The Petrified Forest National Park is allowing free, guided tours of hard-to-reach landmarks on a long-closed section of Route 66 on Aug. 8 and Aug. 10.
- Painted Desert Point Trading Post operated by Harry Osborne, which reportedly had illegal slot machines.
- Rocky’s Old Stage Station, owned in the 1950s by Nyal Rockwell, which also had guest cabins.
- LA-A Airway Beacon No. 51, a 1920s landmark that guided an air mail route from Los Angeles to Amarillo.
- Painted Desert Tower, built by Charles Jacobs in 1953, and the Painted Desert Inn, nicknamed Stone Tree House because petrified wood was used to build it.
- Remnants of the Petrified Forest National Monument entrance station, which opened in 1932.
- Remnants of Painted Desert Park, also known as the Lion Farm zoo, established in the 1920s by Harry “Indian” Miller.
- Ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post, established by Dotch and Alberta Windsor in 1942.
These sites were rendered almost completely inaccessible by the opening of Interstate 40 and the decertification of Route 66 in the mid-1980s. A few hardcore roadies with four-wheel drives or good hiking shoes have managed to explore these places, but I’ve never placed them on the Attractions page simply because they’re too difficult to get to.
But park’s tours will offer an easy way to see these Route 66 sites, with historical context to boot.
The tours will last about four hours. They are free, but with limited seating. It’s recommended that you make reservations by calling Kathleen Smith at 928-524-6225.
(Image of the Painted Desert Trading Post by Marcin Wichary via Flickr)