My first experience in Kingman was a short lived fuel stop on a day when I decided out of the blue to take a day trip (642 miles) around the Grand Canyon starting from my home in St. George. I get an itch to take these one-day road trips every now and then.
I’ve known of Kingman for many years but just never found a reason to visit. In 2016 I was once again in Kingman but this time it was by design. Earlier that summer I decided, after years of putting it off, I would finally plan an Arizona Route 66 tour. So in November we hit the road to map out a route and itinerary.
Located on Interstate-40 and old Route 66, Kingman is central to Las Vegas, Laughlin and Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Grand Canyon West Rim, and Needles CA. In planning a tour I look for several factors that make a route or destination viable. First location. Does it fit the timing and objectives of the tour. Is it interesting, does it offer quality accommodations and restaurants. Based on this criteria I decided to include Kingman as an overnight stop. Now that I look back on the process, I can’t imagine not including Kingman as an overnight stop on a Route 66 tour.
When I plan tours one of my main objectives is to give our guests a good dose of the local flavor of the communities we visit. This means research and time spent with locals to plan where to eat, attractions to see, things to do, etc. The tourism office or chamber of commerce is where I generally start. Kingman has a wonderful visitors center and museum that are housed in its historic powerhouse that provided everything I needed to plan an overnight stop. Across the street from the visitors center is Mr D’z Route 66 Diner, a wonderful 50’s style diner that fit perfectly in the theme of the trip. This is also the historic district in a pedestrian part of town near Locomotive Park and other historic sites.
I debated when planning this tour about staying at historic Route 66 motor lodges but after a few inspections I decided that modern comforts and amenities outweighed nostalgia. I chose the recently remodeled Best Western Plus King’s Inn that’s not in the historic district but still on Andy Devine Avenue, the main drag through town and direct route to Route 66. Below are my top five must see and do recommendations for Kingman.
- Downtown Historic District – Historic Downtown Kingman has more than 40 sights and buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places.
- Historic Powerhouse Visitors Center & Museum -Built in three phases between 1907 and 1917, the Powerhouse once supplied power to surrounding towns and mines. Now, it houses the visitor center, the Arizona Route 66 Museum, Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, and the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona Gift Shop.
- Locomotive Park – Locomotive Park is home to famed Steam Engine #3759. Presented to the City of Kingman as a historical monument in 1957 by the Santa Fe Railway Company.
- Arizona Route 66 Museum – Operated by the Mohave Pioneers Historical Society, the Arizona Route 66 Museum is located in Kingman’s Historic Powerhouse and depicts the historical evolution of travel along the 35th parallel that became Route 66.
- Kingman Railroad Museum -This museum is located in the Historic Railroad Depot, dating back to 1907. It houses a few displays of railroad artifacts and three model train layouts, including a historic Lionel town.
- Hackberry General Store – The Store opened in 1934 on the new alignment of Route 66 that was built on the north side of the railroad and bypassed the small town. It had a Conoco gasoline station and remained in operation until the Interstate bypassed this section of Route 66 in 1978. Bob Waldmire opened it in 1992 as a souvenir shop and information center, he was the unofficial inspiration of Fillmore in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. Waldmire later sold it to the current owners.
- White Cliffs Wagon Trail – At the White Cliffs you will see part of an old wagon route used in the late 1800s to bring ore from the Stockton Hill Mines to the railroad to be transported for processing. The wagon tracks have been cut deep into the stone and there are depressions along both sides of the roadbed, which were used for stubbing posts and ropes to help get the heavy wagons up and down the grade.
- Giganticus Headicus at Antares Visitor Center -Giganticus Headicus is a 14 foot sculpture and a famous stop along Route 66 located at the Antares Visitor Center.
- Hualapai Mountain Park – Located at elevations that range from 4,984 to 8,417′, Hualapai Mountain Park is filled with pine forests and juniper amidst granite rock formations. Visitors can view abundant wildlife or enjoy the miles of hiking and biking trails.
- Oatman Road to Oatman AZ – Located in the Black Mountains of Mohave County AZ. Oatman is a former mining town in a rugged area carved out of the wilderness by determined miners and now populated by more wild burros than people. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard allegedly honeymooned at the 1902 two-story adobe Oatman Hotel after marrying in nearby Kingman. Cool Springs Station was built in the mid-1920s and has been connected with Route 66 from the very start, now a gift shop. Cool Springs is on the rugged eastern slope of the Black Mountains. For early motorists, Cool Springs represented a life-saving stop, to check for oil, water, gas up and maybe grab a bite to eat.
(See map below for directions to above lists)
Kingman is a city along Route 66, in northwestern Arizona. The historic road’s role in American history is celebrated at the Route 66 Museum, set inside the Powerhouse Visitors Center. Murals, dioramas and a library at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts trace local history. Locomotive Park, featuring a 1928 steam engine, and the Kingman Railroad Museum document the city’s past as a 20th-century railway hub.
At an elevation of around 3,300 feet Kingman offers a temperate climate year-round. Take a 70-mile journey to enjoy the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon West and many other fabulous day trips returning to the relaxing accommodations in Kingman.
Kingman is located about 105 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and about 165 miles northwest of the state capital, Phoenix.