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 PLANS APPEAR BELOW THE WEBSITES. JUST SCROLL WAY DOWN TO THE NEXT IMAGE.
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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. 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.
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.funksmaplesirup.org Day 1
Shea's Gas Station Museum, Springfield www.oldgas.com/info/sheasroute66.htm 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
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.oldroute66.us/MO/mo120010.htm 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
Four Women on the Route, Galena (No official website. Closed in winter, but the truck Tow Tater remains outside.) Day 4
Welcome Center, Baxter Springs www.kansastravel.org/route66d.htm Day 4
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
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
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
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
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
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
Free on-line research of prospective rental vehicles.
CAR RENTAL (HIRE) AGENCIES
The American term is "rent." Some large operators, in alphabetical order.
www.carhire3000.com Especially of interest to non-North Americans
www.orbitz.com Search tool for several companies
CAR SHOWS AND EVENTS
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.
www.torq-o.com Vanished and low-volume makes.
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."
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
www.gasbuddy.com Information furnished by travelers. Type in a city and state for current/recent prices. Also useful for estimating before you go.
www.national66.org EZ66 Guide (3rd Edition) by Jerry McClanahan. Ordered from elsewhere, the ISBN is 978-0970995193.
www.route66motels.com Recommended lodging, phone numbers etc.
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
www.komaradio.com Live streaming Rt 66-era rock-and-roll from Oklahoma City.
www.935chromefm.com Similar music from Tulsa OK.
www.legendsofamerica.com History, travel and background information
www.drivingroute66.com European-based website with Route 66 travel advice.
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.
www.walmartatlas.com Walmart allows all-night RV parking except where prohibited by local ordinance.
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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Hybrid car on Dirt 66 near Endee NM. A paved option exists if there's bad weather on your trip.
(NOTE: I answer specific questions not addressed below in the Forum at www.drivingroute66.com.)
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.
Save time, effort and frustration during planning and travel with Jerry McClanahan's EZ66 Guide (3rd Edition). It's listed above under "Guidebook" and available through the publisher (or Amazon) for under $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. The EZ66 Guide does not have weather information or trip-outlines--but both are furnished below.
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).
Trip plans below offer a complete Route 66 vacation outline, plus three and six-day sampler trips. Every day includes time to explore and discover. They average just 160 miles (255 km).
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 fascinating older sections bypassed by a straight-across route 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 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 generally extends from May to September...the Northern Hemisphere summer. May-June and the month of September are the "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.
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 utilize the National Weather Service for timely warnings. You can get a generalized outlook the night before at your motel through the NWS site www.weather.gov or The Weather Channel on TV.
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.
All that sun makes for some long days. At the Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo you get 14.5 hours worth 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.
Some attractions close or may have reduced hours from perhaps October to March. This information constantly changes, so use the websites above to check.
Snow and cold are routine from December-March across the entire route, except for CA. Year-to-year temperature and snowfall variations can be extreme. And the days are much shorter. 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.
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. With either choice comes an added bonus: you are more likely to find desired motel accommodations than in the peak of summer, which is the third pick.
LICENSE TO DRIVE
Beside a valid driver's license issued by your home country--you may need an IDP or "International Driving Permit." This is basically a translation of your license into other languages. Check with the US Embassy or Consulate in your home country. 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.
For Canadians, the IDP is not needed. A valid Canadian provincial license is good anywhere in the US.
It's nice to have an Interstate highway close by--especially when (A) you get to enjoy Route 66 instead (B) the Interstate gets all the big trucks and (C) food and motel options abound at Interstate exits--sometimes just a mile away from 66. If it's absolutely necessary, the Interstates can be used to shorten a leg of your trip. But you will quickly learn the meaning of our T-shirt slogan: "Route 66, Interstate 0."
Tolls are charged on the two Turnpikes which are also Interstate 44 in eastern OK. If you need to use them for some reason, 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 for Route 66 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.
Most everything available is gasoline (petrol) powered, diesel is generally limited to trucks and buses/RVs.
If you are traveling in winter, front-wheel drive is essential and four-wheel drive is highly recommended.
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 8.5 km/liter or lower.
Surprisingly, a smaller lighter vehicle isn't always easier on fuel. The larger Toyota 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 en route is through a credit card (or debit card with the same branding). 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.
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 also universally accepted for food purchases. Even a $2 drink-and-snack transaction is best handled this way in most places.
For fraud prevention, many card issuers now require you notify them by phone before taking 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. Also make sure you are familiar with fees which 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 on hand--perhaps $100--is a good idea. $20 bills are ideal. The next-higher denominations, $50 and $100, should be avoided--along with travelers checks. ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) typically dispense $20s and are widely available at banks, supermarkets, and other locations. ATMs are close-by at every suggested nightly stop.
Gasoline (petrol) is widely available even in the desert stretches. Diesel much less so unless the Interstate is nearby. Because of state taxes and other factors, 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.
Gasoline is a standard commodity. Most vehicles use "Unleaded Regular," "Unleaded" or "Regular." It's all the same, and may be abbreviated as "UNL" or "REG" on signage. (Leaded fuel is no longer available.)
Be aware that many newer gasoline pumps also include a separate hose and nozzle for diesel fuel or E85, a special ethanol fuel. Make sure you've got the right one!
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. This has traveler-furnished current, or recent, prices. A metric conversion calculator for gasoline is at www.easysurf.cc, type in "Metric Conversion" and finally "Driving." Both websites are 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.
Fast food places (generally hamburgers, fried chicken, french fried potatoes and soft drinks) are often combined with gas stations. The two largest US chains, Subway and McDonald's, offer several 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.)
Doing 66 "on the cheap" with 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 this trip alone. 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. And hot tea is almost unknown.
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 motels have heat, air conditioning, and a private bathroom with sink, toilet and bathtub (or shower). Soap and towels are provided.
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.
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.
Obviously blighted areas of 66, such as Ogden Avenue in Chicago, can be driven safely in daylight. Be cautious if you stop for photos.
In St. Louis, alignments of 66 are various, confusing, and not very interesting. 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. Don't look like a tourist--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."
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 for photography. 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.
The peak-summer months from OK westward have too much sun for decent photography, especially from 9AM to 6PM.
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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 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 are each within an hour of Rt 66, and Las Vegas 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.
And below this are Sampler Trips that can be expanded from three to six days. Just scroll down to the next image.
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, 4 Women 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.
Both Sampler Trips include a sunset stop at Pops in Arcadia OK. Jumping is optional.
SAMPLER TRIPS--THREE TO SIX DAYS
THREE NIGHTS ON THE ROAD. ARRIVE IN TULSA OK, DEPART FROM OKLAHOMA CITY.
This allows time for all three major Oklahoma 66 Museums (all are different). Plus original narrow pink concrete from the 1920s and 30s. And some real touristy-places too.
Day 1: Tulsa to Joplin MO and back (240 m, 380 km round-trip) Sample 66 eastward into KS and then to Joplin MO. Blue Whale/Catoosa, Afton Station/Afton, Sidewalk Highway/Narcissa-Afton, Coleman Theatre/Miami, Marsh Arch Bridge/nr Baxter Springs KS, 4 Women on the Route/Galena. Return to Tulsa by I-44 (toll in OK).
Day 2: Tulsa to Oklahoma City (125 m, 200 km) Art Deco buildings/Tulsa, The Original "Radiator Springs"/Depew, Route 66 Interpretive Center/Chandler, Round Barn/Arcadia, Pops/Arcadia (at nightfall).
Day 3: Oklahoma City to Elk City OK (220 m, 350 km round-trip). Oklahoma City, pink concrete after El Reno, Lucille's/Hydro, Oklahoma Rt 66 Museum/Clinton, National Rt 66 Museum/Elk City. Return to Oklahoma City via I-40 (no toll).
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SIX NIGHTS ON THE ROAD. ARRIVE IN TULSA OK, DEPART FROM ALBUQUERQUE NM.
Along with everything in the Three-Night Tour above, enjoy ghost towns, scenic ruins, vintage neon, the Cadillac Ranch and VW Bug Ranch, prairies and near-deserts, plus classic neon.
SAME AS THREE-NIGHT TOUR ABOVE, but on the third night remain in Elk City OK.
Day 4: Elk City to Amarillo TX (150 m, 240 km) More pink concrete, and the VW Bug Ranch (not widely known) en route.
Day 5: Amarillo to Tucumcari NM (120 m, 190 km) Amarillo, Cadillac Ranch, then 66 (I-40 where necessary) to Glenrio. Dirt 66 to before San Jon, continue on pavement to Tucumcari. The dirt/gravel section should not be attempted in a low-clearance vehicle such as a Corvette, but an ordinary front wheel-drive car will do just fine. Overnight at classic motels like the Blue Swallow (NOTE: Only 12 units) or Motel Safari.
Day 6: Tucumcari to Albuquerque (175 m, 280 km) Ruins of Montoya and Newkirk. Sample the Cuervo Cutoff section for a distance, then carefully turn around. (WARNING: New Mexico's official guide and map indicates the Cuervo Cutoff is still a usable road and it is NOT.) It's 115 m, 180 km from Santa Rosa to the Albuquerque airport--all Interstate (75 mph)--and included in the daily figures above.
1813 Bridge on the National Road near Grantsville MD photographed just after daybreak.
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 National Road has its own gallery on this site.)
If you're coming in from overseas, fly in to Washington DC or Baltimore MD. The starting point for the road trip can be either Baltimore or Cumberland MD, two-hours to the west. The states en route are MD (Maryland), PA (Pennsylvania), WV (West Virginia), OH (Ohio), IN (Indiana) and IL (Illinois).
There are many fascinating loops and cut-off sections of the National Road, with steep terrain, old pavement, and narrow right-of-way. Original construction was by hand tools and animals. Bypassing came more than a century later when diesel equipment eliminated some of the worst/best sections.
The National Road is now generally US 40, a traditional two or four-lane highway that goes through cities and towns. (Heavy traffic is on the Interstate which is generally not far away.)
The National Road twists crossing the mountains, then heads almost straight west from Wheeling WV to Vandalia IL. And here's the really neat part: From Vandalia, where the National Road officially ends, Route 66 is less than an hour away!
History and scenery on the National Road are very much front-end loaded. Wheeling WV is a time-capsule place with a great bridge shown in several images, well worth planning a night around.
Attractions are far fewer west of Columbus OH, although US 40 is pleasant enough 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, going east-to-west include:
www.wheelingcvb.com (Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau)
www.nationalroad.org (State group in Illinois)
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