Historic Route 66
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.
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.,
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:
Did You Know?
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.