Kingman was selected for part of a wagon road in the 1850s, and some of the original wagon road pathway became U.S. 66, including much of the road we've been traveling since Williams in northern Arizona.
Sizable gold and silver reserves were found in the area, and mining camps sprang up all around, with Kingman as the center. At 3,300 feet in elevation, Kingman deals with more temperate weather than Flagstaff up in the high mountains. Not a small town, the area has roughly 65,000 residents, so you should be able to find almost anything you need here. Nestled in a natural basin, Kingman became a popular overnight stop for travelers for that reason.
Kingman's namesake is Lewis Kingman, a railroad surveyor for the Atlantic & Pacific railway. He came through in 1880, plotting the path from Albuquerque to Needles. Several decades later, its location along Route 66 added to the city's growth – and Hoover Dam construction in the 1930s helped. Kingman is now considered a popular "gateway" to places like Laughlin, Nevada, the Hoover Dam, and Lake Havasu.
Today, I-40 is the major transportation artery serving Kingman. Route 66, of course, was the original reason drivers poured into Kingman, and local shopkeepers and entrepreneurs opened up plenty of businesses to serve cross-country travelers. Kingman features plenty of older sites to explore, including shopping along Beale Street (named after Ed Beale, who had surveyed the first wagon road), one block north of the Route 66 mainline.
Along Route 66, restaurants, diners, and other rest stops have sprouted. Partake in a steak with some Western atmosphere at the Dambar & Steak House, or if you're in the mood for Chinese, Lo's Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge has an easy-to-spot sign — that's been up there for a while — to draw you in.
Kingman has a few movies under its belt: Roadhouse 66, Two-Lane Blacktop, Universal Soldier, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and Management. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard married at a local church in Kingman before they hit Route 66 to honeymoon in Oatman.
The Mohave County Courthouse (straight up 4th Street off either Route 66 or Beale) is a nice, stately building from 1914 with some seriously tall trees serving as a handsome frame. A block south, Beale Street offers plenty of shopping. A good place to stop is the Powerhouse Visitor Center & Route 66 Museum. Once an electrical generation station (hence the name), this hearty 1909 building now houses a Visitor Center with gift shops, maps, information, and the Route 66 Museum (featuring awesome murals, dioramas, and photos of the era). Check out Locomotive Park across the street, the Mojave Museum of History & Arts a block away, and even get ice cream or a burger at Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner.
Trivia: Kingman's Mojave name is Huwaalyapay Nyava. Fortunately, they chose "Kingman", because that's easier to spell.
Out of Kingman, you have two choices: the Oatman Highway, the original 1926 route with twists and turns through the Black Mountains on a narrow, sometimes challenging drive through Oatman to Needles, or I-40 through Yucca to Needles, which is part of a 1951 realignment of Route 66. The I-40 option is recommended for nighttime travel, winter travel, travel by motor homes and RVs, and anyone squeamish on narrow roads with few guardrails along cliffs. The Oatman Highway option is for slow, scenic-but-arduous travel; the I-40 option will speed you to Needles, California at least one hour faster. Take your pick.
Best Western PLUS A Wayfarer's Inn& Suites
2815 E. Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66)
Kingman, AZ 86401-4202
Best Western PLUS King's Inn & Suites
2930 E. Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66)
Kingman, AZ 86401-4205