Travel Guide to Historic Route 66: The Mother Road

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

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.

"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, and a small section of Kansas.

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.

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. And the road 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. The popularity stuck, and grew!

Route 66 Road Trip Website

We've had the pleasure of driving the entire length of Route 66 through all eight states, The Main Street of America!

Visit our new website www.Route66RoadTrip.com for photographs, personal experiences, and commentary on the various segments of the Mother Road.

Route 66 Map from Chicago to Santa Monica

Map of Historic Route 66 from Illinois to California
Historic U.S. Route 66 Map from Chicago to Santa Monica

Road Trip Travel Guides for the States Along Route 66

Planning a road trip on Route 66? Here are the travel guides and reviews by state ... at our new website www.Route66RoadTrip.com.

Route 66 in Missouri Route 66 in Texas Route 66 Across Arizona Route 66 Across New Mexico
Route 66 Road Trips Across Oklahoma Route 66 Road Trips in Illinois Route 66 Across California Route 66 in Kansas


Road Trip Travel Guides for Route 66 Segments

Route 66 Road Trips in Oklahoma

Kansas to Tulsa

Tulsa to Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City to Texas

Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Kansas to Tulsa Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Tulsa to Oklahoma City Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Oklahoma City to Texas

Route 66 Road Trips in Texas

Shamrock near Oklahoma to Amarillo

Amarillo thru Adrian to Glenrio on the New Mexico border

Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Shamrock to Amarillo, Texas Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Amarillo to Glenrio

Route 66 Road Trips in New Mexico

Tucumcari thru Santa Rosa to Santa Fe

Santa Fe thru Albuquerque to Gallup

Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Tucumcari through Santa Rosa to Santa Fe Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Santa Fe through Albuquerque to Gallup

Route 66 Road Trips in Arizona

Holbrook to Flagstaff

Flagstaff to Seligman

Seligman to Kingman

Kingman to Oatman

Route 66 Road Trip from Holbrook through WInslow to Flagstaff Route 66 Road Trip from Flagstaff through Williams to Seligman, Arizona
Route 66 from Seligman through Hackberry to Kingman, Arizona Route 66 Road Trip from Kingman to Oatman, Arizona

 

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 Aztec Hotel and Gift Shop on Historic Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona
The Aztec Hotel and Gift Shop on Historic Route 66 in Arizona

 

Route 66: The TV Show

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

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.

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.

The Demise of Route 66

Mural on old building on Route 66  in Davenport, Oklahoma

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.

Route 66 Attractions and Cities

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 westbound ... 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
The murals Rolla, Missouri
66 Drive-In Theater Carthage, Missouri
Historic District Galena, Kansas
Conoco Hole in the Wall Commerce, OK
The Blue Whale Catoosa, OK
Route 66 Interpretive Center Chandler, OK
Arcadia Round Barn Arcadia, OK
National Route 66 Museum Clinton, OK
Conoco Tower Station Shamrock, TX
Route 66 - 6th Street Historic District Amarillo, TX
Cadillac Ranch Just west of Amarillo, TX
Midpoint of Route 66 Adrian, TX
Ghost town Glenrio, Texas, on the NM border
Route 66 Monument Tucumcari, NM
Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari, NM
Ghost town Cuervo, NM
Route 66 Auto Museum Santa Rosa, NM
LaFonda on the Plaza Santa Fe, NM
Historic Central Avenue Albuquerque, NM
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 District Winslow, AZ
Route 66 Visitor Center Flagstaff, AZ
Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop & Visitor's Center, downtown shops, motels Seligman, 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

 

The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma on Historic Route 66
The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma on Historic Route 66


Touring Route 66 by RV or Automobile

Route 66 Road Trip Website

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.

 

The Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, on present-day I-40. Access is from the service road on the south side of the interstate. Park and walk across the field ... free admission!
Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 6


Touring Route 66 by Motorcycle

Get your motor running! Get out on the highway!

Many travelers on Route 66 ride their own cycles or 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.

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.

Lodging Options Along Route 66

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

Photo Highlights from Road Trips Along Route 66

Included here is a small sampling of the original photographs taken by our staff on our Route 66 road trips. We are working to post more photographs and reviews from our road trip archives to this website over time.

Greetings from Galena, Kansas, on Historic Route 66
Greetings from Galena, Kansas, on Historic Route 66

The Gateway to Route 66 in Miami, Oklahoma
The Gateway to Route 66 in Miami, Oklahoma

Route 66 road trip stop in downtown, Joplin, Missouri ... the mural and the red corvette!
Route 66 road trip stop in downtown, Joplin, Missouri

Abandoned Little Juarez Cafe in Glenrio, Texas, on the New Mexico border on Route 66
Abandoned Little Juarez Cafe in Glenrio

 

 

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

Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy, California
Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy, California


Travel Guides for the States Along Route 66

Planning a Road Trip on Route 66? Here are travel guides for the major segments ...

Route 66 in Missouri Route 66 in Texas Route 66 Across Arizona Route 66 Across New Mexico
Route 66 Road Trips Across Oklahoma Route 66 Road Trips in Illinois Route 66 Across California Route 66 in Kansas

 

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