66, part III:
Las Vegas to Albuquerque
Leaving Las Vegas via Lake
Leaving Las Vegas on a warm, sunny day,
let's travel via Lake Mead.
From Interstate 15, north of the Las Vegas
town centre, north of the Fremont Street casino area, go east
on Lake Mead Boulevard, State Highway 147.
Reaching the Lake Mead National Recreation
Area, turn south along the lake, stopping at any site that attracts
you. Have a refreshing swim in the desert and a picnic. This was
the site of the infamous Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee honeymoon
video (Thieves carted away a safe containing their intimate personal
video of their honeymoon on a houseboat on Lake Mead while their
home was being renovated. The video ended up on the Internet).
Continue south along Lakeshore Road to U.S.
Go east and south on U.S. Highway 93 to
Hoover Dam, named after Herbert Hoover, one of the most vilified
presidents in U.S. history, who served during the start of the
Great Depression, which became the most severe economic downturn
in U.S. history. Eventually some 25 percent of Americans became
unemployed with many others working just part-time. In spite of
his failure to reverse the depression, however, many consider
Hoover to have been a good and honorable man
Hoover Dam, initiated by President Hoover,
an engineer by training, and once called Boulder Dam while memories
of Hoover's presidency were still strong, gave work to thousands
during the depression in the 1930's--a beacon of hope in those
dark times--and fostered the growth of Las Vegas, which until
then was a small railroad town. All those well-paid unmarried
dam workers attracted enough sin to make Las Vegas notorious during
the Great Depression, and Vegas, of course, never looked back.
Continue south on 93 into Arizona to Interstate
40 at Kingman, an historic Route 66 town.
Joining old Route 66
Drive east on I-40, and watch the countryside
become more scenic as the road rises in elevation into an area
of more rainfall.
Just east of Kingman, we should branch north
and east on an old portion of U.S. Highway 66, now called State
Highway 66. Some of the old roadside businesses have been lovingly
cared for, but for the most part the modern era has passed by
this region, whose countryside is quite pleasant.
At Seligman, travel east again on I-40,
which traces the route of old Highway 66 as far as Oklahoma City.
The Interstate continues to rise in elevation
until we are travelling through a dense pine forest. Be careful
with cigarettes and other fires, as this region gets very dry
during the early summer.
At Ash Fork, turn south on State Highway
89 toward Prescott.
Just north of Prescott, travel northeast
on State Highway 89A.
Be sure to plan some time in the picturesque
old copper mining town of Jerome on this route.
Next comes Sedona, the so-called new age
"high energy" spot. People swear that they are vitalized
by the vibrations here. Dr. Voyageur gets high just by being in
beautiful Arizona and New Mexico, so he feels no contrast.
Regardless of its energy level, Sedona stands
out for the beauty of its setting. Sedona, surrounded by colourful
rock formations, is lovely by any measure.
Sedona is a nice place for lunch, but an
extremely expensive place to spend the night.
North of town, Highway 89A follows the incredibly
beautiful Oak Creek Canyon. Be sure to allow time for a stop at
Slide Rock State Park for a refreshing dip. This area, too, has
great beauty at all times of year.
Reaching Flagstaff and the
Soon, we arrive in fast-growing Flagstaff,
set in the northern Arizona forest, which has numerous budget
accommodation choices, including hostels (all very close to the
old Santa Fe, now Amtrak, depot, which lies just south of Flagstaff's
western-style town centre), Motel 6's, and other motels, all of
which are heavily booked throughout the summer. Most accommodation
in Flagstaff is along either the busy Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Railway or Interstate 40 or both, so expect some noise.
This university town has lots of budget
restaurants, too, including a Furr's Cafeteria within easy walking
distance of the Greyhound station. You will find a helpful visitors
centre in the Amtrak station.
From Flagstaff take U.S. Highway 180 north,
which joins State Highway 64, to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Or, drive over to Williams, west of Flagstaff, and then take the
Grand Canyon Railway to
the national park.
Based on its detours, some Route 66 purists
may not like Dr. Voyageur's itinerary. For example, the Grand
Canyon like Las Vegas was never located on Route 66. Nevertheles,
most Route 66 travellers, if they had time, visited the Grand
Canyon, including many of those travelling by railway. Even the
Route 66 grand opening celebration in 1926 extended beyond the
end of the highway at Chicago all the way to New York City.
As far in advance as possible, try to book
the Mather Campground at Grand Canyon Village within a short walk
to the rim. Call 1 800 365-2267. Have a credit card available
to pay in advance.
If Mather is not available, take any campground,
or use a hostel or KOA-type campground or motel in Flagstaff.
Book at least two nights if you stay in Flagstaff. You will also
find a small selection of more expensive hotels within the national
park, but during the summer these are often booked far in advance.
As already mentioned, the best activities
here are sunrise and sunset walks along the trail that follows
the rim of the canyon, so, if possible, try to stay overnight.
In Summer, do not--do not--plan to walk
down into the canyon, unless you are in fantastically good shape.
Even the summer burro rides into the canyon are torturous due
to the extreme heat.
The temperature at the rim may be quite
tolerable--30c or so--but as we descend into the canyon the temperature
gets hotter and hotter and hotter. Remember, too, that we will
have to walk back up or ride back up those steep trails.
From the Grand Canyon, drive east along
State Highway 64 to U.S. Highway 89. Along this route are various
Turn north on Highway 89 to U.S. Highway
Go east on 160 to Tuba City.
For some time we have been travelling through
the Navajo Indian Reservation, one of the largest areas set aside
for native people in the U.S., and soon we will transit the Hopi
Indian Reservation as well.
Nevertheless, all is not well. There is
real poverty here, though not the crushing poverty of the malnutritioned.
And, much to Dr. Voyageur's surprise, there is often little respect
for the land, as judged from a European point of view.
Household trash lines the highways, as it
surprisingly lines some railways in France. However, few cultures
have been forced to undergo the changes of these native people
in the last two centuries, so we will not criticize the rubbish,
which may be the result of a small minority within the tribe,
and of course we will not add to it.
From Tuba City, we take Highway 264 across
these large reserves with their plateaus and small villages into
New Mexico. Those wanting a more intimate experience of the history
here may detour north to the ruins of Canyon de Chelly National
Monument. This fascinating and popular spot is reachable by dirt
road, and guides with horses are available to take you deep into
We continue eastbound on Highway 264 to
U.S. Highway 666.
We will not linger on 666 for long, as the
unlucky 666 combination seems to bring a remarkably high accident
rate to this infamous highway. Drive extra carefully here!
Turn south on 666 to Gallup, New Mexico,
a sort of rough trading centre for the reservations and ranches
of the region and a major stop on Interstate 40. Just north of
I-40, still on Highway 666, we find a Furr's Cafeteria on the
right filled mostly with locals and--of course--Dr. Voyageur enjoying
tasty, inexpensive meals.
Turn east on I-40, which passes some interesting
country until it descends into the Rio Grande River valley near
Albuquerque. Worth a short detour at Grants are the rock and lava
formations of El Malpais National Monument, which is south of I-40
along State Highway 53.
For the next leg of your Route 66 trip, see Part
IV: Albuquerque to the Mississippi River.
Go to >> Route 66, part I: Introduction
Go to >> Part II: Santa Monica to
Go to >> Part III: Las Vegas to Albuquerque
Go to >> Part IV: Albuquerque
to the Mississippi River
Go to >> Part V: Mississippi
River to Virginia
Go to >> Part VI: Understanding
the War Between the States
Go to >> Part VII: Virginia
to Washington, D.C.
Go to >> Part VIII: Washington,
D.C. to New York City
Go to >> Part IX: Planning
your Route 66 trip
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