As an adventurer with a passion for travel and exploration, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Winslow, Arizona. The mention of this small city in Navajo County often evokes a sense of familiarity among music-lovers, thanks to its prominent reference in the iconic Eagles hit, “Take it Easy.”
Located along the famous Route 66, Winslow embraces a distinct charm and allure. With a population of just under 10,000 people, it embodies a captivating blend of history and modernity. However, the origin of its name remains a subject of speculation and debate. Some believe it was named after a local prospector named Tom Winslow, while others attribute it to Edward F. Winslow, the President of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad. It was this very railroad that brought significance and prosperity to Winslow, until the decline of rail travel following World War II.
Nestled at an elevation well above 4,000 feet, Winslow boasts a unique climate and breathtaking scenery. While rainfall may be minimal throughout the year, the residents have come to anticipate the arrival of snowfall, adding a touch of enchantment to the landscape.
As I embarked on my journey through Winslow, I was captivated by the city’s rich tapestry of history, musical legacy, and natural beauty. It was an opportunity to immerse myself in the stories of the past, embrace the spirit of Route 66, and witness the harmonious coexistence of a small-town atmosphere and the echoes of a timeless song.
So, join me as we delve into the 15 best things to do in Winslow, Arizona, and uncover the hidden gems that await us in this captivating city. Together, let’s embark on an adventure that will leave us with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the wonders that Winslow has to offer.
1. Homolovi State Park
As an avid traveler, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to explore the outskirts of Winslow and uncover the intriguing ruins of a Homolovi settlement. These ancient ruins hold a significant place in history, as they were once home to the Homolovi people before they migrated north to join the Hopi community.
The Hopi, recognizing the ancestral ties to this region, hold deep reverence for the Homolovi settlement. Curiosity guiding my steps, I followed the trails in the park, passing by the remnants of these ancient dwellings. For those seeking further insights, a Visitor Center awaits nearby, where a wealth of information awaits to enhance the journey.
Stepping into the Visitor Center, I was greeted by a treasure trove of artifacts, showcasing the tools, pottery, and stone craftsmanship of the Homolovi people. It was a glimpse into their daily lives and the ingenuity of their creations. Additionally, the center offered a glimpse into the contemporary trends of Hopi art, bridging the gap between the past and present.
As I immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of connection to the land and its stories. The opportunity to camp within the park’s grounds further amplified this connection, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the surrounding natural beauty and embrace the tranquility of the ancient Homolovi settlement.
2. McHood Park
The allure of McHood Park’s serene lake beckoned me to embark on a memorable adventure. Nestled within this picturesque park is a manmade reservoir, offering a plethora of activities to indulge in. I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the calm waters and partake in kayaking and canoeing, experiencing the tranquility of the surroundings firsthand.
With the sun glistening on the water’s surface, swimmers sought solace in the refreshing embrace of the lake, while nearby, skilled fishermen cast their lines in pursuit of a prized catch. The tranquil ambiance of the park provided the perfect backdrop for a day filled with leisurely exploration and rejuvenation.
As I ventured along the canyon sides, I stumbled upon a fascinating sight—ancient rock carvings known as petroglyphs. These intricate carvings served as remnants of the past, a testament to the presence of ancient peoples who once thrived in this very region. It was awe-inspiring to witness the tangible connection to history, and I marveled at the artistic expressions left behind by those who came before us.
While wildlife in the park occasionally proved elusive, the skies above were alive with the melodies of various avian species. With each step I took, my eyes were captivated by the graceful flight of birds, enhancing the serenity of my walk or climb. It was a testament to the park’s abundant biodiversity and a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings.
As the day drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the profound beauty of McHood Park and the memorable experiences it offered. From the tranquil lake activities to the mesmerizing petroglyphs and the captivating presence of wildlife, this hidden gem provided an enchanting escape into nature’s embrace.
3. Standin’ on the Corner Park
As I strolled through the vibrant streets of Winslow, Arizona, I couldn’t help but notice the undeniable magnetism that drew tourists from far and wide to a particular corner. It was a spot of pilgrimage for music lovers, an homage to the timeless Eagles hit, “Take it Easy.” And there it stood, the Winslow Statue, a symbol of nostalgia and the town’s remarkable resurgence.
The significance of this statue became clear as I delved into its history. Co-written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne, “Take it Easy” not only resonated with countless fans but also thrust Winslow into the limelight. Once a thriving hub during the heyday of rail travel, the town had witnessed the gradual decline of its fortunes. But the infectious rhythm and heartfelt lyrics of the Eagles breathed new life into Winslow, reviving its spirit and captivating the hearts of music enthusiasts worldwide.
Positioned at the intersection of Route 66 and North Kinsley Avenue, the Winslow Statue stood as a cherished landmark. Adorned in jeans, a vest, and boots, the iconic figure held a guitar at his feet, embodying the free-spirited essence of the 1970s. As I observed the steady stream of visitors, each eager to capture their own moment beside the statue, it was evident that this corner had become a pilgrimage site for Eagles fans.
4. Apache Death Cave
As an avid explorer of history and local legends, I found myself drawn to a cave along Route 66, known as Apache Death Cave. Its intriguing name carries a haunting tale that has captivated the imaginations of many.
Legend has it that the cave acquired its name from a tragic event involving an Apache raiding party and a Navajo camp. In a cruel act, the raiders killed all but three individuals, taking three young girls captive. Seeking justice, the Navajo mounted a retaliatory mission, but tragically lost the trail. Unbeknownst to them, the Apaches had carried out yet another raid, remaining hidden in the area. It was the smoke rising from their fire within an underground cave that ultimately exposed their location.
Driven by vengeance, the Navajo scouts approached the cave and swiftly eliminated the guards. Determined to trap the Apaches inside, they set fires at the cave’s entrance, filling it with thick smoke. Negotiations for surrender ensued, and as the Navajo inquired about the fate of their captive girls, they learned the heart-wrenching truth—they had already been killed. The smoky air within the cave claimed the lives of 42 Apaches, forever marking the site with an air of tragedy and, according to some, an enduring curse.
Curiosity and a sense of reverence led me to explore this infamous cave, knowing its chilling history. Stepping cautiously into its depths, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease, as if the spirits of the past lingered among the shadows. Whispers of the tragic events echoed through the chamber, reminding me of the lives lost and the lingering sorrow that permeates the air.
Despite the eerie ambiance, the cave serves as a reminder of the complex and intertwined histories of the Apache and Navajo peoples. It stands as a testament to the profound impact of historical events on the land and its subsequent legends.
5. Two Guns
As I ventured into the remnants of the past, I found myself immersed in the captivating history of Two Guns, a once-thriving trading post nestled in the heart of the Arizona landscape. Guided by the tales of those who had traversed this land before me, I embarked on a journey through time, unearthing the intriguing narrative of Harry “Two Guns” Miller and the enigmatic destiny of this fabled outpost.
In the early 19th century, Two Guns served as a vital stopover for weary settlers venturing through the region. It provided respite and provisions, offering a temporary sanctuary amidst the rugged wilderness. It was here that Harry Miller entered the scene, leasing the trading post and fueling its growth with his entrepreneurial spirit. With each passing day, Two Guns flourished under his stewardship, drawing in visitors from far and wide.
Driven by a unique vision, Miller sought to captivate tourists with a taste of adventure. Among his attractions, he constructed a replica of the infamous Apache Death Cave, a haunting testament to the land’s tumultuous past. Trinkets and curiosities lined the shelves, including Apache skulls that were peddled as macabre souvenirs. Yet, as I delved deeper into the annals of history, I discovered that Miller’s journey was fraught with misfortune and tainted by dark secrets.
Scandal and tragedy cast their shadow upon the enigmatic figure of Harry “Two Guns” Miller. Despite obvious guilt, he was acquitted of murder, leaving a cloud of ambiguity hanging over his name. However, his luck eventually ran out, and he lost Two Guns to Louise Cundiff, the widow of the man he had callously taken from this world. Undeterred by the haunting past, Louise carried the torch, continuing the business amidst the whispers of ghosts and the echoes of lost souls.
Yet, fate had one last twist in store for Two Guns. In the year 1971, a devastating fire swept through the town, reducing it to charred ruins. The flames devoured the remnants of the once-thriving trading post, leaving behind a ghost town frozen in time. It was as if the spirits of the past had claimed their final victory, cloaking Two Guns in an ethereal shroud.
Today, the enigmatic ownership of Two Guns rests in the hands of Russell Crowe, a renowned actor with a penchant for tales untold. As the wind whispers through the abandoned structures, only time will reveal whether this ghost town will find its place as a backdrop for the silver screen, breathing life once more into its weathered facades.
As I stood amidst the echoes of history, I couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of awe. Two Guns, with its layers of triumph and tragedy, stood as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the fleeting nature of fortune. It reminded me that even in the face of adversity, the stories etched upon the land continue to captivate and inspire.
6. La Posada
Nestled within the embrace of Santa Fe Railway, this historic monument carries the echoes of a bygone era, beckoning visitors to embark on a journey through its storied halls. Built in 1929, the hotel and gardens stood as a testament to the grandeur of the past. However, the passage of time brought whispers of demolition, threatening to erase this architectural gem from existence. It wasn’t until two decades ago that a collective effort breathed new life into this cherished landmark, preserving its legacy for generations to come.
As I stepped foot into the hallowed halls of the hotel, I felt an air of elegance and nostalgia permeate the atmosphere. Artistic treasures adorned the walls, creating a tapestry of visual delights that captivated the senses. Even if one chose not to stay within its rooms, the hotel welcomed all curious souls to explore its art-filled corridors.
Each room revealed its own unique charm, offering a glimpse into the past. Handmade Ponderosa pine beds, lovingly crafted decades ago, stood as a testament to the craftsmanship of yesteryear. Mosaic-tiled bathrooms exuded a sense of timeless beauty, adding a touch of luxury to the guest experience. And if fortune smiled upon you, a room boasting a whirlpool tub would become your private sanctuary, inviting relaxation and rejuvenation.
Beyond the walls of the hotel, the gardens beckoned, inviting visitors to wander amidst their splendor. Here, nature intertwined with art, creating a symphony of colors and fragrances that delighted the senses. I found myself captivated by the meticulously manicured landscapes and the serene ambiance that enveloped me.
7. First Street Pathway Park
Whether you are a fervent railway enthusiast or an intrepid explorer seeking a respite from the ordinary, the First Street Pathway Park offers a captivating experience that transcends expectations. Setting foot on the path, my gaze was immediately drawn towards the towering totem pole, an intriguing symbol of cultural significance. As I continued my journey, the railway tracks unfurled before me, leading me deeper into the story that awaited. Signage adorned the route, offering glimpses into the rich tapestry of rail history. And there, like a sentinel frozen in time, stood the station clock, its ticking hands a poignant reminder of the countless journeys that had commenced from this very spot.
As I meandered through the Park, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of tranquility envelop me. The gentle breeze whispered tales of yesteryear, and the ambiance itself seemed to hold echoes of the city’s past. I took my time, allowing myself to immerse in the surroundings, absorbing the wealth of knowledge that surrounded me. The Park had transformed into a sanctuary of relaxation, where history unfolded at every step, weaving together the narratives of the railway and the city itself.
What began as a mere stroll evolved into an immersive education, as the Park revealed its hidden treasures. The railway’s legacy unfolded before my eyes, beckoning me to explore further. The city’s vibrant past unfolded through each carefully curated sign and exhibit, providing a glimpse into the evolution of both the railway and the community it once served.
8. Arizona Meteor Crater
Formed an astonishing 50,000 years ago, this geological marvel has become a magnet for space enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. As I ventured beyond the outskirts of Winslow, a sight of cosmic proportions awaited me—the Arizona Meteor Crater.
Approaching the crater, I was awestruck by its sheer magnitude. The lookout point offered a panoramic vista, allowing me to gaze across the expanse of this colossal crater, stretching approximately 4,000 feet wide. Even if space exploration wasn’t on the forefront of my mind, the sheer impact and immensity of this natural wonder left an indelible impression.
Eager to delve deeper into the secrets of this extraordinary formation, I joined one of the daily tours available. Led by knowledgeable guides, the tours offered fascinating insights into the cataclysmic events that shaped the crater’s existence. Each step revealed a layer of the crater’s history, painting a vivid picture of the cosmic forces that collided with our planet millennia ago.
To fully embrace the experience, I decided to extend my stay and immerse myself in the tranquility of the surrounding landscape. Luckily, the Meteor Crater provided RV and tent parking, allowing me to settle in for the night. The convenience of nearby restrooms and showers provided a touch of comfort amidst nature’s grandeur. And for those seeking to satiate their appetite, a Mexican restaurant and gas station were conveniently located nearby, ensuring all essential amenities were at hand.
9. Rock Art Ranch
As I embarked on my journey to the Rock Art Ranch, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the allure of the ancient petroglyphs that draw thousands of visitors each year, including a substantial number of archaeologists. It’s truly remarkable that this site houses a collection of such magnitude, making it one of the most extraordinary destinations of its kind worldwide.
As I made my way down the canyon, I was greeted by a mesmerizing sight—the captivating rock art itself. These petroglyphs offer a profound glimpse into the lives of the original inhabitants of Arizona. The intricate carvings and engravings on the rocks told stories of a time long gone, leaving me in awe of the artistic mastery and cultural significance encapsulated within them. What struck me further was the contrast between the creek that flowed through the arid desert landscape, creating a picturesque scene that felt almost surreal.
To delve even deeper into the history and meaning behind these ancient artworks, I decided to spend some time in the ranch’s museum. Stepping inside, I was greeted by exhibits that showcased artifacts dating back thousands of years. Each item told a story, providing insights into the lives, traditions, and beliefs of the people who created these remarkable petroglyphs. It was a humbling experience to be in the presence of such ancient relics, fostering a profound appreciation for the rich heritage of the region.
10. Old Trails Museum
When I visited this Museum, I was thrilled to discover an outstanding destination for deepening my understanding of the captivating history and vibrant culture that now defines Arizona. From the moment I stepped inside, I was transported through time, starting with the earliest references that shed light on the meteor crater, the awe-inspiring mammoths that once roamed these lands, and the intriguing stories of the Hopi, Laguna, and Navajo people who called this region home.
As I continued my journey, I was captivated by the next chapter that unfolded before me—the arrival of the early settlers and the transformative impact of the railroad, which played a pivotal role in the original prosperity of Winslow. The Museum artfully showcases these significant moments, allowing visitors like me to connect the dots and gain a comprehensive understanding of Arizona’s growth and development over time.
One aspect that truly impressed me was the Museum’s dedication to curating a diverse range of historical artifacts and narratives. Within its exhibits, I marveled at a treasure trove of documents, photographs, and personal oral histories graciously shared by locals and their families. These tangible glimpses into the past brought a vivid authenticity to my experience, providing a profound connection to the people and events that shaped Arizona’s history.
11. Little Painted Desert County Park
During my time in Winslow, I stumbled upon a hidden gem that often goes unnoticed by visitors—the captivating Little Painted Desert Country Park. It would be a grave mistake to overlook this enchanting place, as it unveils a breathtaking display of subtle rock colors, giving it its well-deserved name. Equipped with a paved trail and convenient visitor facilities such as parking and restrooms, this park offers an accessible and rewarding experience for all.
Eager to immerse myself in the wonders of this desert paradise, I followed the trail as it gracefully descended into the heart of the landscape. However, before setting out, I made sure to take two crucial steps. First and foremost, I ensured I had an ample supply of water to stay hydrated amidst the arid environment. This precaution was essential to fully enjoy my exploration while keeping myself refreshed and energized. Secondly, I meticulously familiarized myself with the route, considering both the descent and the return journey—especially important for solo travelers like me. It’s worth noting that the vastness of the desert has been known to disorient hikers, leading to unexpected detours or even getting lost.
The array of rock colors, beautifully blending and harmonizing with the surrounding landscape, left me in awe. The delicate hues painted across the rocks seemed to dance under the radiant sun, creating an atmosphere of serenity and tranquility. It was a truly immersive experience, connecting me to the raw beauty and untouched grandeur of the desert.
12. Arizona 66 Trading Company
When it comes to souvenir shopping in Winslow and immersing myself in the iconic Route 66 spirit, there’s one place that stands out—the Arizona 66 Trading Company country store. Whether I was in search of trendy T-shirts or eager to explore the local jewelry and art scene, this charming establishment had it all.
Stepping inside, I was immediately transported to an era that exuded an “old world” ambiance, reminiscent of the legendary Wild West. Situated right on Route 66, in the heart of the town, the store’s convenient location made it a breeze to find. The rustic charm and warm atmosphere made every visit a delightful experience, evoking a sense of nostalgia and connecting me to the rich history of this legendary highway.
As I meandered through the store, I discovered an impressive array of items that catered to every taste and interest. From exquisite local jewelry pieces that showcased the craftsmanship of the region to captivating artworks that depicted the spirit of Winslow, the choices were endless. The store truly offered a diverse selection that celebrated the essence of Arizona and Route 66.
For those conscious of space limitations in their luggage, fear not! The Arizona 66 Trading Company also had a variety of smaller keepsakes to cherish. Route 66 magnets and intriguing postcards caught my attention, offering both practical mementos and sources of inspiration for my own photography adventures in and around Winslow. These smaller items served as delightful reminders of my journey along this iconic road.
13. Ella’s Frontier Trading Post
As I approached Ella’s Frontier Trading Post, a rush of excitement and nostalgia washed over me. This historic site, once a bustling stopping point along the renowned Route 66, now stood in solitude, its weathered facade bearing witness to the passage of time. Although the building had fallen into disrepair since its glory days, I couldn’t help but imagine its grandeur when it was first constructed in 1927, an architectural marvel crafted from old telephone poles.
During its prime, Ella’s Frontier Trading Post thrived as a hub of activity on the vibrant Route 66. Travelers and locals alike flocked to this iconic establishment, indulging in its offerings and embracing the spirit of adventure that permeated the air. Now, in its deserted state, Ella’s Frontier Trading Post serves as a poignant reminder of bygone eras, beckoning visitors like me to explore its abandoned premises and immerse ourselves in the echoes of the past.
My curiosity piqued, I delved deeper into the history of this remarkable place. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ella’s Frontier Trading Post found itself under the ownership of Ray Meany, a renowned Hawaiian bandleader, and his wife, Ella. At that time, it was known as the Last Frontier, a testament to the untamed wilderness that surrounded it. However, following their divorce in 1955, Ella bestowed her name upon the establishment, cementing her legacy within its walls. Tragically, Ella passed away in 1984, and since then, the doors of this cherished business have remained closed, frozen in time.
14. E & O Kitchen
Given the historical connection between this area and Mexico, it comes as no surprise that Mexican cuisine holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. When it comes to savoring the very best of these flavors, the E&O Kitchen proved to be an exceptional destination.
Upon perusing the menu, I was delighted to find a wide array of options to cater to every preference. Whether one craves the succulent tenderness of beef, the savory allure of pork, the versatility of chicken, the tantalizing taste of shrimp, or the fresh flavors of fish, E&O Kitchen had it all. Each dish came accompanied by delectable tacos, perfectly cooked rice, and flavorful beans, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors that left me yearning for more.
As I scanned the menu, my eyes were immediately drawn to the classics that have become favorites of Mexican cuisine enthusiasts worldwide. The menu boasted an impressive selection of tamales, with their delicate corn husk wrappers and rich fillings. The burritos, bursting with a medley of tantalizing ingredients, offered a fulfilling and satisfying option. And of course, the enchiladas, with their perfectly balanced combination of sauces, cheese, and fillings, were simply irresistible.
One word of advice: be sure to arrive with a hearty appetite, as the menu at E&O Kitchen is truly tantalizing. With each dish offering a unique blend of flavors, textures, and aromas, it’s impossible to resist the temptation. From the first bite to the last, I found myself immersed in a culinary journey that left me thoroughly satisfied.
15. Relic Road Brewing Company
When it comes to finding a laid-back spot to enjoy a meal without the formality of fine dining, Relic Road Brewing Company immediately caught my attention. This family-friendly establishment strikes the perfect balance, offering a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere that caters to everyone’s tastes.
One of the standout features of Relic Road Brewing Company is its dedication to ensuring a delightful dining experience for the whole family. As I entered the premises, I was pleased to discover an array of activities available to keep the kids entertained while eagerly awaiting their delicious burgers. The cowboy-inspired ambiance added a touch of whimsy to the atmosphere, immersing us in the spirit of the Wild West.
As I perused the menu, I was delighted to find an extensive selection of drinks to suit every preference. From refreshing alcoholic beverages to a variety of non-alcoholic options, there was something for everyone. After a long day of exploring the sights or reveling in the natural beauty of the surroundings, I felt that I had truly earned a well-deserved drink.
Relic Road Brewing Company not only offers a diverse range of drink choices but also pays equal attention to their culinary offerings. The menu boasts an enticing selection of delectable dishes, including their mouthwatering burgers, prepared to perfection.