Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, Ariz.

 Geotag Icon Show on map 

By Tammy Gray-Searles

Wigwam Motel, A Route 66 Icon

Once upon a time Route 66 was a bustling roadway, bringing to life sights and places across the U.S.A. the likes of which had never been seen before, or even since.

So many motels, gas stations and tourist stops dotted the Mother Road that the fierce competition forced businesses to take extreme measures to attract visitors. Places like Cadillac Ranch and Jackrabbit (complete with giant Jackrabbit) popped up everywhere, clamoring for attention.

Eventually, however, Route 66 gave way to four-lane interstates. Cars filled with families soon sped past the motels and gas stations, and eventually most were abandoned.

A few great Route 66 sites still remain in business today, including the iconic Route 66 Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz. Featured on posters, postcards and even replicated in the Pixar movie Cars, the Wigwam still hosts travelers from around the world who arrive by leaving Interstate 40 and traveling on old Route 66 into Holbrook.

Wigwam Motel welcomes guests from around the world.

In some ways, the Wigwam Motel seems sadly out of place in this modern era of high-rise brick and glass hotels with tidy courtyards and elegant lobbies, but for a taste of what it might have been like to travel Route 66 in its heyday, the Wigwam is unbeatable.

The lobby is filled with Route 66 kitsch and Native American treasures. A family-owned business, the owner is often there to greet visitors and give an enthusiastic historical account of the Wigwams.

The Wigwams themselves are the real attraction though. Built in the style of a Native American Teepee, they even have faux entry flaps built into the concrete structure. At the top, supporting “poles” rise into the sky to complete the effect.

While the front doors appears to be small, as if you might have to crouch to enter the Wigwams, they really are standard size — it’s the Wigwams that are big.

Vintage cars are parked on the property, reminders of the time of the Mother Road. There’s even an old fire truck to check out. Some of the vintage cars aren’t on display though, they’re being driven by enthusiasts who are traveling along the original Route 66.

Vintage cars in the parking lot of the Route 66 Wigwam Motel.

Despite surviving as an active business, the sad fate of Route 66 has touched the Wigwams. Peeling paint, a dirt parking lot and fading curtains peeking from the windows are reminders that in this age of fast freeways and large resorts even the once sparkling gems of bygone days no longer hold our collective fascination.

Faded paint and a pieced together sign invite you to ?Stay in a Wigwam.?

One comment on “Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, Ariz.

  1. Stan Marks on said:

    I drove on 66, back in June ’61. Picked it up in so. Ill., all the way to L.A.
    Those were the days when we drove our ’58 Pontiac conv. across the desert (Needles) at night, with a canvas bag of water, draped over the front of our car (grill).

    I still have my 8mm home movies from my trip.
    I also remember the “Wigwam”
    That was the REAL way to see the U.S.A.

    I collect Route 66 memorabilia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


HTML tags are not allowed.

  • Archives