Embarking on an RV journey along Route 66 is like stepping back in time and immersing yourself in the heart of American history and culture. This legendary highway, stretching over 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, has captivated the imaginations of adventurers, artists, and wanderers for decades. Known as the “Main Street of America” and the “Mother Road,” Route 66 offers an unforgettable road trip experience filled with scenic landscapes, charming towns, iconic roadside attractions, and a sense of nostalgia that harkens back to the golden age of American travel.
Route 66 holds a special place in the hearts of travelers worldwide, as it represents the epitome of the great American road trip. With its origins dating back to the 1920s, the highway played a vital role in connecting the eastern and western parts of the United States, serving as a lifeline for small towns and businesses along its path. While the route has undergone changes over the years, and modern interstate highways have replaced some sections, the spirit of Route 66 remains alive and continues to beckon adventurers seeking to explore its historic significance and scenic wonders.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the enchanting world of RVing Route 66, providing you with a wealth of information to help plan your unforgettable journey. From the history and significance of Route 66 to practical tips for a successful RV adventure, we will cover everything you need to know to make the most of your time on this iconic highway. We’ll also highlight must-see attractions, hidden gems, local experiences, and festivals along the route, ensuring that you don’t miss out on the true essence of Route 66.
Whether you’re a history buff, a photography enthusiast, a food lover, or simply seeking the freedom of the open road, Route 66 offers something for everyone. It’s a road trip filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse cultures, and the opportunity to create lasting memories. So, buckle up, hit the open road, and let the magic of Route 66 guide you on an unforgettable adventure that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of America’s past and the timeless allure of the open highway.
Table of Contents
- 1 History and Significance of Route 66
- 2 Planning Your RV Adventure
- 3 Must-See Attractions Along Route 66
- 4 Hidden Gems and Local Experiences
- 5 Practical Tips for a Successful RV Journey
- 6 Best Dining Experiences Along Route 66
- 7 Route 66 Museums and Historic Sites
- 8 Roadside Attractions and Photo Opportunities
- 9 Route 66 Festivals and Events
- 10 Sustainability and Responsible RVing
- 11 Capturing the Journey – Route 66 Photography Tips
- 12 Frequently Asked Questions
- 13 Final Thoughts
History and Significance of Route 66
Route 66 holds a special place in the heart of American history and has become an enduring symbol of exploration, adventure, and the pursuit of the American Dream. Its creation and subsequent popularity played a pivotal role in the development of the United States’ highway system and left an indelible mark on the cultural fabric of the country.
Creation and Early Years: Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926, as one of the original U.S. highways, connecting the Midwest to the West Coast. The vision for Route 66 originated from a desire to create a direct and efficient transportation route linking the rural communities of the Midwest to the bustling urban centers of the West, promoting commerce and growth along the way.
Economic Boom: During the 1930s and 1940s, Route 66 became the main artery for travelers journeying westward, particularly during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era. The highway offered hope to thousands of families seeking a better life in the fertile lands of California. It witnessed a massive influx of migrants, giving rise to the concept of the “Mother Road,” a term coined by John Steinbeck in his novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” The road’s popularity sparked an economic boom along its path, with motels, gas stations, diners, and tourist attractions springing up to serve the growing number of travelers.
Post-War Transformation: Following World War II, Route 66 experienced a surge in popularity as returning soldiers and their families took to the road for leisure and exploration. The highway became synonymous with freedom, adventure, and the open road, embodying the spirit of a nation eager to move forward after the war. The proliferation of automobiles, the expansion of the middle class, and the rise of car culture further contributed to the road’s significance.
Decline and Decommissioning: The construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 1960s eventually led to the decline of Route 66. As faster and more efficient interstate highways bypassed many of the small towns along the original route, businesses struggled to survive. In 1985, Route 66 was officially decommissioned as a U.S. highway, signaling the end of an era. However, the road’s legacy and iconic status remained intact, as enthusiasts, preservationists, and local communities worked tirelessly to preserve its memory.
Revival and Preservation: In recent decades, there has been a renewed interest in Route 66, driven by nostalgia, a yearning for simpler times, and a fascination with the road’s history and cultural significance. Many sections of the original route have been preserved and designated as historic byways, offering travelers the opportunity to experience the essence of the road as it once was. Efforts to restore classic motels, diners, and roadside attractions have breathed new life into the towns along Route 66, creating a sense of living history.
Route 66 holds an iconic status in American history, serving as a symbol of adventure, opportunity, and the pioneering spirit that shaped the nation. Its creation and subsequent decline parallel the changing landscape of America, reflecting the evolution of transportation and the cultural shifts of the 20th century. Today, RVing along Route 66 provides a unique opportunity to step back in time, relive the glory days of the open road, and connect with the past while forging new memories along this legendary highway.
Planning Your RV Adventure
Embarking on an RV journey along Route 66 requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. From selecting the right RV to crafting an itinerary that encompasses all the must-see attractions, here are some essential tips to help you plan your RV adventure along this iconic highway:
Choosing the Right RV: Selecting the appropriate RV for your trip is crucial to ensure comfort and convenience. Consider factors such as the size of your travel party, desired amenities, and your budget. Options include motorhomes, travel trailers, camper vans, and more. Research different RV types and models, and consider renting or purchasing one that suits your specific needs.
Timing and Weather: Deciding when to embark on your Route 66 adventure is essential. While the highway can be traveled year-round, spring and fall offer milder temperatures, making for more comfortable camping and sightseeing experiences. Summers can be hot, particularly in desert regions, so plan accordingly and be prepared for warmer weather.
Route 66 Itinerary: Crafting a well-thought-out itinerary is key to making the most of your journey along Route 66. Research the attractions, landmarks, and towns along the way to determine the stops that interest you the most. Calculate the driving distances between each stop to ensure a well-paced trip, allowing for both exploration and relaxation. Be open to flexibility and spontaneous detours, as some of the best experiences can come from unexpected discoveries.
Must-See Attractions and Points of Interest: Route 66 is brimming with fascinating attractions and points of interest. Here are some must-see stops along the way:
- Chicago, Illinois: Start your adventure in the Windy City, exploring iconic landmarks such as Millennium Park and Navy Pier.
- St. Louis, Missouri: Visit the Gateway Arch, symbolizing westward expansion, and immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and culture.
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Discover the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and embrace the blend of cowboy culture and urban amenities.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico: Experience the vibrant Southwest culture, visit historic Old Town, and witness the enchanting Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta if your timing aligns.
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: Take a detour to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the world’s most famous natural wonders.
- Santa Monica, California: Conclude your journey at the Santa Monica Pier, where Route 66 officially ends, and enjoy the sunny beaches and vibrant atmosphere.
Hidden Gems and Local Experiences
- While the main attractions along Route 66 are undoubtedly captivating, don’t overlook the hidden gems and local experiences that add a touch of uniqueness to your journey. Consider the following:
- Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas: Marvel at the unusual art installation featuring a row of partially buried Cadillacs.
- Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona: Spend a night in one of the iconic wigwam-shaped motel rooms for a truly memorable experience.
- Route 66 Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Immerse yourself in the history and nostalgia of Route 66 through exhibits and artifacts.
- Seligman, Arizona: Step back in time in this preserved Route 66 town, filled with vintage shops, neon signs, and nostalgic charm.
- To ensure a successful RV adventure, keep these practical considerations in mind:
- RV Campgrounds: Research and book your campgrounds in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your spot. Many campgrounds along Route 66 offer RV hookups, amenities, and proximity to attractions.
- Roadside Assistance: Consider joining a reputable roadside assistance program to ensure help is readily available in case of emergencies or breakdowns.
- Budgeting: Plan your expenses and allocate a budget for fuel, campground fees, dining, attractions, and unexpected costs. It’s essential to have a financial plan to avoid any surprises during your journey.
- Safety and Maintenance: Regularly check your RV’s tire pressure, brakes, and fluids. Ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit, emergency supplies, and a basic tool kit onboard. Familiarize yourself with RV driving techniques and safety guidelines to ensure a safe journey.
Planning an RV adventure along Route 66 requires thoughtful consideration and research. By choosing the right RV, crafting a well-paced itinerary, and being open to spontaneous detours, you’ll be well on your way to an unforgettable journey through history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Embrace the freedom of the open road and savor the unique experiences that await you along this iconic highway.
Must-See Attractions Along Route 66
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 offers a plethora of exciting attractions and landmarks that showcase the diverse culture, history, and natural beauty of the United States. From iconic cities to breathtaking natural wonders, here are some must-see stops along Route 66 that will make your journey truly unforgettable:
Chicago, Illinois: Start your Route 66 adventure in the vibrant city of Chicago. Explore the iconic Millennium Park, where you can marvel at the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, fondly known as “The Bean.” Take a stroll along Navy Pier, offering breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and a variety of entertainment options. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history by visiting the Art Institute of Chicago or exploring the Chicago History Museum.
St. Louis, Missouri: As you make your way through Missouri, don’t miss the opportunity to visit St. Louis. The Gateway Arch is a must-see attraction, symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States. Take a ride to the top for panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River. Explore the historic Soulard neighborhood, known for its vibrant nightlife, live music venues, and delicious Cajun cuisine. Be sure to visit the City Museum, an interactive playground filled with architectural wonders and imaginative exhibits.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Oklahoma City offers a fascinating blend of cowboy culture and urban amenities. Discover the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which showcases the rich history and traditions of the American West. Take a stroll along the Bricktown Canal, lined with restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, a powerful tribute to the victims of the 1995 bombing.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Albuquerque is a vibrant city known for its Southwestern charm and rich Native American heritage. Explore historic Old Town, where you’ll find adobe buildings, art galleries, and local shops. If your timing aligns, witness the spectacular Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where hundreds of hot air balloons take to the sky in a mesmerizing display of color. Don’t forget to visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to learn about the diverse Native American cultures of New Mexico.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: Although it requires a detour from Route 66, a visit to the Grand Canyon National Park is an absolute must. Marvel at the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the world’s most famous natural wonders. Take a hike along the rim trails to soak in breathtaking panoramic views or venture into the canyon itself on a guided tour. Capture unforgettable moments as the changing light creates a mesmerizing spectacle of colors.
Santa Monica, California: As you approach the end of your Route 66 journey, make your way to Santa Monica, where the highway officially concludes at the Santa Monica Pier. Enjoy the vibrant beach atmosphere, stroll along the pier, and take a ride on the iconic Ferris wheel. Explore the lively Third Street Promenade, filled with shops, restaurants, and street performers. If you have time, relax on the sandy shores of Santa Monica Beach or catch a beautiful Pacific Ocean sunset.
The must-see attractions along Route 66 offer a diverse range of experiences, from iconic cities and cultural landmarks to breathtaking natural wonders. As you traverse this legendary highway in your RV, be sure to immerse yourself in the rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes that make Route 66 a truly unforgettable journey. Each stop along the way will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the United States.
Hidden Gems and Local Experiences
While the iconic attractions along Route 66 are undoubtedly captivating, it’s the hidden gems and local experiences that truly make your journey memorable. From quirky roadside attractions to preserved towns that harken back to the golden era of the Mother Road, here are some hidden gems and local experiences you won’t want to miss:
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas: Located just west of Amarillo, Texas, the Cadillac Ranch is a unique art installation that features ten Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground. Created in 1974, this peculiar sight has become an iconic symbol of Route 66. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own spray paint cans and leave their mark on the cars, resulting in a continuously evolving artwork. Capture colorful photos and leave your own creative contribution on this one-of-a-kind roadside attraction.
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona: For a truly unique accommodation experience, spend a night at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona. This historic motel, built in the 1950s, features individually themed rooms shaped like teepees or wigwams. Each wigwam is equipped with modern amenities, providing a comfortable and nostalgic stay. Embrace the vintage charm and step back in time as you immerse yourself in the retro ambiance of this iconic Route 66 lodging.
Route 66 Museum – Clinton, Oklahoma: Located in Clinton, Oklahoma, the Route 66 Museum offers a captivating journey through the history and nostalgia of the Mother Road. The museum showcases exhibits and artifacts that highlight the cultural significance and evolution of Route 66. Explore interactive displays, vintage memorabilia, and learn about the iconic motels, diners, and gas stations that once dotted the landscape of this legendary highway. Gain a deeper appreciation for the impact Route 66 had on American culture and transportation.
Seligman, Arizona: Step back in time as you visit Seligman, Arizona, a preserved Route 66 town filled with vintage shops, neon signs, and nostalgic charm. This small town played a significant role in the preservation and revitalization of Route 66. Explore the historic district, browse the souvenir shops, and dine at a classic roadside diner. Make sure to visit the famous Snow Cap Drive-In, known for its humorous signs, quirky décor, and delicious frozen treats.
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch – Oro Grande, California: Located near Victorville, California, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is a whimsical and enchanting art installation that will capture your imagination. Elmer Long, the artist behind this unique creation, has crafted an extensive collection of bottle trees adorned with colorful glass bottles. Wander through the ranch and marvel at the dazzling display of light and color. This hidden gem is a testament to the creativity and eccentricity often associated with Route 66.
Munger Moss Motel – Lebanon, Missouri: For a quintessential Route 66 lodging experience, spend a night at the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri. This family-owned motel has been serving travelers since 1946 and embodies the charm and nostalgia of the Mother Road. The rooms are meticulously decorated with vintage furnishings, transporting you back to the golden age of Route 66. Take a moment to chat with the friendly owners, who are often more than happy to share stories and insights about Route 66 history.
While the main attractions along Route 66 are undeniably captivating, the hidden gems and local experiences along the way add an extra layer of charm and authenticity to your journey. From quirky art installations to preserved towns that capture the essence of a bygone era, these hidden gems allow you to connect with the spirit of Route 66 on a more personal level. Embrace these local treasures, engage with the communities, and create lasting memories that embody the true essence of the Mother Road.
Practical Tips for a Successful RV Journey
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. From selecting the right RV to ensuring safety and maintenance, here are some practical tips to make your journey along the Mother Road a success:
RV Selection: Choose the right RV that suits your needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the size of your travel party, desired amenities, and budget. Take the time to research different types of RVs, such as motorhomes, travel trailers, or camper vans, to find the one that best fits your requirements.
Route 66 Itinerary: Plan your Route 66 itinerary in advance to make the most of your journey. Research the attractions, landmarks, and towns along the way, and decide on the stops that interest you the most. Calculate the driving distances between each stop to ensure a well-paced trip, allowing for both exploration and relaxation. Remain flexible and open to spontaneous detours and unexpected discoveries.
RV Campgrounds: Book your campgrounds in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your spot. Route 66 offers a range of RV-friendly campgrounds and parks along its path. Look for campgrounds that offer amenities such as hookups, clean facilities, and proximity to attractions. Consider joining campground memberships or loyalty programs to take advantage of discounts and additional benefits.
Roadside Assistance: Consider joining a reputable roadside assistance program to ensure help is readily available in case of emergencies or breakdowns. These programs provide services such as towing, fuel delivery, and tire changes, giving you peace of mind during your journey. Research different programs, compare coverage and pricing, and choose one that suits your needs.
Budgeting: Plan your budget carefully to ensure you have enough funds for the duration of your RV adventure. Consider expenses such as fuel, campground fees, dining, attractions, and unexpected costs. Research average fuel prices along the route and calculate the estimated mileage of your RV to determine fuel costs. Allocate funds for dining out, but also consider cooking meals in your RV to save money.
Safety and Maintenance: Prioritize safety and maintenance throughout your RV journey. Perform regular checks on your RV’s tires, brakes, fluid levels, and lights. Familiarize yourself with RV driving techniques, especially if you’re new to RVing. Be mindful of low clearances and weight restrictions along the route. Pack a well-stocked first aid kit, emergency supplies, and a basic tool kit. Stay informed about weather conditions and road closures.
Navigation and Communication: Ensure you have reliable navigation tools and maps to guide you along Route 66. While GPS devices are convenient, it’s advisable to carry physical maps as a backup, as some areas may have limited cell phone reception. Inform a trusted family member or friend about your travel plans and keep them updated on your progress. Consider investing in a mobile hotspot or portable Wi-Fi device to stay connected during your journey.
Pack Efficiently: Pack your RV efficiently, maximizing the available space while keeping weight distribution in mind. Create a checklist to ensure you have all the essential items, such as bedding, toiletries, kitchen supplies, and camping gear. Pack weather-appropriate clothing and footwear, as Route 66 spans various climates and terrains. Don’t forget to bring entertainment options such as books, games, or DVDs for leisure time in the RV.
By following these practical tips, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable RV journey along Route 66. From selecting the right RV to planning your itinerary and prioritizing safety, these tips will help you make the most of your adventure. Embrace the freedom of the open road, savor the experiences along the way, and create cherished memories as you travel this iconic highway.
Best Dining Experiences Along Route 66
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 not only offers a captivating journey through history and culture but also a chance to indulge in a diverse culinary landscape. From classic diners serving up American comfort food to unique eateries showcasing regional specialties, here are some of the best dining experiences to savor along the Mother Road:
Kansas City Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri: Kansas City is renowned for its mouthwatering barbecue, and no trip along Route 66 is complete without sampling this regional delight. Sink your teeth into slow-smoked ribs, tender brisket, and flavorful burnt ends, all slathered in tangy and rich barbecue sauce. Visit legendary barbecue joints such as Arthur Bryant’s, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, or Q39, and savor the authentic flavors that put Kansas City on the map for barbecue enthusiasts.
Tex-Mex Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico: As you venture through New Mexico, immerse yourself in the flavors of Tex-Mex cuisine. Enjoy the melding of Texas and Mexican culinary traditions, resulting in dishes bursting with bold flavors and spices. Indulge in enchiladas smothered in red or green chile sauce, savor sizzling fajitas, and relish the taste of homemade tamales. Don’t miss iconic local spots such as El Pinto, Sadie’s of New Mexico, or Los Cuates for a true taste of Tex-Mex along Route 66.
Pies at Midpoint Café – Adrian, Texas: Make a stop at the Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas, where you can indulge in delicious homemade pies that have become legendary among Route 66 travelers. This historic café, situated at the halfway point of the highway, offers an array of delectable pies, including classics like apple, cherry, and pecan. Treat yourself to a slice of pie and relish in the nostalgic atmosphere of this iconic roadside eatery.
Farm-to-Table Delights – Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe, known for its vibrant art scene and rich culinary heritage, offers a plethora of farm-to-table dining experiences. Taste the flavors of the Southwest with dishes that showcase locally sourced ingredients, from chiles and corn to squash and beans. Visit restaurants like The Shed, where you can savor traditional New Mexican cuisine like green chile stew and stacked enchiladas, or try Geronimo for an upscale dining experience featuring innovative Southwest-inspired dishes.
Steaks and Prime Rib – Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo is famous for its mouthwatering steaks and prime rib, making it a must-stop destination for meat lovers. Sink your teeth into a perfectly grilled steak, cooked to your liking, or indulge in tender and juicy prime rib that melts in your mouth. Iconic steakhouses such as The Big Texan Steak Ranch and The Handlebar Steakhouse are known for their generous portions, lively atmosphere, and top-quality cuts of beef.
Classic Diners – Various Locations: Route 66 is dotted with classic diners that transport you back to the golden era of the Mother Road. Enjoy the nostalgic ambiance, friendly service, and comfort food favorites like burgers, milkshakes, and hearty breakfasts. Step into the past at places like the Rock Café in Stroud, Oklahoma, or the Ariston Café in Litchfield, Illinois, both historic diners that have been serving travelers for decades.
As you journey along Route 66 in your RV, take the opportunity to delight your taste buds with the diverse culinary experiences the Mother Road has to offer. From finger-licking barbecue to regional specialties and classic comfort food, the dining options along Route 66 are as diverse as the landscapes and cultures you’ll encounter. Indulge in these culinary delights, support local establishments, and create flavorful memories along the way. Bon appétit!
Route 66 Museums and Historic Sites
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 offers more than just scenic landscapes and iconic roadside attractions. It’s an opportunity to delve into the rich history and cultural significance of the Mother Road through the various museums and historic sites that dot its path. From exhibits that celebrate the road’s heyday to preserved landmarks that showcase its enduring legacy, here are some must-visit museums and historic sites along Route 66:
Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum – Pontiac, Illinois: Located in Pontiac, Illinois, the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the history and spirit of the Mother Road. Discover the stories of the people, places, and events that shaped Route 66 through exhibits filled with memorabilia, photographs, and interactive displays. Learn about the cultural impact of the road, its role in the development of the United States, and the changing landscape of travel.
Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame & Museum – Springfield, Illinois: In Springfield, Illinois, the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame & Museum pays homage to the iconic highway. Immerse yourself in the nostalgia of Route 66 as you explore exhibits showcasing classic cars, vintage signage, and a collection of historic artifacts. Gain insights into the road’s history, its influence on popular culture, and the memories created by those who traveled it.
California Route 66 Museum – Victorville, California: The California Route 66 Museum in Victorville, California, offers a comprehensive look at the road’s history on the West Coast. Delve into the stories of the communities, businesses, and travelers who shaped Route 66 in California through informative displays, vintage vehicles, and memorabilia. Learn about the challenges faced during the road’s development and its impact on the surrounding regions.
National Route 66 Museum – Elk City, Oklahoma: Situated in Elk City, Oklahoma, the National Route 66 Museum provides a captivating journey through the cultural and historical significance of the highway. Explore exhibits that showcase the road’s evolution, from its early days as a dirt road to its transformation into a symbol of freedom and adventure. Discover the stories of the people who traveled Route 66, the businesses that thrived along its path, and the communities that embraced its spirit.
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona: The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, is not only an accommodation option but also a historic site that harks back to the heyday of Route 66. Stay in one of the iconic wigwam-shaped rooms, which have been carefully preserved to evoke the nostalgia of the past. This landmark motel offers a glimpse into the architecture and hospitality of a bygone era, allowing visitors to experience the charm and character of Route 66 firsthand.
Meramec Caverns – Stanton, Missouri: While not directly related to Route 66, Meramec Caverns near Stanton, Missouri, holds historical significance as a popular attraction along the Mother Road. Take a guided tour through these remarkable caverns, where you’ll encounter stunning rock formations, underground lakes, and fascinating geological features. Learn about the cave’s ties to Route 66 history and its role as a roadside stop that has entertained travelers for decades.
Exploring the museums and historic sites along Route 66 provides a deeper understanding of the road’s impact on American culture, transportation, and the communities that flourished along its path. From Illinois to California, these museums preserve the memories, artifacts, and stories of Route 66, allowing visitors to step back in time and appreciate the significance of this iconic highway. Embrace the opportunity to learn, reflect, and celebrate the enduring legacy of the Mother Road.
Roadside Attractions and Photo Opportunities
One of the defining features of Route 66 is its collection of quirky and captivating roadside attractions that line the historic highway. These unique stops offer not only memorable experiences but also fantastic photo opportunities that capture the spirit of the Mother Road. From giant statues to kitschy landmarks, here are some must-visit roadside attractions along Route 66:
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas: Cadillac Ranch is an iconic art installation located just west of Amarillo, Texas. Here, ten Cadillac cars are partially buried nose-first in the ground, providing an eye-catching sight. Visitors are encouraged to bring spray paint and leave their mark on the vehicles, resulting in an ever-changing and vibrant display of colors. Capture artistic photos against the backdrop of these classic cars and contribute to the evolving artwork.
The Blue Whale – Catoosa, Oklahoma: The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma, is a beloved landmark along Route 66. This massive blue whale sculpture was built as a surprise anniversary gift and has since become a popular tourist attraction. The whale sits in a pond and offers a unique photo opportunity. Pose on the whale’s tail or capture a whimsical shot from the water’s edge, surrounded by the charm of this nostalgic roadside gem.
Wigwam Village Motels – Holbrook, Arizona and other locations: The Wigwam Village Motels can be found in various locations along Route 66, including Holbrook, Arizona. These unique lodgings feature individual rooms shaped like wigwams or teepees, evoking the nostalgia of a bygone era. Take a memorable photo in front of these distinctive structures, capturing the essence of the Mother Road’s golden days and the novelty of Route 66 accommodations.
The World’s Largest Rocking Chair – Fanning, Missouri: Fanning, Missouri, is home to the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, a roadside attraction that captures the imagination of Route 66 travelers. Towering at over 42 feet tall, this oversized rocking chair offers a fun and quirky photo opportunity. Climb onto the chair for a unique perspective or snap a shot from a distance to capture the sheer size of this playful landmark.
Gemini Giant – Wilmington, Illinois: The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois, is a towering fiberglass statue that stands proudly along Route 66. Clad in an astronaut suit and holding a rocket ship, this extraterrestrial figure pays homage to the space race of the mid-20th century. Strike a pose beside the Gemini Giant and capture a photo that blends nostalgia, Americana, and a touch of intergalactic charm.
Route 66 Shield Signs: Throughout your journey along Route 66, keep an eye out for the iconic Route 66 shield signs. These distinctive signs mark the route and make for great photo opportunities. Capture images of the signposts against scenic landscapes or frame yourself within the sign to create a visual reminder of your adventure on the Mother Road.
As you travel along Route 66 in your RV, don’t forget to stop and appreciate the unique roadside attractions that make this highway so memorable. These quirky landmarks and photo opportunities offer a chance to capture the essence of the Mother Road and create lasting memories. Embrace the creativity and charm of these roadside gems as you document your journey along this iconic highway.
Route 66 Festivals and Events
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 not only allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history and stunning landscapes but also offers the opportunity to participate in exciting festivals and events that celebrate the spirit of the Mother Road. From car shows and live music to cultural celebrations, here are some Route 66 festivals and events that you won’t want to miss:
International Route 66 Mother Road Festival – Springfield, Illinois: Every September, the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival takes over the streets of downtown Springfield, Illinois. This three-day event showcases classic cars, live music, food vendors, and family-friendly activities. Marvel at the impressive collection of vintage automobiles, take part in the nostalgic atmosphere, and enjoy the vibrant festivities that celebrate the iconic highway.
Route 66 Fun Run – Arizona: The Route 66 Fun Run is an annual event that takes place in Arizona, covering a scenic stretch of the Mother Road from Seligman to Topock. Held in May, this event brings together classic car enthusiasts and Route 66 aficionados for a memorable weekend. Join the parade of vintage vehicles, enjoy live entertainment, and embrace the camaraderie and sense of adventure that defines Route 66.
Big Texan Steak Challenge – Amarillo, Texas: If you’re up for a unique culinary challenge, head to the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Known for its massive 72-ounce steak challenge, this event attracts both participants and spectators. See if you have what it takes to devour a 72-ounce steak, along with all the trimmings, within a set time limit. It’s a thrilling experience that showcases the larger-than-life spirit of Route 66.
International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, New Mexico: While not directly Route 66-focused, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a must-see event that often coincides with travels along the Mother Road. Taking place in October, this world-renowned festival features hundreds of hot air balloons taking flight in the crisp morning air. Witness the sky filled with vibrant colors and whimsical shapes, and experience the magical atmosphere of this iconic event.
Route 66 Festival – Victorville, California: In Victorville, California, the Route 66 Festival celebrates the history and cultural significance of the highway. This multi-day event, typically held in September, features live music, car shows, art exhibitions, food vendors, and more. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, interact with fellow Route 66 enthusiasts, and enjoy the festivities that pay tribute to the Mother Road.
Joliet Blues Festival – Joliet, Illinois: If you’re a fan of blues music, make sure to check out the Joliet Blues Festival in Joliet, Illinois. This annual event, typically held in August, brings together renowned blues musicians for a day of soulful performances. Experience the sounds of authentic blues music, soak in the lively atmosphere, and celebrate the musical heritage that has intertwined with Route 66 throughout the years.
Route 66 festivals and events offer a chance to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and rich heritage of the Mother Road. From car shows and live music to culinary challenges and hot air balloon spectacles, these events provide unforgettable experiences that celebrate the spirit of Route 66. Whether you’re a car enthusiast, music lover, or simply seeking to connect with fellow travelers, these festivals and events will add an extra layer of excitement and camaraderie to your RV journey along the historic highway.
Sustainability and Responsible RVing
As you embark on your RV adventure along Route 66, it’s important to prioritize sustainability and responsible practices to preserve the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Mother Road. By adopting eco-friendly habits and supporting local communities, you can contribute to the long-term sustainability of Route 66. Here are some tips for responsible RVing:
Leave No Trace: Follow the principles of Leave No Trace to minimize your impact on the environment. Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly. Be mindful of waste and recycle whenever possible. Leave natural and cultural artifacts untouched, ensuring they are preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Conserve Resources: Practice responsible resource management during your RV journey. Conserve water by taking shorter showers, turning off faucets when not in use, and utilizing water-saving techniques when washing dishes. Be conscious of energy usage by turning off lights, electronics, and appliances when not needed. Consider using solar-powered devices to reduce reliance on traditional energy sources.
Respect Wildlife and Nature: Observe and appreciate wildlife from a distance, refraining from feeding or approaching them. Keep noise levels to a minimum to avoid disturbing animals and their habitats. Stay on designated trails and respect protected areas to minimize ecological impact.
Support Local Communities: Contribute to the sustainability of Route 66 by supporting local businesses, restaurants, and attractions. Dine at local eateries that serve regional cuisine, purchase souvenirs from local artisans, and stay at RV parks or campgrounds owned and operated by local communities. By doing so, you help bolster the local economy and preserve the unique character of each Route 66 town.
Choose Eco-Friendly Products: Opt for eco-friendly products and practices during your RV journey. Use biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning supplies to minimize the impact on water systems. Reduce single-use plastics by utilizing reusable water bottles, grocery bags, and containers. Choose environmentally friendly RV cleaning products and toiletries that are safe for the environment.
Minimize Carbon Footprint: Minimize your carbon footprint by adopting fuel-efficient driving practices. Observe speed limits, maintain a steady pace, and avoid unnecessary idling. Regularly service your RV to ensure it operates efficiently. Consider offsetting your carbon emissions by participating in carbon offset programs or supporting renewable energy projects.
Educate Yourself and Others: Take the time to educate yourself about the history, culture, and environmental significance of Route 66. Share your knowledge and experiences with fellow travelers, encouraging them to practice responsible RVing. Engage in conversations about sustainability, fostering a sense of environmental stewardship among fellow Route 66 enthusiasts.
By embracing sustainability and responsible RVing practices, you can enjoy your Route 66 journey while preserving its natural and cultural heritage for future generations. By leaving no trace, conserving resources, respecting wildlife, supporting local communities, and minimizing your carbon footprint, you become a responsible guardian of the Mother Road. Let’s work together to ensure that Route 66 remains a thriving and sustainable destination for years to come.
Capturing the Journey – Route 66 Photography Tips
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 provides countless opportunities for capturing stunning photographs that encapsulate the essence of this iconic highway. From breathtaking landscapes to charming roadside attractions, here are some photography tips to help you capture the beauty and spirit of your Route 66 journey:
Research and Plan: Before you hit the road, research the iconic landmarks, scenic viewpoints, and unique attractions along Route 66. Create a shot list of must-see locations and plan your itinerary accordingly. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss any photographic opportunities.
Golden Hour Magic: Take advantage of the magical lighting conditions during the golden hours—early morning and late afternoon—when the sun casts a warm, soft glow on the landscapes. This is the ideal time to capture stunning colors, long shadows, and dramatic silhouettes. Wake up early or stay out late to capture the enchanting moments of Route 66 bathed in golden light.
Play with Perspectives: Experiment with different perspectives to add depth and interest to your photographs. Get down low for a unique vantage point or find elevated positions to capture the vastness of the landscapes. Incorporate foreground elements to create layers and lead the viewer’s eye into the frame. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try unusual angles to capture the essence of Route 66.
Embrace the Roadside Charm: Route 66 is known for its quirky and nostalgic roadside attractions. Capture the charm and character of these unique stops by focusing on the details. Zoom in on colorful signage, vintage cars, and retro architecture. Look for interesting textures, patterns, and colors that tell the story of the place. These details can add a touch of nostalgia and authenticity to your Route 66 photographs.
People and Stories: While the landscapes and attractions are captivating, don’t forget to include people in your photographs to tell the story of Route 66. Capture the interactions between fellow travelers, locals, and the environment. Photograph the smiles, laughter, and moments of connection. Including people in your shots adds a human element and helps convey the spirit and energy of the Mother Road.
Weather and Seasonal Variations: Be prepared for the diverse weather conditions along Route 66, as they can greatly impact your photography. Embrace the dramatic skies during thunderstorms or capture the vibrant colors of fall foliage. Utilize the different weather conditions to evoke various moods and atmospheres in your photographs. Don’t let adverse weather discourage you; it can often lead to unique and unexpected photo opportunities.
Post-processing and Editing: After capturing your Route 66 photographs, spend time editing and enhancing them to bring out their full potential. Experiment with different editing techniques to fine-tune colors, contrast, and sharpness. Consider using editing software to crop, straighten, and remove any distractions that may detract from the focal point of your images. However, strive to maintain the authenticity and natural beauty of the scenes you’ve captured.
Share and Connect: Route 66 has a vibrant community of enthusiasts. Share your photographs on social media platforms or join online forums and groups dedicated to the Mother Road. Engage with fellow travelers, exchange tips, and celebrate the beauty of Route 66 together. Your photographs can inspire and create connections with others who share the same passion for this iconic highway.
With these photography tips in mind, you’re well-equipped to capture the beauty and spirit of your Route 66 journey. Research, plan, and explore the diverse landscapes, roadside attractions, and charming towns along the way. Embrace the unique lighting conditions, experiment with perspectives, and tell the story of Route 66 through your photographs. Remember to share your work and connect with fellow enthusiasts to foster a sense of community and appreciation for the Mother Road’s visual splendor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. However, it’s common to have questions about the logistics, attractions, and overall journey. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you better prepare for your Route 66 RV trip:
What is the best time to travel Route 66?
The best time to travel Route 66 largely depends on personal preferences. Spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) offer pleasant weather and milder temperatures, making them popular choices. However, summer (June to August) can be busy with tourists, and some areas may experience high temperatures. Winter (December to February) may bring colder weather and potential road closures in certain regions. Consider the weather and crowds when planning your trip.
How long does it take to drive the entire Route 66?
Driving the entire Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, typically takes around two to three weeks. However, the duration can vary based on factors such as the number of stops, the pace of travel, and the amount of time spent exploring attractions along the way. Some travelers prefer to cover the route in segments over multiple trips, while others aim for a more condensed journey.
Do I need to make campground reservations in advance?
It’s advisable to make campground reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. While there are many campgrounds and RV parks along Route 66, popular spots can fill up quickly. Booking ahead ensures you have a designated spot to park your RV and provides peace of mind during your journey. Research and plan your campground stays, taking into account the amenities, location, and availability of hookups.
Is it necessary to have an RV to travel Route 66?
While having an RV adds convenience and flexibility to your Route 66 journey, it is not necessary. Many travelers choose to explore the route by car, motorcycle, or even bicycle. The key is to plan your accommodations accordingly, considering options such as hotels, motels, and campgrounds along the way. RV rental services are also available for those who want to experience the road in a recreational vehicle.
Are there specific attractions or landmarks I shouldn’t miss along Route 66?
Route 66 is filled with iconic attractions and landmarks. Some must-visit stops include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and the Santa Monica Pier in California. However, the beauty of Route 66 lies in the journey itself, with countless hidden gems and local experiences to discover along the way. Research the attractions and landmarks that align with your interests and plan accordingly.
How much does it cost to travel Route 66?
The cost of traveling Route 66 can vary depending on factors such as the duration of the trip, the type of accommodations, dining preferences, and the number of attractions visited. Budgeting for fuel, campground fees, meals, entertainment, and unexpected expenses is essential. Research average costs for accommodations, meals, and attractions along the route to estimate your expenses and plan your budget accordingly.
Can I travel Route 66 in an electric vehicle (EV)?
While it is possible to travel Route 66 in an electric vehicle (EV), it requires careful planning due to the limited number of charging stations along the route. Research EV charging stations in advance and plan your stops accordingly to ensure you have access to charging infrastructure when needed. Additionally, be mindful of the range limitations of your EV and plan your driving distances accordingly.
Are there any restrictions or road closures along Route 66?
Route 66 is a historic highway, and while it is still accessible for travel, some sections have been replaced or bypassed by modern highways. Additionally, road closures due to construction or weather conditions can occur. Stay updated with current road conditions and be prepared to make detours if necessary. Familiarize yourself with the different alignments of Route 66 and plan your route accordingly to ensure a smooth journey.
As you plan your Route 66 RV adventure, it’s natural to have questions. By addressing these frequently asked questions, you can better prepare for your journey, make informed decisions, and ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience along the iconic Mother Road. Remember to research, plan, and embrace the spirit of adventure as you embark on your Route 66 expedition.
Embarking on an RV adventure along Route 66 is an extraordinary journey that takes you through a tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. This iconic highway, often referred to as the “Mother Road,” offers a unique and immersive experience that captures the essence of Americana and the spirit of exploration.
From the bustling city streets of Chicago to the sun-soaked beaches of Santa Monica, Route 66 takes you on a nostalgic trip through time, allowing you to witness the evolution of America’s landscapes and communities. Along the way, you’ll encounter historic landmarks, captivating roadside attractions, and charming towns that have withstood the test of time.
Whether you’re captivated by the history and significance of Route 66, the culinary delights along the way, or the breathtaking landscapes that unfold before your eyes, this road trip offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the tales of the past at the Route 66 museums and historic sites, indulge in the flavors of regional cuisine, and capture the beauty of the landscapes through your lens.
As you travel, remember to embrace sustainability and responsible RVing practices, leaving no trace, supporting local communities, and minimizing your environmental impact. By doing so, you contribute to the preservation and long-term sustainability of Route 66, ensuring that future generations can experience the magic of this historic highway.
Route 66 is more than just a road trip; it’s an iconic American experience that captures the imagination and spirit of adventure. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from the routine, immerse yourself in the freedom of the open road, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
So, fuel up your RV, pack your sense of adventure, and set out on the journey of a lifetime along Route 66. Discover hidden gems, connect with local communities, and let the road guide you through an unforgettable experience filled with history, culture, and the joy of exploration. Route 66 is waiting to share its stories, charm, and undeniable allure with you.