Weekend Adventures: Route 66 Itinerary Flagstaff to Oatman
Disclosure: Mr. Misadventures and I had this road trip already planned when Buick reached out to see if I wanted to try out a 2018 Buick Enclave. Of course I couldn't turn the opportunity to take my trip in this beauty, however, all opinions and itineraries in this post are my own (as always).
During our weekend explorations in Flagstaff, we took the opportunity to drive a little bit of the Mother Road, Route 66 through Winslow down to Petrified Forest National Park. As someone who really enjoys history, I wanted to continue to take on bits and pieces of this iconic road to revisit some of its stories. So many of our European friends have this route as part of their Southwest bucket list, I feel an obligation to check it out as well!
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For this Route 66 itinerary, we decided to start from Flagstaff and continue through to Oatman. Our treat for the day was getting to do it in a 2018 Buick Enclave. Mr. Misadventures and I are road trip fanatics and packing pros. We usually have a cooler with picnic staples and cold drinks. A bag for non-perishable food/snacks and an individual thermos with coffee and a large thermos of tea (and one with soup in cold weather). I've got a day bag and a camera bag and the hubby has several camera bags and other equipment. Whenever we need to get something out of the back of the car it is like playing Tetris. Having the Enclave was awesome, we fit all our stuff in the back seat without ever needing to open the trunk and we STILL had room to spare!
It was nice to have an up-to-date GPS. Whenever we go anywhere in our regular (which doesn't have GPS) we rely on our phone. Both Google and Apple maps haven't figured out that our housing community has a back gate. So for the first 7 minutes of nearly every ride we take, the GPS is constantly trying to re-route us through the front gate – it is so annoying! But the GPS inside the Buick was in the know and we didn't have to listen to someone demand we re-route every 10 seconds! It's the little things I tell you!
As a former Buick ambassador I already knew I was in for a smooth ride, but I had forgotten how smooth. Confession time. Mr. Misadventures really enjoys his car and we've had many adventures, but for me, it is absolutely the most uncomfortable car I've ever ridden in. I love road trips, but by the end of the day, my legs and bum are sore! The hubby must feel the same way (although he will never admit it) because he kept saying how smooth and comfortable the car was!
So the 2-hour drive to Flagstaff on I-17 was nice! We got to Flagstaff and took some photos at the Visitor Center where they have the cool Route 66 sign (as well as tons of info inside). Flagstaff is the ideal home base while exploring Route 66, it is one of many things you can do from town.
From Flagstaff our first stop was Williams. They have a nice couple of blocks of vintage Route 66 buildings, restaurants, and signs. Plus a large sign perfect for selfies and Instagrams. When we first arrived there was a chunk of tourists doing just that so we drove around the town and made a few stops and then circled back to get our own shot.
Williams is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon because it's where you get on the train that takes you to the National Park for the day. I am a big proponent of this because it means fewer cars in the park. The system is really convenient. You take the train to the park, use the bus system to visit the park, and either stay overnight in the lodge or return to Williams the same day.
At this point in the trip, I took over driving. When Mr. Misadventures is on the hunt for photos he isn't the most reliable driver (sshhhh) so I drove while he shouted instructions: “Stop! Pullover! Backup!” Trust me, it's routine for me at this point. At least I was doing this in the lap of luxury.
Our next stop was Ash Fork. Personally, I say skip it. Blink and you miss it anyway. There is a Route 66 museum, but it isn't open on the weekend!
Luckily Seligman made up for it. We arrived at the main attraction, Historic Seligman Sundries at the same time as 2 giant coach buses full of tourists. I am kicking myself to ask where they started from, my guess is Vegas as there were people speaking all different languages. It amazes me that people from all over the world come to visit this practically abandoned road all due to its legendary golden days. I told Mr. Misadventures that if I was a multi-billionaire, the first billion would go to good causes like curing cancer and Alzheimers, etc. but the next billion would go into revitalizing Route 66. With cool hotels and good food and shops with interesting things like art made from part of the road, etc. Just my lofty dreams, and I digress!
There are 2 stores next to each other the Copper Cart both with tons of vintage “things” as well as souvenirs, coffee, etc. It is fun to explore and great for photos.
I was reminded that Paris is only 5,769 miles away. Hmm, standing in front of this sign it feels a lot farther!
No matter where you turn, you will not forget you are on Route 66! These towns that are few and far between do take pride in their little piece of the mother road, mainly because tourism is likely the only source of revenue in the region (other than some mining). Whatever the case, I just wish there was more.
The retro signs we passed throughout the day were pretty cool. This one in Seligman as we headed out of town. I'd say of all the spots we visited on this particular itinerary, Seligman is the best town to stay in (if you aren't staying in Flagstaff). It has several motel and restaurant options, clean wide streets, and a fair amount to explore. It is a good overnight option if you want to stay on Route 66.
Up until this point, Route 66 was mainly getting on and off I-40, but after Seligman, we were able to drive for a long stretch off the interstate as we headed to Hackberry, which is really just another single-story stopover with more vintage paraphernalia. Great for photos, but it doesn't make for a lot to do. I did have a nice conversation with a French couple I ambushed coming out of the store. I wanted to know their impressions of Route 66. Turns out the gentlemen are quite familiar as he organizes tours from French people coming to visit the Southwest. Small world!
From Hackberry we drove through Kingman. We've stopped in Kingman a few times with the RV. It is a good fuel stop between Vegas and Phoenix for diesel. It's a decent-sized town with lots of hotels and restaurants, and Route 66 runs through a large stretch of it, but we didn't see anything we wanted to stop and spend the time to check out.
We were impatient to get to Oatman. You'll see why in a bit.
However, there was a little obstacle in our path. After Kingman, we had another nice little chunk of road that wasn't the interstate and checked out the historical marker at Cool Springs Station where we learned about a bit this particular portion of the 2200-miles that stretched through the Black Mountains.
I did get out and read the history and check out the mountainscape, despite the picture above! This was me waiting for Mr. Misadventures to take some shots, not knowing he also captured this one of me being the patient wife. It was 90-degrees outside and the Buick was air-conditioned, so you know what my priorities were!
I was completely unfamiliar with this portion of the road that was used between 1926 and 1984 as the primary east-west artery. The road through the mountains was very winding and narrow and I was thankful for every bell and whistle on the Enclave which helped me navigate through Sitegreaves Pass and beyond. There is a reason they call it the Drive Confidence Package on the sticker because I tell you, I felt like I needed the Lane Change Alert, the Side Blind Zone Alert, the Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, the Foward Collision Alert, and especially the Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, there are other features in that package, but those are the ones that were the Freaked Out Drive-Assist!
We stopped at the peak and really enjoyed the incredible lava-capped mesa views. And for me to relax my grip on the steering wheel! But I don't look too freaked out though, right?!
Coming down the backside was less not as picturesque because there is still an active mining operation, but we quickly forgot this as we were distracted by our arrival into Oatman.
And our greeters.
Oatman is an old mining town founded in 1851, but that became a hot prospect in 1915 when 2 miners struck gold, a $10 million gold find to be exact! Within a year, the town's population grew to more than 3,500. Now there are fewer than 150 people. When the miners left, they left their burros, and they've been here ever since!
Every morning they come down from the hills looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists. Vendors sell Burro pellets and carrots and the burros will eat all day if you feed them. Just before sunset, they wander back to the hills for the night. The residents have named them all and some of them are total characters!
These burros are the town's savior. Except for the annual egg fry that takes place on the 4th of July there isn't much else to do! But the burros are totally worth the trip!
After spending time wandering the streets, photographing the burros, and visiting the local bar, we called it a day and began our drive back home. We took a moment to enjoy the beautiful Black Mountain views. It would be a great sunrise/sunset shot.
Spring means the cacti and plants are in bloom, love the ocotillos which we also saw a lot of when we were in Borrego Springs.
And one last Buick Enclave beauty shot, we couldn't help it. It is a looker! An absolute delight to drive the 500+ miles we did on this itinerary in comfort and style. Look at that beautiful satin steel lady! Not me, I do have a bit of grey in my hair, but the car.
For most of the road trip we listened to SiriusXM radio, but on the way home, we tried out the Apple CarPlay capabilities and enjoyed tunes from Mr. Misadventures eclectic collection. Oh and by the way there are 6 USB ports! Yes, 6!
Our trip from home to Flagstaff to Oatman on Route 66 covered 523 miles and took us 12 hours. We packed our own lunch, snacks, and drinks and stopped for gas twice, once for a half tank and once for a full tank.
Our Route 66 adventures have already taken us from Flagstaff to the Petrified Forest National Park and from Flagstaff to Oatman. Our next exploration will be from Oatman to Havasu Lake and then direction Needles towards Santa Monica, I'm not of fan of LA, so we won't go all the way in, I've heard there isn't much there anyway, but it will be fun to continue discovering what is left of the mother road heritage.
We love road trips and this one was extra special because I wasn't sore at the end of the day!
How about you? Have you done any of Route 66? Is it on your bucket list? Do tell!
For a visual summary of this post, check out my Flagstaff to Oatman on Route 66 web story!
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We’ve driven parts of Route 66, but not the whole thing. We travel on the part through Illinois a couple times a year on our way to St. Louis!
I had no idea there was a Route 66, clearly I am too sheltered over here in NH. I love the idea of experiencing Route 66, it’s super colorful and loving the photos you shared. I will have to look it up soon!
these photos are incredible! I have always wanted to drive along route 66. Bucket list for sure!
That looks so amazing and almost like going back in time! I love the bright sunshine showing in the pictures. What great scenery!
Route 66 is so iconic. It’s definitely on our bucket list for road trips. Sounds like you’ve got a lot of fun packed into your itinerary.
Big plans for doing a road trip with the kids on Route 66. Cars is one of their favourite movies and it would truly be a memorable trip
I’ve always wanted to do more of Route 66. I’ve done parts of it, but not the older stretches where you *feel * you’re on 66.
Also, my mom has had three Buick Enclaves in the last 6 years (she leases them), so we’ve taken many a road trip in it! I think it would be too big for me to drive on the regular, particularly in Nashville where street parking is king, but I do love it for a good family vacation. So much space!
What a fun road trip, and in such a great vehicle! I just had my picture taken at the beginning of Route 66 in Chicago two weeks ago; it really made me think of doing the actual road trip in its entirety. My parents have gone to see the burros in Oatman! OMG, they’re so cute! Thanks for the itinerary, have been through part of it, but not all. Your husband’s pics are fab, btw!
Hi ya Andi….hope this finds you well and ready for another adventure…I loved your commentary on the Route 66 trip in the nice Buick (my wife drives one!!). I have been in AZ since 2002 and yet to make the trip and you just helped me fix that problem….soon as the weather settles back into the 70-80’s I will make the run from Gallup to the Colorado on my bike…so I have plenty of time to get ready. I grew up in Phoenix and left in 1965 for a stint with Uncle Sam and the Navy….five years later I was back and left for Alaska and helped build the Pipeline…and my roots brought me back to AZ when that adventure ended in 2002. AZ is great for biking and I am all over the state when weather permits. Thanks again for reminding me that the Burro’s love company up north. Ciao Tony
@Tony! AZ is such an awesome place and so much to do outside of Phoenix and Tucson! I like the less kitchy parts of Route 66 and thin Oatman is a blast! Big change between AZ and AK!