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.

 

World War II Navajo Code Talker Tribute in Kayenta, AZ

If you are headed into Flagstaff or Phoenix from Monument Valley, you will pass through the Navajo Nation town of Kayenta. Be sure to stop at the Kayenta Burger King to see a most interesting display of artifacts from WWII from the era of the Navajo Code Talkers.

Camping at Monument Valley

A great place to camp and spend time while visiting Monument Valley is Goulding’s Trading Post. Goulding’s has a lodge, a very nice campground, a couple of stores that sell groceries as well as unique Arts and Crafts, restaurant facilities and a Museum. The Museum is housed in the original home of Harry and “Mike” Goulding who came to the area in 1924. Harry Goulding brought movie director, John Ford to the location and the area instantly became a hit as the backdrop for many westerns including the Trial of Billy Jack, How the West was Won, The Legend of the Lone Ranger and many others.  You can also tour John Wayne’s small cabin and learn more about the various films that were made from this stunning location. The Earth Spirit show, celebrating the beauty and creation of Monument Valley is hosted in a small theater on the property and is shown nightly. Tickets to the performance are $2.00 per person or provided free with a stay at the lodge or with the purchase of a Monument Valley Tour from the Goulding’s office.

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.