Music-lovers not familiar with Arizona often scratch their heads, thinking “I’ve heard of that place before.” Suddenly it comes to them: Winslow Arizona is mentioned in the huge Eagles hit, “Take it Easy.”
In fact, Winslow is a city of just under 10,000 people in Navajo County, on the famous Route 66. There is an unresolved question about how it got the name Winslow. There was an old prospector called Tom Winslow who lived in the area, but the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad had a President called Edward F Winslow. It was the railroad that made the city important, until rail travel diminished after World War II.
It is located at an elevation well above 4,000 feet and although it has minimal rainfall, the inhabitants know to expect snow every year.
1. Homolovi State Park
Just a short distance outside Winslow are the ruins of a Homolovi settlement. The Homolovi lived here before moving north to where the Hopi lived.
The Hopi recognize that many of their ancestors come from this region. The trails in the Park pass by the ruins and if you need information, there is a Visitor Center where you can pop in before you head out. Within the center you will see ancient artifacts of tools, pottery and stone as well as current trends in Hopi art.
Camping facilities are available within the park.
2. McHood Park
The Lake in McHood Park, a manmade reservoir, offers a range of activities including kayaking and canoeing. Swimmers have the chance to cool off and fishermen take to the banks, or a boat on the lake to try their luck.
Rock carvings known as petroglyphs can be seen on the canyon sides, showing that at one time it was accessible to ancient peoples.
Wildlife in the park is sometimes elusive, but you are certain to see plenty of birds as you walk or climb.
3. Standin’ on the Corner Park
Many tourists come to Winslow purely to get themselves photographed beside the statue on the corner made famous in the Eagles song. Glenn Frey, who co-wrote the song with Jackson Browne, was lead vocalist on “Take it Easy.” Winslow’s heyday had long gone as the popularity of rail travel declined but the Eagles single-handedly brought the town back into the spotlight.
It’s located at the corner of Route 66 and North Kinsley Avenue, where you will see the man in jeans, vest and boots with a guitar at his feet, an image typical of the 1970s.
4. Apache Death Cave
This cave gets its name from the story of an Apache raiding party who killed all but three people in a Navajo camp, taking three girls prisoner. The Navajo response was to send men to get revenge, but they lost the trail. Actually, the Apaches had completed a further raid so were still around. Scouts found them from the smoke of their fire in an underground cave.
After killing the guards, the Navajo lit fires at the opening to the cave, causing it to be filled with smoke. After negotiations for surrender were completed, the Navajo asked about their girls, who had already been killed. They left 42 Apaches to suffocate in the smoky air inside the cave. Even today, some say the area is cursed.
You can now explore this cave, located on Route 66, but watch out for the ghosts.
5. Two Guns
Two Guns was a trading post in the early 19th century, where settlers would stop as they passed through the region. Harry “Two Guns” Miller leased it and expanded the business further. He even built a replica of Apache Death Cave as one of his tourist attractions, selling Apache skulls as souvenirs.
He suffered a series of misfortunes, although he was acquitted of murder when obviously guilty. He eventually lost Two Guns to Louise Cundiff whose husband he had murdered. She continued the business and after a series of other interesting events, it burnt down in 1971 to become effectively a ghost town. Russell Crowe now owns it and time will tell whether it will become a film location.
6. La Posada
Santa Fe Railway built a hotel and gardens here in 1929; they are now regarded as a historic monument.
There had been talk of demolishing it, but twenty years ago it was finally refurbished. You are welcome to visit even if you are not staying in the hotel where some interesting art is on display.
Each room is different, with several of them having the handmade Ponderosa pine beds from decades ago as well as bathrooms with mosaic tiles. If you are lucky, you will get a room with a whirlpool tub.
7. First Street Pathway Park
Even if you have no interest in railways and their history, you must visit the First Street Pathway Park, which is close to La Posada.
Walk down the path towards the totem pole and you will see the railway in front of you. The line has plenty of signage and the station clock. Much of the history of rail is told as you head down the route. Take your time and stroll around the Park; it is relaxing and an education in itself on both the railway and the city.
8. Arizona Meteor Crater
The Arizona Meteor Crater is just outside Winslow, an attraction that was created 50,000 years ago.
Space enthusiasts come in huge numbers to see the crater each year but you do not have to be interested in space to be impressed with it. The lookout point allows you to look across the crater, which is approximately 4,000 feet wide.
Daily tours provide further information on the events that created the crater. If you have an RV or a tent, you can park up and spend the night, with restrooms and showers available next to the RV parking. Other facilities include a Mexican restaurant and gas station.
9. Rock Art Ranch
The ancient petroglyphs at the Rock Art Ranch attract thousands of visitors each year, including a significant number of archaeologists. Few places in the world have a comparable collection of this ancient art form.
You can see the art when traveling down the canyon to look at what was home to the original inhabitants of Arizona. The creek almost looks out of place in the desert surroundings.
You will learn more if you spend time in the ranch’s museum, where there are exhibits that are thousands of years old.
10. Old Trails Museum
This Museum is an excellent place to visit if you want to learn more of the history and culture of what is now Arizona. The earliest references are to the meteor crater, the mammoths that once roamed the land and the early inhabitants, including the Hopi, Laguna, and Navajo.
Later came the early settlers and the railroad, which was the reason for Winslow’s original prosperity.
The Museum certainly benefits from exhibits such as documents and photographs as well as oral histories, which have been provided by locals and their families.
11. Little Painted Desert County Park
Visitors to Winslow sometimes overlook this little park. That is a mistake because of the subtle rock colors that it reveals, hence its name. There is a paved trail to follow and visitor facilities include parking and restrooms.
The trail descends into the desert area. You should do two things before you go: get plenty of water and be certain of the route down and back, particularly if you are walking alone, because hikers have been known to get lost out there.
12. Arizona 66 Trading Company
The place to go for souvenir shopping in Winslow and Route 66 is this country store. Whether you are just looking for T-shirts or are more interested in local jewelry and art, head here.
It retains an “old world” feel, and in this case, that means the Wild West. It is situated on Route 66 in the center of town so is easy to find. If you are short of space in your luggage, pick up small items like Route 66 magnets and interesting postcards, which may give you inspiration for your own photographs while around Winslow.
13. Ella’s Frontier Trading Post
Ella’s is a piece of history that used to be an important stopping point on Route 66. It is a deserted building now and has fallen into disrepair, but it looked impressive in 1927, made out of old telephone poles. For years, business thrived on the busy route. Now it’s a stopping point for visitors who want to explore the abandoned site and imagine what once was.
Just after the Second World War it was owned by Ray Meany, a Hawaiian bandleader and his wife Ella. It was known as the Last Frontier but when they divorced in 1955, Ella gave it her name. She died in 1984 and the business has been closed ever since.
14. E & O Kitchen
Not surprisingly, Mexican cuisine is a favorite in the region, which was once part of Mexico. This restaurant is certainly a place where you can enjoy it at its best.
You can select dishes with beef, pork, chicken, shrimps or fish accompanied by tacos, rice and beans. Whether you prefer tamales, burritos or enchiladas, all the favorites are on the menu for a great lunch or dinner. Make sure you are hungry when you go because the menu is so tempting and there is something here for everyone.
15. Relic Road Brewing Company
If you are looking for a casual place to eat but not seeking fine dining, then Relic Road Brewing Company might be right up your alley.
It is family-friendly and ensures the kids have plenty to do while waiting for their burger and taking in the cowboy atmosphere.
You will see plenty of choices for drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and after a busy day out sightseeing or enjoying the great natural environment, you will probably deserve a drink.