a KOA Campground on the east end of town.

If you are traveling from the east on old Rt 66.  On your way to Peach Springs or Kingman, Arizona.  You will pass through Seligman.   You can also continue traveling west through Peach Springs and eventually hit  Kingman Arizona.  On old RT 66. Beyond Peach Springs you will pass by Hackberry’s General Store.  Talk about another photo op.  Be sure to stop!

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GRAND CANYON CAVERNS CAMPGROUND

For those of you travel a portion of old RT 66 in northern Arizona.  Between Kingman, Arizona and Seligman, Arizona.   Grand Canyon Cavern Campgrounds offers an opportunity to camp.  Also do a Cavern tour, eat in their restaurant, or stay in their hotel.

This location will accommodate the backpacker type, vehicle tenting camper, as well as the Trailer/RVers.

The name is somewhat confusing if you think this is anywhere near the South Rim area of the Grand Canyon National Park.  Drive time that NP area is about 3 hours away.  But when RT 66 was the route before Interstate 40 came along.  You would have definitely been passing this location on the way to the Grand Canyon….at least coming from locations west of the park such as Kingman, Las Vegas, or California.

Traveling this route offers lots of back road scenery, and fun stops such as Hackberry, Arizona.  Also Seligman, Arizona if you passing through there as well.   Both are great photo op stops.

The Grand Canyon Caverns Campground entrance is a few miles east of the RT 66 & IR 18 intersection.  The view from the road side appears as an old run down gas station, and a small cafe.  Some old vehicles staged around the parking lot up by the buildings.  We stopped in the cafe and the friendly staff pointed us to the road/drive, that snaked around the back of the cafe, and up over a small hill.  We almost got nailed by the cops tucked in behind a tree (Old black & white cop car staged along the road).

The campground is about a mile down this road that winds through low growing evergreen trees.  You eventually come to the restaurant first.  This is some distance off the main road RT 66 and not visible from the main road.

Don’t expect RV resort accommodations.  Though they do have power pedestals on many sites.  The campground is typical high desert and appears not well kept.  Sites are dirt.  Some have picnic tables, some do not.  There are rough graded roads and ample sites tucked into out of the way places if you want to enjoy some privacy.   We saw no site numbers.  Once you pay you simply have squatters rights to any open place you want to make your camp.  Bathrooms/Showers…..not the best.  But they are centrally located at the front not too far from the restaurant building.

We made reservations at the last minute, the night before.  Mid May there were plenty of sites.  The grounds are large enough I would think you would not have trouble at any time?  You might not get a level site, or one with power, but I think they would be able to accommodate you.

We had a picnic table and lots of 15ft Pinyon Pine or Ceders that offered wind breaks and some privacy.   We didn’t have time to check out the Cavern tours.  That might be another story for another day.

We arrived around 6pm and took advantage of the restaurant that looks like it is open until 8pm.  We can both recommend the Pulled Pork/BBQ sandwich.   We washed those down with several ice cold brews and had a very relaxing visit.  It sure beat driving over in the middle of the night tempting fate driving in the dark.

We tried to set up minimal gear to head out right at first light.  It was a very cold night for sure.  I believe more so because of the higher altitude.  We survived the cold, and packed gear about 4am to take off.  Several others must have had the same idea because two other groups took off right before us.

So our recommendation is to allot the time to make this your stop.  Enjoy the restaurant the night before.  Even come early enough to check out the Caverns.

Summer time may be different, due to heat.  Camping could become unpleasant?  Be sure to check things out in advance of your date(s).  Plan accordingly.

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OATMAN ARIZONA

Do you want an off the beaten path road trip? Take a section of old RT 66 that takes you up a 2 lane mountain road, to the old mining town of Oatman, Arizona.

This old town is in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona, USA. It began as a small mining camp soon after two prospectors struck a $10 Million gold find in 1915.

During the warm months of the year this is a tourist destination complete with people from all parts of the world unloading off tour buses.

I was here just after Thanksgiving and the weather was chilly enough at lower elevations. Up the mountain east of Bullhead City, Arizona and about half way to Kingman, Arizona, it was down right cold.

Though the shops were open the town was kind of dead. Nothing like the stories I had heard of hoards of tourists. I think I was greeted by more burros than humans. On this chilly morning I thought someone should definitely open up a highly visible coffee shop. No Starbucks to be found up here. No real indication a hot cup of brew could be found.

I had a blast with my camera and actually appreciated the fact the cold was probably keeping people away. The whole town is a photographers dream.

The are the old buildings, hotel, etc. Now a bar, eatery, antique shops, and the typical place to see wind spinners, hanging crystals, and tie dyed shirts.

To me, the main attraction was the overly friendly burro’s that seem to own the town. Persistent adult burro’s that walk right up. To the more timid baby’s that have stickers on their foreheads stating “Don’t feed me I am still nursing’. They were incredibly cute.

There is old iron, vehicles, bottles, and signs. Many places look run down. Over on a hill in the distance you can see broken down mining structures. Off on another hill a huge rusting steel tank that appears to have held water at one time.

Don’t expect cell service most of the time. But the drive up the western slope of the mountain was beautiful in the early morning light.

I didn’t stay long since I was in shorts and a sweat shirt. I will definitely be making a return trip in the coming year. This trip was more of a recon mission to find where Oatman was. To get the lay of the land to return and do more photography. I can see I need to dedicate a whole day to this location.

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