Route 666: The Devil’s Highway

by Les Hewitt

What is Route 666

Now known as US Route 491, Route 666 is a north-south carriageway that serves the Four Corners region of the USA. Created in 2003, it is one of the more recent designations in the entire U.S highway network for seemingly obvious reasons. Around the time of the USA/Mexico conflict of 1848, it was a simple main trading route serving the Mexican nation known as the Old Spanish Trail. As time progressed, the road did as well. It finally upgraded to Highway status by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) in 1926.

Sacred Indian Sites

Unfortunately, Route 666 was the 6th spur on the existing Route 66 which led to its infamous moniker and obvious association. The 200 mile long so-called Devil’s Highway meanders its way through some of America’s most impressive scenery. It travels through Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Chief among these sights are the pair of Native American sacred sites of Shiprock and Ute Mountain.

According to Native American legend, Shiprock, translated as Rock with Wings, was once a majestic bird that assisted the transportation of the Navajo people to their new and current home before settling down and becoming the spectacular feature that can be seen today. Local Chiefs have forbidden access to the peak for fear of disturbance.

Shiprock, a sacred mountain to the Navajo people, is off Route 666.

Shiprock, a sacred mountain to the Navajo people, is off Route 666.

Navajo Warn of Skinwalkers

Down the years, the road has seen its fair share of fatal and nonfatal accidents involving traffic of all shapes and sizes. Every single time that such an accident took place, blame or cause would always come back to the naming of the road. More obvious factors such as human error, the climate, speeding or DUI have little or no bearing on whatever happened.

It isn’t just motorists that consider something paranormal at work. The aforementioned Navajo firmly believe that legends such as Skinwalkers inhabit more desolate parts of the infamous stretch of road, appearing out of nowhere in front of oncoming traffic. At times a warning not to proceed is issued and a Shaman would be summoned to take the life and capture the soul of those that choose to ignore these warnings.

Patrolled by Hell Hounds

Skinwalkers are not the only concern. Hell hounds allegedly patrol remote regions of the road, often in packs. Witnesses have claimed that hell hounds have kept pace with the vehicles that they were traveling in, irrespective of the speed of the vehicle. Legend has it that these supernatural beasts have the ability to shred tires with either their teeth or sharp claws or even enter moving vehicles and maul the driver and/or any passengers.

route 666 devil's highway

Route 666 sign in Gallup, NM

Haunted Semi-Trucks

Problems on this road and not just limited to drivers or their passengers. The vehicles themselves are also highly susceptible to the horrors that traveling this route can possess. Mechanical failures are a common phenomenon. Overheating, breakdowns or even flat tires are all the fault of the curse given to the lonely stretch of road. Such things have been known to occur, but on Highway 666, it’s the haunted semi-truck that deliberately attempts to collide with motorists or run them off the road. There are reports of numerous near misses.

A Girl in a White Dress

Surely one of the most famous of all the reported activity along this road has to be the girl in a white dress. A typical event would have a driver notice a young woman in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Once the driver stops to offer assistance, the girl vanishes into thin air.

Strange Disappearances on the Devil’s Highway

There are claims that the drivers themselves also disappear into thin air. Occasionally personal property or a part of the vehicle are found. This isn’t always the case, however. A percentage of those who disappear continue to remain missing. Other drivers are more fortunate. While they do have claims of disappearing en route, they have added that they no recollection of how or when they got to their destination. Lateness in these instances varies from several minutes to hours or even days. Drivers believe their journey has taken longer than expected, especially when compared to similar journeys taken at other times by other people. No rational explanation has been provided.

A Name Change to U.S Route 491

Public pressure and lobbying from specific members of the community led to the eventual change in the naming of Route 666 in 2003. Now known as US Route 491, reports have significantly dropped. Strange things do still occur along the highway. Many are still adamant that they will not travel along it overnight.

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