WESTBOUND ON ORIGINAL PAVEMENT (Rt 66 nr Clinton OK)WESTBOUND ON ORIGINAL PAVEMENT (Rt 66 nr Clinton OK)Late-day sun is hidden behind an interesting sky as an Oklahoma highway maintenance truck heads down narrow 80-year-old concrete still in great shape.

                   

(Above):  An Oklahoma Highway Department truck heads west on 80-year-old original pink concrete of Route 66 outside Clinton OK.

 

 

TRAVEL Copyright © www.rt66pix.com

 

TRIP PLANNING INFORMATION FOLLOWS THE WEBSITES.  JUST SCROLL WAY DOWN TO THE NEXT PHOTOGRAPH.

You are welcome to link to this copyrighted material, or quote from it with credit to www.rt66pix.com. 

 

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WEBSITES

 

Many of these will guide you to others.  A Blog entry or photo caption may contain additional information about anything here.   

 

ATTRACTIONS BY STATE

The first listing is a Route 66 Association, the second a general tourism website.  Individual businesses are listed if they appear in images, have general interest, and/or a Route 66 history.  An official website is listed if one exists.  Some museums etc. charge admission.  Some businesses and attractions are seasonal, and many are closed on Sundays.  The list runs east-to-west including within states. 

Each "Day" listed is for a 2-week Route 66 trip outline.  See "Trip Planning" below.  

 

ILLINOIS   www.ilassoc.org   www.enjoyillinois.com

Sears Tower (now Willis Tower), Chicago  www.theskydeck.com 

Standard Gas Station, Odell  www.il66redcarpetcorridor.org  Day 1

Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac  www.visitpontiac.org  Day 1

Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup, Funks Grove  www.funkspuremaplesirup.com  Day 1

Shea's Gas Station Museum, Springfield  www.oldgas.com/info/sheasroute66.html  Day 1

Soulsby's Station, Mount Olive  www.cruisinwithollie.org/66.htm  Day 2

Henry's Rabbit Ranch, Staunton  www.henrysroute66.com  Day 2

Luna Cafe, Mitchell  www.illinoisroute66.org/luna-cafe  Day 2

Chain of Rocks Bridge (IL-MO)  www.trailnet.org   (Hours 9AM or earlier to dusk)  Day 2

 

MISSOURI  www.missouri66.org   www.visitmo.com

Gateway Arch, St. Louis  www.stlouisarch.com  (Not on 66)

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis  www.teddrewes.com  Day 3

Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba  www.wagonwheel66cuba.com  Day 3 

John's Modern Cabins, nr Arlington  www.jmcnews.com  Day 3 

Devils Elbow area  www.theroadwanderer.net/66missouri/elbow.htm  Day 3

Munger Moss Motel, Lebanon  www.mungermoss.com  Day 3 

Rest Haven Court, Springfield  (No official website.  Phone: 417 869-9114)  Day 3

Gay Parita Station, Paris Springs  www.garysgayparita.com  Day 4



KANSAS  www.ksrt66association.us   www.travelks.com  

Cars on the Route, Galena   www.facebook.com/CarsOnTheRoute  Day 4

Welcome Center, Baxter Springs  www.kansastravel.org/route66d.htm  Day 4



OKLAHOMA  www.oklahomaroute66.com   www.travelok.com

Coleman Theatre, Miami  www.colemantheatre.org  (NOTE: re)  Day 4 

Afton Station, Afton  www.postcardsfromtheroad.net/afton  Day 4

Blue Whale, Catoosa  www.bluewhaleroute66.com  (Hours 8A-dark)  Day 4 or 5

Town of Depew  www.depewoklahoma.com  (Inactive)  Day 5 

Route 66 Interpretive Center, Chandler  www.route66interpretivecenter.org  Day 5 

Round Barn, Arcadia  www.thearcadiaroundbarn.com  Day 5 

POPS, Arcadia  www.pops66.com  Day 5 

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton  www.route66.org  Day 6

National Route 66 Museum, Elk City  www.elkcity.com  Day 6

      
 

TEXAS  www.mockturtlepress.com/texas    www.traveltex.com

U-Drop Inn & Tower Station, Shamrock   www.shamrockedc.org  Day 6 

Devil's Rope Museum, McLean  www.barbedwiremuseum.com  Day 7

VW Bug Ranch, Conway  (No official website.  Free, accessible 24 hours every day.  North of Rt 66, I-40 Exit 96, Southwest corner.)  Day 7

Big Texan Steakhouse, Amarillo  www.bigtexan.com   Day 7

Cadillac Ranch  www.libertysoftware.be.cml.cadillacranch/crmain/htm   (Free, accessible 24 hours every day.)  Day 7



NEW MEXICO  www.rt66nm.org   www.newmexico.org

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari   www.blueswallowmotel.com  Day 7

Motel Safari, Tucumcari  www.themotelsafari.com  Day 7

Teepee (or TeePee) Curios, Tucumcari  www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM1AFO_TeePee-Curios  Day 7 

Route 66 Auto Museum, Santa Rosa   www.route66automuseum.com  Day 8

Santa Fe (General Tourism Information)  www.santafe.org  Day 8/9

Silver Saddle Motel, Santa Fe  www.santafesilversaddlemotel.com  Day 8

Albuquerque (General Tourism Information)  www.itsatrip.org  Day 9

Hiway House Motel, Albuquerque  www.hiwayhousemotel.com  Day 9

Monterey Non-Smokers Motel, Albuquerque  www.nonsmokersmotel.com  Day 9 



ARIZONA  www.azrt66.com   www.arizonaguide.com

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook   www.sleepinawigwam.com  Day 10

Jackrabbit Trading Post, Joseph City  www.jackrabbit-tradingpost.com  Day 11

Standin' on a Corner Park, Winslow  www.standinonthecorner.com  Day 11

Flagstaff (General Tourism Information)  www.flagstaffarizona.org  Day 11

Grand Canyon Railway, Williams  www.thetrain.com  Optional sidetrip

Snow Cap Drive-In, Seligman  www.route66giftshop.com  Day 11

Stagecoach 66 Motel, Seligman  www.stagecoach66motel.com  Day 11

Supai Motel, Seligman  www.supaimotel.com  Day 11

Grand Canyon Caverns, Peach Springs  www.gccaverns.com  Day 12

Hackberry General Store, Hackberry  www.hackberrygeneralstore.com  Day 12

Powerhouse Visitors Center, Kingman  www.kingmantourism.org  Day 12

Oatman (General Tourism Information)  www.oatmangoldroad.org  Day 12

 

CALIFORNIA  www.route66ca.org   www.visitcalifornia.com

Goff's School House  www.mdhca.org  (Odd hours, arrange in advance)  Day 13 

Roy's Cafe, Amboy  www.rt66roy's.com  Day 13

Route 66 Mother Road Museum, Barstow  www.route66museum.org  Day 13

California Route 66 Museum, Victorville  www.califrt66museum.org  Day 14

Santa Monica Pier  www.santamonicapier.org  (Search: Parking)  Day 14 

 

 

CAR COMPARISONS

Free on-line research of prospective rental vehicles. 

www.edmunds.com

www.fueleconomy.gov

 

CAR RENTAL (HIRE) AGENCIES

The American term is "rent."  

www.carhire3000.com  Especially of interest to non-North Americans 

www.orbitz.com  Search tool for several companies

 

CAR SHOWS AND EVENTS

 

www.route66news.com/schedule-of-route-66-events    

 

CLASSIC CARS

Also see the listing above for Car Comparisons.  

www.hemmings.com  Standard reference source.

www.lov2xlr8.no  Classic car literature.  (URL means "Love To Accelerate...Norway")

www.oldcarmanual.com  Sales brochures, owners manuals.

 

CONVERSION TO/FROM METRIC SYSTEM

Gas mileage, gas costs, even tire pressure.  Enter one measurement, out comes another.

www.easysurf.cc  Go to "Metric Conversion" and next "Driving."

 

DRIVE-IN THEATERS

Open at least seasonally on weekend nights:

Route 66 Drive-In, Springfield IL:  www.route66-drivein.com

Sky View Drive-In, Litchfield IL:  www.litchfieldskyview.com

66 Drive-In Theatre, Carthage MO:  www.66drivein.com

Admiral Twin Drive-In, Tulsa OK:  www.drive-ins.com/theater/oktadmi

NOT on 66, but very close:

19 Drive-In, Cuba MO:  www.drive-ins.com/theater/mot19dr

Skyline Drive-In, Barstow CA:  www.drive-ins.com/theater/catskyl

 

GASOLINE PRICES

www.gasbuddy.com   Information furnished by travelers.  Type in a city and state for current/recent prices.  Also useful for estimating before you go. 

 

GUIDEBOOK

www.national66.org   EZ66 Guide (4th Edition, 2015) by Jerry McClanahan.  

 

MOTELS (CLASSIC)

www.route66motels.com  Recommended lodging, phone numbers etc.

 

MOTORCYCLES

www.michaelsmotorcycles.com   Motorcycle museum on Rt 66 in St. Louis MO

www.route66vintageiron.com   Motorcycle museum in Miami OK

www.seabastation.com   Motorcycle museum in Warwick OK

 

NEWS ETC. 

www.legendsofamerica.com  History, travel and background information 

www.motelamericana.com  Classic motels reference site (not for reservations).

www.route66magazine.com  A printed magazine, published 4-times a year.

www.route66news.com  A digest of daily happenings along the road.

www.route66university.com  Travel and background information.

 

RV INFO

www.freecampgrounds.com

www.roamingtimes.com

www.rvbasics.com

www.trailerlifedirectory.com

www.walmartatlas.com  Walmart allows all-night RV parking except where prohibited by local ordinance.

 

WEATHER

www.shootingonlocation.com  Photography-related weather information including hours of daylight, plus sunrise/sunset times.  Registration/membership is not needed.  Scroll down to "United States" and select state(s). 

www.weather.gov  US-government website.   Short and long-range forecasts, plus seasonal conditions for cities en route.

 

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                                PRIUS AND RT 66 SIGN (Rt 66 nr Endee NM)PRIUS AND RT 66 SIGN (Rt 66 nr Endee NM)

                                    

(Above):  Hybrid car on Dirt 66 near Endee NM.  A paved option exists if there's bad weather on your trip.

 

 

TRIP PLANNING

 

This section is written largely for first-time Route 66 travelers, especially those from outside North America.  What-to-see information is available through websites above.  But 66 also has much more--including ruins and fascinating bypassed sections.  Also see the Blog for "Route 66: A Religious Experience." 

ESSENTIAL REFERENCES

Save time, effort and frustration during planning and travel with Jerry McClanahan's EZ66 Guide (4th Edition).  It's listed above under "Guidebook" and available through the publisher (or Amazon) for about $20.  The 200+ spiral-bound pages have detailed maps.  A solid review of a previous edition is at www.markshangout.com/blog/2011/4/22/ez66-guide-for-travelers.html.   

A US road atlas may guide you to a motel or restaurant away from 66, which is generally not shown.  State road maps are better, and free.

US distances are shown in miles: 1 km = 0.621 miles.  An easier approximation: 5 km = 3 miles.  (A mile is 61% longer than a kilometer.)  

You cannot rely on Rt 66 signs and stencils!  Sign placement is very spotty with important turns missing.  Signs and stencils are useful only for reassurance (and photos).   

A complete Route 66 vacation (holiday) outline is below, following the next photograph.  

 

 

QUICK HISTORY

 

Route 66 is a 2450 mile (3950 km) time-capsule-and-adventure stretching from Chicago IL in the Midwest, to Santa Monica CA on the Pacific Ocean just past Los Angeles.  It never was a coast-to-coast highway. 

Rt 66 heads Southwest across IL (Illinois), MO (Missouri), KS (Kansas), and OK (Oklahoma).  Then it goes West into TX (Texas), NM (New Mexico), AZ (Arizona), and finally CA (California).  These standard abbreviations are used throughout this site.  The odd loops in NM are older sections bypassed in the 1930s. 

                                                   

The number 66 was assigned in 1926, the era of the Model-T.  Paving was finally complete by 1938 when it was "the Mother Road" for Dust Bowl refugees heading to CA.  World War Two brought heavy military use.  Then, Route 66 became the vacation route of newly-prosperous Americans driving made-in-Detroit cars with V8 engines and fins.  It's hard to work up much nostalgia about the 1930s or 40s...so the 50s, 60s and (increasingly) the 70s get all the attention. 

Turnpikes and Interstate highways replaced Rt 66 in segments from 1953 to 1984. 

THE NAME

The popular terms are Rt 66 and Route 66 (pronounced ROOT).  Only foreigners use R or Rte.  Technically, the name was US Highway 66.  There is no connection with Interstate highway 66 (abbreviated I-66) which goes from Washington DC into Virginia.

ROUTE 66 REBORN

Today, the old road has found new life and new meaning as a historic and scenic route.  It reminds us how America looked generations ago--with some shiny new air-conditioned attractions added. 

Route 66 takes you to small towns like Albatross, Funks Grove and Hackberry...past ruins of failed gas stations and cafes...and rusted cars with long-ago names like Studebaker, Hudson and Nash.

Most of Route 66 can still be driven--sometimes on original 1920s or 30s concrete, asphalt or even brick!  (All images on this site were taken after the year 2000.)

Route 66 is real America...real close.  Just outside your windshield.

 

 

WEATHER AND BEST TIMES

 

Route 66 is highly seasonal.  Peak travel is from May to September...the Northern Hemisphere summer.  May-June and September are "Goldilocks" times--not too hot and not too cold--when everything will likely be open. 

The summer includes car shows and drive-in movies, and no Route 66 trip is complete without them.  See listings for "Car Shows" and "Drive-Ins" above.  Both are generally weekends only.  

TORNADOES

These violent rotating air columns can accompany heavy thunderstorms.  They can occur from the NM/TX line to IL and are most common from March-June. 

Radio and TV stations are linked to the National Weather Service.  Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm "Watches" and "Warnings" are issued by counties--not shown in the EZ66 Guide but pictured in a good Road Atlas or official state map. 

You can get a generalized outlook the night before at your motel through www.weather.gov or The Weather Channel on TV.  Also see caption notes about tornado dangers unique to Pops in Arcadia OK.

SUMMER HEAT

The peak of summer, especially July and August, can be uncomfortably hot from OK westward to just before Los Angeles.  Areas around Flagstaff AZ and Santa Fe NM are exceptions--they're at or above 7000 ft, 2135 m altitude. 

Typical daytime highs in July-August run 93F, 34C in Oklahoma City; 89F, 32C in Amarillo TX; and a whopping 109F, 43C in Needles CA.  Some years are hotter--the record for Needles is 125F, 53C set in July 2005.  And that entire long stretch from, say, Kingman AZ to past Barstow CA (250 m, 400 km) can be intense. 

The heat should not be underestimated if you are, say, from northern Europe.  The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK is 38.5C, and in Germany 40C--both much cooler than the 43C on a typical summer day in Needles. 

DAYLIGHT 

All that sun makes for long days.  At the Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo you get 14.5 hours of daylight at the peak in June, and 15 hours at the northern-most point on Route 66: Chicago. 

www.shootingonlocation.com has information for cities en route and is also listed above.

WINTER

Some attractions close or may have reduced hours from perhaps October to March.  This information constantly changes, so use the websites above to check.

Year-to-year temperature and snowfall variations along the entire route can be extreme.  And the days are much shorter.  Snow and cold are routine from December-March except for CA.  Because of high elevation, Flagstaff AZ receives 100 inches (2.5 meters) of snow in a typical year and only May-September are generally snow-free.  

However, finding food or motels won't be a problem because places along the Interstates are still operating.  

During and after a significant snowfall across the Western US, the Interstate may be closed--with gates blocking entrance ramps--until pavement is plowed.  And 66 won't get cleared until later.  Make a "Plan B" for any winter travel.  Rear-wheel drive vehicles should be avoided.  Front-wheel will help with traction in light snow.  Beyond that, four-wheel (or all-wheel) is the way to go.    

RECOMMENDATION

The best time is late May or early June.  Snow is gone, days are warm (but not hot), and over 14 hours long--a few minutes shy of the peak around June 20th.   September is the second pick.  Temperatures are again moderating--but there's a greater loss of daylight than in May-June.  You are also more likely to find desired motel accommodations than in the peak of summer, which is the third pick.      

 

 

WHEELS ETC.

 

LICENSE TO DRIVE

Beside a valid driver's license issued by your home country--you may need an IDP or "International Driving Permit," basically a translation of your license into other languages.  People from the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not need the IDP.

Check with the US Embassy or Consulate in your home country if unsure.  If needed, the IDP must be obtained before your trip.  And then you're legal in all 50 states.  The US government website www.usa.gov has background information.  Type in "Foreign Visitors Driving" to the search box.  The IDP is NOT issued by the US after you arrive.  

THE SUPERSLABS 

The Interstates get all the big trucks, plus food and motel options abound at exits--sometimes very near Rt 66.  If necessary, the Interstates can shorten a leg of your trip.

Tolls are charged on the two Turnpikes which are also Interstate 44 in eastern OK.  If you need to use them, you will need cash, not credit cards.  However I-44 is free through the Tulsa metro area.  And all other Interstates that replaced Route 66 are free.

PAVEMENT ON RT 66

Some Route 66 pavement is original--one of the reasons for making the trip.  This includes brick laid down before Route 66 was named, plus narrow concrete and asphalt from the 1920s and 30s.  In many sections especially through western OK and TX you are actually on concrete used by Dust Bowl refugees...and folks a generation later in their shiny finned fantasies.

Pavement varies from "narrow-but-excellent" to "rough-and-getting-rougher."  One example of pristine pavement is at the very top of this page.  Bypassed sections with weeds and crumbling pavement can frequently be explored in an ordinary car. 

There is about 20 miles of real mountain driving around Oatman in Western AZ.  The road is well-maintained blacktop with stone barriers at critical points.  It should NOT be attempted after-dark, and Oatman has no motels. 

A few optional sections are unpaved--but a paved alternate is nearby.  One unpaved section stretches 18 miles (30 km) from the TX line at Glenrio to just east of San Jon NM.  A typical scene from "Dirt 66" is shown above.  The road is used by the Postal Service, a school bus and locals.    

Another bypassed section called "La Bajada" between Albuquerque and Santa Fe NM is a long-abandoned primitive stretch available for high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles...and hikers.  Route 66 follows the Interstate through this area.  

WHAT TO DRIVE

An ordinary car, either front or rear-wheel drive, is all you need in the warm months.  An SUV or 4-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary.  (Off-roading is not an integral part of the Route 66 experience.)

In winter, front-wheel drive is essential and four-wheel drive is highly recommended.

Most everything is gasoline (petrol) powered, diesel is limited to trucks and buses/RVs.  Nearly everything has automatic transmission, except for some sports cars.

Convertibles are in limited supply, so book well ahead.  (And note typical summertime temperatures above!)  A Corvette or other low-clearance vehicle may limit exploring of bypassed sections.  "Classic" cars generally cannot be rented for such a long trip...but if you have $7,500 check out www.blacktopcandys.com.   

RENTING (HIRING) A VEHICLE

The website listing for Car Rental Agencies shows the largest nationwide firms.  Many have airport facilities, others are nearby with shuttle bus service.  You can rent at, say, Chicago's O'Hare Airport...drive all of 66...and leave the vehicle at Los Angeles International.  Higher rates or special conditions may apply to drivers under age 25, and some high-performance vehicles will be off-limits. 

Operating costs are MPG = Miles per Gallon.  The best is around 50 MPG (21 km/liter) in a hybrid Toyota Prius.  35 MPG or so (15 km/liter) means a family hauler like a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.  A big SUV (Sport-Utility Vehicle) can be around 20 MPG (8.5 km/liter) or lower.  

A smaller lighter vehicle isn't always easier on fuel!  The larger Camry gets slightly better highway mileage than the Toyota Corolla, both non-hybrids with automatic transmissions.  Check www.fueleconomy.gov (also listed above). 

Air conditioning is standard equipment.  But its use in a compact or small hybrid will significantly lower the mileage.  So will a trunk full of luggage.  And the smaller engine may struggle in mountain driving of western AZ.

One-way rentals are much more expensive...but the alternative isn't appealing either.  It's 2020 Interstate miles (3250 km) from Chicago to Los Angeles via the shortest route--Omaha, Denver and Las Vegas--frequently dicey in winter.  Bringing a 40 MPG car back from the other end of Route 66 means two 17-hour days (4AM-9PM) of Interstate driving.  Figure in gas and fast food and you're out $200 with fuel at $3, $250 at $4, etc.  Motel costs are additional.  Also make sure you aren't penalized for those extra miles!      

 

 

MONEY, FUEL, FOOD AND LODGING

 

CASH OR PLASTIC?

The most convenient way to pay is with a credit card.  MasterCard and Visa are universally used, Discover and American Express are widely accepted.  This card can also be used before your trip to reserve motel rooms.  Debit cards work in some cases but not others. 

Gasoline pumps include built-in card readers in all but the most remote locations.  Even then, cards are generally accepted.  (Note a special consideration for non-Americans in "Fuel" below.) 

Cards are universally accepted for food purchases.   Even a $2 transaction is best handled this way in most places.

For fraud prevention, many card issuers now require you notify them by phone before out-of-state or out-of-country trips.

If you are coming from outside North America, check well ahead of time with your bank or card issuer to insure that its card will work in the US.  New technology is being rolled out at different rates.  And fees can be onerous, on a percentage basis, for small cash transactions. 

In a handful of cases, gift shops or smaller restaurants may not accept cards.  So having a limited amount of cash--perhaps $100--is a good idea.  $20 bills are ideal.  $50 and $100 bills should be avoided--along with travelers checks.  ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) typically dispense $20s and are widely available at banks, supermarkets, etc.   ATMs are close-by at every suggested nightly stop.    

FUEL

Gasoline (petrol) is a standard commodity, widely available even in the desert stretches.  Most vehicles use "Unleaded Regular," "Unleaded" or "Regular" which is all the same thing and may be abbreviated "UNL" or "REG" on signage.  (Leaded gasoline is no longer sold.)

Diesel is less available unless the Interstate is nearby.  Some newer gasoline pumps also include a separate hose and nozzle for diesel or E85, a special ethanol fuel.  Make sure you've got the right one!

Because of state taxes and other factors, fuel prices are relatively high in IL and highest in CA (but still cheap by European standards).  The IL-MO difference is routinely at least 10%, and the AZ-CA gap has been $1.50 a gallon.  So cruise into St. Louis MO on fumes, and top off your tank in Kingman AZ before venturing into CA.  Nightly motel stops shown below will generally offer the best chance for filling up.  But on most days you won't need to.

Fuel is not one of the bigger costs--but you can estimate a fuel budget, and check out places to fill-up en route through the free website www.gasbuddy.com also indexed above. 

(Note for non-Americans):  Gasoline pumps with card readers are increasingly adding a security feature: "Enter ZIP Code" before allowing a credit card purchase.  The best solution is to pull up to the pump, and bring the card inside with your picture ID.  A clerk can run the transaction from there.   

FOOD 

Fast food places (hamburgers, fried chicken, french fried potatoes and soft drinks) are often combined with gas stations.  The two largest US chains, Subway and McDonald's, do have healthy options.  These include egg-white breakfasts, salads and selected sandwiches at Subway, plus some breakfast and salad choices at McDonald's.  Both have nutritional information on-line.

You won't go hungry anywhere on Route 66!  Beside the fast food operators, there are many unique small-town restaurants.  The curb appeal says a lot.  Also take note of how many locals are inside.

Drinks and desserts enjoy high prices and profit margins--know the cost before you automatically order them.  After a reasonably-priced lunch, a slice of pie can be an additional $4.95, almost doubling the bill.  (This is a real-world example from Route 66 in 2012.)

Consuming instant coffee, breakfast bars, self-made sandwiches, carrots, apples etc. would cost less than $5. a day.

WATER, COFFEE AND TEA

If you go in the recommended times, you will consume quite a bit of water.  This will increase as you head west, especially if you are physically active in the sun.  

An inexpensive one or two-gallon insulated water jug may pay for itself on the trip.  Motels have tap water and many offer free ice.  In stores a small chilled bottle can be $3.50! 

Packing granola bars, water and a Thermos of coffee is recommended.  You stand an excellent chance of getting stale coffee from 10AM onward.  Hot tea is almost unknown. 

LODGING

Trip plans below mention classic Route 66 motels when possible.  The site listed above under "Motels (Classic)" has more information plus options in other cities.

All rooms have heat, air conditioning, and an adjoining private bathroom with sink, toilet and bathtub (or shower).  Soap, towels and toilet paper are provided.

Breakfast may be furnished, it varies widely.  Check beforehand.

Among motel chains, the cheapest with a national reservation system and a widespread nearby Interstate presence is Motel 6.  It's usually a clean spartan room with a bed, toilet, tub or shower.  In a December 2011 spot check, the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari NM cost $18. more than the Motel 6 ($50 vs. $32).  The upscale Hampton Inn, at $99, was nearly double.   

Motel pricing can fluctuate almost like airfares, and these are merely three data points.  But you can enjoy a classic Route 66 motel (with free neon) for slightly more than a basic room.  You can also easily pay twice as much.

Reservations are strongly recommended, especially for Shamrock TX and Tucumcari NM, plus non-smoking rooms anywhere.

With an unfamiliar motel, inspect the actual room BEFORE paying.  If they refuse, walk out. 

WIFI

Wireless Internet access is widespread even in small towns.  Motels, McDonald's, public libraries, and Interstate Travel Centers should have it.  But it's not universal and there may be a purchase requirement.

 

 

CRIME AND/OR EVIL

 

Some urban stretches have decayed greatly in 50+ years since 66 was bypassed.  Abandoned motels, Gas-n-GONERS, and rusting neon mean you must be aware of your surroundings, especially after dark.

Chicago's downtown Loop area is okay, but a growing epidemic of gang and drug-related gun violence, often with random victims, makes traveling the 4 mile (6.5 km) Ogden Avenue segment unwise.  Ogden goes right across a zone, North Lawndale, tied for Chicago's second-highest violent crime rate out of 77 districts.  It had 282 shooting victims in 2016, peaking in summer.  With that risk comes little scenic reward--this grim stretch has only one minor site of note, the former Castle Car Wash (images are in the Rt 66 ILLINOIS gallery).

Instead, here's an easy detour that adds 4 miles to the trip:  From downtown, take Michigan Avenue South to I-55 South (Stevenson Expressway).  Then I-55 South for 6 miles to Exit 286.  North on Cicero Ave (Hwy 50) for 1.5 miles, then West on Ogden Avenue in the suburb of Cicero.  This puts you back on the historic alignment of Rt 66 in a safer although still urbanized area.  This will be okay at most times but very congested weekday afternoons 4-7 PM. (Source data and current info:  http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/shootings/  and WBBM-780 AM radio while driving.  Also note that detouring via I-290 West should be avoided--that zone has Chicago's highest violent crime rate.)

In St. Louis, alignments of 66 are various, confusing, and not very interesting.  There's high crime as well.  Urban St. Louis can simply be avoided, except for perhaps the Gateway Arch downtown and a dessert at Ted Drewes--both in okay areas.   

At the (Old) Chain of Rocks and McKinley Bridges, park only in free provided lots on the IL side.  Chain of Rocks is closed to traffic and can be lonely in off-hours, including weekday mornings.  (McKinley carries traffic.) 

Tulsa and Albuquerque are big enough to have blight along scattered parts of 66.  In and around Los Angeles, 66 goes through areas ranging from okay to posh. 

Lock your vehicle with windows completely up.  Hide camera cases, purses, luggage etc. in the trunk.  Don't park in poorly-lit areas.  You can be victimized outside a nice restaurant, or in the parking lot of an upscale motel.

Prostitution is illegal in the US except in parts of Nevada (which is not on Route 66). 

If you encounter problems, 9-1-1 phone service is universal.  

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHY EN ROUTE

 

Attorney and photographer Bert Krages offers an excellent one-page summary "The Photographer's Law" (available for your printing) from his website www.krages.com.  To quote him briefly:  "The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place...(B)asically anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy." 

Note this is unlike laws in France, Hungary and some other countries.  (The "Street Snaps" gallery demonstrates what is legal in the US.) 

Trespass laws vary somewhat by state.  As a general rule, if a building, ruin or property is posted with "No Trespassing" signs or fenced off, it's illegal to enter.  If you stay on a sidewalk, shoulder, ditch or grass outside the fence-line ("Public Right of Way") then photography of that scene is legal, as noted above.    

 

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                                 COLD BEER-WEST WALL (Rt 66 Montoya NM)COLD BEER-WEST WALL (Rt 66 Montoya NM)

                                     

(Above):  A favorite Route 66 spot featured in several images on this site: ruins of Montoya NM at sunset.

 

 

TWO-WEEK ROUTE 66 TRIP

 

You can drive Route 66 in a week.  But seeing it is another matter entirely and takes at least twice as long.

So here's a scenario that fits conveniently into a two-week vacation.  Including the adjoining weekends this is 16 days.  Subtract a day at either end for flying and you have 14 days available for Route 66 travel. 

A typical first-time tourist can make--and enjoy--this trip in May-September when daylight ranges from 12 to 14.5 hours.  Stops of general interest are listed each day.  Explore them beforehand through their websites above. 

On days when there is more to see, there is less to drive.  No day is devoted to merely "getting there" because they average 160 miles, 255 km.   The longest is just 230 miles, 370 km.   This outline was planned around the nightly stops, and can be used going either way. 

It can easily be modified or extended.  (Branson MO and the Grand Canyon AZ are each within an hour of Rt 66, and Las Vegas NV is within 2-hours.)

All nightly stops will put you in a city with a choice of restaurants.  You will also have motel options from basic to mid-range, or higher.  On many nights you can enjoy a classic motel with neon...or even a teepee. 

 

TWO WEEKS ON ROUTE 66

 

Day 1:   Chicago to Springfield IL  (200 m, 320 km)  Standard station/Odell, Rt 66 Hall of Fame & Museum/Pontiac, Funks Grove, Shea's Gas Station Museum/Springfield.

Day 2:   Springfield IL to St. Louis MO  (165 m, 265 km)  Includes both routings of 66 Springfield to Staunton, plus time for walking the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  Soulsby's Station/Mt. Olive, Henry's Ra66it Ranch/Staunton, Luna Cafe neon/Mitchell, Chain of Rocks Bridge/IL-MO.

Day 3:   St. Louis to Springfield MO (200 m, 320 km)  Overnight at the classic Rest Haven Court.  Ted Drewes/St. Louis, Wagon Wheel Motel & murals/Cuba, John's Modern Cabins/nr Arlington, Devil's Elbow area, Munger Moss neon/Lebanon, Rest Haven neon/Springfield. 

Day 4:   Springfield MO to Tulsa OK  (210 m, 340 km)  Gay Parita Station/Paris Springs, Cars on the Route/Galena KS, Marsh Arch Bridge/nr Baxter Springs, Coleman Theatre/Miami OK, Sidewalk Highway/Narcissa-Afton, Afton Station/Afton, Blue Whale/Catoosa (or Day 5), Tulsa.

Day 5:   Tulsa to Oklahoma City  (125 m, 200 km)  Blue Whale/Catoosa, Art Deco buildings/Tulsa, The Original "Radiator Springs"/Depew, Rt 66 Interpretive Center/Chandler, Round Barn/Arcadia, Pops/Arcadia (at nightfall).

Day 6:   Oklahoma City to Shamrock TX  (170 m, 270 km)  Lucille's/Hydro, Oklahoma Rt 66 Museum/Clinton, National Rt 66 Museum/Elk City, U-Drop Inn + Tower Station/Shamrock, Magnolia gas station/Shamrock.  (NOTE: Only 500+ rooms--make reservations!  Backup: Amarillo 90 m, 145 km, then backtrack.)

Day 7:   Shamrock to Tucumcari NM  (205 m, 330 km) Overnight at the classic Blue Swallow Motel (NOTE: Only 12 rooms) or the classic Motel Safari.  Devil's Rope Museum/McLean, VW Bug Ranch/Conway, Cadillac Ranch/Amarillo, near-ghost town/Glenrio, neon/Tucumcari.

Day 8:   Tucumcari to Santa Rosa then Santa Fe NM  (175 m, 280 km)  Overnight at the classic Silver Saddle Motel.  Ruins/Montoya, ruins/Newkirk, Cuervo Cutoff, Rt 66 Auto Museum/Santa Rosa, architecture/Santa Fe.

Day 9:   Santa Fe to Albuquerque NM  (60 m, 95 km)  Overnight at the classic Monterey Non-Smokers Motel, classic Hiway House Motel or possibly others.  (NOTE: See "Crime" section.)  architecture/Santa Fe, view/hike La Bajada, architecture-neon/Albuquerque.

Day 10:  Albuquerque to Holbrook AZ  (230 m, 370 km)  Overnight at the classic Wigwam Motel.

Day 11:  Holbrook to Seligman AZ  (165 m, 260 km)  Overnight at the classic Stagecoach 66 Motel or classic Supai Motel.  Jackrabbit Trading Post/Joseph City, Standin' On a Corner Park/Winslow, Snow-Cap Drive-In/Seligman.

Day 12:  Seligman to Needles CA  (160 m, 255 km)  Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs, Hackberry General Store/Hackberry, Powerhouse Visitor Center/Kingman, restored mining town/Oatman. 

Day 13:  Needles to Barstow CA  (160 m, 255 km)  Goff's Schoolhouse complex/Goffs, Roy's Cafe/Amboy, Rt 66 Mother Road Museum/Barstow.

Day 14:  Barstow to Los Angeles and Santa Monica  (155 m, 250 km)  California Route 66 Museum/Victorville, Pier/Santa Monica.

Add a day either side for flying to Chicago, and from LA back home--and it's a full two-weeks. 

 

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NATIONAL ROAD COMPANION TRIP

 

The National Road (or Cumberland Road) is the route settlers in the early 1800s used to reach the wilderness that became the Midwest.  In a sense, it was America's first interstate highway.  This can make a nice addition to a Route 66 trip, giving you a taste of American travel across two centuries.

The road is now generally called U.S. 40.  The starting point can be either Baltimore or Cumberland MD, two-hours to the west.  States en route are MD (Maryland), PA (Pennsylvania), WV (West Virginia), OH (Ohio), IN (Indiana) and IL (Illinois).   

The National Road twists crossing the mountains, then heads almost straight west from Wheeling WV to Vandalia IL.  From Vandalia, where the National Road officially ends, Route 66 is less than an hour away!

                                                    

 

History and scenery on the National Road are front-end loaded.  Wheeling WV is a time-capsule place with a great bridge worth planning a night around. 

Attractions are far fewer west of Columbus OH, although US 40 is pleasant and goes through countless little towns.  I-70 is also conveniently nearby if you want to make up time.  Columbus to Vandalia is 350 miles, 560 km. 

Allow at least three full days for a National Road trip starting in Baltimore or Cumberland MD, with nights in Wheeling WV, Columbus OH and Edwardsville IL (population 25,000) or a city nearby.  There are national chain motel options each night.

Then you're in position the following morning to pick up Route 66 around Edwardsville, and head North to Springfield IL on one of the two routings 66 took over the years.

Later, coming back from Chicago, take the other routing of 66 from Springfield IL south--and you won't have missed a thing.

On-line resources for the National Road include:

www.route40.net

www.marylandnationalroad.org

www.nationalroadpa.org

www.wvcommerce.org

www.wheelingcvb.com  (Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau)

www.ohionationalroad.org

www.indiananationalroad.org

www.nationalroad.org   (State group in Illinois)

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LINCOLN HIGHWAY

 

An interactive map of the 1913-1926 New York City to San Francisco highway is available at www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/map  

 

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