If Route 66 is the Mother Road…then Route 89 certainly is the Grandfather Road!
Often referred to as the “National Park Highway”, Route 89 was originally a north-south road, begun in 1927, that ran from Canada to Mexico. It is a scenic link between the Grand Canyon—the one and only Natural Wonder of the World in the United States—and six other National Parks plus…more than a dozen National Monument areas.
The spectacular scenery entices thousands of travelers on what National Geographic has called the #1 Driver’s Drive in the WORLD!
In Arizona a main section runs from Page in the north to Flagstaff where it then branches over as 89A to Prescott and then down to Wickenburg. Most of the road traverses rural areas…which has made for a very prolific partnership between communities on Route 89 and USDA Rural Development.
Eighteen of Arizona’s Top Natural Attractions are reached by Route 89 or 89A including the iconic Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge and Marble Canyon.
With such an abundance of beautiful scenery the communities along the route get lots of travelers and tourists needing food and lodging. As USDA Rural Development has worked to build the rural economies in Arizona, it’s no wonder that one of the most needed infrastructure is accommodations and services for the tourist industry.
As it turns out, hotels and motels in Arizona generate 12.8 billion dollars annually…nearly a third of the state’s annual budget!
For the last few years Rural Development has helped build hotels and motels for the bustling tourism industry along Route 89, as well as hospitals, clinics and other essential services for travelers and locals alike.
Among the tourism related projects funded in the past ten years through either our Business Program or Community Facilities Program are five gas stations; nine vineyards (most with tasting rooms and tours); fire stations and first responders equipment; four visitor centers/community buildings for events; four medical centers near Route 89 communities; two broadband/telecommunications projects and one website and a digital billboard so businesses can reach a larger customer base; a helipad; two RV parks; parking areas and road extensions; 24 hotels/motels constructed or renovated; three restaurants; a shopping area near an aquarium; and improvements to a popular theme park along Hwy 89.
Many of Arizona’s 23 Native American tribes also look to tourism for an economic boost as well. Tribal communities are one of Arizona USDA Rural Development’s targeted communities. We have funded six upgrades to Chapter Houses on the Navajo Nation, including converting one to a visitor center. We worked with three Native American groups to fund a Vender Village, a permanent location for artisans to sell their crafts along the road—replacing hot tables along the highways that needed continuing repair, and a business enterprise to make fudge from goat milk that is now sold by the tribe.