Riding Historic Route 66 on Motorcycle

Map of Route 66, The Main Street of America
Map of Route 66, The Main Street of America, seen in this vintage postcard

Route 66 was one of the United State's first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west. Today, many choose to ride and tour the historic route by motorcyle.

In the early years many sections connected only one small town to the next, and had no official federal route number. However, in 1926 the route was formalized as a Federal Highway numbered as "U.S. 66".

It became known as "The Mother Road" and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. The route was also called "The Main Street of America" and the "Will Rogers Highway".

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.

Out on the open road ... riding Route 66 on motorcycle in the western USA
Out on the open road ... riding Route 66 on motorcyle in the western USA


The passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956 sounded the death knell for the old road, and gradually segments were replaced with new, safer superhighways.

Its final demise was the completion of the Interstate Highway System, and Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985. Route 66 was replaced by five Interstates: I-55 from Chicago, I-44, I-40, I-15 and finally I-10 into Los Angeles.

Motorcycles at the Classy Ass, Oatman, Arizona, on Route 66
Motorcycles at The Classy Ass, Oatman, Arizona, on Route 66

We've had the pleasure of driving in all eight states along Route 66, The Main Street of America!

Included on this website are photographs, personal experiences, commentary and travel recommendations on the various segments of the Mother Road.

Touring Route 66

Get your motor running! Get out on the highway! Route 66 attracts a variety of tourists from across the United States and Canada, as well as many from European countries, and even far away locales like Australia and Japan.

There are many ways to see and experience Route 66, whether it be by private auto, RV, or tour bus. Trips along the entire 2,000 mile route can take 10-14 days, or more depending on the number of stops, and sidetrips to attractions like the Grand Canyon.

Many travelers on Route 66 also ride their own bikes or rent motorcycles to seek new open-air adventures on their USA road trip!

Renting Motorcycles for a Route 66 Trip

Motorcycle rider stopping for a photo op in the middle of Route 66
Motorcycle rider stopping for a photo op in the middle of Route 66

A variety of motorcycle rental plans are available, such as those from Eaglerider Motorcycle Rentals. These are excellent plans for those traveling from Europe, Australia or other countries to ride on Route 66.

Groups in other countries such as the Joy Rides and the European Route 66 Association also provide services and tours related to Route 66.

Out West, your motorcycle can be picked up at a number of rental locations in Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. If you are starting your Route 66 trip further north, motorcycle pickup locations in Illinois are available.

Model options are plentiful, and cycles from manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson and Indian are available. Trikes can also be rented.

 

If you don't want to ride independently, choose from one of many guided motorcycle tours. Self-drive tours often include rental of the motorcycle, hotel reservations and detailed tour route information.

The movie "Easy RIder" ... much of it filmed on Route 66
The movie "Easy RIder" ... much of it filmed on Route 66

Some companies offer one-way rentals, hotel pickups, luggage storage, helmets and other amenities.

Insurance, Licenses and More

Whether you are riding your own bike, or renting one, we highly recommend investigating all travel considerations, and then planning accordingly.

Make sure you have necessary travel insurance and health insurance, and coverage for lost passports, theft, damage to your bike, and travel disruptions. Consider mileage limitations from renters and roadside assistance before embarking on your trip. Also, be knowledgeable on motorcycle laws such as helmet usage and licenses in each state.

The Lore of Route 66: The Main Street of America

Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in the United States, outdistancing others such as the Lincoln Highway.

It is popular lore in movies, songs, books, and TV shows. The movie "Easy Rider" was filmed at several locations along Route 66.

The route was known far and wide for its variety of "mom and pop" motels, neon lights, drive-ins, quirky roadside attractions, flat tires, cars with no air conditioning, dangerous curves, steep hills, and narrow lanes.

The popularity stuck, and grew!

Route 66: The TV Show

Buz and Tod of the TV show Route 66
Tod and Buz
(By CBS, or Screen Gems)

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. A long list of well-known actors and actresses appeared on the series.

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

The interest in the show continues today by "Baby Boomers" who remember the original showings, and new generations of viewers fascinated by the show who watch it on DVD.

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

Route 66 Map from Chicago to Santa Monica

Map of Historic Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California
Historic U.S. Route 66 Map from Chicago to Santa Monica

 


Route 66: The Open Road

Riding the switchbacks on motorcycle on Route 66 near Kingman and Oatman, Arizona.

Riding the switchbacks on motorcycle on Route 66 near Kingman and Oatman, Arizona


Road Trip Travel Guides for Various States Along Route 66

Planning a road trip on Route 66? Here are the travel guides and reviews by state...

Route 66 in Missouri Route 66 in Texas Route 66 Across Arizona Route 66 Across New Mexico
Route 66 Road Trips Across Oklahoma Route 66 Road Trips in Illinois Route 66 Across California Route 66 in Kansas

 

Route 66 Today

Blue Whale on Old Route 66 in Catoosa, Oklahoma
Blue Whale on Old Route 66 in Catoosa, Oklahoma

Today, several states recognize the historical significance of the road, and have it marked with "66" in the state highway number.

The road is also a major tourist attraction, so many states openly market attractions and lodging along the old route.

The old road still traverses dozens of small towns with vintage gas stations, quirky tourist attractions, diners, "Mop & Pop" motels, historic sites, stunning vistas, and gift shops.

Photo Highlights from Road Trips Along Route 66

Included below are photo highlights of some of the more popular attractions and stops along Route 66. Hopefully the photographs will convey the type of sights you will experience riding your bike on the Mother Road!

Motorcycle riders stopping at the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac, Illinois

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum

The museum is a repository for thousands of pieces of historic memorabilia from the glory days of the Mother Road.

This is a great place to learn the history of Route 66 in Illinois, see images of the road's wonderful history, and hear a few great stories about life in America when Route 66 was the most important highway in the nation.

Located at 115 W. Howard Street in Pontiac, Illinois


1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois

1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois

Patrick O’Donnell built a gas station in Odell, Illinois based on a 1916 Standard Oil of Ohio design, commonly known as a domestic style gas station. In 1997, the station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Lebanon, Missouri

Texaco gas station display inside the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri

Texaco gas station display inside the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri

 

Joplin, MIssouri

The Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin features two nostalgic murals and an oversized 45-record imprint of "Get Your Kicks on Route 66". Route 66 Mural Park in downtown Joplin, Missour

The upper mural is called "Cruisin’ into Joplin", and showing a vintage Buick arriving in Joplin on Route 66 from the west

 

Baxter Springs, Kansas Visitor Center

The Baxter Springs, Kansas, Visitor Center is located at 740 East Avenue in a restored Phillips 66 Service Station ... added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Visitor Center Website

Baxter Springs, Kansas, Visitor Center in a restored Phillips 66 Service Station

Seen in this photo taken November, 2018.

 

Vintage Iron Museum
Miami, Oklahoma

The museum in downtown Miami includes a collection of more than 40 antique motorcycles, including classics like a 1917 Harley Davidson.

It also showcases Evel Knievel memorabilia, a wall of vintage helmets and a gift shop.

Vintage Iron Museum Website

Vintage Iron Museum, Miami, Oklahoma, along Historic Route 66



Ribbon Road in Oklahoma

Be sure to ride this section of the Old Route 66 9-foot wide "Ribbon Road" or "Sidewalk Highway" near Miami, Oklahoma.

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


Seen here on a road trip in November, 2018.

East Meets West: Symbolic Route 66 Midpoint in Tulsa

The Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza is named for the Tulsa resident who is known as "The Father of Route 66".

The park and sculptures are an artistic representation of the use of automobiles and highways spreading across the country in the late 1920s and 30s. Highly recommended for Route 66 fans!

East Meets West: Symbolic Route 66 Midpoint, in Tulsa Oklahoma


The Milk Bottle Grocery in Oklahoma City ... today with its Braum's milk bottle (November, 2018)


The Milk Bottle Grocery is located on a small triangular piece of property at 2426 N. Classen Avenue in Oklahoma City along Historic Route 66.

Milk Bottle Grocery

The grocery was built in 1930, and the giant milk bottle was added in 1948. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, it is adorned with a milk bottle from Braum's, the well-known Oklahoma-based dairy in Tuttle.

National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma
National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma


Lucille's Service Station and Roadhouse in Hydro, Oklahoma

Lucille's Service Station, a classic gas station built in 1929 along Route 66 near Hydro, is one of only two upper-story, out-thrust porch style stations left on Oklahoma's stretch of Route 66. 

Lucille's Service Station and Roadhouse, in Hydro, Oklahoma

 In 1941, the Hamons family took over the operation of the station and Lucille Hamons, ran the business for 60 years. Lucille, who quickly became known for her friendly assistance to motorists, earned the nickname "Mother of the Mother Road." 

Clinton, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is a popular stop in Clinton, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum

Inside exhibit at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma

 

Tower Plaza & U-Drop Inn
Shamrock, Texas

The U-Drop Inn opened in 1936 to provide lodging for travelers heading west on the Mother Road. Restored in 2004, today the iconic art deco building of green glazed tile and brick serves as a Visitor Information Center and also houses the Chamber of Commerce.

The adjoining Tower Station provided fuel for those early travelers.

The restored Inn and Station hosts over 25,000 visittors a year from around the world ... a "must see" when traveling this part of Route 66!

Motorcycle and rider visiting the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas on Historic Route 66

 

 

Phillips 66 Gas Station

Phillips 66 Gas Station in McLean, Texas

Dozens of old gas stations were located along Route 66 .. like this one.

Shown here is a vintage Phillips 66 Service Station in McLean, Texas, the location of the Phillips Petroleum Company's first gas station in Texas.

 

It was also the first Phillips 66 station on Route 66 when it was built in 1927.

The early Philliips stations, like the one in McLean, were designed in the "Cottage Look" to blend with local residential neighborhoods. Located at 218 West First Street.

The Big Texan in Amarillo

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!
The famous Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas, home of the 72 oz steak!

 

Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, Texas

Route 66 is known for its quirky and unusual attractions. Shown here is one of those, the Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, on present-day I-40.

The Cadillac Ranch ... classic, half-buried Cadillacs! West of Amarillo Texas on I-40

Access is from the service road on the south side of the interstate. Park and walk across the field ... free admission. And be sure to bring a can of spray paint!


Welcome to Adrian, Texas ... the midpoint of Historic Route 66
Welcome to Adrian, Texas ... the midpoint of Historic Route 66

A Texas Ghost Town

Abandoned Little Juarez Cafe in Glenrio


The Little Juarez Cafe in Glenrio

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.

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.

The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari

The famous Blue Swallow Motel, built in 1939, still does a thriving business in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico


815 E. Route 66 ... Phone 575.461.9849

website of the Blue Swallow Motel


The "Texaco" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico
The "Texaco" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Seen While Riding Route 66 in New Mexico

Night view of neon on Central Avenue in AlbuquerqueNight view of neon on Central Avenue in Albuquerque The Route 66 arch in Grants, New Mexico ... be sure to stop for a selfie!The Route 66 arch in Grants, New Mexico ... be sure to stop for a selfie!

The red flatbed truck at the Standing on the Corner park in Winslow, Arizona

Standin' on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona

This area was dedicated on September 11, 1999, as a tribute to the memorable song of the 1970s that made Winslow, Arizona a town to sing about on famous Route 66.

The song "Take It Easy" includes the verse "Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see".

The park is located at the corner of Old Route 66 and North Kinsley Avenue.

Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona

The Song

The song "Take It Easy" was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey and recorded by the Eagles. The Standin' on the Corner Park features a two-story mural and bronze statue.

A new Glenn Frey tribute statue was dedicated and installed in the Corner Park in 2016.

It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me!

It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me ... at the Standing on the Corner Park in WInslow Arizona

 

It is estimated 100,000 visitors stand on the corner each year in Winslow!

Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop & Visitor's Center in Seligman, Arizona

Read more at Route66GiftShop.com

Angel & Vilma's in Seligman, Arizona

In 1972, Angel Delgadillo moved his barber shop so that he could take advantage of the traffic on the new alignment of Route 66 through Seligman.

Business was good until September of 1978, when I-40 bypassed Seligman. To stimulate tourism, Angel, his wife Vilma, and other shop owners in northwest Arizona established the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.

The Association was located in Angel's Barber Shop & Pool Hall.

His  work helped make Seligman "The Birthplace of Historic Route 66".


Hackberry, Arizona

Seen below is a motorcycle tour stopped at the Hackberry General Store on Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman, Arizona

Motorcycle tour stopped at the Hackberry General Store on Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman, Arizona


Enjoying the solitude of Route 66 by motorcycle in Arizona
Enjoying the solitude of Route 66 by motocycle in Arizona

Oatman, Arizona

Motorcycles and wild donkeys at the Olive Oatman Restaurant & Saloon on Route 66 in Oatman

Motorcycles and wild donkeys at the Olive Oatman Restaurant & Saloon on Route 66 in Oatman, Arizona


Roy's

Time for a stop on a hot day of bike riding on Route 66 in the desert ... at Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy, California

Time for a stop on a hot day of bike riding ... Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy, California


Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino

In 1933 Frank Redford started developing the Wigwam “Villages” by designing teepee shaped motel units.

This was the last of seven Wigwam Motels built across the country; only three survive today. This one was opened in 1949, at 2728 E. Foothill Boulevard.

WigWam Motel in San Bernardino, California, since 1949

 

Driving down Route 66, this San Bernardino motel immediately grabs your attention with its one of a kind roadside architecture.

Website of the Wigwam Motel

WigWam Motel in San Bernardino, California, since 1949


The End of the Trail ... Santa Monica, California (Staff Photo)
The End of the Trail ... Santa Monica, California

 

Attractions and Cities Along Route 66

Along the length of Route 66, there are hundreds, probably thousands of attractions. And there are dozens of cities and towns, all easily accessible by motorcycle.

Different riders have different interests, so we can't list everything. But here are a few favorites! Let's get on the Road ... starting in Chicago, Illinois, and head west. Get ready to get your kicks ... on Route 66!

Attraction City State
The Architecture ... and the start of Route 66 west Chicago Illinois
Gemini Giant Wilmington Illinois
Ambler's Texaco Station Dwight Illinois
Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum Pontiac Illinois
Shea's Gas Station Museum Springfield Illinois
Chain of Rocks Bridge St. Louis Missouri
The Murals Rolla Missouri
66 Drive-In Theater Carthage Missouri
Route 66 Mural Park Joplin Missouri
Historic District Galena Kansas
Rainbow Curve Bridge Baxter Springs Kansas
Allen's Conoco Hole in the Wall Commerce Oklahoma
Route 66 Gateway Sign & Historic District Miami Oklahoma
Route 66 Ribbon Road Miami Oklahoma
Pryor Creek Bridge Chelsea Oklahoma
Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park Chelsea Oklahoma
The Blue Whale Catoosa Oklahoma
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza: East Meets West Tulsa Oklahoma
Murals and Broadway Brick Street Davenport Oklahoma
Route 66 Interpretive Center Chandler Oklahoma
Arcadia Round Barn Arcadia Oklahoma
Milk Bottle Grocery Oklahoma City Oklahoma
National Route 66 Museum Elk City Oklahoma
Lucille's Service Station Hydro Oklahoma
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum Clinton Oklahoma
Conoco Tower Plaza Station & U-Drop Inn Shamrock Texas
Vintage Phillips 66 Gas Station McLean Texas
Route 66 - 6th Street Historic District Amarillo Texas
Cadillac Ranch Amarillo Texas
Midpoint of Route 66 Adrian Texas
Ghost town Glenrio Texas
Route 66 Monument & Downtown Murals Tucumcari New Mexico
Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari New Mexico
Ghost town Cuervo New Mexico
Route 66 Auto Museum Santa Rosa New Mexico
Museums, Historic Sites, Fine Dining Santa Fe New Mexico
Historic Central Avenue Albuquerque New Mexico
El Rancho Hotel Gallup New Mexico
Wigwam Village Motel #6 Holbrook Arizona
Twin Arrows Trading Post Twin Arrows Arizona
Standing on the Corner & the LaPosada Historic District Winslow Arizona
Route 66 Visitor Center Flagstaff Arizona
Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Gift Shop & Visitor's Center Seligman Arizona
Hackberry General Store Hackberry Arizona
Powerhouse Route 66 Museum and Visitors Center Kingman Arizona
Feeding the donkeys downtown Oatman Arizona
Roy's Cafe & Motel Amboy California
Bagdad Cafe Newberry Springs California
Harvey House Railroad Depot Barstow California
Mother Road Museum Barstow California
California Route 66 Museum Victorville California
Wigwam Village #7 San Bernardino California
End of the Trail ... the westward end of Route 66 Santa Monica California

 

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