Travel Guide to Historic Route 66: The Mother Road

Route 66 was one of the United State's first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west.

Map of Route 66, The Main Street of AmericaMap of Route 66, The Main Street of America, seen in this vintage postcard

"The Mother Road" was established on November 11, 1926, and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.

From its beginning in Chicago, Route 66 headed south through Illinois and Missouri. From there it turned in a more westward direction through Oklahoma and Texas, with the final stretches in New Mexico and Arizona before its termination point in Los Angeles.

We've had the pleasure of driving the entire length of Route 66, The Main Street of America! Included on this website are photographs and commentary on the various segments of the Mother Road.

The Lore of Route 66: The Main Street of America

Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in the United States, outdistancing others such as the Lincoln Highway.

It is popular lore in movies, songs, books, and TV shows. It was known far and wide for its variety of "mom and pop" motels, neon lights, drive-ins, flat tires, cars with no air conditioning, dangerous curves, steep hills, narrow lanes.

But the popularity stuck, and grew!

Buz and Tod of the TV show Route 66Buz and Tod
(By CBS, or Screen Gems)

Route 66: The TV Show

A popular television show during the early 1960s bore the road's name: "Route 66". Starring George Maharis as Buz, and Martin Milner as Tod, the two young adventurers drove the road in their Corvette for 116 episodes.

Despite the name of the series, most episodes did NOT take place on the historic road, but in 25 different U.S. states.

The show was filmed mostly on location, and became known for its cinematography. A long list of well-known actors and actresses appeared on the series.

The show ran from October, 1960, through March, 1964, and created a huge following.

The interest in the show continues today by "Baby Boomers" who remember the original showings, and new generations of viewers fascinated by the show who watch it on DVD.

Our Travel Reviews of Various Sections of Route 66

Planning a road trip on Route 66? Here are the travel guides and reviews of its major segments ...

Route 66: Chicago to Missouri

Route 66: Across Oklahoma to Amarillo

Route 66: Amarillo to Santa Fe

Route 66: Santa Fe to Gallup NM

Route 66: Gallup NM to Seligman AZ

Route 66: Seligman to Kingman AZ

Route 66: Kingman to Oatman AZ

 

List of Route 66 Mileage by State (1926 Alignment)

State Miles
Illinois 301
Missouri 317
Kansas 13
Oklahoma 432
Texas 186
New Mexico 487
Arizona 401
California 314
TOTAL 2,448

 

The Demise of Route 66

Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 6Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 66

Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments during its lifetime. The passage of the Federal High Act of 1956 sounded the death knell for the old road, and gradually segments were replaced with new, safer superhighways.

Its final demise was the completion of the Interstate Highway System, and Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985.

Route 66 was replaced by five Interstates: I-55 from Chicago, I-44, I-40, I-15 and finally I-10 into Los Angeles.

Route 66 Today

Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see, on Route 66Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see ... on Route 66

Today, several states recognize the historical significance of the road, and have it marked with "66" in the state highway number.

The road is also a major tourist attraction, so many states openly market attractions and lodging along the old route.

The old road still traverses dozens of small towns with vintage gas stations, quirky tourist attractions, diners, "Mop & Pop" motels, historic sites, stunning vistas, and gift shops.

Attractions and Cities Along Route 66

Along the length of Route 66, there are hundreds, probably thousands of attractions. And there are dozens of cities and towns.

Different travelers have different interests, so we can't list everything. But here are a few favorites! Let's get on the Road ... starting in Chicago, Illinois.

< < <
Attraction City & State
Shea's Gas Station Museum Springfield, Illinois
Chain of Rocks Bridge Madison, Illinois to St. Louis
Big Chief Hotel Wildwood, Missouri
66 Drive-In Theater Carthage, Missouri
Historic District Galena, Kansas
The murals Rolla, Missouri
Conoco Hole in the Wall Commerce, OK
National Route 66 Museum Clinton, OK
Conoco Tower Station Shamrock, TX
Midpoint of Route 66 Adrian, TX
Route 66 - 6th Street Historic District Amarillo, TX
Cadillac RanchJust west of Amarillo, Texas
Ghost townGlenrio, Texas, on the NM border
Ghost town Cuervo, NM
Route 66 Auto Museum Santa Rosa, NM
Route 66 Monument Tucumcari, NM
Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari, NM
Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop & Visitor's Center, downtown shops, motels Seligman Arizona
El Rancho Hotel Gallup, NM
Wigwam Village Motel #6 Holbrook, AZ
Twin Arrows Trading Post Twin Arrows, AZ
Standing on the Corner & the LaPosada Historic DistrictWinslow, AZ
Powerhouse Route 66 Museum and Visitors Center Kingman, AZ
Feeding the donkeys downtown Oatman, AZ
Roy's Cafe & Motel Amboy, CA
Harvey House Railroad Depot Barstow, CA
Bagdad Cafe Newberry Springs, CA
Wigwam Village #7 San Bernardino, CA
End of the Trail ... the westward end of Route 66 Santa Monica, California

 

Touring Route 66 by Auto, Bus, or RV

Different people choose different modes of transportation to tour the Mother Road. While some elect guided bus tours, or drive their own vehicles, others seek new destinations in their RV or motor home.

And for those that don't own an RV yet, companies like Cruise America, El Monte RV Rentals, Road Bear RV Rentals, and Camping World offer a variety of RV sizes and rental plans.

 

Touring Route 66 by Motorcycle

Get your motor running! Get out on the highway!

Many travelers on Route 66 rent motorcycles to seek new open-air adventures on their USA road trip!

Motorcycles at the Classy Ass, Oatman, Arizona, on Route 66Motorcycles at the Classy Ass, Oatman, Arizona, on Route 66

A variety of motorcycle rental plans are available, such as those from Eaglerider Motorcycle Rentals, Harley-Davidson, and California Motorcycle Rental.

Out West, your motorcycle can be picked up at a number of rental locations in Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. If you are starting your Route 66 trip further north, motorcycle pickup locations in Illinois are available.

Model options are plentiful, and cycles from manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson and Indian are available. Trikes can also be rented.

If you don't want to ride independently, choose from one of many guided motorcycle tours. Self-drive tours often include rental of the motorcycle, hotel reservations and detailed tour route information.

Some companies offer one-way rentals, hotel pickups, luggage storage, helmets and other amenities.

Route 66: The Song

Angel & Vilma's visitor center and shop in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66Angel & Vilma's visitor center and shop in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66

The song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" was composed by songwriter Bobby Troup in 1946. It was first recorded by year by Nat King Cole, and sung by other singers over the years including Chuck Berry, Perry Como, and the Rolling Stones.

If you ever plan to motor west,
travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
It winds from Chicago to LA,
more than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Now you go through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri,
and Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.
Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.


Photo Highlights from Our Road Trips Along Route 66

We have included below a sampling of the original photographs taken by our staff. We are working to post more photographs and reviews from our road trip archives to this website over time.

Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 66
Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 6

Murals on the wall in downtown Cuba, Missouri, on Historic Route 66
Murals on the wall in downtown Cuba, Missouri, on Historic Route 66

Abandoned service station in Glenrio, Texas, on Historic Route 66
Abandoned service station in Glenrio, Texas, on Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66, Glenrio, Texas near the New Mexico border
Historic Route 66


 

Angel & Vilma's visitor center and shop in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66
Angel & Vilma's visitor center and shop in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66

The Lemon Car Company's yellow Edsel on Historic Route 66 in Arizona!
The Lemon Car Company's yellow Edsel on Historic Route 66 in Arizona!

Water town in Kingman, Arizona, the Heart of Historic U.S. Route 66
Water town in Kingman, Arizona, the Heart of Historic U.S. Route 66

The Powerhouse museum and roadside attraction in Kingman, Arizona, on Route 66
The Powerhouse museum and attraction in Kingman, Arizona, on Route 66

Elvis and friend take a break along Route 66 in Arizona
Elvis and friend take a break along Route 66 in Arizona

Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see, on Route 66
Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see, on Route 66

The Classy Ass in Oatman, on U.S. Route 66
The Classy Ass in Oatman, on U.S. Route 66

More Travel Tips About the Various Segments of Route 66

Historic Route 66 Travel Guide

Route 66: Chicago to Missouri

Route 66: Across Oklahoma to Amarillo

Route 66: Amarillo to Santa Fe

Route 66: Santa Fe to Gallup NM

Route 66: Gallup NM to Seligman AZ

Route 66: Seligman to Kingman AZ

Route 66: Kingman to Oatman AZ