If you follow me on instagram you've might have seen some of these photos but I bet you didn't know it was all on Route 66!! Personally, I've always heard about Route 66 and how it's the best road trip route ever. But I've actually never known what awesome things it contained! Until I went of course. So this is my five favourite stops from Grand Canyon to Los Angeles. If you want to do the whole thing, the sixth stop is Santa Monica Pier - the end of the route and what a way to end it! Furthermore, if you are a budget traveller like me don't be afraid! It's all free to visit! Ahh my favourite sentence...
The route runs from Chicago to Los Angeles and it runs very close by Grand Canyon, which mean it's very easy to "hop on" after visiting Grand Canyon (or Vegas if that's where you are). This way you'll never get bored on your road trip. There's so much good stuff (and awesomely weird stuff) to see. I started at Grand Canyon and ended in LA.
First stop: Delgadillo's Snow Cap Diner
Second stop: Las Vegas, Nevada
Third stop: Oatman, AZ
Fourth stop: Kelso Dunes
Fifth stop: Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch
Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In
First stop was to get early lunch in a town called Seligman, Arizona. Delgadillo's Snow Cap has made drivers stop and laugh for about 50 years and it's become a Route 66 landmark. The old American diner has become famous for its old school diner style and their extravagant decoration. As they call it themselves: A good ole slice of Americana. The menu is typical diner food like milkshakes, burgers, fries and ice cream. However, the diner doesn't take itself too seriously and it's devoted to jokes like the door got two door knobs but one is fake. Visitors may have to confirm something like if they want cheese on their cheeseburger!
A detour to Las Vegas
Route 66 does not actually go through Las Vegas, however, it's a small detour from it and you can easily get back on the route again from Las Vegas. If you haven't been to Las Vegas it's the perfect opportunity to stop by (if you have, you can just skip it)! All you need is one day I would say (unless you're here to spend all your money in the casinos). I visited Las Vegas in the evening and saw the Strip and the sign and that was perfect for me! The next morning I went to the art installation Seven Magic Mountains before I headed back to the route.
Seven Magic Mountains are seven pastel-coloured stacked rocks in the middle of the dessert. It was an art installation that was meant to only be up for a short period of time but it gained so much popularity that they keep extending the time period! It's best to visit the rocks early in the morning because it can become very crowded - especially this close to Vegas. But the installation is free to visit!
When you drive into Oatman it's like driving into an old western movie. The city is called a "living" ghost town because it has saved some of the old buildings or rebuild them the same way as in the old days but also because only a maximum of 100 people still lives here. The rest of the population is burros and the town is literally overrun by burros! I think I met 2 people and 12 burros while here.
The story goes, that a long time ago the town was a mining town. Someone discovered gold here in 1915 which started the settlement of the town. Unfortunately for the settlers, the gold ran up and in the 1950s a new route bypassed Oatman and the town slowly turned into a ghost town. Many people moved away and the burros that were used in the mines were let loose in the Black Mountains of Arizona's Mohave County. Many of the burros today are children or grandchildren of the mining burros.
Today they town has become a iconic stop for everyone traveling down the Mother Road. Even though it's super cool, be aware that the town has turned into a tourist trap. Most people here live off tourism. There's a Wild West Shootout pretty much every day from 1.3pm til 3.30pm performed by "The Oatman Ghost Riders". The town is mostly souvenir shops, craft shops and a few hotels and saloons. You can also buy carrots to feed the burros at every corner.
Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert
Located in the Mojave National Preserve, a 4 hours drive from Los Angeles, lies Kelso Dunes. It's the largest sand dunes in the Mojave Desert. It was June and extremely hot when we visited. We arrived late at night after visiting Oatman and went to sleep in our campervan not really knowing what scenery we would wake up to. Kelso Dunes are located in a National Preserve, which is free to camp find out where here. We woke up at 7am because the sun and heat was already making our campervan feel like an oven, so we started the hike!
First look from the parking lot does not give the best first impression. Before reaching the sand dunes, you have to walk along a gravel road with greenery on both sides. Well, it's not actually green because it's a burning hot desert.... However, when you are past that, the sand starts to look endless! I looked for the nearest sand dune "mountain" and went there. What I didn't know was that what looked like a short 20 minute hike took an hour to get to! And it's really hard climbing up a sand dune haha. The sand is really fine and for every step I took, I slid back a few steps! But what a view I was rewarded with!!!
Getting back down was much more fun. I basically just slid all the way down and when we got back to the car we had sand everywhere. There was so much sand in my shoes that I don't understand how there was room for my feet haha! I forget to say, it's completely free to visit.
Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch
If you follow Route 66, you'll eventually see this weird, funny and beautiful place beside the road in Oro Grande in the middle of the Californian dessert. It's a work of art and literally a forrest of bottle trees: bottles hanging on metal pipes as trees. It's free to see but they happily accept donations.
The creator, Elmer Long, made the bottle forrest after his father passed away. His father had a passion for "trash" and especially old bottles. Elmer and his father created a huge collection of bottles - this collection is what became one the craziest and whimsical attractions on Route 66.
Unfortunately, Elmer has recently passed away but his family are trying to preserve his legacy. You can see updates on their website: http://thebottletreeranch.com/