Hackberry General Store
Historic Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66! I must have played twenty different versions of this song on the first Route 66 tour I guided through Arizona to Albuquerque in 2017. The first couple of days of the tour were my favorite. The western section of the route includes the longest remaining stretch of Route 66 that runs from the California stateline to Ash Fork Arizona, which includes a stop at one of Route 66’s most famous roadside attractions, Hackberry General Store.
From its outside appearance, Hackberry General Store looks run down and surrounded by a junkyard. In all honesty, it kinda is, which is part of its appeal. Inside the store is filled with memorabilia, tchotchke gifts and souvenirs. I’m not much of a shopper and rarely buy souvenirs but these are the stops my groups love. Twenty-six years of guiding has taught me the importance of stopping at places like Hackberry General Store, so I look for them to include on our tour routes.
Originally operated by the Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire who traveled the road in his orange 1972 Volkswagen Microbus, the Hackberry General Store is a favored stop among travelers of Old 66. Bob was the unofficial inspiration of Fillmore in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. Photo ops abound around Hackberry; a rustic store front, the tin-can billboard, nostalgic gas pumps, craggily mountain faces, old blacktop and scenic vistas. Hackberry is a microcosm of Route 66.
I’m often asked, of all the tours I guide or road trips I take, which is my favorite. Route 66 is pretty high on the list because of the nostalgia and romance of the open road. I’m a roadside attraction junkie. This Mother Road is the mother lode of interesting roadside attractions like Hackberry.
I hate to see these places of yesteryear dwindle away and replaced by interstate freeways, not that I’m opposed to freeways, but to me, the best part of any trip is the journey. Fortunately in recent years there’s been a renaissance of Route 66 with ongoing efforts by states and organizations in preserving its history.