Ride historic Route 66 – 5th leg – Albuquerque to Flagstaff, AZ

With the hot sun coming up early, we decided that we better hit the road before it got to hot to handle the Route 66 desert heat! With average temperatures running above 100º, we wanted to enjoy the “chilly” morning ride.

We pulled out of Albuquerque and headed west.  There were a lot of things that we really wanted to see on this leg of the rHillside ruinside, so there was no time to waste!

Shortly after departing, as we were cruising along enjoying the route 66 desert heat, we came across some old ruins along the hillside. I have no idea what the history behind this them but my mind ran wild with possibilities. We stopped and took some pictures then we jumped back on our bikes to see what else we could find.

We continued to follow Route 66  as it left the I 40 behind. Around a few minor curves in the road and we dropped down into Laguna to grab some gas. Back onto Route 66 and off we go.

A couple miles west of Laguna is the Sky City Casino. If you want to give away some money or eat at a mediocre buffet, than this is the place for you! After that quick stop, we continued and came across an old abandoned gas station just before Rote 66 crosses over the I 40. It is pretty cool to look at the old buildings and very easy to imagine what this area must have been like in its heyday.

Uranium mines and ice caves…

Mining museum

Once we rode into Grants New Mexico we saw signs for the mining museum and decided to stop. They built a replica Uranium mine and then built the museum on top of it. This was just to cool. As you go underground, each station depicts a different step in the Uranium mining process. Many of the tour guides actually worked the mine when it was being used during the cold war. It didn’t take long to go through it and was certainly worth our time.

We decided to get off of Route 66 for a 25 mile “side trip”. We headed down highway 53 towards the Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves.

Once we arrived we went into the gift shop to pay for our entry. As I was waiting for my son, I glanced out the window and saw a small humming bird using the feeder, how cool that they come that close to the building…then I looked a little closer and realized that this was not a humming bird, it was a giant wasp! I asked the people there about them and they informed me that those were Tarantula wasps. These things actually hunt and eat Tarantulas! I was both in awe of that and somewhat freaked out by it. I tried to get a picture, but it flew away before I got the shot.

Bandera VolcanoPutting that behind us, we began our 1/2 mile walk to the volcano. Along the walk there were some cool things to see. The shear power that the volcano must have erupted with to create this incredible site can only be seen at the end of the trail. We hung out for a few minutes and then decided to walk back down and then over to the ice cave.Ice Cave

After walking the 1/2 mile back to the gift shop, it was an additional 1/4 mile to the ice cave…needless to say, we were sweating profusely by now!

The ice caves did not disappoint. With a temperature that never exceeds 31º, it was very refreshing to to stand there.

Back in the day, the ice caves were only used to harvest ice in order to keep the beer cold…not a bad ideSwap meet 66a.

We hung out for about a half an hour and decided to go brave the heat again. Jumping back on the 53 and then picking up Route 66 Route 66. Just before we got to Prewitt was passed the “Swap meet 66”. This old building was surrounded by car parts and hubcaps from models of cars that spread decades.

Continental DivideSock monkey at the continental divide

As we took off from the Swap meet 66, we noticed some dark cloud formations off in the distance but did not give it to much thought since it was so far away. We continued on to the Continental Divide. This is the line that divides the flow of water between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. From this point on, water would be flowing to the Pacific.

Continental Divide wagonWe pulled in and took a quick picture of Sock Monkey on one of the signs and then began to look around. We found a hogan behind the store and played around for a while. Another picture with Sock Monkey and a quick shot at the wagon and we were off again!

There was so much beauty to be seen that we found ourselves stopping frequently just to take a few pictures. The natural formations throughout the desert are more than I can describe. Scenic shot

We finally got back on the road for more than a few minutes headed to Arizona.

We rolled into Gallup New Mexico and stopped at the Rex Museum. To be honest, this museum is incredibly small and rather disappointing, so we didn’t stay long. Next stop, the Hotel El Rancho, this place did not disappoint!

Sock Monkey El RanchoWe took a picture with Sock Monkey out front and then headed in. Walking in we felt as though we had stepped through a time warp. Many Hollywood stars stayed here while filming westerns in the glory days of motion pictures. People like John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Ronald Reagan laid their heads here to get some sleep in between takes on the set.

We walked around the lobby area and enjoyed the period correct decor. This place is a must do if you are in Gallup.We jumped back on our iron horses and continued on our way towards Arizona.


With the passing of a quick 20 miles or so we hit Lupton, Arizona and stopped at the Yellowhorse souvenir shop. YellowhorseThis place is nestled at the base of some beautiful cliffs on the Navajo Reservation and there are many different things to look at. Me personally, I bought a new blanket that would later come in very handy on another ride! Rain clouds in Arizona

We wrapped up our visit to the Yellowhorse and once again headed west. Those ominous clouds that we noticed earlier, were now getting much closer. As we continued on our way, the rain began…it came down hard and heavy. To say that it bothered us would actually be a lie, it was so hot that it felt really good to have the water cooling us down. What we didn’t know was that it monsoon season in Arizona, some locals informed us of that further on down the road.

Painted desert

On our way to Holbrook, we decided to side trip into the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest. We rode in and began to take in all of the sights. The scenery in this National Park just cannot be put into words that would do it justice. We stopped frequently to t

Painted desert

ake pictures and attempt to capture just a portion of the beauty…and yes, Sock Monkey made another appearance!

As we took the loop through the National Park we continued to stop and enjoy the majestic scenery.

Soon the loop was done and we were back on Route 66 heading to Holbrook. Once we made it, we took a pit stop

at the Wig Wam Motel. Again, if you have seen the movie Cars, they had a version named the “Cozy Cone”.

The WigWam perfePainted desertctly captures the Wig Wam Motel1950’s road trip Americana. They even have classic cars parked in front of the “rooms” to add to that old time feel.

We continued on in order to keep pace with the schedule we had. Jumped onto I 40 and off to Joseph City to see the giant Jackalope! This is the kind of tourist trap icon you just can’t pass up! We all took turns jumping on the back of the Jackalope and taking it for a “ride”.

Next we were off to a town made famous by the Eagles…you guessed it, Winslow Arizona! This is a town that knows how to take advantage of the popularity it garnered from the Eagles singing “Take it Easy”. Winslow Arizona

From Jackalopegift shops to a mural of “a girl in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me” this was a cool place to walk around.

With only a few more miles to Flagstaff, we were off again.

As we continued down the road (with the Eagles now playing in my head) I knew we were looking for the Two Arrows. This would be our sign that Flagstaff was just a stones throw away. It had been an awesome day, but it had also been a long day. We were all looking forward to some much needed rest.

With that, we hit Flagstaff and found another KOA. We built a fire, Roasting hot dogsroasted some hot dogs and reminisced abouTwo Arrowst all of the things we had taken in. While tired, we were also looking forward to hitting the road again in the morning.

Until next time, keep the shiny side up!






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Daniel Thorp

I am a Husband, a father, and a grandfather. I have been married to my beautiful bride for 30 years, yet it only feels like 4 minutes...under water...Just kidding! I have three sons, one grandson, and one grand daughter (finally a girl!) My love for motorcycles happened very early in life and has not stopped. I transitioned from dual sport motorcycles (we called them enduros way back when) to sport bikes, and finally to crusiers. The wife and I own a few different bikes (we have been told we have an addiction!) and we ride them all. I intend to ride until the day I drop (unless the good Lord has different plans for me), and wanted to share some of my experiences with the rest of the world. Be safe and keep the shiny side up!

10 thoughts on “Ride historic Route 66 – 5th leg – Albuquerque to Flagstaff, AZ

  • June 15, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I loved everything about what u wrote, i have passion for riding and a big fan for harley davidsin and ktm bikes

    • June 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks. Hopefully you can get out experience Route 66 yourself one day.

  • June 16, 2018 at 8:40 am

    As I was reading when you were in Arizona and saw the clouds, I was wondering if it was monsoon season. I’ve been down there during that time and it can get pretty bad. What do bikers do if they’re out in the open on the road and there’s not much around and something like a monsoon comes along? Just sort of curious if there’s any type of specific solution or if it is what it is. Thanks for sharing this, it’s always nice to read about the travels that I haven’t gotten to take!

    • June 18, 2018 at 8:21 am

      I can’t speak for others, but we just sucked it up and road through it. To be honest, the rain was a welcome sight at that point as it had been at or above 100º each day.

  • June 17, 2018 at 1:24 am

    Hi, Daniel!
    I admire people who take a route like that. It has to be fun and excited, especially on bikes. I don`t like to ride them, but I sure like to see them on the road.
    Keep safe!

    • June 18, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for reading the post. If you ever find yourself near Route 66, you should take the drive…it’s even nice in a car.

  • June 17, 2018 at 6:58 am

    I think we can all attest to knowing about Route 66 through the song “Route 66”, but I never realized how long it stretched until actually reading more about thanks to your article. With so many historical landmarks and attractions, I’m definitely going to put this on my bucket list.

    • June 18, 2018 at 8:19 am

      Thanks for stopping by and reading about our journey. This was certainly one of the best road trips we have taken.

  • June 18, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Love, love, love this article. Great job. Although, I do have to admit that I hope I never see a tarantula again or a tarantula wasp. UGH!!!
    I love that you are taking this trip with your son. Sounds like you guys are having a blast.
    Keep the stories coming and keep the shiny side up!!


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