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Route 66 Road Trip Day 12: Gallup to Holbrook

Day 12 of our Route 66 Road Trip was another short driving day from Gallup, New Mexico to Holbrook, Arizona and included motel signs, trading posts, trading post ruins, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, more awesome vintage signs, and an overnight stay at the Wigwam Motel! 

Route 66 Road Trip Day 12: Gallup to Holbrook

We started the morning of Day 12 off right with breakfast at … Cracker Barrel. I just wasn’t willing to give the El Rancho Motel any more of my time or money. Plus, how does the Cracker Barrel get their pancakes edges so perfectly crisp and delicious? After breakfast, we took off and I immediately started snapping some motel signs as we headed out of Gallup.

You know you’re in Arizona when you start seeing trading posts along the side of the road. This is the Tomahawk Indian Store (located inside the teepee). And then right down the street is the Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post.


But some the trading posts don’t make it and have been abandoned.

The Pancake House obviously didn’t have crispy pancakes like the Cracker Barrel or else they’d still be open.

Also, this place was strange. It’s just down the road from the abandoned, yet still inhabited Indian Trading Market. The sign reads: Little Post Office Sanctuary, Holy Spirit Mail Sun 10am. 

We passed a bunch of other random roadside weirdness and roadside ruins and signs.

And then we visited the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Wow. What a spectacular landscape. If you’re driving by, I definitely recommend a stop. And definitely stop by the Harvey House which has been restored and is gorgeous.

However, here are my two tips for visiting the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest:

  • 1. Drive The Speed Limit
  • 2. Don’t Drink Too Much Water unless you have a portable-potty with you

Here’s why: We were pulled over by a ridiculous National Park Ranger who asked us “Is everyone in the car ok? What’s the emergency?” I hate douchebags like that. Ken was probably going 5 miles over the speed limit, but she wasn’t radaring and it wasn’t unsafe. We just didn’t know the speed limit and he was probably looking at the scenery and road rather than the speedometer.

I think she mostly wanted to ask the question, “Do you have any petrified wood in your car?” She let him off with a warning.

And don’t drink too much water because the ONLY bathroom in the middle of the park is closed for Winter. What the fuck? This is not Game of Thrones! It was 80+ degrees out. It was hot, we’re walking around outside, and drinking water. Open the bathrooms!

I loved walking through the beautiful Painted Desert Inn! Supposedly, they operate the ice cream parlor during the summer months!

The park has some ancient ruins and petroglyphs which are pretty awesome. It was also neat to read about the people who inhabited the area from A.D. 1215-1380 and then abandoned it due to climate change, much like many of the businesses of Route 66 which were abandoned when Interstate 40 was built. 

Didn’t see enough petrified wood inside the park? That’s because Jim Gray stole it all for his Petrified Wood Co! I’m just kidding, it just seems that way when you juxtapose the shop so close to the park. Honestly, I don’t know how he got so much petrified wood and if was legally procured or not, but there is definitely more in his shop than there is in the National Park!

And then we got into Holbrook which has a ton of rock shops, awesome signs, and the Wigwam Motel!

We stopped for dinner at Mesa which doesn’t look like much, but it is THE restaurant in town. If you’re staying the night in Holbrook, eat at Mesa.

And then we checked into the amazing Wigwam Motel for the night. Have you stayed in a teepee?


STAY: Wigwam Motel, 811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025, (928) 524-3048


Are you planning your own Route 66 Road Trip? I highly recommend the Route 66: EZ66 Guide for Travelers. I used it to plan our trip and I highly, highly, highly (I truly cannot emphasize it enough) recommend the book/maps if you’re planning to drive most of Route 66 turn-by-turn like we did – meaning all of the historic route, no modern-day highways if you can help it.

Want to follow along on the rest of our Route 66 Road Trip? I’ve got everyday single day right here:

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