Travel Guide to Historic Route 66: The Mother Road

Map of Route 66, The Mother Road of America
Map of Route 66, The Mother Road, 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 southwest through Illinois and Missouri, and a small section of southeast 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.

Alignments of the road changed often over the years, as improved sections of highway were constructed. In the early years many sections connected only one small town to the next, and had no official federal route number. Over time the route was formalized as a Federal Highway numbered as "U.S. 66".

The movie "Easy RIder" ... much of it filmed on Route 66
The movie "Easy Rider" ... much of it filmed on Route 66

We've had the pleasure of driving in all eight states along Route 66, The Main Street of America!

Included on this website are photographs, personal experiences, commentary and travel recommendations on the various segments of the Mother Road. We hope that this site will help with the planning of your next vacation or holiday, and get Route 66 checked off your bucket list of destinations in 2022!

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 like "The Grapes of Wrath", and TV shows.

The legendary highway was known far and wide for its variety of "mom and pop" motels, neon lights, drive-ins, quirky roadside attractions, flat tires, cars with no air conditioning, dangerous curves, steep hills, and narrow lanes.

The movie "Easy Rider" was filmed at several locations along Route 66. The move "Thelma and Louise" also featured Route 66 references and scenes.

The popularity stuck, and continues to grow today! So ... get out and explore Historic U.S. Route 66!

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

Route 66: The TV Show

Buz and Tod of the TV show Route 66
Tod and Buz
(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 Chevrolet 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.

Read more about the Route 66 TV series ... and those Corvettes!

The Chevrolet Corvette on the TV show "Route 66" Martin Milner on the TV show "Route 66" George Maharis on the TV show "Route 66"

Road Trip Travel Guides for Various States Along Route 66

Planning a road trip on Route 66? Here are the travel guides and reviews by state...

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


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

It's time to stop for a "selfie"!
The arch in Grants, New Mexico on Route 66
The arch in Grants, New Mexico on Historic Route 66

 

The Demise of Route 66

Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments during its lifetime.

The passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956 sounded the death knell for the old road, and gradually segments were replaced with new, safer and faster superhighways.

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

Its final demise was the completion of the Interstate Highway System. The last town by-passed by the Interstate system was Williams, Arizona, on October 13, 1984.

Subsequently, U.S. Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985.

Route 66 was replaced by five Interstates: I-55 southbound from Chicago, I-44 across Missouri and Oklahoma, I-40 in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, I-15 and finally I-10 into Los Angeles.

Route 66 Today

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

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 & museums, stunning vistas, and gift shops.

Touring Route 66 by Auto, Bus, or RV

Touring Route 66 in the comfort of your own classic Chevrolet Corvette

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!

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

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

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.

Taking a Ride on Route 66?

Route 66 on Motorcycle

Route 66 Road Trip by Motorcycle

 

Route 66: The Song

The Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, on Route 66
The Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, on Route 66

The song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" was composed by songwriter Bobby Troup in 1946.

It was first recorded 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 Bernardino.
Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

For the Route 66 TV series on CBS, the "Route 66 Theme" song was written by Nelson Riddle.

Highlights of Attractions and Cities Along Route 66

Click to view "The 10-Minute Trip Across Route 66" video ...
The 10-Minute Trip Across Route 66

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

While many are experienced Route 66 travelers, there are others who are planning their first journey, which from Chicago to Santa Monica can take from several days to a couple of weeks. And they do not have a good vision of what they might see on the trip.

So we have prepared a video to showcase the route, by state, highlighting just a few of the hundreds of attractions along the way.

While some trips on Route 66 take 10 days, this trip only takes 10 minutes! So sit back and get your kicks on Route 66 ... and turn up your volume for some easy-listening music!

View "The 10-Minute Trip Across Historic Route 66" video

Starting our Road Trip Along Route 66 ... in Illinois

Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois
Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois
The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois
The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois
A Route 66 Roadside Attraction: Ambler/Becker Texaco Station in Dwight, Illinois
A Route 66 Roadside Attraction: Ambler/Becker Texaco Station in Dwight, Illinois
Ambler's Texaco Station in Dwight, Illinois

Chain of Rocks Bridge
St. Louis, Missouri

The historic Chain of Rocks Bridge spanning the Mississippi River on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri was opened in 1929.

Vintage view of the Chain of Rocks Bridge spanning the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri

The historic Chain of Rocks Bridge spanning the Mississippi River on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri


The bridge was part of U.S. Route 66 and linked two states: Illinois and Missouri. The bridge is short and narrow, only 1 mile long by 24 feet wide, but has now been repurposed as a bike and pedestrian trail across the river.

It towers more than 60 feet above the water, and features a unique 30-degree turn midway across.


Route 66 Mural Park in Missouri

The Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin at Pearl Brothers Hardware features two nostalgic murals and an oversized 45-record imprint of "Get Your Kicks on Route 66". The upper mural is called "Cruisin’ into Joplin", and showing a vintage Buick arriving in Joplin on Route 66 from the west.

Joplin, Missouri mural at Pearl Brothers


Cars on the Route in Kansas

Cars on the Route is located in a restored Kan-O-Tex service station at 119 North Main Street in Galena, Kansas. It features the rusted tow truck "Tow Tater" and other restored vehicles on display.

Cars on the Route: Galena Kansas on Historic US Route 66 Tow Tater at Cars on the Route: Galena Kansas on Historic US Route 66

The Blue Whale in Oklahoma

Built in the early 1970s by Hugh Davis as an anniversary gift, the 20-foot tall iron and cement Blue Whale turned into a swimming park, and closed in 1988.

Today, it remains one of the most popular stops on Route 66!

Welcome ... to the Blue Whale on Old Route 66 in Catoosa, Oklahoma

Stopping at the Cadillac Ranch in Texas

As one heads westbound out from Amarillo today on I-40 between exits 60 and 62, the Cadillac Ranch comes into view quickly, on the south side of the road, on a privately owned pasture.

The Cadillac Ranch ... classic, half-buried Cadillacs! West of Amarillo Texas on I-40The Cadillac Ranch ... classic, half-buried Cadillacs!

This "interactive" folk art site of ten Cadillacs is the work of financier Stanley Marsh. It was created in 1974 and consists of what were old or junked Cadillac automobiles, many sporting those classic tail fins, all facing west in a straight line. The cars are half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Take exit 60 from I-40. Access is from the service road on the south side of the interstate. Park, cross over the fence gate, and walk across the field about 100 yards ... free admission! Graffiti is allowed as you will quickly learn!

Midpoint Cafe & Gift Shop in Adrian

Route 66 Roadside Attraction: Midpoint Cafe and Gift Shop, Adrian, Texas

Located at the exact geo-mathematical center of Route 66 ... 1,139 miles to either Chicago or Los Angeles.

Welcome to Adrian, Texas ... the midpoint of Historic Route 66

 

Abandoned Brownlee Diner in Glenrio


Abandoned Brownlee Diner in Glenrio

Glenrio: A Texas Ghost Town

Sitting directly on the Texas - New Mexico border at Exit 0 is the abandoned ghost town of Glenrio.

The townsite still has noticeable traces of Route 66 and the motels and restaurants that used to thrive there before the arrival of I-40.

Today it includes the Glenrio Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. The district encompasses the Route 66 roadbed and 17 abandoned structures.

Remains can still be seen of an old motel, cafe, service station, the post office, and a few other buildings, as well as the old Route 66 roadbed. Read more about Glenrio.

The Murals of Tucumcari, NM

Frequently called the “City of Murals”, Tucumcari and Quay County have over 40 murals and counting! Mural maps are available at the Chamber of Commerce, 404 W. Route 66 Boulevard.

The "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Entering Arizona, the Grand Canyon State

The Tepee Trading Post, near the New Mexico - Arizona state line on present-day I-40

Holbrook, Arizona

Present day views of the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, one of the two remaining Wigwam Motels on Route 66 ... "Have you slept in a Wigwam Lately?"

Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

 

When in Arizona, stop at Angel & Vilma's in Seligman

Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop & Visitor's Center in Seligman, Arizona

In 1972, Angel Delgadillo moved his barber shop so that he could take advantage of the traffic on the new alignment of Route 66 through Seligman.

Business was good until September of 1978, when I-40 bypassed Seligman.

To stimulate tourism, Angel, his wife Vilma, and other shop owners in northwest Arizona established the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. The Association was located in Angel's Barber Shop & Pool Hall.

His  work helped make Seligman "The Birthplace of Historic Route 66".

Read more at www.Route66GiftShop.com


Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy

Roy's Motel and Café is a historic site on U.S. Route 66 in the Mojave Desert town of Amboy in San Bernardino County, California. It is a 24-hour gas station, gift shop, and famous tourist attraction with its 1950s neon sign that can be seen for miles. For more information, visit the Roy's website

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

Santa Monica, California

The original terminus of U.S. Route 66 was at 7th and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. However, over the years, and decades, Route 66 has had several “official” and “unofficial" ending points.

The route was later extended to the intersection of Lincoln and Olympic boulevards in Santa Monica, about one mile from the Pacific Ocean. This is often referred to as the official ending point of Route 66.

Map showing the "official" and "unofficial" ending points of Route 66 in Santa Monica, California
(click image to open in Google Maps)
Map showing the "official" and "unofficial" ending points of Route 66 in Santa Monica, California

Since this locale can be disappointing after the long journey from Chicago, the Route 66 Alliance partnered with the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation in 2009 to mount an unofficial “End of the Trail” sign on the pier, seen below in 2020. Santa Monica Pier in California

The End of the Trail ... Santa Monica, California (Staff Photo)
The End of the Trail ... Santa Monica, California

 

Travel Guides for States and Cities Along Route 66

Planning a Road Trip on Route 66? Here are trip planners for the major segments ... click any image for details!

ILLINOIS ROUTE 66

Route 66 Road Trips in Illinois Dwight, Illinois along Route 66
Route 66 Road Trip to Joliet, Illinois Route 66 Road Trip to Pontiac, Illinois Route 66 Road Trip to Bloomington and Normal in Illinois
Route 66 road trip to Lincoln, Illinois Route 66 road trip to Springfield, Illinois Route 66 road trip to Litchfield, Illinois

MISSOURI ROUTE 66

Route 66 road trips in Missouri ... click for details!

Route 66 road trip to Cuba, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Lebanon, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Springfield, Missouri
Route 66 road trip to Carthage, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Joplin, Missouri

KANSAS ROUTE 66

Route 66 road trips in Kansas

Route 66 road trip to Galena, Kansas Route 66 road trip to Baxter Springs, Kansas

OKLAHOMA ROUTE 66

Route 66 Road Trips Across Oklahoma

Route 66 road trip to Miami, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Chelsea, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Catoosa, Oklahoma
Route 66 road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Chandler, Oklahoma
Route 66 road trip to Yukon, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Weatherford, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Clinton, Oklahoma
Route 66 road trip to Elk City, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Sapulpa, Oklahoma Route 66 road trip to Erick, Oklahoma
  Route 66 road trip to El Reno, Oklahoma  

TEXAS ROUTE 66

Route 66 road trips across Texas

Route 66 road trip to Shamrock, Texas Route 66 road trip to Amarillo, Texas Route 66 road trip to Glenrio, Texas
Route 66 road trip to Vega, Texas Route 66 road trip to Adrian, Texas Route 66 road trip to McLean, Texas

NEW MEXICO ROUTE 66

Route 66 road trip Across New Mexico

Route 66 road trip to Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 road trip to Santa Rosa, New Mexico Route 66 road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico
Route 66 road trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico Route 66 road trip to Grants, New Mexico Route 66 road trip to Gallup, New Mexico

ARIZONA ROUTE 66

Route 66 road trips across Arizona

Route 66 road trip to Holbrook, Arizona Route 66 road trip to Winslow, Arizona Route 66 road trip to Flagstaff, Arizona Route 66 road trip to Williams, Arizona
Route 66 road trip to Seligman, Arizona Route 66 road trip to Kingman, Arizona Route 66 road trip to Oatman, Arizona

CALIFORNIA ROUTE 66

Route 66 road trip across California

Route 66 road trip to Needles, California Route 66 road trip to Amboy, California Route 66 road trip to Barstow, California
Route 66 road trip to Victorville, California Route 66 road trip to San Bernardino, California Route 66 road trip to San Santa Monica, California

 

Route 66 Centennial: 1926-2026

Route 66 in 2026 ... celebrating 100 years of The Mother Road during the Route 66 Centennial

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 commissioned on November 11, 1926, and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.

In 2026, the nation will be celebrating the Route 66 Centennial ... 100 years of the Mother Road serving the traveling public! Many states and organizations are planning special events and tours to highlight the Centennial.

Read more about the Route 66 Centennial and upcoming events that are already in the planning stages to help celebrate the 100th Anniversary.

The Route 66 Store ... click to shop now for books, maps, clothing, videos and more!
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