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 south 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 planning your next vacation or holiday, and get Route 66 checked off your bucket list of destinations!

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!

 

 

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

 

Road Trip Travel Guides for Popular Route 66 Segments

Route 66 Road Trips in Oklahoma

Kansas to Tulsa
Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Kansas to Tulsa

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

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


Route 66 Road Trips in Texas

Shamrock near
Oklahoma to Amarillo

Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Shamrock to Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo thru Adrian
to Glenrio
Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Amarillo to Glenrio

Road Trips in New Mexico

Tucumcari thru
Santa Rosa to Santa Fe

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

Santa Fe thru
Albuquerque to Gallup

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


Route 66 Road Trips in Arizona

Holbrook to Flagstaff
Route 66 Road Trip from Holbrook through WInslow to Flagstaff

Seligman to Kingman
Route 66 from Seligman through Hackberry to Kingman, Arizona

Flagstaff to Seligman
Route 66 Road Trip from Flagstaff through Williams to Seligman, Arizona

Kingman to Oatman
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 Motel and Gift Shop on Historic Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona
The Aztec Motel and Gift Shop on Historic Route 66 in Arizona

 

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.

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.

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

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 Rusty Bolt in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66
The Rusty Bolt 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 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.

Highlights of 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, and heading west through eight states to Santa Monica, California.

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac, Illinois

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac, Illinois

The museum is a repository for thousands of pieces of historic memorabilia from the glory days of the Mother Road.

This is a great place to learn the history of Route 66 in Illinois, see images of the road's wonderful history, and hear a few great stories about life in America when Route 66 was the most important highway in the nation.

It is located at 115 W. Howard Street in Pontiac.

Joplin, Missouri

The mural at Pearl Brothers Hardware in downtown Joplin, Missouri
Joplin, Missouri mural at Pearl Brothers

 

Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas

Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas

Cars on the Route is located in a restored Kan-O-Tex service station at 119 North Main Street in Galena.

Formerly known as "4 Women on the Route", the attraction sells sandwiches, antiques, Route 66 memorabilia and work by local artists.

It has connections with the movie "Cars" featuring the rusted tow truck "Tow Tater" and other restored vehicles on display.

Lucille's Service Station and Roadhouse, in Hydro, Oklahoma

Lucille's Service Station and Roadhouse, in Hydro, Oklahoma

Lucille's Service Station, a classic gas station built in 1929 along Route 66 near Hydro, is one of only two upper-story, out-thrust porch style stations left on Oklahoma's stretch of Route 66.

  In 1941, the Hamons family took over the operation of the station and Lucille Hamons, ran the business for 60 years.

 Lucille, who quickly became known for her friendly assistance to motorists, earned the nickname "Mother of the Mother Road." 

Phillips 66 Gas Station in McLean, Texas

Phillips 66 Gas Station in McLean, Texas

Dozens of old gas stations were located along Route 66 ... like this one. Shown here is a vintage Phillips 66 Service Station in McLean, Texas. The early Philliips stations, like the one in McLean, were designed in the "Cottage Look" to blend with local residential neighborhoods.

Located at 218 West First Street.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

Route 66 is known for its quirky and unusual attractions. Shown here is one of those, the Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, on present-day I-40.

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

Access is from the service road on the south side of the interstate. Park and walk across the field ... free admission.

And be sure to bring a can of spray paint!

A Texas Ghost Town

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

Abandoned Little Juarez Cafe in Glenrio

The Little Juarez Cafe in 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 emcompasses 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.

Tucumcari, New Mexico

The "Dodge and Cowboy" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico
The "Dodge and Cowboy" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico

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

Angel & Vilma's 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

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


Amboy, California

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

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.

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

Popular Stops and Attractions Along Route 66

Attraction City State
The Architecture ... and the start of Route 66 west Chicago Illinois
Gemini Giant Wilmington Illinois
Ambler's Texaco Station Dwight Illinois
Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum Pontiac Illinois
Shea's Gas Station Museum Springfield Illinois
Chain of Rocks Bridge St. Louis Missouri
The Murals Rolla Missouri
66 Drive-In Theater Carthage Missouri
Route 66 Mural Park Joplin Missouri
Cars on the Route Galena Kansas
Historic District Galena Kansas
Rainbow Curve Bridge Baxter Springs Kansas
Allen's Conoco Hole in the Wall Commerce Oklahoma
Route 66 Gateway Sign & Historic District Miami Oklahoma
Route 66 Ribbon Road Miami Oklahoma
Pryor Creek Bridge Chelsea Oklahoma
Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park Chelsea Oklahoma
The Blue Whale Catoosa Oklahoma
Murals and Broadway Brick Street Davenport Oklahoma
Route 66 Interpretive Center Chandler Oklahoma
Arcadia Round Barn Arcadia Oklahoma
Milk Bottle Grocery Tulsa Oklahoma
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza: East Meets West Tulsa Oklahoma
National Route 66 Museum Elk City Oklahoma
Lucille's Service Station Hydro Oklahoma
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum Clinton Oklahoma
Conoco Tower Plaza Station & U-Drop Inn Shamrock Texas
Vintage Phillips 66 Gas Station McLean Texas
Route 66 - 6th Street Historic District Amarillo Texas
Cadillac Ranch Amarillo Texas
Midpoint of Route 66 Adrian Texas
Ghost town Glenrio Texas
Route 66 Monument & Downtown Murals Tucumcari New Mexico
Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari New Mexico
Ghost town Cuervo New Mexico
Route 66 Auto Museum Santa Rosa New Mexico
Museums, Historic Sites, Fine Dining Santa Fe New Mexico
Historic Central Avenue Albuquerque New Mexico
El Rancho Hotel Gallup New Mexico
Wigwam Village Motel #6 Holbrook Arizona
Twin Arrows Trading Post Twin Arrows Arizona
Standing on the Corner & the LaPosada Historic District Winslow Arizona
Route 66 Visitor Center Flagstaff Arizona
Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Gift Shop & Visitor's Center Seligman Arizona
Powerhouse Route 66 Museum and Visitors Center Kingman Arizona
Feeding the donkeys downtown Oatman Arizona
Roy's Cafe & Motel Amboy California
Bagdad Cafe Newberry Springs California
Harvey House Railroad Depot Barstow California
Mother Road Museum Barstow California
California Route 66 Museum Victorville California
Wigwam Village #7 San Bernardino California
End of the Trail ... the westward end of Route 66 Santa Monica California

More Route 66 and Travel-Related Resources 


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