Travel Route 66 from Amarillo to Glenrio
|Greetings from Amarillo Texas ... the start of our road trip on Route 66!|
We've had the opportunity to get out on the road and explore Route 66 numerous times in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California ... and Texas!
Amarillo is the largest city on the 178 mile portion of Route 66 from Oklahoma to Texas and into New Mexico. The city is flush with historic sites, Route 66 memorabilia, hotels and restaurants, and lots of fun places to see.
Interstate Highway I-40 traverses the city east to west, much as Route 66 did in earlier years. I-27 heads south to Lubbock, while U.S. Highway 87 leads north to Dumas, Clayton and Raton.
Historic 6th Street District
The Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District preserves 13 blocks of cafes, antique shops, boutiques, nightspots and restaurants. The district includes commercial development in the San Jacinto Heights Addition west of Amarillo’s central business district.
It runs along an east-west axis through a grid system of streets between Georgia and Forrest Avenues. Developed as an early 20th century streetcar suburb, the district was transformed by the establishment of a national transportation artery running through its center. The road was originally paved with gravel in 1921.
Asphalt pavement on a concrete foundation replaced the gravel when the road became part of federally designated Route 66 in 1926. The commercial corridor was the first highway constructed to carry travelers out of Amarillo to the south and west.
The Historic District is Amarillo’s most intact collection of commercial buildings that possess significant associations with Route 66. Featuring elements of Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and Art Moderne design, these buildings represent the historic development phases of this early 20th century suburb and the evolving tastes and sensibilities of American culture.
The district is now a hub for nightlife and shopping, and tourism. The district hosts a number of festivals throughout the summer.
The Big Texan
Modern-day travelers through the city probably also know about "The Big Texan" steak house! It was origninally on Route 66, but is located today not far away, on I-40 ... it's a place many tourists to Amarillo want to check out.
In 1960 Bob Lee opened the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch on Route 66 in Amarillo. The Big Texan moved to the east side of Amarillo on I-40 in the 1970s.
Shown below is The "Big Texan" as it appears today ... home of the free 72 oz steak (with caveats) !
Jack Sisemore RV Museum
The Jack Sisemore RV Museum is located at 4341 Canyon Drive in Amarillo. The Sisemores began restoring and collecting unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago.
Their museum houses many of the RVs in their collection including a Flxible Clipper Bus, the first Itasca motor home ever built, the oldest Fleetwood in existence and many other RVs from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.
The museum is free to the public
Phone 806.358.4891 for information and hours of operation.
More things to See and Do in Amarillo
You are probably going to visit the Cadillac Ranch, and tour the Historic 6th Street District. And maybe eat at The Big Texan. But then what? Here are more things to do in Amarillo ...
- American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Musuem
- Amarillo Botanical Gardens
- Amarillo Zoo
- Cowgirls and Cowboys of the West
- Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
- Amarillo Museum of Art
- Texas Air & Space Museum
- The Helium Monument
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Lodging Options in Amarillo
We travel through, and to, Amarillo on a frequent basis. We have stayed there dozens of times over the decades. Today, the city offers more than 100 hotels and places to stay. It is a great stopping point for those traveling Historic Route 66, with not only many lodging options, but dining possibilities as well.
There are three primary clusters of lodging in Amarillo - downtown, on the east side of the city along I-40, and on the west side near Soncy Road (exit 64 from I-40). We prefer the Soncy Road area, near I-40 and the medical district, but that is just a personal preference.
Listed below are some popular lodging options, with reviews from TripAdvisor. NOTE: We have no affiliation with any of these properties, but only list these as a starting point in your lodging selection.
Downtown & Central
Highlights of the Route 66 Segment from Amarillo to Glenrio
Included in this road trip are some of our favorite places and scenes along the Mother Road. This segment includes all of the best of Route 66, including drivable sections, ghost towns, classic motels and famous roadside attractions like the Cadillac Ranch.
Heading westbound the route traveled through these places:
- Amarillo ... Historic 6th Street and the Cadillac Ranch
- Vega ... small town America
- Adrian ... mid-point of Route 66
- Glenrio ... ghost town on the Texas-New Mexico border
We have traveled this route multiple times over the years, both eastbound and westbound. Some of the journey is on I-40, which parallels the old Route 66 in most places.
Where possible, we choose to drive the segments of the Mother Road where it still remains. Exits to Route 66 are marked in most locales.
Our First Stop Leaving Amarillo: The Cadillac Ranch
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!|
This "interactive" folk art site of ten Cadillacs is the work of financier Stanley Marsh. Creators included Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group "Ant Farm".
It was created in 1974 and consists of what were old or junked Cadillac automobiles, many sporting those classic tail fins. The cars, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, face 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. As the city of Amarillo grew and encroached on the original site, the cars were moved two miles west to its current location in 1997.
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!
If you are traveling in a recreational vehicle or trailer, the Cadillac RV Park is located nearby, at the intersection of I-40 and Hope Road. A bit further west is the Oasis RV Resort.
|The Cadillac RV Park on I-40 west of Amarillo|
|Exit 35 from Intersate 40 at Vega, Texas, an access point to Route 66|
Still in Texas: Stops at the Towns of Vega and Adrian
|Welcome to Adrian, Texas ... the midpoint of Historic Route 66|
It is only about 50 miles from Amarillo to the New Mexico border, with the Old 66 Road passing through the small towns of Vega and Adrian.
The highway is flat and straight as it leaves Amarillo, but soon crosses suddenly into desert-like hill country.
Vega is the larger of the two towns, with some dining and lodging options as well as a Pilot Travel Center.
Adrian was the mid-way point on Route 66 - 1,139 miles to Chicago, 1,139 miles to Los Angeles.
Today, Adrian is a quiet place, the location of the famous Texas Bar-B-Q shown below.
Located at the exact geo-mathematical center of Route 66
|Texas Bar-B-Q & Antiques in Adrian, Texas (Staff photo, September, 2003) ... Later Brenda's Cafe|
|The historical Bent Door Midway Station in Adrian as seen in September, 2003 (Staff photo)
Currently undergoing restoration ... Read about the status of the restoration on Facebook
|Photo of the Bent Door Cafe (circa 2014) in Adrian showing restoration progress
(photo courtesy of of the Bent Door Cafe)
The Ghost Town of Glenrio
Present day Exit 0 from I-40 to Glenrio, on the Texas - New Mexico border
Happy Motoring! Abandoned ESSO service station at Glenrio, Texas on the north side of Interstate 40
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. Just west of Glenrio, Route 66 bridges are still visible to the alert I-40 traveler.
Originally a railroad town, the village was renamed from Rock Island to Glenrio by the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in 1908, and began receiving motorists driving the Ozark Trail in 1917. Its original structures were adobe buildings.
The town's location straddling the state line created a variety of unusual circumstances. Although a post office was established on the New Mexico side of the community, the depot where the mail arrived was on the Texas side. There were no bars on the Texas side of the community, since Deaf Smith County was dry, and no service stations were located on the New Mexico side because of that state's higher gasoline tax.
The Rock Island Railroad depot closed in 1955, and the opening of Interstate 40 in 1975 further accelerated the demise of Glenrio.
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. Some structures are posted, so in respect for owners and residents, please observe any "No Trespassing" signs.
For those traveling westbound, be sure to stop at the nicely designed and operated New Mexico Welcome Center. It is stocked well with maps and brochures about Route 66 and all of New Mexico; friendly staff members are always available to answer questions.
The old Route 66 continued westward from Glenrio through San Jon, Tucumcari, Montoya, the ghost town of Cuervo and Santa Rosa.
Abandoned Little Juarez Cafe in Glenrio
|The State Line Motel and Bar ... the "First in Texas" or "Last in Texas" depending on which direction the traveler was headed
||Glenrio, Texas sign on present-day I-40 Business Route
Entering New Mexico at Glenrio
Need a break while driving on I-40 and Route 66? Stop at the very well done Glenrio Visitor Center operated by New Mexico DOT.
The staff is friendly and knowledgable, and there is amble travel information, maps and brochures about New Mexico and Route 66 travel stops. Plus clean restrooms and water. Highly recommended!
Earlier Times on Route 66 in Amarillo
What was Route 66 like in its prime, driving to and staying in a motel in Amarillo? What did all the service stations, motels and diners look like when they were new?
What did the traveling public experience on the Mother Road? We wonder such things when we travel Route 66 today.
Those earlier times in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were not always captured on film. But the use of colorful postcards was common in those decades.
We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards showing scenes on Route 66 in Amarillo.
These portray the historic road in its prime and help us to visualize "yesterday" as we drive Route 66 today.
Spanish Courts, 742 N. Fillmore, on U.S. Highway 66 in Amarillo, Texas
True Rest Courts, 2812 N.E. 8th Avenue, on U.S. Highway 66 at the East City Limits in Amarillo, Texas
Elite Courts, 410 N. Fillmore, on U.S. Highway 66 in Amarillo, Texas
Longchamp Restaurant in Amarillo, Texas ... Recommended by Duncan Hines and AAA
Polk Street, Amarillo, Texas, Looking North from Ninth ... "The Best Lighted Main Street in America"