From National Parks and Indian Ruins to quaint little towns and hiking trails, there are lots of interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona! Some things take hours, some take moments, and some take days, but I can assure you, there is something for everybody on Route 66.
Flagstaff is the central location for many spots in this area, but Williams is also convenient. Wherever you land, you can travel an hour in any direction and find interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona! This tool from Booking.com might help you find that perfect lodging spot. Check it out!
1) The South Rim of the Grand Canyon
On the topic of interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, first, and most obviously, is the Grand Canyon. It might take more than one visit, during different seasons to fully appreciate this natural wonder. But it’s fairly easy to visit the South Rim, the East Entrance, and Cameron Trading Post, all on the same day.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular viewing spot because it’s close to Route 66 (I-40.) And conveniently, there is a train that transports people from the city of Williams to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim (and back). Once you’re inside the national park, you can jump onto the shuttle buses that run between the viewpoints.
South Rim: Western Viewpoints
At the westerly-most spot of the South-Rim Entrance, there is a bus that runs even-further west! No cars allowed. It makes about 8 stops along the way. And you can walk the distance between some of them if you want to.
South Rim: Bright Angel Trail
At the South Rim, you’ll find gift shops, restaurants, museums, and plenty of things to capture your attention. But ultimately, we are always drawn to the edge! The wide, paved pathways are well maintained. So a wagon, stroller, wheelchair, or bicycle can get around just fine.
As you walk downhill into the canyon, you’ll notice that it’s a very easy walk! But consider this: The further you go downhill into the canyon, the further you must climb uphill to get out of it! So please know your limits, and by all means, hydrate!
The First Tunnel
Do yourself a favor and hike to the first tunnel on Bright Angel Trail. It’s a tenth of a mile into the canyon, and it only takes about 20 minutes round trip. Meanwhile, if you want to go further in, this is where you would do it!
2) South Rim, East Entrance: Desert View Watchtower
From the Visitor’s Center at the South Rim, drive 30 minutes east to The Desert View Watchtower. The road follows the edge of the Grand Canyon and there are plenty of viewpoints along the way.
But photographers, take heed! If you’re racing the sun, head directly over to the tower to get your sunset shots!
The Watchtower is a replica of ancient Native American watchtowers and it’s considered artwork! The stairway is made of carefully selected stones. Once inside, you will find a gift shop and a display of fine art. Also inside, is a narrow spiral staircase that leads to the observation deck. (Sorry, there is no elevator.)
Panoramic Views from the Observation Deck
Photographers: This one is not to be missed! Grab your camera equipment, because the observation deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Grand Canyon below!
Cameron Trading Post is at Hwy 89
The next stop on the journey would be Cameron Trading Post at the Hwy 89 junction. (Not pictured.) This is a full-services stop! Not only do they have a gas station and gift store with everything from hotdogs to fine art, but they also have a hotel and an RV park!
From here, when you leave, you must decide if you are traveling North, or if you want to go South. We will eventually be going south. But first, I want to tell you about the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, which is to the north.
3) The North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Technically, the North Rim should not be included in our list of interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, because is not on Route 66! But it’s still worth a mention here.
Plus, it deserves a dedicated week or more. Not only does it take extra time to thoroughly explore the area, but it also takes extra time to get there. And I strongly recommend reservations!
Much like the viewpoints at the South Rim, you can expect those same broad, paved walkways to be here at the North Rim. So even if you’re on wheels, many of the panoramic views are very accessible!
As you might imagine, the views from the north rim are quite a bit different from those of the south rim. And it’s staggering to think that it’s all connected!
Getting to the North Rim
To find the North Rim, travel around the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon, then north to the Vermillion Cliffs which could be an outing on its own! Then travel west for a while, before you finally drop south, towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The route looks like this:
See what I mean? It’s a four-hour drive from the South Rim! But once you’re there, you should stay for a while. From the North Rim, you can access the famous Kaibab Trail which takes 4-6 hours to hike. Have you hiked the Grand Canyon? Tell me about it in the comments, below!
Meanwhile, let’s get back to Cameron Trading Post where we left off, and head south from there. If you’re interested in cliff dwellings and ancient ruins, I would recommend Wupatki National Monument!
4) Wupatki National Monument
Reserve an entire afternoon to enjoy the walking trails and Native American ruins at Wupatki National Monument. Yes, it is possible to actually get up into the living spaces in those ruins. And, while not all areas are stroller or wheelchair accessible, you can still get pretty close. It has a Visitor’s Center near the entrance for more information.
The entrance to Wupatki is only about 30 minutes from Flagstaff, so it’s fair to include it on the ever-growing list of interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona!
The Blow Hole
My favorite spot is called the blowhole (pictured in the link) which has a large grate over an opening into the earth. And the amazing part is that the opening actually seems to breathe! Sometimes the air flows into the hole, and sometimes the air blows out of it! The day I was there, it was blowing out and while I expected there to be an odor, it was totally odorless! Amazing!
There might be 8 or 10 separate ruins to explore. When you’re done with one site, just drive to the next one. Eventually, the road loops around to the south end of the park, where we find Sunset Crater Volcano.
5) Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Here’s another interesting attraction on Route 66 in Arizona! The park at Sunset Crater Volcano has several walking trails, with signs posted along the way, explaining certain elements. Since it has its own dedicated Visitor’s Center and entrance, at that south end of the loop, it would be feasible to enter here and drive north to Wuptaki, whichever is more convenient.
Some of the trails are broad and paved, while others are narrow, and covered in gnarly lava rock. The whole place looks somewhat prehistoric!
Improvements Are Always Being Made
During my visit in 2018, some of the trails were rugged (not paved). But it looked like they were doing some upgrades to the entire park.
Along the trail, I saw some beautiful things! This immense pine tree certainly has some stories to tell!
Look at this burly beauty! See the paved walkway to the right of the frame? This was taken in 2018, so it’s probably improved even more so, by now.
Cracks in the Earth and Huge Lava Rocks
Here we are, nearly at the foot of the volcano. Look at this huge crack in the earth! Just imagine what had to happen for THIS to happen! whoa!
In the background is the red dome of the volcano. In the foreground is (presumably) its creation of Lava Rock.
Don’t trip and scrape a knee! It’ll change your entire day! This section of the monument is not recommended for children, strollers, wheelchairs, or precariously balanced people. But it’s beautiful, and can be seen clearly from the parking area.
Getting Back on Track
At the edge of Sunset Crater Volcano Park, the road naturally leads back to Hwy I-89, where we will go south towards Flagstaff. From there, we can hop back onto Historic Route 66.
Let’s go west on Route 66 for a few miles because if we’re looking for interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, we certainly wouldn’t want to miss the town of Seligman! Let me show you what I mean!
6) Seligman on Route 66
When it comes to interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona don’t miss the quaint town of Seligman! This is as far west as our journey takes us, even though this road goes all the way to Los Angeles. But for now, let’s hang out in Seligman for a while!
Several shops and restaurants make this stop worthwhile. For example, Delgadillo’s Snow Cap was a hoot!
Aside from the crazy signs and roadside attractions they had on display inside and outside, the manager had an entertaining shtick! The mustard bottle sprayed out a yellow string which is sure to get people jumping every time!
Creative Artwork in Seligman on Route 66
Seligman is a great place to get out of the car, walk around, and explore. The quirky artwork is their signature!
As you leave Seligman, I strongly recommend you take the OLD Highway which will take you east again. It connects with I-40 (Route 66) and along the way, you’ll see some of those old Burma Shave roadside signs. Remember those?
7) Meteor Crater & Barringer Space Museum
Between Flagstaff and Winslow, there is a well-advertised site that might be worth your time. And while I’m not convinced of the official narrative, the Meteor Crater Visitor Center is still one of the most popular attractions on Route 66 in Arizona.
Apparently, way back during the last ice age (when they were keeping copious notes, I’m sure), a huge meteorite hit the ground. The result of this impact was the creation of Meteor Crater, and it has miraculously kept its shape all this time!
And look how close it came to the visitor’s center! haha! Regardless of how it happened, it certainly is an impressive hole!
Visitors can choose to experience the Crater in an air-conditioned indoor viewing area, outside on one of the observation decks and self-guided trails, or a guided tour along the rim of the crater.
8) Walnut Canyon National Monument
About 20 minutes east of Flagstaff we find another National Monument called Walnut Canyon. It’s not far off the beaten path, and it’s a great place to get some exercise! The trail makes a loop through the park, going down a steep hill, and then back up again.
What Goes Down – Must Come Up
See what I mean? Please hydrate and pack a few things, especially if you’re traveling with kiddos. There are no services down the hill, however, the visitor’s center is back up top.
From the trail, you can see what’s coming up ahead, and it looks kinda fun!
Imagine Living Here
This is a great set of ruins to explore because they allow the public access to each one of those caves, all around the canyon. Can you imagine actually living like this?
Sunshine and Shade
The indigenous people selected their living areas intentionally. For example, in the summertime, they would reside in the shade, and in the wintertime, they would move to areas in direct sunshine.
As you can see, vegetation also has its preferences. Some types of trees prefer to grow on the right side of the mountain, while other types of trees prefer the climate on the left.
Rocks as Rooftops
Certain areas of the hillside were selected for the amount of protection they provided. For example, the overhanging rock serves as a rooftop. Then they would create the walls (as shown above).
Unusual Sights – Curvy Tree Trunk
Well, I can’t show you all my pictures here, but check out this crazy tree! Meanwhile, let’s get back to finding interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona! About an hour east of Flagstaff is a small town called Winslow. Let’s go!
9) Standing On a Corner
On the off chance that the reader may not know, there’s an old song by the Eagles that goes, “Standin’ on a corner in Winslow Arizona – and such a fine sight to see! It’s a girl, my Lord, in a Flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me!”
Well, as you may have guessed, Winslow has a corner that is staged to match that song and it’s kinda cool! The song, which is called “Take It Easy” is playing through the speakers on the streets! You-can’t-not-hear-it! LOL!
It’s a very small town, and honestly, that’s the highlight of Winslow. Aside from a few hotels and restaurants, there’s not much else to see here, so let’s keep moving!
10) Homol’ovi State Park on Route 66
Slightly east of Winslow, on the north side of I-40 (Route 66) is Homol’ovi State Park. This is a campground & RV park with remnants of ancient ruins. The Visitor’s Center is open during the daytime, where you can get a stamp for your scrapbook.
The day I arrived, there just happened to be an available spot, on a first-come, first-served basis. But, for best results, I recommend you reserve your spot online in advance. (Not an affiliate link.)
The Warm Earth
From the inside of my tent, as I crawled into my cushy air-mattress bed, my hands felt the warmth of the ground coming up through the floor of the tent! And can I tell you? It was the most amazing sensation! I stretched out on the ground, prone position, hugging the warm earth, and fell asleep. It was absolutely sublime!
Early in the morning, I woke up to a really bright light! Squinting through my zipper window I was determined to see which of my inconsiderate neighbors was shining their headlights directly into my tent at that hour! But humbled, awestruck, and much to my chagrin, I found myself face to face with the Sun.
Explore the Indian Ruins at Homol’ovi State Park
Use your broad eye and look for the foundation of an ancient structure. This was my first experience viewing Indian Ruins, and I was a bit underwhelmed. It felt like I was using my imagination. A Lot.
The Ruins Were Vandalized
Some of the buildings had parts of walls, but most of them just had a suggestion of where the foundation used to be. That’s because the ruins had been vandalized!
According to the placards in the park, the stones were utilized (stolen) by the Mormons to build Sunset City, a mile away.
A Section of Ruins Had Stronger Walls
The more you explore, the more you find! Eventually, you will find larger sections of ruins, and it’s easier to imagine what they might have looked like.
In fact, some of the walls were so strong, that I suspect they may have been refurbished? Maybe that’s a good question for the ranger at the visitor’s center. Meanwhile, let’s keep moving east. I want to show you the Jack Rabbit Trading Post!
11) Jack Rabbit Trading Post on Route 66
Since we’re looking for interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, a good quick stop would be this iconic gift shop called The Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Holbrook. It has been there for-EVER, and its logo includes a jackrabbit.
The lady behind the counter was friendly. When I asked her why they didn’t use “Hare it is” as their logo, she said that somebody else in the area was already using that slogan. I thought my question was so clever but she’s prolly heard it a million times!
It’s a great little gift shop with funky little trinkets, postcards, jewelry, and oodles of t-shirts! I’m not telling you what to do, but you should totally go check it out!
12) Petrified Forest on Route 66
Easy to find, the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are adjacent to each other.
The two parks are divided by I-40 (Route 66) with the Petrified Forest to the South, and the Painted Desert to the North. The roadway loops through both parks, connecting them.
While you may be spending a lot of time in your car, please consider the brutal sun during the time you are outdoors! Hydrate, wear proper clothing, and if necessary use sunscreen.
Spoiler Alert: There are no standing trees in the Petrified Forest. *Disappointing Right?* But even so, there are areas where you can take short walks along the numerous trails.
Collection of their petrified little bits is discouraged, but meanwhile, you can walk amongst these fallen giants and listen to those little-bits crunch under your feet.
13) The Painted Desert on Route 66
On the Northern Side of I-40, we find the Painted Desert. Much like the Petrified Forest, it is a driving loop with several viewpoints along the way. There are numerous parking areas that lead to trails, allowing hikers to access this beautiful desert.
With over 93,000 acres, this attraction could easily take more than one day to explore. Please remember to prepare yourself with food, water, and an emergency medical kit, because there are no juice bars out here! You’re on your own!
These photos were taken from the road. Hopefully, I will have more opportunities in the future, to hike and explore this historic park more thoroughly.
But Wait – There’s More
This is as far east as our journey takes us since we are nearly at the New Mexico state line. From here, some travelers may want to go north to Canyon de Chelly National Monument, but I haven’t ever done that, so it’s not being covered by this article.
Depending on how long you’re staying, and depending on which direction you’re traveling, there are a few notable stops that are slightly south of Route 66, and I’d love to show you around! You down?
14) Sedona, Arizona
Consider this fact: Sedona is close enough to Route 66 to add it to your itinerary. But the thing is, once you are in Sedona, “that’s as close as you’re gonna get” to several other places. So allow extra time to get side-tracked while looking for interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona!
The 45-minute drive from Flagstaff to Sedona takes you down a long, curving road with sheer rock walls lining the roadway, and the views are absolutely breathtaking! Several campgrounds are situated along the river, and if the weather is right (and it usually is) Slide Rock State Park is along this route, too.
Once you are there, Sedona has endless options. There is a section of town dedicated to luxury hotels, fine dining, and eclectic shopping. They also have a strong metaphysical presence, so you’ll find a plethora of crystal shops, where they most certainly have an astrologer, palm reader, or psychic on staff.
Will you be Lodging in Sedona?
It would be easy to spend several days in Sedona. So if you’re looking for a place to stay, this little widget from Booking.com might help! Their listings include all the major hotels and resorts as well as the B&Bs, cabins, vacation rentals, and cottages! Check it out!
Sedona Vortex Maps – Link Below
Another thing to consider: Sedona touts the presence of the almighty-yet-subtle Vortex, which IMO is ever-so-slightly overrated. Even so, you might be uber-sensitive, and be affected by them. That’s part of the magic of visiting Sedona. Vortex maps are available at the Visitor’s Center, or here.
Bring Your Hiking Shoes
Grab a map of the local hiking trails at the visitor’s center. The trails are well marked and offer amazing views of the rock formations, most of which are named. For example, look at the nugget on the top of this rock that looks like a lizard’s head!
The Glorious Red Dirt of Sedona
Alternatively, maybe you want to rent dirt bikes or slingshots and come back covered in the glorious red dirt that defines Sedona! Whatever you decide to do, it’s sure to be memorable!
15) Sedona: Red Rock State Park
About 20 minutes south of downtown Sedona, and directly on the main drag, is a great hiking trail. The trail is easy enough to stretch your legs for a while, or straight-up bust a sweat, because there are a few hills, too!
Views of the Surrounding Hills
This is one of the views from the trail at Red Rock State Park. It’s not a difficult climb, but there are a few precarious spots. A good set of collapsible walking sticks might be useful. As always, be sure to hydrate, as this Arizona weather is brutally dry!
Juxtaposition of Color
My visit was during the month of February before the leaves came out! This allowed the beautiful white bark to contrast itself against the red rock. The visual is magical!
16) Clarkdale, Arizona
When you’re in Sedona, this is the closest you’re ever gonna be to Clarkdale, which is a 35-minute drive SW of Sedona.
Additionally, it’s less than 90 minutes from Flagstaff, making it a town you can include when looking for interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona!
Arizona’s First Planned Community
An interesting fact, Clarkdale was Arizona’s first planned community! It boasted underground utilities, sewers, and paved streets way ahead of its time.
Additionally, it was also founded as a modern copper-smelting town for the employees (and their families) of the copper mines in the little town of Jerome which is nearby.
Clarkdale Copper Museum
During my summertime visit to Clarkdale, the community was enjoying an outdoor concert in the park at the center of town. From there, I walked around the local streets and found the Arizona Copper Art Museum. I love their sign, the back of which, is made with copper pennies!
Meanwhile, there is a National Monument nearby, called Tuzigoot. Wanna go check it out? Grab your scrapbook!
17) Tuzigoot Ruins in Clarkdale, AZ
This is a National Monument, and as such, their fees apply. By the way, if anyone in your group is a US Military Veteran, your entire group gets in for free.
The Visitor’s Center is also a museum, displaying the artifacts they have collected over the years.
A Room With A View
Tuzigoot is in the heart of the Verde Valley. A thousand years ago, when people began to build this little hilltop pueblo, they may not have known that it would eventually grow into one of the largest villages in the area. Learn More Here.
Next stop, is the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona.
18) Jerome, Arizona
Hey – listen – here’s the thing: If you’re in Clarkdale, you’re never again gonna be this close to Jerome, which is only another 5 miles up the road, so you may as well keep driving!
I know you’re looking for interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, and this is getting further away, but it’s a fun and notable town. Additionally…
…once you’re in Jerome, you’ll never again be this close to Prescott, which is up over this mountain. Just sayin.
The Haunted Grand Hotel
As you approach Jerome from Clarkdale, you can see the Grand Hotel as a prominent feature in this little town. Some say it’s haunted and there are plenty of stories to support that idea! Meanwhile, The Asylum Restaurant, inside the Grand Hotel, serves a mean lunch!
Overlooking The Valley
The entire town is perched precariously on the side of the mountain so that every building has an awesome view of the valley down below.
Lodging in Jerome
There are plenty of services up here in Jerome. You’ll find Restaurants, Wineries, and Art Galleries around town. But if you’re looking for a place to stay, this widget from Booking.com will help! Their listings include all the major hotels and resorts as well as the B&Bs, cabins, vacation rentals, and cottages! Check it out!
Walk Around Downtown
Once a thriving mining camp, Jerome is now a bustling tourist destination full of art galleries, wineries, and gift shops.
Some of the areas were pristine and well maintained, while other areas were clearly run-down. And all of it makes for great photography!
There is a touring company called Tours of Jerome who -I’m sure- would love to give you a tour! They have Historic Tours, Haunted Tours, and Wine Tours.
Overall, I would say that Jerome is a delightful town to visit, and it’s well worth your time!
Where to Next?
From here, we must consider one’s travel agenda. Which direction are you going? The reason I ask is…
Like I said above, “Now that you’re in Jerome, you’re never again gonna be this close to Prescott”. And if you don’t want to go that far west I totally get it, but you should at least KNOW about it, so I hope you keep reading!
19) Prescott, Arizona
Located in the high desert of western Arizona, we find the City of Prescott, “Home of the World’s Oldest Rodeo”.
There are two other cities that triangulate to Prescott. They are Chino Valley and Prescott Valley. But the main focus of my article here is Prescott, proper.
Let’s Get it Right
Prescott has a vibrant outdoorsy attitude that is embraced by young and old alike. The other thing they all agree on is: They call it Preskitt and they’re sure to correct you, so let’s get it right!
Whiskey Row for Shopping and Nightlife
The section of town that gets the most press is Whiskey Row, where you can walk from shop-to-shop, and crawl from bar to bar. If you stand outside in the evening, live music can be heard streaming from several venues.
For example, it’s not uncommon to find Sir Harrison or the Cheek Tones playing at the Bird Cage, Matt’s, or Jersey Lilly’s on any given day of the week. And in the summer, the city hosts family/pet-friendly concerts on the courthouse lawn! The music is great, so get up and dance!
BTW, Do You Know Where You’re Staying?
The Hassayampa Inn is nice, and St Michaels on the corner is iconic. But check out this widget from Booking.com. They list more than just hotels, motels, and inns. Other listings include vacation rentals, cottages, apartments, and B&B’s. Happy Searching!
Rent a bicycle, or bring your own, and hit the rugged bicycle trails around town. These are world-class trails and Prescott holds an annual event for which people travel the world to attend!
Being centrally located, with plenty of parking, the Constellation Trail (above) is a favorite. It’s named after the Lockheed C-121G Super Constellation that crashed here in 1959. And you can still find pieces of it lying around if you look for them!
Kayaking, Rafting, and Fishing in Prescott
There are several excellent placid lakes to enjoy. For kayak rentals, contact Jeff McReynolds through Messenger. He’ll (have somebody) meet you at the lake to drop off and pick up the watercraft. It’s possible you could hire him as a guide, but that’s between the two of you.
Central: Watson Lake & Willow Lake
Watson Lake and its neighbor Willow Lake are the two most popular lakes in Prescott because they are centrally located. Both lakes are easily accessible for kayaks, rowboats, and SUPs. However, motor-powered boats are not allowed. Also, because these lakes are not treated for algae, swimming is discouraged.
South of Town is Lynx Lake
Lynx Lake is located just a few miles south of Prescott. Similar to Watson Lake and Willow Lake, this lake is open for camping, kayaking, and fishing (but not swimming). They do allow boating here, but the motor must be 10 HP or less.
The Lakeshore Trail is a 2-mile loop that goes around the lake. Most of it is accessible by wheelchair/stroller but there are a few steeper sections that might be problematic. Additionally, at Lynx Lake, you can pan for gold!
Slightly north of Prescott (but still very conveniently located) you will find Granite Mountain. The entrance is on the west side of the mountain, and it’s a few miles drive to get up there, but it’s worthwhile!
A small campground offers about 20 sites. Some of the sites can be reserved, while others are on a first-come-first-served basis. (It has pit toilets, with no showers.) From the campground, several looping trails help navigate the mountain.
Activities include camping, picnicking, bird watching, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Barely bigger than a pond, the Granite Basin offers canoeing and fishing. (Fish for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and sunfish.)
The Local Casino
Owned and operated by Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, Bucky’s Casino is at the lower elevation, while Yavapai Casino is uphill from there. A shuttle runs between the two. Both locations have surprisingly good food! But Yavapai Casino offers incredible panoramic views of the Prescott area!
Additionally, the Prescott Resort, which is adjacent to the Yavapai Casino, will occasionally book live bands with dancing and everything! Check out their schedule to see who’s playing!
Where Are You Going?
Here we are in Western-Central Arizona, which, quite frankly, isn’t on the way to anywhere.
Hwy 89 will take you north for an hour, through the small farm town called Chino Valley, to arrive at I-40 (Route66) in Ash Fork. This is perfect if your plan includes Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or any point west of Williams, AZ.
However, if you are traveling north/east or south, it’s better to use I-17 which is about an hour east of here. And that’s the direction we’re going: back toward the Verde Valley. Ready? Let’s go!
20) Montezuma Castle
If you’re looking for interesting attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, Montezuma Castle National Monument is only 50 minutes south of Flagstaff in the Verde Valley.
Carved out of a limestone hillside, neither part of this monument’s name is correct: Montezuma never lived here, and it’s not a castle. Here’s the dirt:
When modern settlers first found the ruins in the 1860s, the dwelling had been abandoned for a very long time! But they had the mistaken idea that the famous Aztecan emperor Montezuma had been connected to their construction, so that’s why they used his name.
Also, it’s not a “castle” but more like a high-rise apartment building.
This monument might take an hour to explore, but I found “Montezuma Well” to be far more interesting, and it’s just a short drive from here. Don’t skip it!
21) Montezuma Well
Grab your scrapbook and get a stamp, because Montezuma Well is listed as a National Park. However, there is no fee! It’s free to everybody all the time! And you could easily spend an hour or more here.
Hiking shoes are recommended. Binoculars might come in handy. Grab your camera, or at the very least your cell phone’s camera, because these are once-in-a-lifetime photos, and please hydrate.
Water Doesn’t Flow Both Ways
Traditional stories say that once something emerges from the vents at the bottom of the well, it can never return. Even in times of drought, about 1.6 million gallons of water flow through two main vents at the Well’s bottom each day.
Researchers have only recently determined where they believe the water originates. And National Park Service dive teams continue to investigate the dark waters below.
Rovers Were Pushed Back Out
There are no fish in the well. Instead, we find thousands of freshwater leeches swimming under the surface. At 55 feet, divers report that fine sand boils up in swirling, cascading mounds.
In 2006, divers sent cameras, rovers, and sensors into the incoming water vents. And guess what?! The legend held true! Every piece of equipment they put into the vents, was pushed back out again by the water current. Isn’t that fascinating? To this day, they are still not certain of the source from which the water comes.
22) Verde River Kayaking
Imagine paddling down the cool Verde River on a hot afternoon. Moving through both sunshine and shade, this river rushes quickly at times and then pushes you into placid, almost pond-like areas, where you can birdwatch and take pictures of each other.
While researching information on The Verde River, I found this great map! The pamphlet is 26 pages. It shows all of the River Access Points beginning at Bridgeport and going all the way to Beasley Flat. It also has safety tips and pretty pictures. To see it, click on the title above.
Launch at Clear Creek
The stretch of river from Clear Creek to Beasley Flat is quite popular. To get there, take Salt Mine Road to the “Forest Service parking lot” at Access Point #46. This is known as Clear Creek.
From the parking lot, it is necessary to walk down a steep trail (with your kayak). This trail will take you to the river below. This is a very popular access site, especially during the low water of early summer.
Shuttling the Vehicles
Unless you have hired a shuttle service, you must figure out how you’re gonna get all of the people, all of the vehicles, and all of the kayaks reunited at the end of the day!
Almost everybody in your group will wait here, at the put-in point. The shuttle people in your group will drive downriver and drop off enough vehicles and trailers at the take-out point, which is Beasley Flat, and then come back to join you. Meanwhile, you will have plenty of time to take some pictures, pack your kayak just right, and find a place to pee.
Packing Your Kayak
Your kayak might have a dry section, but don’t depend on it being 100% dry. Into that section, put a change of clothes and your hiking shoes. Maybe a towel. (For extra protection, put your things in a dry bag, first!)
And if your kayak does NOT have a dedicated dry section, after packing your things in a dry bag, push that bag into the nose of your kayak. Tie the bag to the kayak, just in case you flip. (I’ve seen it happen!)
As always, take appropriate precautions: Wear a life vest. Bring a bilge pump to remove excess water from your kayak. Surprisingly a sponge is a handy tool! With it, you can absorb a puddle of water from the bottom of your kayak, and then wipe down the surfaces (skin is a surface)! Then you can squeeze it out, almost dry!
You might want to use a waterproof camera with a floatation attachment! Put your phone in a waterproof pouch, and tie it to something, because the river is unforgiving.
A Great Swimming Hole
Along this stretch of river, there are several places where you can get out of the kayak and swim in beach-like areas.
Caves in the Hills
About three-quarters of the way through your journey, you will see these limestone caves. They serve as a landmark to remind you that the end is approaching.
Trails Lead to Caves
Further down, on the left, you will find a place to park your kayak. Take a moment to put on your hiking shoes if you brought them along, and then look for a trail that leads up to the caves.
The caves were quite large inside! There was plenty of room to move about. Some of them even have connecting rooms.
From Inside the Cave
The view from the cave was incredible! The weather was hot and dry, and the cave provided some protection from the elements. Stay for a while and enjoy these ancient caverns. And then hike back to where we parked the kayaks. We’re almost to the end!
Take Out Point 52 Beasley Flat
Even if you made several stops along the way, it may only take you about 3 hours from beginning to end. The take-out is at Point 52 Beasley Flat.
Sometimes, there will be a sign, but the sign belongs to a shuttle company, and once they have collected all their customers, their sign comes down, so don’t rely on it being there!
The only other option is to bear left, which pushes you around the bend into the weeds, and apparently, there’s a waterfall. (But I haven’t been down there.) Also, if you’re not sure where to take out, just follow (or wait) for a crowd. They’ll show you the way.
Getting back to our road trip, depending on which direction you’re traveling, Phoenix is only 2 hours south of Flagstaff, and only an hour from the last stop in this article (which was the Verde Valley). I haven’t spent much time in Phoenix, but I camped at Lake Pleasant one time. Wanna hear about it?
Lake Pleasant in Phoenix
There are several lakes in the Phoenix area. This one, on the northwest side, is a recreational area called Lake Pleasant.
Being a dammed lake (as many of them are) on the Agua Fria River, it offers a 10-lane boat ramp to accommodate crowds! There’s enough parking for 200 vehicles, and there are 114 miles of glorious shoreline!
All of the campsites are lakeside, letting you camp out the back of your car like I did. There’s another whole section dedicated to RVs (not pictured).
What is This?
During a hike at Lake Pleasant, I found this pristine bone! Less than 3″ long, this item is resting on my knee. It obviously fits similar to a shoulder socket, but it looks like a weapon! Look at those jagged teeth!
Pectoral Fin Bone
A quick search on the internet brought me to this information. I’m no fish-ologist but it looks like it might be the bone to a pectoral fin. It was a fun find! And until I figured it out, my imagination was absolutely reeling!
When it comes to Interesting Attractions on Route 66 in Arizona, don’t skip Bisbee! In the early 1900s, Bisbee Arizona was known as a mining town. But the Bisbee of today is known as an artist’s community. While I wasn’t there long enough to experience Bisbee to its fullest, quite frankly, the list of things to do in Bisbee seems like it is probably very short.
However, we did spot Dot’s Diner, so we pulled over to check it out! And we were surprised at what we found!
Rent a Vintage RV
Adjacent to Dot’s Diner is The Shady Dell, a Vintage RV Park! But the unique thing is THEY provide the Vintage RV! It’s more like renting a cabin!
Some of the RVs were AirStreams, one of them was a bus, and I even saw a boat for rent! If you get this far south, check out The Shady Dell and Dot’s Diner!
I do have more Arizona pictures to share with you, from places like Tombstone, and the Saguaro National Forest, which will be part of this blog in the future. Thanks for following along on this adventure of Interesting Attractions on Route 66 in Arizona!