Driving on Interstate Highway 40 in Arizona between Kingman and Seligman may be the fast way to go, but this hectic stretch of four lane highway does not offer the best touring experience. In modern times, the high speed freeway is now officially Route 66 in these parts, but those who travel this section of highway will notice that no old Mother Road signage exists. This is because the original Route 66 alignment ran through old historic Peach Springs much closer to the Grand Canyon long before I-40 came to be. In order to gain the fullest Arizona Route 66 experience, a visitor must simply step back in time to an age when when places like Peach Springs, Havasu Falls and the Grand Canyon Caverns were high on America’s vacation destination list. This is as easy as getting off the speed trap riddled Interstate Highway and taking the road less traveled on good old Route 66!
Access to the old historic Peach Springs alignment can be found in Kingman or Seligman. It is best to grab a bite to eat and stock up on drinks before setting sail while in either of these towns, because the dining and shopping options are few and far between on this old section of the original Mother Road. In reference to the photos for this article, the starting point was Route 66 in Kingman, just past where the old classic 1940s style motor inns can be found.
Between Kingman and Peach Springs on old Route 66, many remnants of the past can be seen as the odometer racks up plenty of miles. A few old Route 66 ghost towns that are now ranching communities still have old Route 66 trading posts, filling stations and cheesy tourist trap motels on location, but most of these businesses have been shuttered for many decades. The old rusty touring cars sit under shade trees and the antique gas pumps have been dry for a long time. There are a couple of saloons and campgrounds that have survived along this section of road, but overall, the old fashioned businesses from the heyday of Route 66 are long gone in these parts.
The old historic town of Peach Springs is a different story and this community is very much alive in this modern age. Peach Springs is now a Hualapai Nation Tourism town that sees a steady flow of visitors that want to experience the majestic Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon. Havasu Falls is called Supai in the local languages and this destination is an ancient sacred place that is located on tribal land. In order to gain access, visitors must book a guided tour in advance and the waiting list can be a few months long during the summer season. Supai is one of the most beautiful places on earth and this is a very popular place for wedding ceremonies. Supai is a spiritual place that takes patience to visit, but the journey will take visitors to a unique oasis that is like being in pure paradise!
After passing by the Supai access road on old Route 66 on the way to Seligman, the old roadside billboard signs for the Grand Canyon Caverns start to appear. This tourist attraction used to be famous back in the old days, but now in modern times this destination barely appears on a map. Nothing much has changed at the Grand Canyon Caverns, so thus is a good place to step back in time to a simpler age. The underground cave system here actually exits into a canyon near the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, but to explore the entire length of the cave a visitor must already be an experienced spelunker for safety’s sake.
The main cambers of the Grand Canyon Caverns are what most tourists see and there are several surprises that lie in store. Part of the motel actually is located deep underground within the caverns! There are honeymoon suites along with private rooms, so an old fashioned adventurous Route 66 style overnight stay can be planned. Waking up in a comfortable motel room in a deep cavern is an experience that can only be found on the old Peach Springs alignment of Route 66!
Endless cattle ranches that stretch to the horizon is all that can be seen before arriving at the end of the line in old historic Seligman. Seligman is a classic Route 66 destination in itself, so it is best to set a few hours aside to explore this town. From Seligman it is back to driving the dreaded Interstate Highway till the next '66 town appears on the map, so be sure to soak it all up in Seligman while you can!
As can easily be imagined, driving on old Route 66 Peach Springs Route will surely be more gratifying than traveling on the hypnotically monotonous high speed freeway. Besides, the local businesses genuinely are thankful for the tourist dollar spent, so a sense of pride can also be attained during the long ride. The majestic Havasu Falls and the Grand Canyon Caverns are the main attractions, which is reason enough to get up and go!
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