Route 66 began in downtown Chicago, Illinois, and ended in Santa Monica in California. 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.
Route 66 traversed eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
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.
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 Illinois and Arizona. At that rate, the trip across the entire length of Route 66 would take 10-12 days.
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 14-21 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.
Let's discuss more about the weather!
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 7,000 foot peaks along the Continental Divide. Thus, weather conditions are diverse, and sometimes unpredictable. So pack clothing and be prepared for changing weather!
Travelers on Route 66 will on occasion experience snow storms, dust storms, flooded roads, thunderstorms, washouts, tornados, and high winds. So watch the weather forecasts, and adjust your itinerary appropriately.
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.
Road flooding can occur even in dry, desert areas, such as the floods of 2023 around Oatman, Arizona.
Rainy Day at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo
It isn't always a sunshine day at the Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo, Texas ... from May 1 - June 12 of 2023 parts of the area received over 10 inches of rain!
Some Days are Hot and Dry
|It was a hot day in Arizona, on July 15, 2023! Be prepared for heat if you travel in the summer in the U.S. west.
And Sometimes Severe Weather Brews Along Route 66
Snow Day Along Route 66
Current Weather Conditions Across Route 66
|Chicago, Illinois||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Springfield, Missouri||Galena, Kansas|
|Tulsa, Oklahoma||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|Amarillo, Texas||Tucumcari, New Mexico|
|Santa Fe, New Mexico||Gallup, New Mexico|
|Winslow, Arizona||Flagstaff, Arizona|
|Kingman, Arizona||Needles, California|
|San Bernardino, California||Santa Monica, California|
|National Weather Service (NWS) - Main Website|
|NWS - Chicago||NWS - Lincoln, IL|
|NWS - St. Louis||NWS - Springfield, MO|
|NWS - Tulsa||NWS - Norman, OK|
|NWS - Amarillo||NWS - Albuquerque|
|NWS - Flagstaff||NWS - Las Vegas|
|NWS - San Diego||Nws - Los Angeles|
Current Road Conditions Across Route 66
Planning a road trip on Route 66? Here are the travel guides and reviews by state ...