|Maps of Route 66 States|
"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".
Map of Historic Route 66 from Illinois to California
Included below are maps of the eight states through which Route 66 passed, showing the overall, approximate path through each state. Alignment changed over the years, as highway engineering improved. There are many sources online and in print that document detailed, turn-by-turn tours through various alignments.
Take a road trip on Route 66 across Illinois
From its beginning in Chicago, Route 66 headed southwest to Joliet, Wilmington, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Bloomington, Lincoln and Springfield. The segment from Chicago to Springfield is roughly a 2.5 hour drive.
Leaving Springfield, Route 66 traversed Litchfield, Staunton and Hamel, and then continued on to the Chain of Rocks Bridge at St. Louis, where it turned west through Rolla, Springfield, Joplin and into Kansas and Oklahoma.
Illinois was the first of the eight states through which Route 66 passed to have its segment of U.S. 66 paved, at a time when much of the route across the country was still a gravel or dirt road
Route 66 across Missouri features a variety of large cities and small towns, connected by roadways over rolling hills and valleys. The Mother Road followed much of the Kickapoo, or Osage, Trail, an Indian trail that later became the Old Wire Road.
Take a road trip on Route 66 across Missouri
Like other Route 66 segments, the actual alignment varied over the years as engineering improvements were constructed.
Heading westbound the route traveled through these cites and towns in Missouri:
Map showing the approximate route of U.S. Highway 66 across Missouri from St. Louis to Joplin
As Route 66 left Joplin, Missouri, it was only a short distance westbound to the Kansas border.
The route through Kansas was the shortest of all the states, only about 13 miles.
It traveled through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs. From there it entered Commerce, Oklahoma, and headed southwest through Miami, Alton, Chelsea and Claremore and Tulsa.
Map of Historic Route 66 through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs in Kansas
Take a road trip on Route 66 across Oklahoma
As Route 66 left Joplin, Missouri westbound, it was only a short distance to Kansas, and then to the Oklahoma border.
From there, it was a straight shot west through Yukon, El Reno, Hydro, Clinton and Elk City, and finally Texola.
The Mother Road crossed the Texas state line at Texola, near Shamrock, and moved on to Amarillo.
The nation's longest drivable stretch of Route 66 crosses Oklahoma, making its way past charming towns, roadside diners and quirky attractions.
|Map of approximate Historic Route 66 path through the Tulsa, Oklahoma area
|Map showing the approximate location of Historic Route 66 through Oklahoma City
The Mother Road crossed the Texas state line at Texola, OK, near Shamrock, Texas, and traveled through McLean and Groom on its way to Amarillo. From there it continued west to Glenrio.
Take a road trip on Route 66 across Texas
The Route through Texas totaled 186 miles, and closely followed today's Interstate I-40.
Heading westbound the route traveled through these places:
In later years, it would continue west from the Santa Rosa area through Clines Corner on a more direct route to Albuquerque.
|Tucumcari thru Santa Rosa to Santa Fe
||Santa Fe thru Albuquerque to Gallup
Route 66 alignment in central New Mexico in 1926 and post-1937
Arizona is one of our favorite Route 66 destinations, with many miles of original roadbeds still open, and minimal congestion on most segments.
The largest city on the route is Flagstaff, with only about 65,000 residents. Other stops along the way are smaller towns ... traffic is not a problem on Route 66 in Arizona!
Take a road trip on Route 66 across Arizona
Arizona includes several of our favorite places and scenes along the Mother Road, like:
Some of today's journey is on I-40, which parallels the old Route 66 in many places. We always drive the segments of the Mother Road where it still remains. Exits from I-40 onto Route 66 are marked in many locales.
Driving time non-stop from Lupton (near Gallup) at the New Mexico border to Oatman is 5:45, less than a day's drive. But you probably want to split the trip up into at least two days.
Major concentrations of lodging are found in Gallup, NM, Flagstaff and Kingman. Many other lodging options are available in other cities such as Winslow and Williams, as well as smaller towns.
Route 66 ran southwest out of Kingman through Cool Springs to Oatman, and onward to Golden Shores and Topock where it turned west to Needles, California.
From the Arizona state line to San Bernardino U.S. Highway 66 followed the old National Old Trails Highway.
In 1936 U.S. 66 was extended from downtown Los Angeles to U.S. 101, at Santa Monica.
Take a road trip on Route 66 across California
In 1940 the first freeway in Los Angeles was included as part of U.S. 66, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, later known as the Pasadena Freeway.
The highway is now mostly replaced with several streets in Los Angeles, State Route 66 (SR 66), Interstate 15 (I-15) and I-40.
The Mother Road passed through cities and towns like these as it made its way westbound across 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)
Popular Route 66 resources for your next road trip!
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"The 10-Minute Trip Across Route 66" video
Route 66 Mobile Apps
Some travelers on Route 66 prefer the route planning and driving assistance provided by mobile devices and smartphones. Listed below are two of the more popular apps ... but there are more!
The Route66RoadTrip website has no connection with any of the mobile apps listed ... they are provided as a starting point in your research and selection on where you might want to purchase an app.