The typical advice you will find on the web about combining Route 66 and Monument Valley on a trip is ‘don’t’, and I will admit that we (myself and two old friends) cranked out some substantial mileage in 8 days to accomplish this (2,232 miles in all, taking in Antelope Canyon and Death Valley for good measure). It was well worth it. Taking a large vehicle like a Chevy Suburban (in FBI black) helped. My gallery for the Route 66 shots is here. Our planning was sketchy, but here’s our itinerary:
- London to Dallas/Fort Forth
- Margaritas and dinner at Javier’s, Dallas, which is a fine establishment.
- Morning in Dallas, visited the 6th Floor Museum, which is sombre but well worth the visit. None of us give much credence to conspiracy theories but all agreed something wasn’t right with the conventional story. 18 witnesses disappeared… Our taxi driver, Charlie Ratcliff, of Cowboy Cars (+1 214 284 9919) was a witness who didn’t disappear. He saw the shooting as a boy and can be seen in the Zapruder footage with his father. He gives tours of the city, though we were pressed for time and could not take him up on his offer.
- Drove to Amarillo, Texas. Passed the leaning water tower at Groom, Texas (this is 1 of 2 things to see or do in Groom according to Trip Advisor). We had dinner at the Big Texan, a well known Route 66 waypoint. Kitsch does not do it justice, though the steak was a little disappointing given the hype. We were taken to and from our hotel in a battered town car with steer’s horns on the front. We avoided the 72 ounce steak challenge.
- Headed back onto Route 66 and stopped at Tucumcari, New Mexico to take some shots and have a coffee at the Circa Espresso Bar.
- Drove to Sante Fe, New Mexico. Our route took us through Gallup and stopped to see the El Rancho Hotel, another Route 66 waypoint. On arriving at the beautiful city of Santa Fe we sampled the fine beer and pizza on the balcony at the Draft Station with a view of the plaza. We stayed at the La Posada de Sante Fe, which is highly recommended. It is haunted though, apparently…
- Drove to Monument Valley – we were all blown away by it. Breathtaking is an overused word but it is fair in this case. We stayed at Goulding’s Lodge, which nestles under the cliffs and has an old world charm. It is one of only two hotels in the valley. We enjoyed the local Navajo bread as part of dinner, but missed a beer as the reservation is dry.
- Took a tour of the Loop Road, Monument Valley and saw the breathtaking John Ford’s Point – complete with a Navajo man on a horse on the point. He had been hired by a Japanese photography group. The shot is on the home page a couple of images in.
- Drove to Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon near Page and took a photographic tour with Adventurous Tours. The canyon is absolutely stunning, though difficult to photograph because of the intense light and shade. Our guide was very knowledgable and this helped a great deal. Interestingly he had been into the canyon with Peter Lik, who shot the world’s most expensive photograph, The Phantom, there.
- Drove to Flagstaff Arizona, which is great base to explore the Arizona section of Route 66 from. We stayed at the Little America Hotel and played Pool and Shuffleboard at Uptown Billiards before dinner at a good noodle bar, Sosoba.
- The following morning we walked the Ponderosa Pine trail at the back of the hotel and saw – in addition to quite a lot of pine trees, various kinds of ‘critters’, none of which we could identify.
- Headed to Williams, Arizona – my favourite town on Route 66. Stopped at the ridiculously named ‘Bearzonia’ on the way. The bears and wolves most impressive – especially an evil looking wolf we nicknamed ‘Evil Dick’. We met some great characters in the two Western outfitters in Williams and had a burger at the Cruiser Cafe.
- Spectacular drive along Route 66 through the Black Mountains (listed on dangerous roads) to the Ghost Town of Oatman, where 100 or so people hang on in a place barely changed since the 1920s and wild burros wander the streets. We had a beer at Judy’s Saloon and wandered through the town – it is quite something to behold.
- Drove to Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s not my favourite place, but it was on the way and we had a good dinner at Sushi Samba.
- Visited the impressive Titanic Artefact Museum in the rather oppressive Luxor.
- Headed out to Death Valley equipped with very little in the way of a plan or provisions – which is not advisable. Stopped at Furnace Creek and Zabriskie Point. We were all surprised by how beautiful the scenery was.
- Arrived late at night in LA having skipped both lunch and dinner in the name of mileage.
- A final breakfast of Eggs Benedict and saw a little more of old Route 66 on the way to LAX airport.
Hours in the car – around 40, photographic keepers about 30, fun – almost unlimited.