Recently, hubby and I traveled from Los Angeles to Santa Fe between Christmas and New Year’s Day. En route we made sure to go off the major highways/ freeways and take “Old Route 66”. I wanted to write a blog to spotlight some of the places we stopped – including Oatman and Winslow Arizona.
Tip #1: Make sure you have a camera ready to capture some of the prettiest skies as you traverse Old Route 66 from Kingman to Oatman and then Kingman to points east. The clouds are so dramatic!
Welcome to OATMAN – aka the Wild, Wild West!
I am not sure how I feel about Oatman. Part of me loved the quirkiness and the roaming donkeys that seemed very domesticated. There are re-enactments of gunfights daily and some unusual exhibits – such as walking in a replica of a mine. The vendors who were selling coffee and homemade salsa and jams were filled with information and interesting trivia.
A website dedicated to Arizona travel describes Oatman as follows:
More than 500,000 visitors are drawn annually to Oatman’s gold mine history as well as the legend of its namesake. Olive Oatman is entrenched in western lore as a woman who was kidnapped by an Indian tribe, then sold to a friendly local tribe before being freed to her family near what became Oatman.
Oatman might have suffered the same fate as many Arizona mining towns and faded into a ghost town if not for Route 66 nostalgia and nearby casinos. The town prides itself on maintaining a Wild West feel, down to the wooden sidewalks, staged shootouts, and kitschy shops. (You can even adopt a wild burro and take it home!)
Note: Oatman has a number of individuals (i.e. shop owners) who are very loud and blatant with their words, displays, and merchandise about their disdain for the current U.S. President and support of MAGA and our former president. Tip #2 – if you offend easily – skip Oatman.
Paying homage to loved ones
When you leave Oatman you will be in for a treat as Old Route 66 provides us with a lovely drive through the mountains. (Be careful though as donkeys roam the roadways, as well.) About 10 minutes outside of Oatman is where Hubby and I found a small parking area to stop and snap some photos of the gorgeous views. It is known as Sitgreaves Pass. We walked a short distance and stumbled upon what looked like a series of makeshift memorials to loved ones. I did some research and found that this was an area where locals scatter the remains of cremated loved ones or erect a tribute memorial to them. Ironically, weddings also were purported to happen on this reverent mountainside.
Well… you don’t see THIS everyday!
There are a few places along Route 66 that are best described via photos. Here are some of our favorite “finds”.. b.
Tip #3: Stop for Good Eats at Gabby’s Cafe
We had some good and some not-so-good meals during our road trip. One of the favorite eateries was not far from Rte. 66 and located in Grants, New Mexico – GABBY’S CAFE. The sandwiches and donuts were awesome! The servers were very friendly and pleasant and the coffee was better than most places we found! Gabby’s Cafe for a win!
A few extra travel tips:
- Gas prices vary – so you may want to use an app like GAS BUDDY to compare and plan your gas stops in advance
- If you are unfamiliar with an area consider making the drive during daylight. Some of Rte. 66 is windy and the weather can be variable – including black ice on the roads during the colder months
- Ask local folks where they eat so you aren’t subjected to touristy places with so-so meals.
- Pack for all kinds of weather. Rain gear and snow boots were needed on this trip.
- Know that you may not have consistent cell phone reception, as some of these areas are very rural and surrounded by mountains.
Almost all of the places I listed in this article has easy accessiblity for those who have mobility challenges. There may be some stores in Oatman where access is limited, however, I believe most can be available to someone in a wheelchair.
For people who are blind, be careful in Oatman, especially. There is uneven ground and as mentioned, donkeys roam freely. People walk on the road and that means a bit of mayhem with cars and people trying to share the street.
Next travel blog will be (drumroll)… Laughlin, Nevada