“Well I’m standin on a corner in Winslow Arizona
(Sing it with me!!!)
Such a fine sight to see….
It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford
(What is she doing??? She’s…)
slowin down to take a look at me
Come on baaaaaaaaaaaaaby
Don’t say maaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me
We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again…
And that’s pretty accurate cuz – really? – there’s just not that much in Winslow and you’re probably not coming back.
The thing is, it wasn’t always this way. Back when iconic Route 66 was, well, iconic, Winslow, and all the other towns along the road, were booming. Route 66, also known as “America’s Highway” or “The Mother Road,” was one of the original routes in the U.S. Highway system. From 1926 to 1985 it provided a direct link from Chicago to Los Angeles, and it was the main method by which Americans, with their ever growing love affair with cars and the open road, got to the west coast.
However, as the federal government built the modern interstate system, Route 66 became obsolete. By the late 1970s, most of it had been replaced by modern highways, and, as fewer and fewer motorists used the historic road, the many service stations, motels, restaurants, and businesses that had cropped up along the way, quickly fell into disrepair. Whole towns simply died.
Winslow might have suffered the same fate if not for its good fortune of being cast in the Eagles classic ‘Take it Easy’ in 1972. And in 1999, when a group of forward-thinking locals planned and financed “Standin on the Corner Park,” the town became a required stop on the modern “Great American Road Trip.”
The park, located in the center of town, brings the song’s lyrics to life with a statue of Jackson Brown, guitar at his feet, standing next to a light post in front of a painted mural. Among other things, the mural depicts a red Ford truck driving by the storefront behind Browne’s statue.
In 2016, when Glenn Frey passed away, the town added a statue of him to the park.
There’s also a vintage red truck sitting at the curb…
and a huge Route 66 sign painted on the pavement in front of the park…
During our visit, we watched a steady stream of tourists wander over to take photos and hang out with Glenn and Jackson. The park is clearly a centerpiece for tourism in this little town and has helped keep Winslow relevant for road trippers traveling through the area.
Fun fact we learned in Winslow: The mural on the wall behind the statues is called a Tromp O’leil – a French term for “deceive the eye.” It’s basically a piece of art that creates an optical illusion.
La Posada Hotel
A couple blocks from “Standin on the Corner” Park is the historic La Posada Hotel. The hotel was built in 1930 to serve guests using the town’s Santa Fe Railway station as well as those traveling on Route 66. Both the train station and the hotel were designed by architect Mary Jane Colter. The hotel complex closed in 1957 and was abandoned soon after. For many years, there was talk of demolishing it entirely. However, in 1997, restoration work began and today, the facility is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
The hotel is a must-see while in Winslow. From colorful stucco walls to bright clay tiles to intricate wrought ironwork, every door, gate, window, and stairway offers something unique and compelling.
In addition to checking out the beautiful architecture, we perused the large gift shop, and stopped for lunch at the Turquoise Room Restaurant located inside the hotel.
Fun fact we learned in Winslow: The Fred Harvey Company owned numerous restaurants and hotels (including La Posada) that served railroad passengers beginning in the 1870s. “Harvey Girls” were the young women chosen to work at the company’s facilities. Applicants were required to be between the ages of 18 and 30, white, single, and educated. While employed, they were subject to strict rules about their appearances, dress, and lifestyles. Young women sought these jobs because they offered good pay and an opportunity to work outside the home.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park has two unrelated major features. First, is the large collection of petrified wood that can be found in the southern section of the park. Second, is the “painted desert” which makes up much of the northern section.
What is petrified wood and why is it there? Petrified wood is a fossil. It forms when organic materials are buried in sediment quickly enough and for a long enough period of time that all the living material inside the object is replaced by minerals.
Typically, when a tree falls, it decays as it sits on the ground, exposed to air and the organisms that feed on it. However, over 200 millions years ago, when this part of the continent was a tropical forest, downed trees were quickly washed into a river and buried by mud and sediment. This prevented the trees from decaying in the usual manner. Meanwhile, the ground water that flowed through the region was full of minerals, including silica from surrounding volcanic ash. Over hundreds of thousands of years, the silica and other minerals flowed into the buried trees, gradually replacing their organic matter and crystallizing.
Over the next several million years, as the Colorado Plateau lifted up, erosion dissolved the surrounding dirt and rock, and the fossilized trees were left on the surface.
The crystallized rocks feature different colors depending on their particular mineral makeup.
Upon leaving the southern section of the park, where most of the petrified wood is located, visitors can drive north along the park road through the painted desert. The landscape features beautiful patterns of striated colors – everything from blues and purples…
to reds and pinks…
and, sometimes, all of the above…
Unrelated to any of these beautiful and intriguing natural phenomena is one stripped down, rusted out, 1930’s era Studebaker sitting on the side of the road.
Historic Route 66 cut right through the national park and, at some point, someone abandoned this old car on the side of the road, where it has remained for decades.
Fun fact we learned in Winslow: Petrified wood is not scared. It’s just a rock!
One of the few things that bums us out about visiting our country’s glorious national parks is that we have to leave our dog behind. Dogs are almost uniformly banned from national parks. However, there are a handful of parks that not only permit dogs to visit, but welcome them as – wait for the awesomeness – “BARK Rangers“!!!
B.A.R.K. stands for
Bag your pet’s waste
Always wear a leash
Know where you can go
Assuming you can manage these four requirements, not only does your dog get to call himself a “BARK Ranger,” but the real NPS Rangers give him cookies!
And you can get an official Bark Ranger dog tag!
It’s legit, y’all!!!
Fun fact we learned in Winslow: No matter how many times we talk about “BARK Rangers,” it always makes us smile.
50,000 years ago an iron-nickel meteorite, estimated to be about 150 feet across and weighing several hundred thousand tons, slammed into a wide open expanse of land located just west of Winslow. Scientists believe it was traveling about 26,000 miles per hour when it struck, causing an explosion greater than the force of 20 million tons of TNT.
The impact left a crater 700 feet deep and 4,000 feet across. Today the crater is just 550 feet deep, the result of erosion continually pushing dirt and debris back into the hole over thousands of years.
For many years, people believed the crater was the result of a volcanic eruption because there was no meteorite at the bottom of the crater. Scientists believe this chunk:
which was located nearby, broke off from the main meteorite as it was falling through the atmosphere. The larger meteorite disintegrated on impact.
It wasn’t until the 1940s, when a scientist who had studied the environmental impact of nuclear weapons testing in New Mexico studied the Winslow crater, that it was confirmed the crater was the result of a meteorite and not a volcano.
The crater is located on private property and is managed by a private organization. While we thought the overall admissions price of 18.00 was way too steep, they have a decent museum which includes information about other meteorite strikes, the history and study of this particular crater, as well as NASA’s use of the crater to train astronauts.
We were able to join a tour, which was great, until a storm came across the area which forced the guide to end the discussion early. If you visit the crater, definitely try to take the tour. We learned a lot and would not have felt the visit was worth its cost if not for the tour.
Fun fact we learned in Winslow: You can charge people an enormous amount of money to look at a hole in the ground and they will totally pay it.
All in all, while Winslow wasn’t the most thrilling stop along our route, we did enjoy seeing its one of a kind natural features and learning about its interesting history related to its location along Route 66. While I wouldn’t say it’s a destination in and of itself, it’s certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in the neighborhood.
Now please enjoy singing “Take it easy” for the rest of the week.
Next up on the blog: We head to Albuquerque and Santa Fe for some fantastic food, fun reunions, and standout art. In real time, our penchant for finding truly awful weather continues as we bounce from wind storm to deep freeze to blizzard, and back again.
Pro tip: In Spring, just go to San Diego. And don’t leave.
Where we stayed: Homolovi State Park, Winslow, Arizona