Grants is a small town in northwestern New Mexico, and is part of Cibola county, a county that boasts of a whopping 86 miles of Route 66 – the largest slice any county can offer of the 2,448 miles of tarmac immortalized as a rhythm ‘n’ blues classic by Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones and John Mayer.
Grants and Cibola County got more to offer
Travelers across the globe venture here, on their mission to complete the famous road trip route. But getting kicks on Route 66 isn’t all Cibola County has to offer. It also hosts some of the most breath-taking scenery in New Mexico, with an extensive amount of history.
I visited the town during the monsoon season, but that didn’t make for a wet and miserable trip. On the contrary, the temperature was pleasant, and the skies let on some phenomenal displays of lighting and movement.
I spent my first night at El Mapais National Monument, and was amazed by the craggy, volcanic nature of the area. The sinks that lead to collapsed lava tunnels particularly interested me. They offered a unique insight into the beating heart of a volcano, into its chaotic inner workings. Exposed little to this side of geography, I was greatly intrigued.
Grants’ mining history
Grants was formerly a town home to the largest uranium mining facility in the US. It’s a place that came from small beginnings, but grew rapidly when uranium became a sought-after resource in the late 50s. I found out this, and a whole lot more, from Jack Farley. He’s the man who knows the ins-and-outs of Grants’ history.
I took a tour with Jack and was amazed by three things: his knowledge, his character, and his passion. As we walked through the New Mexico Mining Museum’s replica mine, and as he answered my questions and explained the process he was so familiar with, I couldn’t help but marvel at the man’s expertise and knowledge. He knew it so well, like he was working only yesterday. Jack climbed the so-called ‘ladder’, and by the time he was 38, had become a manager of three mines. He was awarded for his critical regard for safety and at one point, Jack’s mines were the safest in the whole of the US.
Not far from Grants – more options for a great visit
A place Jack holds dear is Mount Taylor. Coming from Jack, with 40 years and counting here, this is recommendation to listen to. When I got there, I could see straightaway what he meant. The mountain has some of the most awesome scenery I’ve seen – and the drive up is stunning, too. It’s just 40 minutes from Grants, and it’s well worth it – but head on up with a 4X4.
Grants itself has an array of things to do. No surprise: the town is on The Trail of the Ancients, which captures the archaeological evidence of hunters and gatherers who lived in this part of New Mexico since 10,000 B.C. or even earlier. For any history buff – or anybody – the Trail of the Ancients provides a fascinating insight into the New World, and shouldn’t be overlooked on a visit.
Grants is more than just another forgotten town along Route 66 – it’s a destination, and one worth visiting.
This story has been created in partnership with GRANTS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, NEW MEXICO.