RIALTO, Calif. — Sleepy travelers on Route 66 look no further. A cozy night's sleep awaits at the Wigwam Motel in Rialto. The tipi-shaped motel is a classic pit stop, but you won’t find rawhide or tent poles inside the rooms.
The Wigwams are far from being culturally accurate. Open the door and you will find the rooms are furnished and equipped with a bathroom and comfy beds.
Wigwam co-owner Samir Patel says he regularly has to explain to guests the difference between a tipi and a wigwam.
“A wigwam was made out of sticks and mud. It was more of a permanent structure, unlike the tipi,” said Patel.
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Route 66 is known for its odd roadside attractions and before modern interstates bypassed much of Historic Route 66, wigwam motels just like the Patel's, which was built in 1949, were more common. In fact, there were seven across the U.S.
“So, it was a franchised roadside attraction, and we are one of three left,” said Patel.
The other two remaining Wigwam Motels are in Holbrook, Arizona, and Cave City, Kentucky, but none of them have a two-story Wigwam like the one in Rialto. However, the upstairs of the wigwam isn’t for sleeping; it is where Samir’s father, Jagdish Patel, keeps his Route 66 memorabilia.
“I drove Route 66 three or four times all the way to Chicago,” said Jagdish Patel.
The Patel family bought the motel in 2003 because they love the road tripping history of Route 66 and he enjoys meeting travelers like Kevin and Gayle Douglas. They are from the UK and driving all of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica.
“It’s our 31st anniversary. We are on holiday,” said Kevin. “It's comfortable but we didn’t know what to expect. It was a bit quirky.”
It may be a little quirky, but when you are trying to make memories on Route 66, The Wigwam Motel is an unforgettable place to do it.
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