Interstate Highway 40 is old Route 66 just about anywhere east of Flagstaff all the way to Oklahoma. This high speed freeway greatly reduces the travel time to old Route 66 points of interest in the wide open spaces of Arizona. What this means is that a tourist can thoroughly explore two or three Arizona Route 66 destinations in one day, even though the entire trip covers a few hundred miles.
A great section of Route 66 for a long day trip lies between Flagstaff and Winslow. In this section, a Route 66 fan will find the old historic town of Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Winona, Twin Arrows, Two Guns Ghost Town, Meteor Crater, a few abandoned tourist traps, Winslow and Homolovi State Park. A tourist would have to start early in the day to experience these destinations in this section of Route 66 before sundown, but what a full day of living the Route 66 dream this would be!
Of course, for those who drive Route 66 through Arizona on a regular basis, there is no pressure to visit as many Route 66 destinations as possible before the vacation time comes to an end. A regular commuter traveler or a local resident can pick and choose Route 66 destinations as they please. There are Route 66 destinations that are designed to attract the locals and some people revisit their favorite places time and time again.
A good example of a Route 66 destination that depends upon the regional populace for income as much as tourism is a tribal casino resort and one of the best can be found just east of Flagstaff at Twin Arrows. For those who drove old Route 66 back in the 1940s through the 1960s, Twin Arrows may sound familiar and memories will recall visions of an old Navajo roadside trading post by the same name. The landmark feature of the old trading post was two gigantic tall twin arrows planted in the ground with the feathers high in the sky.
The old original Twin Arrows Trading Post was a roadside attraction that did well during the golden age of Route 66 tourism, but when the Mother Road was bypassed with a modern high speed freeway, nearly every potential customers just raced on by. Eventually the Twin Arrows Trading Post closed the doors and faded into oblivion, just like so many of the other bypassed Route 66 attractions from back in the golden age.
Remnants of the old original Twin Arrows Trading Post can still be seen at the Twin Arrows freeway exit ramp. The two big arrows are still standing tall and the old building does create nostalgic photo opportunities. Unfortunately, I lost the photos of the old Twin Arrows Trading Post somehow, so after the next time I pass through a few new pictures will be added to this article.
After poking around at the abandoned trading post, it is only about a half mile drive across the highway to the new Twin Arrows Casino Resort. Twin Arrows truly is an impressive modern Southwestern style casino resort and the building design sure does have some nice eye appeal. The Navajo Nation takes great pride in this modern resort and for good reason. Twin Arrows has become the flagship design standard for all future tribal casinos that follow.
The Twin Arrows Casino Resort is posh and it does exude elegance in a relaxed peaceful setting. The pace is much more relaxed than what can be found in Las Vegas and the atmosphere is conducive to chilling out with a smile on the face. A mixture of modern and traditional tribal music that most people who live mainstream lifestyles have never heard does add to the relaxing effect. Even the style of slot machines on the casino floor fits in with the scene. Most of the gaming machines have wild animal, tribal and old wild west themes.
The Twin Arrows Casino Resort does offer all amenities and this resort has a large convention space. Twin Arrows caters to many tribal nation functions as well as the local Grand Canyon region tourism trade, so the restaurants in this resort aim to please a wide range of people. Traditional Southwestern cuisine is the main staple in the restaurants and many traditional Navajo food items are featured. The Twin Arrows is a great place for a novice foodie to discover that Mexican food actually has its roots in Native American cuisine, so this is a good choice for a Route 66 dining destination as well.
While working at the Grand Canyon, I visited Twin Arrows a few times, mostly for the good food and the peaceful atmosphere. The sports bar on the casino floor is as casual as it gets, so this was my regular haunt. The menu at the sports bar features a few mainstream classics, along with Southwestern cuisine snack food and some traditional native entrées. The first time dining at Twin Arrows I tried the Chili Bread Bowl. The Chile Bread Bowl is a hollowed small loaf of Sourdough Bread filled with a Southwestern style chili made with big chunks of local Navajo Beef. I am not a fan of modern ground beef chili, so this Twin Arrows Chili Bread Bowl was mighty satisfying!
On a second visit, I ordered a traditional ancient Aztec entrée that is now world famous. Pozole was the daily special at the Twin Arrows Sports Bar that day and there is nothing like a good bowl of Pozole to warm things up! When served, I jokingly asked the Navajo bartender if the Pozole was made with the original Aztec ingredients and he laughed while saying, “I wish!” I had a good laugh too, because the original Aztec Pozole was made with the flesh of enemies that the Aztecs killed. It comes as no surprise to see that this was a well known culinary fact in this part of the Southwest! Anyway, Pozole is made with pork in modern times, because pork tastes like human flesh … or so they say. The Pozole at Twin Arrows definitely was a top notch meal and the origins of the recipe sure are a fun topic at the dinner table!
The Twin Arrows Casino Resort is well worth checking out when visiting the Grand Canyon region. This resort is a good choice for a basecamp to adventure, because there is so much to see and do in this part of the Southwest. Twin Arrows sure has come a long way since its beginnings as a Route 66 roadside trading post and the new casino resort will surely be a Route 66 landmark for many years to come!
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