Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in Arizona, California, Gallery, Travel | 23 comments

John Steinbeck christened it the Mother Road, and everyone from Nat King Cole to Van Morrison has crooned the catchy tune celebrating the 2400 mile cross-country journey along this most famous of highways. Route 66 is tenacious—almost 90 years after its creation and three decades after it was declared obsolete, this old road lives on in the collective sentiment as a symbol of adventure, freedom and opportunity.

For the most part, it’s a broken down dream, a piecemeal byway lined with fleabag motels, dusty storefronts, seedy bars, out-of-service gas stations, and half-lit flickering neon signs. Nonetheless, every time we near a section of the Mother Road, we’re drawn in, and I begin to hum “If you ever plan to motor West, Travel my way take the highway that’s the best, Get your kicks on Route 66….”.

In late October, our route took us through Williams, Arizona—a small town that proudly proclaims the distinction of being the last holdout on Route 66 bypassed by an interstate. Left to wither on the vine—like every small town along the route when four-lane divided highways left them in the dust—much of the downtown has seen better days. But there’s a revival going on, and unlike many other towns that went belly-up along the venerable old route, Williams appears to be thriving—1950’s era motor courts, mom & pop cafes, scruffy bars, and Indian curio shops share the street with a mix of new businesses (most with a retro twist); and of course, there’s a plethora of shops over-stuffed with Route 66 memorabilia and souvenirs. It doesn’t hurt that Williams is also the gateway to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but many people visit simply for the nostalgia of a simpler time—wishful thinking though that may be.

We lunched at the new and attractive Kicks on Route 66, and after making two circuits of the main street to peruse all of the attractions, stopped by South Rims Wine & Beer Garage for a flight of local beers. Had we known that the sketchy looking 1912 Sultana Bar was written up in Gourmet Magazine as one of the best bars in America (seriously??) we would have ventured in. If you’re into Route 66 memorabilia, you’ll love Williams. You’ll find everything to decorate your home, your vehicle, and yourself—from tea towels to license plates to stick-on tattoos—emblazoned with the beloved Route 66 insignia.

About the campgrounds: We found two convenient places to stay along I-40, which also happens to be old Route 66. In Needles, California, Fender’s River Road Resort is a fine little park on the banks of the Colorado River. For the very reasonable price of $14 a night (with Passport America) we had full-hookups, laundry, and good Verizon coverage. We especially appreciated the use of a lovely deck overlooking the river, where we enjoyed G & T’s and unwound after our almost 300-mile drive from Lone Pine.

Another 175 miles the next day brought us to Williams and the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. Although it’s basically a big parking lot, it’s a very nice parking lot, and is conveniently located just two blocks from downtown Williams and the historic district. It’s a bargain at $23 (with Passport America) and includes full hookups, laundry, use of the amenities at the nearby hotel, and good Verizon coverage.

Next Up: An Unexpected Adventure In Navajo National Monument

Getting Our Kitsch On Route 66

Pulling Into The RV Park In Needles

Yep, We're On Route 66

Nice Site At Fender River Road Resort

Sunset Over The Colorado River

On The Main Drag In Williams

Beer Flight At Kicks On Route 66

Last To Fall And Proud Of It

Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum

Service Station Turned Cafe

Classic Autos Abound On Route 66

Elvis, Of Course

More Residents Of Main Street

Every Possible Route 66 Souvenir

Local Color On Route 66

1950's Grand Canyon Pullman Railcar

The World Famous Sultana, Circa 1912

South Rims Wine And Beer Garage

Grand Canyon Railway RV Park

Getting Our Kitsch On Route 66
Pulling Into The RV Park In Needles
Yep, We're On Route 66
Nice Site At Fender River Road Resort
Sunset Over The Colorado River
On The Main Drag In Williams
Beer Flight At Kicks On Route 66
Last To Fall And Proud Of It
Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum
Service Station Turned Cafe
Classic Autos Abound On Route 66
Elvis, Of Course
More Residents Of Main Street
Every Possible Route 66 Souvenir
Local Color On Route 66
1950's Grand Canyon Pullman Railcar
The World Famous Sultana, Circa 1912
South Rims Wine And Beer Garage
Grand Canyon Railway RV Park
Getting Our Kitsch On Route 66 thumbnail
Pulling Into The RV Park In Needles thumbnail
Yep, We're On Route 66 thumbnail
Nice Site At Fender River Road Resort thumbnail
Sunset Over The Colorado River thumbnail
On The Main Drag In Williams thumbnail
Beer Flight At Kicks On Route 66 thumbnail
Last To Fall And Proud Of It thumbnail
Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum thumbnail
Service Station Turned Cafe thumbnail
Classic Autos Abound On Route 66 thumbnail
Elvis, Of Course thumbnail
More Residents Of Main Street thumbnail
Every Possible Route 66 Souvenir thumbnail
Local Color On Route 66 thumbnail
1950's Grand Canyon Pullman Railcar thumbnail
The World Famous Sultana, Circa 1912 thumbnail
South Rims Wine And Beer Garage thumbnail
Grand Canyon Railway RV Park thumbnail