US 666: Revisiting the Devil's Highway

US 666: Revisiting the Devil's Highway

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
October 29, 2023
US Highway shield for Route 666 in Arizona


October is the perfect time of year to dive into our archives and delve into The Devil’s Highway, the former US 666, which traveled through several states in the Southwest, including Arizona.

In Arizona, US 666 traveled from Douglas to US 66 in Sanders. That’s significant because US 666 got its name simply by being the sixth designated offshoot of Route 66. If you travel on this roadway today, you’re driving on US 191. But how did US 666 get its name and why did it change?

According to the May 1934 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine, several local leaders petitioned the "Highway Commissioner to draw a resolution to the National Association of State Highway Engineers asking them to designate that section of highway from the Arizona-New Mexico Line West to Zuni Indian Village of New Mexico via., St. Johns, Springerville, Clifton, Safford, and other important points on the Coronado Trail… as U. S. Highway 666.” Thus began decades of urban legends about a haunted highway and its eerie experiences. The number 666, of course, is associated with the devil by some.

One tale tells of a mysterious girl in a white dress, who walks the desolate desert road alone. When motorists stop to offer help, she vanishes.On the more paranormal side of things, stories of Skinwalkers persisted along US 666. They would first appear as animals on the highway, causing motorists to swerve and crash. If that didn’t work, they’d simply appear in the backseat. Pleasant, right?

Packs of demon dogs with glowing yellow eyes and sharp, jagged teeth. UFOs appearing in the night sky. Reports of drivers losing their sense of time and appearing on the road again days later. Myths and stories like these lingered on for years while highway shields displaying “666” dotted the highway’s path.

After years of negative connotations and a high rate of sign theft, US 666 was officially decommissioned nationwide in 2003, though US 666 has been called US 191 in Arizona since 1992.

Have you ever driven the Devil’s Highway? Got any spooky tales to share? Let us know!

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