• Jasper Forest is magical in twilight, particularly the logs on stone pedestals

    Petrified Forest

    National Park Arizona

Historic Route 66

straight line of historic telephone poles under monsoon thunderheads

A line of telephone poles still marks the road bed of Historic Route 66 within the park.

Photo by Marge Post/NPS

Traces of an old roadbed and weathered telephone poles mark the path of the famous Main Street of America. Petrified Forest National Park is the only park in the National Park System containing a section of Historic Route 66. From Chicago to Los Angeles, this heavily traveled highway was not only a road. It stood as a symbol of opportunity, adventure and exploration to travelers.

A trip from middle America to the coast could take about a week - no interstate speeds back then! For many, the journey was not just across miles, it was across culture and life styles, from the modest to the exotic. Of course, getting to your destination was important, but the trip itself was a reward. From the neon signs of one-of-a-kind motels to burgers and chicken fried steaks in the multitude of restaurants; from the filling stations that served as miniature oases to gaudy tourist traps, more than 2,200 miles of open road were magical.

 
colorful postcard from the Painted Desert

This historic postcard captures the colors and personality of the Painted Desert.

from NPS Museum Collection

Driving west on Route 66, in the heart of the Painted Desert, one could see a pink edifice glimmering in the clear air. After long hours of travel, here was a special place to take a break, a welcome stop to rest, stretch your legs, sip a cold drink, and admire the view. Painted Desert Inn welcomed all with an air of hospitality and allure.

"It winds from Chicago to L.A.,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-six!"
(From the song, Route 66 by Bobby Troup)

Gaze down the long road...and listen. You may hear echoes of the past, echoes of Route 66.

For more information about Historic Route 66 and to find out how the National Park Service is helping to restore many of the attractions along the route through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, visit:
www.cr.nps.gov/rt66

Did You Know?

red badlands

Standing on the edge of a vast badlands landscape, a Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area "El Desierto Pintado" (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.