Route 66 Facts and FAQs

Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois
Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois, and ends in Santa Monica, CA
The End of the Trail ... Santa Monica, California
Where did Route 66 start and end?

Route 66 began in downtown Chicago, Illinois, and ended near Santa Monica in California.

How long was U.S. Route 66?

It is generally accepted that, from beginning to end in 1926, Route 66 traversed 2,448 miles. However, as the route evolved over its 60 years of existence with new, improved alignments, the mileage varied over time.

Was Route 66 the longest national highway?

Route 66 was not America's oldest or longest road, surpassed by transcontinental highways like U.S. Highway 40 and the Lincoln Highway. But it was the shortest, year-round route between the Midwest and the Pacific Coast. Route 20 is the longest U.S. highway, spanning 3,365 miles..

Was U.S. Route 66 paved?

Route 66 became the first national highway to be completely paved, in 1938.

When was U.S. Route 66 assigned?

The numerical designation of "U.S. Route 66" was assigned on April 30, 1926. Its supporters originally sought the Route 60 designation, and after opposition from several states, Route 62. But it finally, officially became Route 66.

What states does Route 66 travel through?
Historic U.S. Route 66 Map from Chicago to Santa MonicaMap of Route 66, The Mother Road

Route 66 traverses eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Who named Route 66 "The Mother Road"?

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck wrote a chapter about Dust Bowl migrants traveling Route 66, which he nicknamed “The Mother Road." The highway is also sometimes called "The Will Rogers Highway.”

Who is considered the father of Route 66?

Cyrus Avery was a Tulsa businessman who promoted the establishment of Route66 highway, earning him the nickname “Father of Route 66". In 1927, while involved in founding the U.S. Highway 66 Association, he created the Route 66 byline “Main Street of America.”

How long does it take to drive Route 66?

This question is asked often ... but is difficult to answer. Total time to drive the route, assuming no stops, is in the 32-38 hour range. But we would never recommend doing that.

 

On some of our road trips across the USA, we drive 500 miles a day, or more. At that rate, we could drive the entire Route 66 in about 5 days. But we would never do that!

We like to take it slow, stop to visit attractions, and catch all those great photo ops on The Mother Road! As an example, on our recent road trip in 2018 on Route 66 in Okalahoma, Google Maps estimated travel time on our trip from Tulsa to Joplin, Missouri, to be 1:45 ... but in actuality, it took us 8 hours!

 

For leisurely trips on Route 66, many experienced travelers recommend planning for 200 miles a day, at least on those stretches with lots of attractions, like Oklahoma and Arizona. At that rate, the trip across the entire length of Route 66 would take 10-12 days.

 

Kansas travel map from Conoco

Ideally, plan on a minimum of one week to make the trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. However, for a more leisurely and complete trip you might want to plan for 10-14 days. It all depends on how many stops you take along the Route, side trips like to the Grand Canyon, and of course the weather.

Which states had the longest, and shortest mileage, on Route 66?

New Mexico had the most miles, and Kansas the fewest:

 

  • Illinois - 301
  • Missouri - 317
  • Kansas - 13
  • Oklahoma - 432
  • Texas - 186
  • New Mexico - 487
  • Arizona - 401
  • California - 314
  • TOTAL - 2,448
When is the best time to travel Route 66, weatherwise?

Route 66 travels through vastly different climates, from the mid-western plains and cornfields to dry, arid areas in the west, from near sea level in California to the peaks along the Continental Divide. Thus, weather conditions are diverse, and sometimes unpredictable.

 

That said, the most ideal weather for the trip is in the spring, from March into early June. Likewise, the fall months of September, October and November are typically pleasant and offer good driving conditions. Winter months in the north can produce ice and snow storms, while summer in the desert areas of the great Southwest can be hot.

Buz and Tod of the TV show Route 66
Tod and Buz
(By CBS, or Screen Gems)
Who wrote the song "Get Your Kicks 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. The song lyrics follow Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Was there a TV show about Route 66?

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 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. The show ran from October, 1960, through March, 1964, and created a huge following.

 

Read more about the Route 66 TV series ... and those Corvettes!

Section of Old Route 66 9-foot wide "Ribbon Road" still visible near Miami, Oklahoma
When was Route 66 decommissioned?

With the advent of the Federal Interstate Highway System, U.S. Route 66 was gradually decommissioned, with the last segment, in Arizona, being removed from the Federal system by 1985.

What routes replaced Route 66?

The passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956 was the beginning of the end for Route 66, and gradually segments were replaced with new, safer superhighways. Route 66 was replaced by five Interstates: I-55 from Chicago, I-44, I-40, I-15 and finally I-10 into Los Angeles.

Can the entire Route 66 still be driven today?

Today, only portions of the original Route 66 can be driven. However, a significant amount of mileage in all eight Route 66 states is available for touring. Most remaining segments are paved.

 

Some segments remain much as they were originally constructed; other segments have been taken over by Interstate highways. It is estimated that up to 85% of the original route is driveable today.

What influence did Route 66 have on the movie "Cars"?

Classic, rusted trucks from earlier times, on Route 66 near Miami, Oklahoma

The animated movie "Cars" produced in 2006 tells the story of Route 66 through characters Lightning McQueen and Sally and their escapades at Radiator Springs, a fictionalized representation of all Route 66 towns.

 

Sally liked to say ... "Those were the days we traveled to have a great time, not to make great time"! In the movie, Ramone's House of Body Art looks amazingly similar to the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. Other real-life locations that inspired parts of the movie at the Cadillac Ranch, the Wigwam Motels, and the Wagon Wheel Motel. The movie was produced by Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Is buying gasoline along Route 66 a problem?

In most places, no. In more populated areas like Illinois, cities and towns are close together, and gasoline stations are plentiful. However, in the western U.S. travelers need to be mindful of their fuel levels. We make it a habit when traveling in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California to keep our tank above the half-way mark. In these areas fuel stops may be 30-50 miles apart, so plan ahead.

How can I find Route 66 segments today?

Many states have a system of well-marked signs, directing travelers on/off the segments.

 

Also, there is a wealth of paper-based books and maps today that mark Route 66 segments, like those below offered at Amazon.

About These Products

The Route 66 Road Trip website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you.

 

 

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