C’mon! You know the words, “…standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, what a fine sight to see…” They pop into mind just seeing the “Winslow, 1 mile” sign on I-40. At least the Eagles’ song will divert music memories from “get your kicks on Route 66” or humming “da-di-da-di-di, da-di-da-di-di.”
“Take It Easy,” by the Eagles, “(Get Your Kicks) On Route 66,” from Nat King Cole, and Nelson Riddle’s theme for the “Route 66” TV show are three memory-wracking songs touting road trips on the “mother road” between Chicago and Los Angeles. Though no longer an actual U.S. highway, Historic Route 66 parallels several interstate highways on the same run west from Chicago to Los Angeles.
We made the stop on the way to New Mexico for a camping trip. It was early on a weekday morning, but still, while we were setting up to shoot photos, three other families made their stand at the corner with the hitchhiker statue.
Some say that the statue is Glenn Frey, others say it’s Jackson Browne, the two co-writers of the Eagles song. Sculptor Ron Adamson said, it’s Jackson Browne. John Pugh created the mural depicting the story within the song. Of course, a flatbed Ford truck is perpetually parked, shined and washed at the site.
Though only 9,500 people call northern Arizona’s Winslow their home, hundreds of thousands make the stop each year to take their picture standing on the corner of Route 66 (Second St.) and Kinsley St.
No summer road trip is worthy of its fuel without skirting I-40 onto Route 66 between Gallup, N.M., and Flagstaff, Ariz. Visit Winslow and other storied mother road towns. Winslow is busy restoring Route 66, historic buildings adjoining the roadway, and bringing history to life with the city’s museums and visitor-oriented features. Winslow Chamber of Commerce is housed in the historic Hubbard Trading Post on Second Street.
The city has emblazoned the history Route 66 symbol into the middle of the intersection, and the white shield is the perfect foreground for shooting a photo of the Standin’ on the Corner park, statute and mural.
With its new city park as a traveler’s respite, Winslow celebrates more than the Eagles first hit song. In September and October, when the desert’s heat gives way to crisp fall Colorado Plateau evenings, Winslow hosts the annual Standin’ on the
Corner festival the last weekend of September, and the international Just Cruisin’ Car Club Car Show the first weekend in October. Both weekends close the street and feature live music, street dances, road rallies, and vendor booths.
A major stop on the Santa Fe Railroad, Winslow is home to La Posada Hotel. Built in 1929, the last of the Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe, La Posada is restored to its early 20th century grandeur, complete with a formal garden in the front yard and regional Southwestern culinary ventures in the Turquoise Room restaurant.
In addition to the historic buildings, there are several homegrown restaurants, a roadhouse, and visitor-oriented shops. Just north of historic Winslow, Homolovi State Park encompasses an ancestral pueblo that was home to the Sinagua pueblo peoples. In the adjoining Painted Desert County Park, stunning sunset views of the colorful desert are shimmering north and east of the city.
From downtown Winslow one can continue their road trip heading west to Winona and Flagstaff or east the Holbrook and New Mexico. Winslow is also the western gateway to the Navajo Nation.
Heading west, the next stop of interest is Meteor Crater. This privately-owned visitor attraction is one of the best-preserved meteor-impact craters in the world, according to the facility owners. That claim, however, is backed by geologists studying the site for more than 100 years. The create is nearly one mile across and 570 feet deep. It has a visitor center—with a gift shop, of course—and a walkway to overlook the crater. Take I-40 exit 233 about 30 miles west of Winslow. Several science fiction and fantasy movies have been filmed here, including “Starman,” with Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen.
East of Winslow about the same distance is Petrified Forest National Park. It’s actually two parks in one—Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. The park has no camping facilities, but it’s designed for driving through after a stop at the visitor center. The park has its own I-40 exit, Exit 311
The meandering road travels north into the Painted Desert, and the colorful sand, dune, mesa and hillock formations look as if they came from the canvas of an artist like Georgia O’Keefe. There are several overlooks and photo shoot sites for pulling off the road.
South of I-40 is the Petrified Forest. The road traverses a number of places where thousands of years of weather erosion exposed trees trapped into rock to a point they became rock. The remaining portions of trees are colorful and somewhat surrealistic. Continuing south on the park road will exit on the road into Holbrook. the nearest town with hotels and camping accommodations.
Note: If you arrive in Winslow heading west, you’ll travel on Third St., which is westbound Route 66. Almost all of the city’s Route 66 buildings and features are on eastbound Second St. Circle back to the east by turning left on Prairie St. and left again on Second St., about five blocks west of the State Route 87 South traffic light.