When making plans to visit Petrified Forest National Park, I discovered that we would be driving along portions of the historic Route 66 and staying in Holbrook, an iconic Route 66 city — and that meant roadside attractions like the Holbrook dinosaurs at the Rainbow Rock Shop and the Wigwam Motel.
We finished exploring the Grand Canyon National Park early (you really don’t need more than two days), so we adjusted our hotels to leave Grand Canyon and arrive in Holbrook a day early. This gave us extra time to explore the city of Holbrook!
The Wigwam Motel is not only a Route 66 icon, but the model for Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel, a “newly refurbished” neon-lit motel, in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. But in Cars, the wigwams are traffic cones! We LOVE that movie and couldn’t wait to check out the Wigwam Motel in person.
We had a blast walking around the small motel complex checking out the teepees, and we were lucky enough to catch housekeeping cleaning one of the teepees, who let us go inside an look around. I think it’d be fun to stay there one night, but any more than that… phew, it’s really small!
We also enjoyed walking through the parking lot checking out the vintage cars sprinkled throughout the parking lot. Several looked like vehicles seen in the Cars movie and there is even a Mater look-a-like.
About Wigwam Motel #6
The Holbrook Wigwam Motel, with motel rooms built to look like teepees, is one of only seven Wigwam Villages built in the United States between 1933 and 1949 — two in Kentucky and one each in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, and California.
Today only three Wigwam Villages still exist, with two located along historic US Route 66, in Holbrook, Arizona and San Bernardino, California. All three surviving Wigwam Motels are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
- The Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky, was listed in 1988 as Wigwam Village #2
- The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona was listed in 2002 as Wigwam Village #6
- The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California was listed in 2012 as Wigwam Village #7
The Wigwam Motels were designed by Frank A. Redford after the teepees of the Plains Indians. He built the first units in 1933 at his museum where he displayed a collection of Native American art. In 1936, Redford received a patent on the design, calling them Wigwam Villages because he felt it sounded better Teepee Villages.
Cave City, Kentucky was the location of Wigwam Village #2 and in 1938, when Holbrook, Arizona resident Chester E. Lewis discovered the unique roadside motel when passing through town. Lewis later purchased the rights to Redford’s design and use of the name Wigwam Village. As part of the agreement, coin-operated radios were installed in the Holbrook Wigwam Village and every dime inserted for 30 minutes of play would be sent to Redford as payment.
Lewis operated the Wigwam Motel until closing it in 1974 after Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook. Two years after his death in 1986, sons Clifton and Paul Lewis and daughter Elinor renovated the motel and reopened it in 1988 and the Lewis family continues to run and maintain Wigwam Village #6.
Know Before You Go
- The Wigwam Motel is located at 811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, Arizona 86025 in Navajo County seven blocks west of downtown on Business I-40 and the historic Route 66.
- Part of the central motel office was turned into a museum containing Lewis’ collection of Route 66 memorabilia, Arizona petrified wood, and Indian artifacts.
- Fifteen large wigwams are laid out in an open rectangle resembling the layout of an Indian Village. Other buildings include the motel office, a small museum, and two small wigwams that were restrooms for the old Texaco Station.
- Each individual Wigwam is made of concrete and steel. They have a full bathroom with a shower, cable TV, and heat and air. You can choose between two double beds or one queen bed. There is no smoking allowed by the motel is pet friendly (extra fee for pets).
- There is no telephones, Internet access or ice machine.
- A collection of vintage cars are on display in the parking lot outside the wigwams, including several that look like those you may have seen in the original Cars movie.
- Wigwam #6 has been featured in travel magazines, history books, calendars, newspapers, and even movies. It was also the model for Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars, a “newly refurbished” neon-lit motel. But in Cars, the wigwams are traffic cones.
- The Wigwam #6 Motel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.