"Get your kicks on Route 66" has been the theme song of millions over the last 70+ years and it is as fun today as it was in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. We've traveled this old highway when it was the only way to California before there were interstates. We have stayed in the Tourist Courts, had water bags hanging off the hood ornaments and bumpers and traveled the two lane from Kansas to California.
This old road still holds a certain mystique not only in American culture but European as well. Living in a town that straddles Route 66, we see travelers on motorcycles from around the world going from Chicago to Santa Monica. There are still Tourist Courts but there are also some excellent campgrounds both private and public in every state along the way.
This is the ultimate ROAD TRIP. You will discover a mix of history, romance, nostalgia and pop culture. As you ride this complex road you will come to understand what people mean when they talk about the "Freedom" of the Mother Road. On this page, we will share highlights, tips, and enough information to get you started down "America's Main Street". Get ready for one of the top ten road trips in the world, according to travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. For other great products click on our sponsors below.
Illinois has 436 miles of the "Mother Road" from Chicago to Mitchell before you enter the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. It was originally the Old Pontiac Trail. Due to all of the realignments over the years in the Chicago area, most of the old route is difficult if not impossible to find. Route 66 through Illinois roughly follows Interstate 55. There are many places where the state of Illinois points out the old route but often these are difficult to travel on. We would suggest that you stay on I-55 until you reach Missouri unless you plan to camp in Illinois. There are some excellent State Parks in Illinois for camping just a few miles off the highway.
State Parks in Illinois
For the best and most up to date info through Illinois, it is best to consult the professionals. These people have all the latest information for you.
Missouri probably has some of the most scenic stretches of the Mother Road and has lots of vintage stores, bridges, tourist courts and restaurants which you can visit still today. The original highway closely follows a pre-Civil War stage line across Missouri and runs along I-44. You can still drive on many portions of the old road but if you stay on the Interstate, at virtually every exit, you will be on Route 66. Along the 300 miles in Missouri you will see some great tourist attractions and find great camping spots. There are some excellent State Parks in Missouri for camping just a few miles off the highway.
Route 66 just barely let Kansas in on the fun. Just 13 miles of the road runs through the corner of the state. One of the towns it goes through is Galena, the birthplace of my father. The old road was never bypassed by the Interstates and can easily be driven today. Though it zig zags along county section lines, it is well marked and easy to follow.
Oklahoma has about 400 miles of the original road. We also have more miles of original roadway left than any other state. In other states, the interstates have obliterated entire sections. In addition, nice stretches of the original cement paving laid down in 1932-1933 in Oklahoma still remain.
Over time, the route of 66 has changed. This was done to do away with sharp turns, bypass smaller towns, and to shift routings to accommodate major metropolitan areas to avoid traffic congestion. Of the original 2400 miles that made up the original road, it is estimated that about 80-85% is still drive-able. In Oklahoma, virtually all of the Route remains intact. There are a couple of great State Parks in Oklahoma for camping just a few miles off the highway.
State Parks in Oklahoma
About 70 miles after you cross the Kansas - Oklahoma State line you will enter Claremore, Oklahoma, home of Will Rogers, the J.M.Davis Gun Museum and Historic Main Street. There is a great campground in Claremore owned by the city at
the Claremore Expo
Of the 178 miles of the old road across Texas, approximately 150 miles remain. From Texola to Amarillo, Old Sisxty-six lies on the south side of I-40 except at McLean. From Amarillo west to Glenrio, Old 66 lies on the north side of I-40. This guide starts at the Texas - Oklahoma border at Texola.
State Parks in Texas
New Mexico hosts many miles of unbroken stretches that can be driven even today and give the road wanderer a real glimpse into what it was like during the 3-'s and 40's. Today New Mexico has some of the best examples of highway kitsch left along the old Mother Road. Towns like Gallup, Albuquerque and Tucumcari proudly preserve their vintage neon signs with the help of the Route 66 Corridor Act monies and the support of the New Mexico Route 66 Association. Vintage trading posts and authentic roadside cafes and diners still entice the traveler to stop. New Mexico is truly the "Land of Enchantment."
State parks in New Mexico
Arizona has as colorful a stretch of the old Mother Road as can be found anywhere. It is a land of volcanoes, meteor craters, petrified forests and cool pine forests. The road was the gateway to the Grand Canyon State and adventure. There are sections that go through the old Arizona mining towns. A must see.
Arizona even offers the Southwest's own version of the Badlands.
It has been estimated that 65 percent of America’s westbound traffic, and 50 percent of eastbound traffic followed Route 66 during the 1930s. Travelers during this period were largely dependent on camping for their overnight lodging, particularly across the California desert. There were only a few small auto camps and even fewer hotels along this portion of the route. Those businesses always had a steady stream of customers. The highway actually kept many small towns alive during the Great Depression. The highway continued to represent opportunity in the minds of countless people. It was many mid-westerners chance to sleep on the beach.
There has always been an age old rivalry between California beaches and Florida beaches.