These quirky stops are perfect for an overnight stay while your group is enjoying Route 66.
Wigwam Village Motel No. 6
Holbrook, Arizona’s Wigwam Village Motel is probably one of the most photographed places along Route 66 and in the West, with its 15 concrete and steel teepees arranged in a semi-circle around the main office. Chester Lewis, who built the motel, purchased the plans for Wigwam Village from the original architect, Frank Redford, who had built a Wigwam Village in Cave City, Kentucky, in 1937.
Under the agreement, Lewis installed coin-operated radios in every room, and the proceeds were sent back to Redford as payment. Lewis operated the motel until Interstate-40 bypassed Holbrook in the late 1970s. The property became a gas station until Lewis’ wife and adult children repurchased the property and reopened it as a motel in 1988. The motel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Out of the seven original Wigwam Villages built across the country between 1936 and 1950, only three remain, located in Arizona, Kentucky and California.
El Rancho Hotel
Gallup, New Mexico
The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico, was built by R.E. “Griff” Griffith, the brother of famous movie director D.W. Griffith, in 1936 to house Western movie stars such as Vincent Price, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. The historic location is still grand, with its rustic gray stone walls, wooden beams and railings, and a double staircase leading up to the second floor. The facade of the hotel is reminiscent of a Southern plantation home with its long second-floor balcony.
Photographs of famous guests line the walls of the lobby along with beautiful Native American art, including works by the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni who make New Mexico their home. Guests can still enjoy this throwback to a time when travelers took their time exploring their surroundings.
The hotel is currently undergoing a $2 million renovation to replace the roof and update the restaurant, bar and restrooms.
Wagon Wheel Motel
One of the original tourist court motels, Wagon Wheel Motel, with its small stone cabins, was built along Route 66 in 1935 in Cuba, Missouri, and still features its original 1947 neon sign. Connie Echols, the latest owner of the famous motel, and sign, bought it over a decade ago on a whim. She had experience redoing houses and thought the motel would be a new and challenging chapter in her life. As she says, 11 years and $500,000 later, the Wagon Wheel has been restored to its former glory.
The stone buildings themselves were in fantastic shape when she bought the motel. There were no structural cracks, which was amazing for a facility that old. The insides were another story. Echols basically gutted the cabins down to their stone walls and rebuilt the insides, including the air conditioning and electrical systems.
Guests, including celebrities, come from around the world to stay at the iconic Route 66 motel. Many people love the setup because they can gather in the central courtyard and mingle with the other guests.