In the past few years my Route 66 related endeavors and travels have created an odd sense of euphoria mixed with depression when I take time to meditate on Kingman, Arizona, my adopted hometown. The euphoria stems from travel related confirmation that this is one of the most amazing communities on Route 66. The depression is resultant of the fact that so few, including residents, seem to realize it.
|The pre 1952 alignment of Route as seen from the summit
of the Mesa Trail at Cool Springs.
Take just a moment to consider the staggering array of attractions found within a 50 mile radius. There is what many consider to be one of the most beautiful segments of Route 66, the pre 1952 alignment over the Black Mountains and through Oatman. In the opposite direction you have the world famous Hackberry General Store.
Less than twenty miles to the south is Hualapai Mountain Park and resort. A literal pine forested oasis in a sea of desert, the Hualapai Mountains offer rustic cabins, fine dining, miles of hiking trails, a riding stable, a quiet motel, truly stunning view points, and a wide array of wildlife from elk to mountain lion.
Chloride, a semi-ghost town with a most delightful little reastaurant, Yesterday’s, is less than twenty miles to the north. Nestled in the foothills of the imposing Cerbat Mountains, this old town is a wonderland of photo opportunities with its long shuttered train depot, colorful murals, and the awe inspiring desert landscapes that surrounds it.
Open that circle a bit wider and you have the only road (Diamond Creek) that runs to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Supai with its stunning waterfalls where the mail is still delivered by mule train, and the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Now, add the seasonal adjustments that can be made with very short drives such as playing in the snow and fishing while wearing a t-shirt within forty miles.
Valiant efforts have been made in recent years to alter the perception that Kingman is a stop on the road to someplace else. Leading that charge is Josh Noble, the tourism director and a ray of hope. Now, it appears as though a new chapter is about to commence.
After years of false starts and well meaning organizations that withered on the vine, a small band of business and community leaders, as well as concerned and passionate citizens, are forming a loose coalition. The unifying factor is a simple goal – make Kingman a destination for visitors and you make it a place people want to call home.
I am quite confident that in coming weeks, you will be hearing a great deal about Kingman.