Category Archives: News

We’ve Moved

Saija Lehtonen | Monument Valley

Saija Lehtonen | Monument Valley

As of September 23, 2014, the Arizona Highways blog has moved. Please update your bookmarks to

Past blog posts will remain on this site, at least until they can all be transferred to the new site and properly formatted. Thank you for following us, and we hope you’ll continue to follow us on our new site!

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Q&A: New Book Offers a Personal Take on Historic Route 66

Dyana Muse | Historic Route 66

Dyana Muse | Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66 contains a kind of nostalgic awe, the fading memories of a bygone era. The 66 Kid, a new book from Bob Boze Bell, an artist and editor of True West magazine, revives those memories on the page through pictures, maps, graphics and cartoons. It’s a graphic novel of sorts — at least, that’s how Bell sees it.

The book is about 70 percent visual and 30 percent text, Bell says, and it weaves together a portrait of his own life with the world of ’50s and ’60s Kingman along the famous highway. From the inclusion of personal photos and postcards to museum archives, The 66 Kid illustrates Route 66 from the perspective of someone who grew up on it. Bell spoke with us about his book and the process of putting everything together.

Courtesy of Bob Boze Bell

Courtesy of Bob Boze Bell

Tell us a little bit about your inspiration. Where did the idea for this book come from?
I always kind of knew I wanted to do a book on growing up on Route 66, and then I had a heart attack while playing the drums at a band reunion in 2008, so that was a wake-up call. I thought, “If I’m ever going to do it, I better get my little patootie in gear.” And I really started to get serious about it. I had a friend in Kingman who does Route 66-themed books, and he turned me on to his publisher, and they bought the idea and we were off to the races.

You have a friend who does Route 66-themed books?
Yeah. His name is Jim Hinckley, and he’s got eight books out on it, and I just called him up and I said, “Hey, would your publisher be interested in a book about growing up on Route 66 as it applies to Kingman?” And he says, “Well, that’s pretty specific.” I said, “You know, that’s the book I want to do.” And they bought it.

Tell us about the research you had to do to complete the book.
I knew I needed historic photos, and for that, I was really blessed by the fact that my mother kept really good scrapbooks, and she had fantastic photos. I also had 8mm film, because when I grew up in the gas station, my father would get broke tourists coming in and trying to make it to California, and he’d bill them every day with different prices, like binoculars and Bowie knives. He came home one day with an 8mm camera, and I started taking film. So, I had a lot of film, original footage of my dad’s gas station in the 1960s. I really had a lot of stuff.

I still needed more, and by that, I went to the Mohave Museum, and they allowed me to use their photos. So, between all three of those, and then I used a person who we call “The Mapinator,” Gus Walker — he does stuff for me at True West. Between all those different venues, we had a great visual attack.

Tell us about the visual focus of your book.
It’s very Americana, very ’50s, a lot of coonskin caps, ’57 T-Birds, full-service gas stations. Really, it’s a road picture. It’s a road picture on paper.

How did you select which parts of your own life you would include?
The ones that I could print and that my grandson could read — that was the criteria. I was a rock ‘n’ roll drummer and underground cartoonist, so I led a very, shall we say, “colorful” life. I wanted to be honest, and I wanted to not leave things out, but I wanted to, at the same time, tell the story as a celebration of being on Route 66. That colored some of the text. It’s the PG version of an X-rated life, let’s put it that way.

What was the most difficult part of putting the book together, and what was the most rewarding?
It was really tough. The deadline was to do 16 pages a week for 12 weeks, and we started on January 3 of this year. By we, I mean my art director and I, Dan Harshberger — we grew up together in Kingman, so this is a project of love for us, a love letter to our hometown. We had to hand in 16 pages a week, and that was laid out, with photos and captions and spell-check. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’m a deadline person, and I’ve worked on deadline my whole life, but that was really almost insurmountable. But when we got it done, it was something I’m very proud of.

So is that what you would say was the most rewarding part?
About the book? Yeah, the book. And actually having — I’ve had people approach me and say, “You grew up in Kingman, right?” And I’d say yeah. And they’d say, “Well, I’m a postcard collector, and I have a postcard of the Hillcrest Motel; where was that?” And I’d say, “Well, it was right across from the Kingman Motel and catty-corner from my dad’s gas station, Al Bell’s Flying A.” It dawned on me after three or four questions what we take for granted [because] we grew up there. We just assumed that everybody knew where all these businesses were, but when you go up there today, it’s really hard to envision where all these things were. So one of the critical components of the book is to have a five-page map section showing where all the businesses on Route 66 going through Kingman were.

Why should people care about Route 66? Why are these stories important?
I didn’t understand this when I was growing up. This road that my parents made a living on — my mother worked in the highway department, my dad had a gas station, and I worked for tips in the gas station — and I didn’t understand it. This road, to me, was just another road. I finally realized when I was in Spain on assignment to find “Cowboy Ground Zero” for our True West magazine. I was standing on the beach where Columbus left on his second journey to go to the New World and bring cattle and horses, which led to the vaquero and ultimately the cowboy — I was just thinking about how important this was. After about 10 minutes of standing there, I turned around, and there on the beach was the Route 66 Bar. In Spain. So I went, “Oh, I get it. I get it. This is a big deal. What goes around comes around. This thing is a big deal worldwide.” And I thought, “I’m going to do in-depth reporting about a very specific part of Route 66 and what it was like to grow up on the world’s most famous two-lane blacktop.”

Where can the public learn more about you and your book?
You can go to, where I do a blog, and you can see more about the pictures of the book there. You can go to, which is where all my artwork is. Between those two things, you’ll get more of Bob Boze Bell than you ever wanted.

— Molly Bilker


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Next Saturday, Visit a National Park for Free

Remote Leigh | Glen Canyon

Remote Leigh | Glen Canyon

Next Saturday, September 27, is National Public Lands Day. To celebrate, the National Park Service is waiving entrance fees at national parks and monuments around the U.S.

To find a park in Arizona (or anywhere) where the entrance fee is being waived, click here. Keep in mind that many national parks and monuments never charge entrance fees.

The next fee-free day will be Veterans Day (November 11).

What’s your favorite national park in Arizona? Let us know in the comments!

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Help Arizona Game and Fish Catch Elk Poachers

Tammy Simpkins | Elk, Grand Canyon

Tammy Simpkins | Elk, Grand Canyon

From our friends at the Arizona Game and Fish Department:

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating two unrelated bull elk poaching incidents that occurred in northern Arizona during the last week of August. The cases are especially significant because both elk were taken out of season, and rewards may be offered for information leading to arrests.

One poaching incident took place in Game Management Unit 5BSouth on the Coconino National Forest. The carcass of a 5X6 bull elk was discovered on Aug. 29 off Forest Service Road 136 near “the park,” about 3 miles northeast of Clint’s Well near milepost 294 on Highway 87. The poachers shot the animal with a firearm, took the meat, and left the antlers. This is a case of wildlife taken out of season, and it shows blatant disregard for wildlife management practices biologists have established to make hunting available to the public. A reward of up to $750.00 may be available for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

The second case involved a spike (young bull) elk poached in Game Management Unit 11M. The elk was killed about 1 mile southwest of Ft. Tuthill near the Coconino County Fairgrounds, in the afternoon Aug. 27 or in the morning of Aug. 28. The bull was shot twice with archery equipment and the entire animal was left to waste. A reward of up to $350.00 may be available for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

Officers investigating the cases have very limited evidence or information and are relying on the public to help find the poachers.

“Someone may have information about these cases and we need them to come forward,” said Game and Fish said Wildlife Manager Mike Rice. “Sportsmen and women pay for licenses and tags and contribute to wildlife conservation and management, but poachers do not. Poaching isn’t hunting, it’s stealing Arizona’s valuable wildlife resources.”

Anyone with information about the cases can call the Department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll free at (800) 352-0700 or use the online form at Callers should provide case number 14-002441 for the Unit 5BS case, and 14-002414 for the Unit 11M case when calling.  Callers may remain confidential upon request.


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ASU Gammage Celebrates 50th Anniversary

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More than 50 years ago, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright walked the Arizona State University campus in Tempe with then-ASU President Grady Gammage. At the time, Gammage was looking for a way to make ASU a cultural center for the Phoenix area. Wright, meanwhile, had recently designed an opera house for Iraq’s King Faisal II, but the king had been assassinated before the building could be constructed, and Wright was looking for a new use for the design.

At one point, Wright put down his cane and said he had found the place where he would build a building with outstretched arms that said, “Welcome to ASU.”

That building became Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, which begins its 50th-anniversary season this month. Neither Gammage nor Wright lived to see the building completed, but Colleen Jennings-Roggensack says both would be proud of how the building (since rebranded as ASU Gammage) has evolved.

“What’s happened in the last 50 years is exactly what they thought would happen,” says Jennings-Roggensack, who has been ASU Gammage’s executive director since 1991. “It’s become the leading cultural center in the Southwest and the leading Broadway touring house in the country.”

Interestingly, she adds, Wright once said that all of his buildings should fall down after 50 years. But thanks to Gammage’s continuing evolution, it’s remained relevant and become an important part of the identity of ASU and the Phoenix area. That’s even more remarkable when you consider that the venue receives no financial support from the university.

Jennings-Roggensack helped bring Broadway shows to Gammage; the first time The Phantom of the Opera came there, it sold out in seven minutes. That change required extensive renovations to the Gammage stage, as well as the addition of ramp systems and accessible seating for disabled patrons. A national study showed that Broadway shows at Gammage pump $50 million into the local economy each year, Jennings-Roggensack says.

Gammage has been a place for political theater, too: A 2004 presidential debate between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry was held there. Before that, in 1998, 30 sitting U.S. senators and former first lady Nancy Reagan came to Gammage for the funeral of Arizona’s Sen. Barry Goldwater. And President Bill Clinton first gave his “Bridge to the Future” speech from one of Gammage’s trademark arms.

Jennings-Roggensack also includes a less famous event among her favorite Gammage moments. At a Camp Broadway event in the venue’s lobby, she met a young girl who told her that her grandfather, who also was attending the event, had been one of the building’s construction workers. “I went over and met him,” she says, “and he said that he was one of the workers, but he had never been inside Gammage. I took them into the house and had them sit down, and I had their granddaughter get up on stage. She sang The Star-Spangled Banner. And we cried.”

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, ASU Gammage is hosting three residency projects:

  • A developmental workshop on BASETRACK, a multimedia performance based on the real worlds of modern-day Marines and their families;
  • Another developmental workshop on Lemon Andersen’s ToasT, a new play about Willie Green, a.k.a. “Dolomite”; and
  • A residency by Aaron Landsman, an actor, writer and director who has performed around the world.

There’s plenty more to say about ASU Gammage, but it’s a venue that you really should experience for yourself. For information about upcoming shows and other events, call 480-965-3434 or visit

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Permit Now Required for Organized Group Hikes at Grand Canyon

Sarah Dolliver | Grand Canyon

Sarah Dolliver | Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is now requiring organized, non-commercial groups conducting rim-to-rim hikes and extended day hikes in the inner Canyon to obtain a special-use permit for their activity.

The change, the National Park Service says in a news release, is being made on an interim basis in response to increased traffic on inner-Canyon trails. That added use has increased litter along the trails and led to crowded restrooms and trailheads, among other consequences, the Park Service says.

The special-use permit costs $175 and is required for groups of any size (limited to 30 people) that meet any of the following requirements:

  • The group has advertised to the general public.
  • Individuals are required to sign up prior to participation.
  • The group has an organizer who has been compensated for their participation, including subsidized participation.

“With rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running increasing in popularity, we needed to find an interim solution that would give us the tool to educate hikers and runners on best practices until we have a longer-term solution in place,” Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga says in the release.

In pursuit of that long-term solution, the Park Service is revising its 1988 Backcountry Management Plan and preparing an environmental-impact statement, a draft of which is expected to be released this fall. It will address these and other types of Canyon activities.

For more information about the special-use permits, or to apply for one, click here.

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