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Route 66 (part 3)

07/12/24 - I skipped over Kingman in my other two Route 66 posts because as the largest (and probably only) city along this stretch, it's deserving of a full post. The road changes into a divided 4 lane road as you enter from the east and go through the industrial areas. There are signs of live there, some industry and some convienence marts, along with the Kingman Airport, but this is not the part of the road I think they were singing about. As you get closer to town it becomes a 4 lane road that is no longer divided. You can see some chains, some old time places trying to hold on, and some newer places celebrating the famous road. At this point you might also notice that Route 66 is alternately called Andy Devine Avenue. Andy Devine was a character actor who's career spanned from 1926 to 1977. He's most well known for his work in westerns and to me as Link Appleyard in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance".

Route 66 splits into a 4 lane divided road as you enter Kingman from the east.
Commercial section of Route 66 with several motels and businesses.

Compared to the other stops along the way, Kingman is the place to stop if you want to stock up on supplies. If you are headed west, turn right onto Stockton Hill Road and head toward and then past Route 40. Along with all kinds of fast food, you will find a Walmart, three grocery stores, some car dealers, hardware, drug stores, several banks, a hospital and to my mind some of the nicer places to stay along the trip. Further west from Stockman Avenue you can make a quick detour to Beale Street for some places to eat and shop that are more independant in flavor than the chains on Stockman. It also takes you directly to the Visitor Center, Gift Shop, and Museum and there is a place to take a picture of your car under the Route 66 sign. (Plus, there are restrooms). Across from the Visitor Center is Locomotive Park which has a static display of AT&SF steam engine #3759. And if trains are your thing, there is also a small but nice Railroad Museum and model railroading display in the Amtrak station just up the road.

Route 66 Visitor Center and Gift Shop in Kingman, AZ
Photo OP sign for Route 66 at the Visitor Center

Depending on what you feel like doing, you could either drive right through or stop and stay for a couple days to explore. In addition to all of the offerings in town, there is a county park less than 30 minutes away that has cabins, RV sites, recreational area, hiking, and frisbee golf. There is also a chance that something is happening at the county fairgrounds that is right in town so that's something to look for. (at the time I am writing this, I cannot access their website, but a quick web search will find what you need in other articles or stories. And from June though October, downtown hosts First Fridays. The downtown businesses have special deals, activities, pop-out shops, etc. There are also food trucks and other booths/tents for local businesses not on Beale Street full time. Kingman is a pretty good place to stop for an hour or a few days while you are out getting your kicks on Route 66.

Retro Diner celebrating the Route 66 heritage.
Mural on the side of a local business celebrating Route 66.

Andy Devine at IMDB
Locomotive Park
Kingman Historic District
Kingman Railroad Museum
Hualapai Mountain Park
First Fridays


Route 66 (part 2)

07/05/24 - Leaving Kingman, you continue along Route 66, but it does get a little dicey so pay attention to the signs. Once you leave the city, you are in a different kind of terrain. The high desert scrub is gone and you are in the land of sand. The road starts out straight and nondescript, but nearly every connecting road is a dirt road. There is some nice mountain scenery though and eventually you are driving through those mountains. Outside of the random houses here and there, there is not much to see. I revert back to thinking about the travelers in the 50's and how that must have felt before the era of cell phones. (I did mostly have a signal in this section).

Barren road between Kingman, AZ and Topock, AZ. Mountain outcropping along Route 66.

Further down Route 66, it turns into quite a curvy mountain road. Trucks are restricted due to the nature of the curves and the drop offs can be rather severe. There are some guardrails but many of the curves just have little to no shoulder and if you were to venture off, it would be quite a drop. But, if you take your time and drive appropriately for conditions, you'll be just fine. Eventually,you will come to the old mining town of Oatman. The Oatman of today reminds me of places like Jerome, AZ. The mines stopped producing in the 40's and then the interstate took the traffic away, so it reinvented itself as a tourist town. It has wooden sidewalks and some staged wild west shows along with a bunch of shops. There is a hotel with a full service restaurant and bar, but it no longer hosts overnight guests. And it has a few things that stand out to me. Free parking and public restrooms.

Curvy road through the mountains on the way to Oatman, AZ. Street view of main street in the old mining town of Oatman, AZ

The Oatman area is known for its wild burros which are descendants of the old miners stock. It's not uncommon to see them in town and they are quite docile. In town, feeding them is encouraged. If you see them outside of town, you are asked not to feed them. I rolled down my car window to get a picture and they tried to put their heads in my car, I'm assuming for treats. They had traffic completely stopped for a bit. But if you are in a hurry, you picked the wrong road anyway so if you chill out, they will eventually move along. Out of Oatman, it's barren until you hit the Colorado river n Topock. As my route took me right to Route 40, I did not spend much time there. My next Route 66 trip may start there and proceed into California. Along the road there are several signs that tell the history of the route. They are worth the stop so check them out.

Wild burros in the middle of Route 66 just outside of Oatman, AZ. Informational sign along Route 66.

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