Route 66 – Albuquerque to Williams

Route 66

Albuquerque to Williams

Albuquerque, New Mexico & the Petroglyph National Forest

After oil changes and excellent customer service at Cummins Rocky Mountain in Albuquerque, we decided to see Petroglyph National Monument before adventuring too far west on Historic Route 66.

Dancing Eagle Casino RV Park, about 45-miles west of the park, and almost an hour from Albuquerque, is where we parked for only $11.38 per night. Located at Exit 108, it’s level, clean, buffered from noise, no obstacles and no frills. Satellite and cellular worked great, forgot to check antenna TV. Lots of available spots, but we noticed a couple big rig RVs came in and parked across several back-in sites so they did not have to unhook their TOWEDs. There were still a few sites left after that, but we thought about how arrogant they were. Since we were there for two nights, we took a back-in. There are a few pull-throughs in the center aisle, but not many. Boondocking spots are available at the travel center or by the marketplace just outside the park walls. Calling the casino is no help, for receptionist refers one to another casino closer to Albuquerque at Exit 140. The park is one to be proud of, and the prices reflect that greatness. We just wanted a quiet, no-frills spot for nights. The Dancing Eagle had few options for vegetarians. I’m still wondering about those refried beans I had in a bean and cheese burrito. They add water and steam them, the cashier said. Okay. Gulp.. just wanted to show appreciation for the overnight parking bargain.

Pack a picnic lunch and beverages in your car for Petroglyph National Monument adventures. Photo-happy people like us tarry longer  than one might think on the short hikes. Several people passed us by on the trail, and we’re sure they managed to run through the whole park in one day. We spent too long on one trail, ate a leisurely lunch with an adult beverage, and then we enjoyed another trail. Shadows lengthened, so we decided to save the other two trails in great hopes of returning someday. If we had not been on our way to a family rendezvous, we would definitely have stayed for another full day of adventures.

Holbrook, Arizona, the Petrified Forest and Wigwam Motel

Sun Valley RV Resort, formerly Root 66 RV Park, in Holbrook is where we parked the big rig for three days. Decent price with Passport America, level site; very easy in and out; and, it was close to both the Petrified Forest and the Wigwam Motel. Very nice owners and great selection of petrified wood for sale at better prices than elsewhere. Be prepared to buy drinking water and to turn off household refer ice maker. Groceries available in town at Safeway, but prices are exorbitant. Verizon service is next to nonexistent at park, then weak to workable in other nearby areas. Satellite and antenna TV were both fine. We would return for the friendly atmosphere and sights to see!

We spent two days among petrified marvels, and at least two hours at the Wigwam Motel, where the owner was very hospitable and invited us to see the collections on display in the “museum” there. What a hoot! Photogs might like to do Blue Mesa early in the mornings. Best bets are to obtain wilderness permits and figure out how to park overnight at the park. Just sayin’ cause things definitely get interesting when the angle of the sun’s dangle is something other than straight up! We saw several RVs along the park road turnouts, so making a day trip through the park is possible, though after-hors access is another matter.

Meteor Crater and Two Guns Ghost Town

Meteor Crater RV Park. Price was more than $30 per night, but it was ok. Nice lounge with laundry, book exchange and a few movies to rent. Crater and ghost town are possible on same day, but us slowpokes split it up. We saw an airstream being towed across an old Route 66 bridge into the 1920s section of the ghost town, where the family proceeded to boondock. I bet sunset there was amazing! I don’t think we’d try to take the big rig in there…fun times!

Winslow, Arizona and Homolovi State Park

Homolovi State Park campground was a very easy in-and-out, even if the narrow entrance road made us nervous at first. Price for 50 amp electric and water site was $30. We had site 28, which was a little effort to get the big rig level on. 24 looked better. They were two of the several available sites for our stay. Verizon is strong; clear sky for satellite, not much on antenna TV, and plenty to see and do in area.  Ancient remains of Hopi pueblos and a few petroglyphs can be explored, and there are desert trails for those who wish to hike instead of drive and take short walks. We even saw RVs parked at each area, so Homolovi can also be a day trip between stopovers elsewhere. Be sure to stop in the Visitor Center for extra information, interpretive displays and to scan the QR bar code or use this link for a nice 45-minute podcast to listen to while exploring the largest pueblo on site, Homolovi II. We stayed two nights and would have extended our stay, if our site had been available. We wanted to make a day trip to the Little Painted Dessert about 15 miles north on Highway 87, and to the Hopi village, about 45 minutes north of that.

Winslow is a couple of minutes from Homolovi, and we saw RVs parked on the streets there as well. There are bulb outs with plenty of parking all through town, especially within a few steps of Standing on the Corner Park where an endless stream of tourists pose for photos with the statues and the flatbed ford. We decided mornings would be a better time to get a photo here due to the strong backlight in the afternoons. We had a wonderful lunch at Relic Road Brewery across the street, but they did not brew on site, nor have any Relic Road brand brews on hand. I had a Dragoon IPA and Stu had a Dragoon Sex Panther, a double chocolate porter by SanTan Brewing. They were okay, but not as good as others we’ve sampled. We both tried one of their signature burgers, with bean burger patties instead of beef. They also offer a Portobello version. The relic chips were fantastic, if a tad on the greasy side. We were put out at the high-fructose on the Heinz Ketchup label, but then we were not at home, where ingredients are mostly organic and chosen carefully. Sometimes one just has to relax the standards a bit while enjoying the experience of dining out at such a great place. We enjoyed a window seat in the back room, where we watched that endless stream of people photographing themselves next to one of the bronze statues. We also enjoyed walking a trail between Standing on the Corner Park and the visitors center. There were some fun museum-quality displays along the trail, including one of the renowned Toth Totems, but we were saddened to see so many piles of dog poop and no poop bags in the dispensers. Maybe the local chamber should start a shame campaign? IDK It’s a crappy shitiation…

Flagstaff/Williams, Arizona and the Grand Canyon

Wow, unless one wants to boondocks in the forest while adventuring in the Grand Canyon, bring deep pockets! We stayed at the KOA Grand Canyon, in Williams, where we paid extremely high prices for a crappy park. Sites were unlevel and neighbor’s sewer drain was in the patio/picnic area. Park wifi and cellular were pretty much weak to nonexistent. The cabins for people traveling with pets had no amenities whatsoever.

We enjoyed riding the Grand Canyon Railway to and from the park. Taking first class on the way back was fantastic! We took shoes off our aching feet, stretched out and enjoyed $6 cocktails after a long day of sightseeing with thousands of other people at the rim. The squirrels were persistent, brave and opportunistic little creatures who would ruffle through an unwatched backpack or snack bag, so beware of that!

Wanting to extend our stay for more adventures in the area, we tried Kit Carson RV Park, in Flagstaff, which was also overpriced. Unlevel sites, a leaky faucet that went un-repaired. Desk person took last name and money for one night stay, then we woke to SWAT action. It ended up being an attempted suicide, which resolved with no shots fired and no body bag required.  We had to stay another night due to a broken water pump and awoke to find fire department vehicles and construction workers scrambling all over the place, blocking our exit for a while. There was a falling tree leaning on power lines, and crew members managed to fell it safely with no damage to RVs. Amazing work to watch!

Camping World had the water pump in stock, said they always do. They did not have step motor and counter person did not even know what it was. The pump ended up being faulty, so we returned it with no problem. Arizona Route 66 RVs next door was better. They not only ordered four motors to be sure they had the right one, they said to come on over the next morning, and they would help troubleshoot the water pump and install the motor. Then they allowed us to boondock so we could enjoy the Route 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grill next door, which featured amazing 1950s and antique automotive decor, a good beer selection and some baked potatoes we loaded up with fixins from the salad bar. What fun we had! The bar stools were soon taken by a Canadian biker group, and two biker couples from East Germany came and sat near us. They traveled on rental Harleys and were all outfitted in the stereotypical black leathers and souvenir T-shirts. Meat eaters must cook themselves, on a grill area set up in the corner of the dining room. A wall of spices behind the grill has seasonings for all! Interesting concept, but some people just don’t want to cook when they go out to eat. Another fun touch were the double-bowl pet feeders one serves up the free peanuts in. The bartended told us those were for her human pets. What a hoot!