As much as I hated leaving the fabulous city of Las Vegas behind, it was onto our next adventure. The 4 and a half hour drive to the Grand Canyon was pretty smooth sailing – aside from Mr Ayla having a slight panic at having to drive out of the busy city, in an automatic, on the other side of the road, amidst 4 lanes of crazy Vegas traffic. After Googling which pedal was which (don’t judge – we drive manuals at home and neither of us know much about cars!) we were on our way with our ultimate road trip album blaring out of the CD player.
Despite being quite a long drive there were plenty of places to stop off along the way and the Hoover Dam was the first place on our itinerary. We’d left Vegas a little later than we’d intended (possibly due to too many cocktails the night before) so by the time we made the short 45 minute drive there, it was already packed full of tourists. We decided not to do a tour but instead just drove across the dam itself and ogled at the size of it before taking a few snaps and carrying on with the journey.
The drive is a straightforward one and I didn’t need to get out my old school paper route map once. It’s also a beautiful one and even though I could totally have taken a nap in the passenger seat, I didn’t want to miss out on any of the scenery. We drove past huge Lake Mead, around the winding mountains, along wide stretches of open road and through quirky little roadside towns.
After around 2 hours of driving through Arizona, past signs leading to the most random named places such as Rattlesnake Wash and Devil Dog Road, we came to our favourite stop on this route. The little town of Seligman is the birthplace of historic Route 66 and is about as typically American as you can get.
As we pulled off the interstate into Seligman there seemed to be no one else around so we slowed down as we drove along the main street, expecting to see tumbleweed rolling past the front of our car at any moment. Every store, diner, bar and gas station burst with giant signs and historic memorabilia, like it hadn’t changed at all since Route 66 was thought of as the main street of America. It was wacky, it was crazy, and I absolutely loved it.
It seemed like we’d driven straight onto the set of Pixar’s movie Cars as everywhere we looked there was a dusty truck or vintage race car all with those boggly eyes in the windscreen. Seligman was the inspiration behind the fictional town of Radiator Springs so it only made sense that of course I would love somewhere that had me feeling like I was in a Disney movie.
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap, the quirkiest of quirky roadside diners, epitomises everything that is old school Americana and we couldn’t resist stopping in to grab some lunch. Opened by Juan Delgadillo in 1953, the diner remains exactly the same as it was then – put together with scrap lumber, an odd collection of tables and chairs dotted around, and an old rusty Chevy sitting outside with Santa Claus waiting to greet drive-in customers despite the shining sun in April.
But it seemed that finding our way inside was a bit of a puzzle in itself as the door is hidden under hundreds of brightly coloured Route 66 stickers and posters and we embarrassed ourselves by trying to get in using the fake doorknob instead of the one that actually opens the door!Once we finally managed to get inside, more jokes and pranks awaited us from the younger generation of Delgadillo’s who now run the drive-in, and they serve up just as much humour as they do scrummy food. Want cheese with that cheeseburger? Need a straw…here’s some hay! All topped off with a smiley face sitting happily on top of our fries and the best coke float I’ve ever tasted.
Even the toilets were the coolest I’ve ever used…
Seligman is only a tiny town made up of pretty much the one road, but it was just too interesting and wacky a place not to explore some more and the Instagrammer in me was getting extremely excited as every painted wall and colourful store front seemed to present another great photo opportunity.
I could have spent all day here just wandering around this quirky town, but we still had almost 2 more hours to go before we reached the Grand Canyon. There aren’t many other major stops on this section of the route apart from the western style town of Williams, set along a railway line with the forest as a backdrop, and Bedrock City where you can meet the Flintstones!
From Williams to the Grand Canyon it’s just an hour’s drive and even I managed to drive this stretch myself while Mr Ayla took his turn to rest in the passenger seat. I’m not a confident driver at all – I very rarely drive at home and have never driven more than 20 minutes away from my house, but I absolutely loved this drive down those long wide American roads. It’s even convinced me that I need to buy an automatic car back home because it’s SO much easier – even on the other side of the road!
By the time we arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – almost 7 hours later thanks to all our little stops and photo taking along Route 66 – it didn’t feel like we had spent most of the day in the car at all. And we were just in time to watch the sun light up this breathtaking Wonder of the World as it started to set over the Canyon.
Tips for driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon:
♥ Despite a bit of a panic at first, it’s a super easy route. If you’ve never driven an automatic, have a drive around the car parking lot before going out onto the street just to get the hang of using a different shift.
♥ Make sure you have a Sat Nav or use Google Maps on your phone. Finding our way out of Vegas was the trickiest part as there are so many lanes but it’s smooth sailing from there and is pretty much just three straight long roads.
♥ Take it in turns to drive to alleviate tiredness and boredom. Like I said, I’m not a confident driver in the slightest but even I managed to do a fair bit of the drive myself on the long wide American roads and I really enjoyed it!
♥ Pick some interesting and fun stops on your way to break up the drive and make sure you don’t miss the Hoover Dam or Seligman.
♥ To get to the Hoover Dam: from Boulder City take the 172 where you can stop for a tour or just have a quick look. If you drive over the Dam and onto the Arizona side, there are car parks which offer free parking.
♥ Aim to arrive at the Grand Canyon either as early as you can or later in the day just before sunset like we did. When we left in the afternoon the following day, the queue of cars to get into the Canyon went on for miles.
♥ Check out Roadside America for more quirky stops along this route.
Have you driven along this part of Route 66 to the Grand Canyon? What was your favourite stop? Let me know in the comments below or at: