The Ultimate Route 66 Road Trip
Not too far from the Chicago Escape depot, Route 66 is an iconic stretch of highway that has inspired generations of songwriters, artists, and Roadtrippers. In the immortal words of Bobby Troup, Route 66 “winds from Chicago to LA, 2,000 miles all the way.” Route 66 is certainly a monumental undertaking; however, it provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience perhaps the best road trip that America has to offer.
Fortunately, Escape is here to make this admittedly ambitious road trip a bit more approachable. In a camper van, you will have the versatility of both a car and an RV. You will be able to explore locations that would be unapproachable by a bulky RV, but with all of the advantages of taking your hotel with you as you drive. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Route 66 Road Trip.
What Is Route 66
Route 66 can trace its origins back to 1926. In that year, the Bureau of Public Roads began attempts to cobble together a dizzying network of local, state, and national roads in order to create a true Federal highway system. The Route meanders from Santa Monica, California in the west, to Chicago, Illinois in the east. On its way, it passes through a total of eight states and three time zones. Travelers will experience an impressive array of scenery ranging from the towering woodlands of Missouri to the flat plains and ranch land of Oklahoma and Texas.
How To Travel Down Route 66
Once you commit to this incredible experience, the first question is where to begin. Brave travelers who want to experience all 2,000 miles of historic highway will have two options: Chicago and Santa Monica. Fortunately, Escape Camper Van has you covered regardless, with convenient locations in Chicago and Los Angeles. My advice for any traveler, whether they intend to complete the route or not, is to pick a starting point near the sights that you are most interested in. If you decide to finish your trip early, you have a good stopping point and will still have a great experience.
Route 66 passes through 10 major cities: Chicago, St Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Sedona, and Santa Monica. Each city has a unique set of attractions and its own cultural flavor. Before picking a starting point, a road tripper would do well to research their must-see cities and begin closer to those cities. For example, if you feel that you absolutely must experience St. Louis, a starting point in Chicago might make the most sense.
Don’t Miss Route 66 Attractions
It is safe to say that Route 66 was the birthplace of the American Road Trip. Over the years, its importance has diminished as it has been persistently passed over by newer, high-speed expressways. Despite this fact, Route 66 still possesses a dizzying array of attractions. Road trippers will experience bright, vintage, neon signs advertising everything from live animal displays to Wigwam-themed motels. Here is a list of some of our favorite attractions, however, keep in mind that in a camper van, you will have the versatility to leave the beaten path and see whatever attractions call to you along your route.
- Cadillac Ranch: Located in Amarillo Texas, the story of the Cadillac ranch began with a group of artistic hippies from San Francisco who called themselves the “Ant Farm.” With the financial support of Texas billionaire Stanley Marsh III, the Ant Farm erected a baffling tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tailfin in 1974. Onlookers will be confronted with an array of vertical Cadillacs that date from 1949 to 1963. It is truly a unique experience that should not be missed.
- Meramec Caverns: Located in Stanton Missouri, the Meramec Caverns are known as the place that gave a nation a bumper sticker. The Meramec Caverns is likely the oldest, and certainly longest-lived, attraction on Route 66. Purported to have been used by the Jesse James gang as a hideout, the Caverns provide onlookers with 7 levels of natural beauty.
- Uranus Missouri Town Center: Located in Uranus Missouri (yes really) this is one of the lesser-known attractions on our list. The Uranus Town Center offers a family-friendly pit stop like no other. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the owner, the purported mayor of Uranus, and experience a wide array of outer space-themed attractions and food selections.
- First Original Mcdonalds: Located in San Bernardino California, is the first McDonalds ever constructed. Built in 1940, this site is no longer owned by Mcdonald’s after it was purchased by the owner of the local chicken restaurant Juan Pollo. While you can no longer order a Big Mac, the site has been converted into a museum that traces the success of one of America’s largest corporations. It is a unique stop that is positively dripping with history (and possibly a little grease).
- The Grand Canyon: Presumably most readers will be familiar with the Grand Canyon located in Arizona. It is difficult to describe the immensity of this sight with words. Suffice to say that its name truly doesn’t do it justice. Onlookers will experience layered bands of rock that reveal millions of years of geological history. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon this is definitely a must-see.
Book A Campervan and Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip
If you decide to tackle your perfect American Road Trip, only Escape can provide the perfect means to ensure that your trip is flawless. Book a campervan and follow our blog for more tips and advice about how to tackle the ultimate road trip!