By Grace Lichtenstein

Thanks to the Winslow community, La Posada was saved from demolition and continues to cater to Route 66 travelers
La Posada Hotel Winslow, Arizona

Say "Winslow, Arizona" to lovers of the Eagles, and many of us can, on cue, recite a verse from the group's song "Take It Easy": "Standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona/ Such a fine sight to see/ it's a girl, my lord in a flatbed Ford/ slowin' down to take a look at me."

Since the song hit the charts in 1972 -- written mostly by Jackson Browne, who was a friend of Glenn Frey, a founding member of the Eagles -- thousands of fans have made a detour while driving along Interstate 40, in what seems like the middle of nowhere, to see what Winslow is all about.

At first, tourists saw little more than a forlorn town struggling to stay alive. Winslow, 200 miles north of Phoenix, had been a vital part of Route 66 through northern Arizona. However, as traffic on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway declined in the 1970s, and after the Interstate was built to replace Route 66, bypassing the town, Winslow sank into near-oblivion.


In the mid-1990s, however, town boosters decided to build up a street corner so that the inevitable Eagles-inspired visitors would have something to see besides shuttered stores. They convinced a local real estate owner to donate the northwest corner of Kinsley Avenue and Second Street as the designated site, commissioned mural painter John Pugh to re-create the scene as a trompe l'oeil on a blank wall and got sculptor Ron Adamson to design a bronze statue of a slim young man in jeans holding a guitar perched on his boot toe.

On any given day, visitors stand on that corner in front of the girl in the mural, snapping photos and singing into their cell phones. Donors who pay $50 can have personal dedications inscribed in one of the red bricks imbedded in the corner.

In 1999, the spot officially became the Standin' on the Corner Park. Each September, Winslow hosts the Standin' on the Corner music festival. All year long, a shop across the street sells T-shirts, CDs and assorted Eagles and Route 66 memorabilia. Although the building that the mural is painted on had a fire a few years ago, the town raised $250,000 to fortify the wall and keep it upright.


Winslow's other attractions include its Hubbell Trading Post, the former site of a renowned Navajo rug dealer, now being restored to become the town's visitor center; La Posada Hotel; Winslow's Remembrance Garden, a memorial dedicated to the events of 9/11; and the First Street Pathway. The six blocks of the pathway include a set of Burma Shave signs, which used to entertain drivers cruising by on Route 66. Also within the small downtown area is the Old Trails Historic Museum, housed in a former bank built in the 1920s that retains its much of its original interior and displays artifacts from Western ranch and railroad life. Museum hours: Tues. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Tel. 928-289-5861.


The refurbished La Posada Hotel is a tourist destination in its own right. Opened in 1930 by Fred Harvey, it was the last in a string of lodges built for those traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles by railroad. Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the architect, used southwestern haciendas as her inspiration. Young women, who were carefully chaperoned, were recruited from all over the United States to serve as waitresses and retail clerks at the local hostels. These women became known as the Harvey Girls, and they inspired a 1946 movie of the same name, starring Judy Garland. Today, local volunteers act as the "Winslow Harvey Girls." They're available to tell stories about the women and the hotel, as well as give guided tours of the area.

This restored historic space is a grand southwest architectural hacienda with gardens, large public rooms and halls decorated with Mexican tiles, colorful carpets and extravagant period furnishings. Throughout the hotel are contemporary and deliberately bizarre portraits of historical figures including numerous First Ladies painted by Tina Mion. There is a handsome bar. The Amtrak train station is just beyond the rear exit. Guest rooms are named for celebrities ranging from Clark Gable to Amelia Earhart, and contain antiques, murals and full baths. Rates start at $99. 303 E. 2nd St.; tel. 928-289-4366.

Other hotel options in town are pretty much chain hotels. For a kitschier stay, sleep at the Wigwam Motel, located about 30 miles east on I-40 in Holbrook, Ariz. The place, with 15 wigwams for rent, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Rates start at $48. 811 W. Hopi Dr.; tel. 928-524-3048.


Winslow is an excellent jumping-off point for visits to Arizona's tribal lands. Homolovi Ruins State Park just north of town showcases ancient Hopi ruins as well as offers camping and picnicking facilities, along with hiking trails that wind through pueblo ruins and petroglyphs.

In northern Arizona, 67 miles from Winslow, are the mesas occupied by the Hopi Indians. These descendants of the ancient occupants of the Four Corners region live in pueblos atop several mesas, where they sell lovely painted pots, baskets and kachina dolls.

The Hopi are surrounded by the Navajo nation, the largest tribe in the United States, whose people occupy a vast windswept plateau. About 150 miles from Winslow through the Navajo land is Canyon de Chelly, a beautiful national monument of deep red rock gulches carved by the combining forces of wind and water. Nestled within the canyon walls are prehistoric pueblo Indian ruins, which can be viewed by Jeep tours with Navajo guides.

The Navajo Nation is the panoramic setting for books by the late Tony Hillerman, whose acclaimed detective novels featuring Navajo tribal police have introduced millions of readers to Navajo traditions. A Scottsdale tour outfitter, Detours of Arizona, runs guided van trips to "Hillerman Country" -- one of many sites featured in Hillerman's books.

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© Grace Lichtenstein

Travel | Vacation Travel Taking it Easy in Winslow Arizona