Interstate 40 has a much simpler tale than that of Interstate 10 to the south. Interstate 40 enters Arizona in Topock, along the Colorado River, and follows the AT&SF (now BNSF) railroad tracks almost all the way across Arizona.

After meeting Arizona 95 (with which the freeway is silently multiplexed from the Colorado River), Interstate 40 turns north to head up through Yucca (a railroad siding) to reach Kingman, the largest town in northwestern Arizona and childhood home of Andy Devine.

Interstate 40 turns east, multiplexed with US 93, to strike out towards Seligman and Ash Fork. Both towns are railroad towns, but Seligman today is more successful than Ash Fork, primarily because of increased tourism. Beyond Ash Fork, Interstate 40 climbs over Ash Fork hill and around the San Francisco Peaks to reach Williams, entering into the high pine forests of Northern Arizona.

Heading east from Williams, another railroad town and the gateway to the Grand Canyon, Interstate 40 reaches Flagstaff, situated at the base of Humphreys Peak, the tallest point in Arizona. Flagstaff is the most important city in Northern Arizona, home to Northern Arizona University and the Lowell Observatory.

Passing Flagstaff, Interstate 40 continues east to Winona via Walnut Canyon National Monument, then leaves the pine forests behind as it heads toward Meteor Crater and Winslow. Winslow, like many other towns along Interstate 40, owes it's existence to the railroad, but is now more famous because of the Eagles. "Standin' On A Corner" park was dedicated in 1998.

Leaving Winslow, Interstate 40 passes through the high grasslands of Northeastern Arizona, passing through Joseph City and Holbrook. After leaving Holbrook, Interstate 40 passes through Petrified Forest National Park and meets US 191 before leaving Arizona.

Interstate 40 in Arizona directly replaced the Mother Road - U.S. 66. US 66 was decommissioned in 1985, after the last section of Interstate 40 opened on October 13, 1984. Flagstaff was the first town bypassed, in 1968, and the loss of business was so great that Arizona DOT (ADOT) closed the freeway until from October 12-28, when new signs could be posted to direct people into Flagstaff.

Interstate 40 Arizona Highway Guides

This is a view of the current Interstate 40 bridge from an overlook along former U.S. 66 near the western end of the now-demolished Red Rock bridge. Photo taken March 3, 2007.

In 1965, there was a proposal to reroute Interstate 40 from Kingman to Searchlight, bypassing Topock. This proposal did not come to fruition, and the Topock route was confirmed in 1966.

Construction Timeline for Interstate 40:

  • 1967: Miles 0-2 (Colorado River Bridge to Needle Mtn Road) open.
  • 1977: Miles 2-4 (Needle Mtn Rd to East of Needle Mtn Road) open.
  • 1972: Miles 4-13 (East of Needle Mtn Road to Franconia Rd) open.
  • 1971: Miles 13-26 (Franconia Rd to Proving Ground Rd) open.
  • 1966: Miles 26-28 (Proving Ground Rd to Old Trails Rd) open.
  • 1965: Miles 28-37 (Old Trails Rd to Griffith Rd) open.
  • 1975: Miles 37-44 (Griffith Rd to Oatman Rd) open.
  • 1981: Miles 45-52 (Kingman bypass) open.
  • 1979: Miles 53-59 (Kingman east to DW Ranch Rd) open.
  • 1967: Miles 59-75 (DW Ranch Road to east of US 93) open.
  • 1969: Miles 121-139 (Seligman west to Crookton Road) open.
  • 1965: Miles 139-144 (Crookton Rd to Ash Fork west) open.
  • 1981: Miles 144-148 (Ash Fork bypass) open.
  • 1964: Miles 148-155 (County Line Road to before Devil Dog Rd) open.
  • 1984: Miles 155-167 (Devil Dog Rd to Garland Prarie Rd, Williams Bypass) open.
  • 1963: Miles 167-178 (Garland Prarie Rd to Parks Rd) open.
  • 1964: Miles 178-185 (Parks Rd to Bellemont) open.
  • 1966: Miles 185-191 (Bellemont to Flagstaff West) open.
  • 1967: Miles 191-195 (Flagstaff West to Interstate 17) open.
  • 1968: Miles 195-219 (Interstate 17 to Twin Arrows) open.
  • 1971: Miles 219-245 (Twin Arrows Rd to Arizona 99) open.
  • 1968: Miles 245-251 (Arizona 99 to west of Winslow) open.
  • 1980: Miles 251-257 (Winslow bypass) open.
  • 1960: Miles 257-264 (Current AZ 87 to Hibbard Road) open.
  • 1967: Miles 264-274 (Hibbard Rd to Joseph City west) open.
  • 1981: Miles 274-277 (Joseph City bypass) open.
  • 1966: Miles 277-283 (Joseph City east to Perkins Valley Road) open.
  • 1980: Miles 283-289 (Holbrook bypass) open.
  • 1967: Miles 289-294 (Holbrook east to Sun Valley Rd) open.
  • 1963: Miles 294-303 (Sun Valley Rd to Adamana Rd) open.
  • 1961: Miles 303-320 (Adamana Road to Pinto Road, through Petrified Forest NP).
  • 1963: Miles 320-335 (Pinto Rd to past US 191 west) open.
  • 1965: Miles 335-343 (East of US 191 west to Querino Rd) open.
  • 1966: Miles 343-354 (Querino Rd to Hawthorn Rd) open.
  • 1961: Miles 354-359 (Hawthorn Rd to New Mexico) open.

Business Loops

I-40 originally had seven business loops, but two have been decommissioned.

  • Kingman (decommissioned 2003)
  • Seligman
  • Ash Fork
  • Flagstaff
  • Winslow (decommissioned 2007)
  • Joseph City
  • Holbrook

Interstate 40 scenes
2 photos
2 photos
Interstate 40 Arizona Trailblazer shield at the Topock exit. Arizona consistently uses the state name in its Interstate shield design, just like California. Nevada and New Mexico, two adjoining states, use the state name sporadically, while Utah never uses it on new signs. Photos taken 11/11/00.
Westbound Interstate 40, Los Angeles Signage at Topock (Exit 1). Photo taken 11/11/00.
Signage for Eastbound Interstate 40 and Southbound Arizona 95 from westbound Historic U.S. 66 at Topock (Exit 1). The button copy on the reflective sign can clearly be seen in these pictures. Photo taken 11/11/00.

Photo Credits:

11/11/00 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 17
U.S. Highway 89
U.S. Highway 93
U.S. Highway 180
U.S. Highway 191

Page Updated 02-03-2009.