Running from Chicago to Los Angeles, this historic piece of Americana has been a representation of freedom and the open road since it was first established in 1926, carrying generations of road-weary travelers west through America’s heartland.
From popular literature, songs, and movies, this stretch of road has not only come to symbolize the size, grandeur, and sense of adventure of America’s western frontier, it has, in the process, also adopted some of the country’s most notoriously haunted towns.
In fact, there is no shortage of paranormal activity on this 2,448 mile stretch of asphalt, but when it comes to the most terrifying strip of America’s most famous route, Arizona shines above the rest.
Considering the thousands of miles and hundreds of small towns this famous route runs through, including a few of America’s most notorious ghost towns, it's no wonder that Route 66 is widely considered America’s most haunted highway.
But when it comes to spooky spots, there are few that can hold a candle to the ones you find in Arizona, where Route 66 runs through some of the most notorious ghost stories in the American Old West.
From the town of Flagstaff, with its mountain views and haunted hotels, to Williams, known for being the gateway to the Grand Canyon, as well as an energy vortex and spiritual center, this historic stretch of highway has been turning heads for nearly a century.
When it comes to haunted attractions in Arizona, as well as famous sections of Route 66 that are still seeing high volumes of daily drivers, there are few that enjoy the lore and legacy of Flagstaff, AZ.
Here, more than anywhere, Route 66 is still alive and well, which is more than can be said for the slew of notorious ghosts that inhabit this sleepy mountain town, haunting their historic buildings and making Flagstaff a must stop for paranormal attractions.
From a long departed bellboy and the murdered sexworkers of Hotel Monte Vista, to a library that has seen its fair share of horrors down in the basement, it would be difficult to assume which corner of Flagstaff is the most haunted. But, when it comes to historic haunts right off of Route 66, few have had the impact of the Weatherford Hotel.
It’s in this popular downtown hotel that spirits can be seen roaming the halls at night, especially around the maids’ storage room, and hotel staff have been through everything from bottles being thrown off shelves, to lights and jukeboxes coming on in the middle of the night.
The most notorious specter around, though, is that of a woman who reportedly hung herself in an upstairs room, distraught over the disappearance of her husband, who went out one day and never came back.
Unfortunately, the husband was alive and well, only delayed because of a snow storm. When he returned to find his wife dead, it is said that he was so consumed with grief that he took his life as well, and now both of them are still seen to this day, standing over guests’ beds.
It just goes to show that when it comes to the strange and unusual on Route 66, Flagstaff has remained a touchstone, offering devilish delights alongside its outdoor attractions, world-class restaurants, and Old West history.
Willimas, AZ, the last stop on the Grand Canyon Railway, was also the final town to be bypassed by Interstate 40, the very freeway system that put the nail in the coffin for Route 66 and the many small tourist towns that survived off of it.
But, being located between the Grand Canyon and the popular mountain town of Flagstaff, Williams has managed to survive the loss, maintaining its place as a popular tourist stop, all while continuing to celebrate its Route 66 history.
What you don’t read in the tourist pamphlets, though, is that Williams also has a haunted history, one that has put it among the ranks of the most haunted small towns on Route 66, not just in Arizona, but along the entire route.
Among their list of notable haunts, though, stands one place in particular—the Red Garter Inn. This historic “Bed and Bakery” has been a staple of Williams since it was first built in 1897 as a saloon and brothel, and has continued to be a popular tourist destination since.
Guests and staff alike have long been reporting strange phenomena, including the sound of unexplainable footsteps in the halls, doors opening and closing on their own, and even the apparition of a young Hisoanic woman in a white dressing gown who locals believe was murdered in the building.
Several guests have claimed to make contact with the restless spirit, known as Eva, while others have reported their beds shaking in the middle or the night, someone touching their arm while they slept, or even the mysterious appearance of a young woman in photographs taken on the premises.
Who Eva was and what she wants isn’t known for sure, but what is certain is that the Red Garter Inn, and Williams as a whole, remains one of the most haunted locations on the once bustling highway.
Today, historic Route 66 is nearly dead, a mere shadow of what it once was before major interstates were built and the joy of small town America was tossed aside for the convenience of a fast-paced lifestyle.
But, there are some places, like Arizona, that still hold on to that legacy, keeping their stretch of the notorious highway alive.
So, if you are looking to experience some of the most haunted towns that America has to offer, then you might want to get your kicks on Route 66—you won’t be disappointed.