On a long, strange trip? Try these un­usual stops

Where to find the strangest liv­ing ar­range­ments in Ari­zona

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Scott Craven

Look­ing for some­thing a bit out of the or­di­nary on your next road trip — per­haps a place once fa­mil­iar to in­mates, or a suite carved over eons by na­ture? Then leave your generic ac­com­mo­da­tions in the rear-view mir­ror. Ari­zona has plenty of quirky places to spend the night.

When hit­ting the road, trav­el­ers of­ten lean to­ward clean, largely generic ac­com­mo­da­tions of­fer­ing with peace, quiet and wi-fi. ● But for those seek­ing some­thing out of the or­di­nary — per­haps a place once fa­mil­iar to in­mates, or a suite carved over eons by na­ture — Ari­zona has the l-odd-ging you’ve been look­ing for. ● Here are some of the quirki­est ac­com­mo­da­tions in the state:

OK Street Jail Inn

About the ho­tel: This for­mer iron­bar ho­tel in Bis­bee has been con­verted into an ac­tual inn. Con­ve­niently lo­cated near the foot of Brew­ery Gulch (and ex­plain­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of its drunk tank back in the day), this nar­row, two-story stone struc­ture is per­fect for those look­ing to lock down a lit­tle ro­mance.

Coolest fea­ture: Some of the orig­i­nal jail bars re­main in place, in­clud­ing the heavy iron door at the top of the stairs. They re­mind of ear­lier times when there was no well-ap­pointed kitchen, comfy bed or cable TV, just grumpy armed men. Then again, it was a lot less ex­pen­sive to spend the night at the turn of the 20th cen­tury when it was a hoosegow.

Don’t miss: A drink at the Room 4, Ari­zona’s small­est bar. Belly up to one of the four stools at the tiny wa­ter­ing hole in­side the Sil­ver King Ho­tel. If it’s full (it only takes six peo­ple), take a seat in the lobby and wait a bit. Pa­trons are pretty good at giv­ing up their spot to let some­one else ex­pe­ri­ence the bar.

Nearby ac­tiv­i­ties: The OK Street Jail is in the heart of Bis­bee and within walk­ing dis­tance nu­mer­ous restau­rants, bars and bou­tiques.

Rates: $129-$145.

De­tails: 518-755-3562, www.ok­street­jail­house.com.

Wig­wam Mo­tel

About the ho­tel: More than a half­cen­tury ago, Amer­i­cans on the move of­ten stopped at this iconic mo­tel along Route 66 in Hol­brook. To­day, peo­ple stop by for one of two rea­sons: nos­tal­gia, or the in­sis­tence of their chil­dren who want to stay at that mo­tel from Pixar’s “Cars.” Yes, the Cozy Cone Mo­tel in the an­i­mated movie looks re­mark­ably the Wig­wam, which fea­tures 15 con­crete te­pees ar­ranged in a U-shape.

Coolest fea­ture: You’re sleep­ing in a cone, its cir­cu­lar floor plan and slant­ing walls a bit dis­con­cert­ing at first, but then rather com­fort­ing. Want to an­noy your mis­be­hav­ing kids? Tell them to go stand in the cor­ner.

Don’t miss: The col­lec­tion of pet­ri­fied wood amassed by the Wig­wam’s own­ers over the years. Some of the best pieces are dis­played in the lobby.

Nearby ac­tiv­i­ties: The south­ern en­trance of Pet­ri­fied For­est Na­tional Park is 19 miles away. Trails thread among fallen trees mil­lions of years old, their trunks turned to stone. (Dis­ney’s new Star Wars land is set in a city of tow­er­ing pet­ri­fied trees, which may or may not af­fect visi­ta­tion of the real thing.) Rates: $69-$76.

De­tails: 928-524-3048, www.ga­lerie-kokopelli.com/wig­wam.

Ho­tel Monte Vista

About the ho­tel: From the Phan­tom Bell­boy to the Baby in the Base­ment, this Flagstaff ho­tel teems with trans­par­ent free­loaders. But the after­life of the party is in Room 305, where a wo­man has been seen star­ing out from a rock­ing chair. Some guests have re­ported that the chair rocks de­spite be­ing un­oc­cu­pied; oth­ers say they’ve heard some­one knock­ing from in­side the (seem­ingly) empty closet.

Coolest fea­ture: Know­ing that while in Room 305, you’re never alone. Or so it would seem. Not a be­liever? Well, there’s cable TV, then.

Don’t miss: A drink in the cock­tail lounge, home of a suc­cess­ful boot­leg­ging op­er­a­tion dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion. Per­haps you’ll get a cheery though dis­em­bod­ied “Good morn­ing” from the ghost of the bank rob­ber said to have bled to death while en­joy­ing a cel­e­bra­tory cock­tail for a job not-so-well done.

Nearby ac­tiv­i­ties: While down­town Flagstaff teems with ac­tiv­ity, head south of the rail­road tracks for a restau­rant-and-re­tail path less trav­eled. Start the day with de­lec­ta­ble made-from­scratch pas­tries at Tourist Home Café. After sev­eral hours of wan­der­ing, drop in for a lo­cal brew at His­toric Brew­ing Bar­rel + Bot­tle House.

Rates: $80-$145.

De­tails: 928-779-6971, www.hotel­monte­vista.com.

The ca­boose at Canyon Mo­tel and RV Park

About the ho­tel: Imag­ine be­ing on a train that’s been de­layed and you don’t care be­cause there’s plenty to do right out­side. That’s what it’s like stay­ing at this prop­erty in Wil­liams, which of­fers sev­eral rail cars long re­tired from ac­tive ser­vice. The roomy Pull­man cars from the 1950s are di­vided into three suites; the two ca­booses are suites unto them­selves. (Note to Mil­len­ni­als: Ca­booses once rode at the end of freight trains, pro­vid­ing quar­ters for the crew and ex­cite­ment for kids who waved as they passed. The bar for en­ter­tain­ment was much lower back then.)

Coolest fea­ture: You’re in a train! These cars once tra­versed a grow­ing Amer­ica, log­ging thou­sands of miles ev­ery year. They were equipped with all the lat­est tech of the day, in­clud­ing high-def win­dows and wire­less ra­dios. Now they have high-def TVs and a wire­less net­work.

Don’t miss: The haunting of Ca­boose #2. Guests have re­ported lights flick­ing on and off, in­ex­pli­ca­ble sounds and what is be­lieved to be the ghost of a con­duc­tor wav­ing a lan­tern in the mid­dle of the night.

Nearby ac­tiv­i­ties: Down­town Wil­liams is just 5 min­utes away. The shops and restau­rants re­flect the town’s split per­son­al­ity. Some busi­nesses are themed for the rail­roads that built Wil­liams, while oth­ers cel­e­brate its spot along his­toric Route 66. The smart ones em­brace both.

Rates: $111-$140 for rail­way car suite, $206 for ca­boose.

De­tails: 800-482-3955, thecanyon mo­tel.com.

Grand Canyon Cav­erns

About the ho­tel: When a young wood­cut­ter stum­bled into a hole in 1927, he quickly dis­cov­ered it was much more than a pit. After de­ter­min­ing that the cave had no gold, he found an­other way to mine it – through tourism. That spirit thrives at Grand Canyon Cav­erns in Peach Springs, home to Ari­zona’s deep­est, dark­est ho­tel room. Those who take the el­e­va­tor 220 feet be­low the sur­face see a ho­tel room mounted on a wooden plat­form, com­plete with bed, bath­room and TV (no broad­cast or cable, but plenty of DVD movies).

Coolest fea­ture: The stonework looks as good as any Dis­ney Imag­i­neer could craft, and for good rea­son: It’s real. The cham­ber is 200 by 400 feet with a ceil­ing 70 feet high. Doesn’t get more spa­cious than that. And in a cave, no one can hear you scream (with de­light), un­less a tour group hap­pens by.

Don’t miss: Ex­plor­ing the cav­erns with the lights off. Once the last tour ex­its, the place is yours. Grab the pro­vided flash­lights and head out. Be sure to stick to the trails be­cause if you get lost and be­come the tar­get of a search party, you’ll go vi­ral and not in a good way (“Vis­i­tors lost in ho­tel suite”).

Nearby ac­tiv­i­ties: If you’re lucky enough to have hik­ing per­mits to see the Hava­su­pai water­falls, you’re less than an hour away from the trail­head. But if you thought the Grand Canyon Cav­erns were close to Grand Canyon Na­tional Park, here’s some bad news: The South Rim is more than two hours away. Rate: $975.

De­tails: 928-422-3223, gc­cav­erns.com.

MARK HENLE/ THE REPUB­LIC; PHOTO IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY RACHEL VAN BLANKEN­SHIP/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

The Wig­wam Vil­lage #6 opened in Hol­brook1950 as a mo­tel, gas sta­tion and road­side at­trac­tion, a Route 66 tri­fecta.

Levi Gold­smith (lead tour guide) looks down on the Cav­ern Suite, June 14, 2016, at the Grand Canyon Cav­erns in Peach Springs.

Bars may still be in place, but the OK Street Jail gives off a comfy vibe de­spite be­ing built for a cap­tive au­di­ence.

Vis­i­tors can sleep in a ca­boose at Canyon Mo­tel and RV Park in Wil­liams.

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