A Tour of Seligman, Arizona on Old US Route 66

The town of Seligman was founded back in 1895 when it served as a railroad camp town for the Santa Fe railroad being built in the Ashfork area. Originally called Prescott Junction, the tiny town became a railway stop in the 1920’s and a “hot spot” for travelers coming west on the new Route 66 highway to Golden California.  During this time frame, the town became known as Seligman and was a bustling and active town.

When Interstate 40 was built in the 1970’s, many small towns like Seligman that had been fed by the excitement and active traveling route of Highway 66 faded away and became ghost towns. When the Santa Fe stopped using Seligman as a stop in 1985, the town was further threatened into oblivion. The resourcefulness of the town’s people kept Seligman a town worthy of the small side-trip from the main road for a visit. The town became the “poster child” for Route 66 memorabilia with it’s unique gift shops, hotels and restaurants. Examples of fun and interesting places to visit in Seligman are the Snow Cap Drive In, the Copper Cart Restaurant and the Route 66 Road Kill Café and Steak House.  Have your picture taken with old time celebrities (just mannequins of course), enjoy the fun menus for lunch or dinner and pick up some of that old Route 66 fun in this small town.  Seligman is truly a “one of a kind” town and a fun place to spend a few hours prowling around in history.

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Laughlin – Casino Gaming Without the Crowds

Laughlin, Nevada, a thriving entertainment town located near the tip of Nevada, is a popular tourist destination along the banks of the Colorado River. Originally known as “South Pointe,” the area had only a small motel and bar in the 1940’s which primarily catered to local silver minors and construction workers for Davis Dam. After the completion of the dam, the area had little traffic on the Nevada side. Little by little the town of Bullhead City, located across the river on the Arizona side, began to grow. In 1964, Don Laughlin, owner of the Las Vegas 101 Club had just sold his property and was flying over the area in his plane. He saw the potential of the area and proceeded to buy land here. He built an 8 room motel and opened a small casino with 12 slot machines and two live gaming table. While the family lived in 4 of the motel rooms, the other 4 were rented to visitors who came to gamble at the new casino. The small community was re-named Laughlin after a few years to facilitate mail delivery to the area. In 1967, another casino, called the Bobcat opened and was followed by the Monte Carlo Casino in 1968. In 1972, Don Laughlin added 48 rooms to the Riverside Hotel and in 1986, added a 14 floor high rise to the Riverside Hotel. In the 80’s and 90’s more hotel-casinos were added to the area.  Today, there are 9 casinos and the area attracts several million visitors every year.

Originally, the hotels supplied ferries which took visitors from the Arizona side to the Laughlin casinos. In 1987, Don Laughlin built a bridge across the Colorado River at a cost of $3.5 million. He donated this bridge to the states of Arizona and Nevada to facilitate driving to the casino area. Today, the area has 11,000 room and over 60 restaurants, river boat cruises, a bowling alley, theaters, performance stages both inside and outside which feature Las Vegas caliber acts on a nightly basis. In addition to these amenities, the area has a small outlet mall, plenty of water sport activities and an RV park to accommodate local RVers.  Shuttles both bus and by boat take visitors from casino to casino. In addition, visitors can stroll along the River walk from casino to casino while enjoying the view.

 

An Arizona Classic – Monument Valley

After the Grand Canyon, the second most beautiful spot in Arizona has to be Monument Valley. Located north-east of Kayenta on Hwy 163 just 13 miles north of the Arizona/Utah state line.  The area has a large number of huge sandstone buttes of various sizes and shapes jutting out of the desert floor that are mult-hued and impressive to see.  The area, part of the Colorado Plateau, lies on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The area was created by the rivers that carved out the valley centuries ago and is slowing eroding away with each passing year.

As you are traveling north, you will first come to Owl Rock on the left and the 1,500 ft rock known as El Capitan on the right. There is a 17 mile circular drive that you can take down past some of the more interesting formations such as the east and west Mitten Buttes, The Totem Pole, The Thumb Butte and the Three Sisters. Do not drive off of the marked path as the Navajo’s consider much of the area sacred ground and unaccompanied visitors are not permitted off of the designated loop drive.

The Navajo Nation operates tours through the area and they will take you via tour bus from the visitor center to see not only the buttes but Hogans, Native American villages, cliff dwellings and petroglyphs in the area that are not open to the self-driving tour visitors. A new hotel is currently being built near the entrance to the 17 mile drive and is probably either open now or will open shortly. This hotel will have an awesome view of Monument Valley.

Explore the Dry Caves at the Grand Canyon

If you enjoy exploring caves, then a stop by the Grand Canyon Caverns, located near Seligman, Arizona off of Historic Route 66 might be just the adventure that you have been seeking.  This dry cave, formed over 345 million years ago, was discovered in 1927 by Walter Peck who thought he had found a cavern filled with gold, silver and diamonds. Unfortunately for poor Walter, no minerals or diamonds existed in the extensive cavern depths so the fortune that he had imagined never materialized. To get to the cavern, visitors are led down 210 feet via elevator to the ample cave rooms below.  Although there are concrete walkways and ample handrails, much of the tour takes visitors on steep upward and downward climbs so this tour is definitely not for those who cannot maneuver up and down stairs and steep ramps.

Within the first, large cavern room, a small, overnight lodging unit has been installed for those who can shell out upwards of $750 per night to spend the night 210 feet below the surface for a unique, adventure below ground. The Cavern Suite accommodates 1-6 occupants and requires advanced reservations.

While on the tour, you will see the remains of a mummified bobcat that had the misfortune to fall into the cave as well as a full size replica of a Sloth that also had the misfortune of slipping to it’s death within the cave interior centuries ago.  You will also see supplies of Civil Defense rations which were placed in the cavern in the 1960’s so that the facility could be used as a national Fallout, Bomb shelter for 2,000 people if the need has arisen. Tour employees say that the supplies, although old, would still be edible today given the low humidity and highly purified, clean air found at the cavern depths.

The Caverns are located 22 miles west of Seligman on old Highway 66 at mile marker 115. Many other touring opportunities such as jeep tours, horseback riding and river rafting can also be arranged from the Caverns and Inns located here.  A restaurant is located in the Inn for visitors as well as a gift shop.

Exploring Utah by RV

The multi-faceted state of Utah  was home to many different cultures like the Pueblo Indians, the Shoshones and the Anasazi. It was also home to Brigham Young and the first band of Mormon pioneers who came to Utah in 1847 to settle in this rugged and picturesque expanse of desert and unique mountain ranges. After a rich and colorful early history and conflicts over control of the territory, Utah finally was accepted as a state in 1895. The state of Utah contains some of the most beautiful national parks in the United States such as Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Monument Valley, Natural Bridges State Park, Gunsight Butte, Delicate Arch and Slot Canyon. Utah is also known for wonderful skiing and great outdoor recreation opportunities.  You can spend weeks exploring the great state of Utah in an RV and still not scratch the surface of her magnificent beauty and intrigue.

A Peak into the Past in Quartzsite, Arizona

During most of the year, the tiny town of Quartzsite Arizona perched on the western border of Arizona and California along Interstate 10 has a population of somewhere between 600 and 3,400 residents. In winter however, all of that changes and the city’s population explodes to an estimated 2.2 million winter visitors with their vast array of RV rigs invading the desert town.  The seniors from across the U.S. and Canada, seeking escape from snow and winter cold, flock to this tiny, desert community. They seek open space where they can park their RV’s of all shapes, types and sizes so they can socialize, visit the world’s largest gem and mineral shows and make the rounds at regular and ongoing flea market sales. Once a wagon stop on the way to California, it is said that even Wyatt Earp made a stop here in Quartzsite where he made an unsuccessful bid to become constable. In the late 1800’s, it was also the site of an Army experiment to use camels to haul supplies across the blazing desert of western Arizona. During the peak period, RV’s can be seen in a 70 mile radius of this tiny town making it one of the largest senior, winter hangouts in the U.S.

Solvang – The Flavor of the Danish

When you are in central California, a fun town to visit to enjoy some “old world” flavor is the small. Danish-themed town of Solvang. The town is very visitor friendly and you can easily explore the town’s windmills, see and listen to the chimes of the local clock tower and see statues of Hans Christian Anderson and his famed “Little mermaid.”  Start your walking tour at the town’s Visitor’s Center to get maps and information on local celebrations and events. The town is filled with wonderful shops specializing in everything Danish from wooden shoes to chic garments to small trinkets that will delight young and old.  The Danish restaurants and bakeries have wonderful items for every palette and meals can be leisurely and relaxed either inside or sidewalk café style.  Explore the local history of the area at the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art or visit the Old, 1804 Mission Santa Inez. The annual “Danish Days” event takes place in mid September and is complete with parades, colorful costumes and plenty of Danish food and fun.

Enjoy the peaceful parks in the area such as Nojoqui Falls park or Hans Christian Anderson park or spend some time at the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area. Tour the many, wonderful vineyards in the area and sample the vintages in the local wine tasting rooms. Visit the local apple farms or spend some time enjoying the amenities of Chumash Casino Resort. The rolling and peaceful countryside of the Santa Inez Valley is well worth a drive and a few stops along the way.

Visiting Rainbow Bridge – A Natural Wonder

A great nature wonder to visit in southern Utah on the banks of Lake Powell is the massive and majestic Rainbow Bridge. Rainbow Bridge is often thought of as one of the world’s largest natural bridges. From the base to the top of the arch, the massive stone structure reaches 290 feet into the air and spans 275 feet across the arch. At the top, the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.  The bridge has long been held sacred to Native American populations living in the region. On May 30, 1910, President William Howard Taft designated Rainbow Bridge as a National Monument to preserve this colorful formation. The best way to access Rainbow bridge is via boat. You can either rent a boat and come here yourself, or take one of the 2 hour boat tours leaving from the Page docks. There is a walk from the pier to the viewing point which somewhere close to ¾ of a mile. Rangers are available at the viewing area to answer questions and to see that  you don’t go any closer to the stone bridge.  You can hike in if you want but it takes several hours and you will need a permit from the Navajo Nation to hike into the area.http://youtube.com/watch?v=XF62Rd30iq8