Route 66 News

A hike to Padre Canyon Bridge near Twin Arrows

An editor for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper apparently figured out a legal way to get close to and then hike over the 100-year-old Padre Canyon Bridge that once carried Route 66 near Twin Arrows.

You can’t access the bridge from less than a mile west of the new Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort because it’s labeled as private property. However, you can go to the Winona exit several miles to the west off Interstate 40 and double back east on the north frontage road.

We drove east along the road, marked as FR510 on the Coconino National Forest Service Map, for about five miles until it forked into two dirt tracks up a slight rise that would have required slipping our Jeep into four-wheel drive. But since we were out for some exercise anyway, we disembarked and continued east on foot.

The highway includes a mix of pavement and dirt for about a mile until reaching the canyon, where it curves north. The bridge is around a bend, out of sight of I-40, but when it comes into view, it appears almost to be a mirage in a wilderness landscape.

The right of way descends to the elegant concrete span, which had tire tracks across but appeared to be in poor condition. Most of the concrete pillars supporting the railings had crumbled, and in one section a railroad tie served as the railing and the only thing preventing a 60-foot fall to the rocks below.

The bridge dedication plaque had been pried nearly off, but two black-and-white Route 66 logos were still perfectly preserved on each of the eastern concrete abutments.

Here’s a Google Maps satellite view of the old bridge:

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Due to the fragility of the bridge and the rocky terrain leading there, it’s probably inadvisable to drive over the bridge. Hiking less than a mile probably is more fun anyway.

The writer added this intriguing suggestion to his story, which I hope is taken seriously:

Our recommendation to Twin Arrows Casino would be to work out access rights and develop a walking trail to a National Historic Register structure right on its doorstep.