How Long Does It Take to Do Route 66 USA?

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, is an iconic highway that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles, spanning over 2,400 miles. Many travelers dream of embarking on this historic journey, but often wonder: how long does it take to do Route 66 in the USA? Let’s break down the answer to this question and provide a guide for planning your own Route 66 adventure.

Route 66 is a bucket-list road trip that offers a mix of Americana, stunning landscapes, and quirky roadside attractions. The total time it takes to complete Route 66 can vary depending on your travel style, pace, and the number of stops you plan to make along the way.

Route 66 Itinerary Overview

Embarking on a journey along Route 66 is a classic American road trip experience that is brimming with history and charm. Starting in Chicago, Illinois, and winding its way through eight states before reaching Santa Monica, California, this iconic highway spans over 2,400 miles.

Along the way, you’ll encounter a plethora of must-see stops, including the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, the Gateway Arch in Missouri, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. From quirky roadside attractions to breathtaking natural wonders, each stop offers a unique insight into the cultural tapestry of America.

Driving Time vs. Actual Time

When planning your Route 66 adventure, it’s crucial to differentiate between the driving time required to cover the distance and the actual time you should allocate for the journey. While it may take approximately 30 hours of non-stop driving to traverse the entire route, it’s recommended to set aside at least two weeks to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Allow yourself ample time to explore the quirky diners, vintage motels, and historic landmarks that line the route. Factor in stops for photo opportunities, meal breaks, and detours to off-the-beaten-path gems that you stumble upon along the way. Remember, the true essence of Route 66 lies in the journey itself, not just the destination.

For a more detailed breakdown, here’s a suggested daily itinerary to help you plan your Route 66 adventure:

  1. Chicago, Illinois: Start your journey in the Windy City and soak in the vibrant energy of the starting point.
  2. St. Louis, Missouri: Visit the iconic Gateway Arch and indulge in some classic Midwest hospitality.
  3. Amarillo, Texas: Make a pit stop at the quirky Cadillac Ranch and savor some delicious Texas barbecue.
  4. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Immerse yourself in the rich culture and art scene of this historic city.
  5. Grand Canyon, Arizona: Marvel at one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders.
  6. Los Angeles, California: Conclude your adventure on the golden shores of Santa Monica as you reach the end of Route 66.

Remember, flexibility is key when embarking on a Route 66 journey. Embrace spontaneity, strike up conversations with locals, and savor every moment of this unforgettable road trip experience.

Recommended Duration for Route 66

Embark on the iconic Route 66 journey with a recommended duration of 2-3 weeks to fully immerse yourself in the adventure. This timeframe allows you to savor the scenic beauty, explore charming towns, and indulge in mouth-watering local cuisines along the way. Take your time to soak in the rich history and diverse cultures that line this historic highway. A leisurely pace ensures you don’t miss out on hidden gems and unexpected treasures that pop up during your travels.

Factors Affecting Travel Time

Hit the open road prepared for various factors that can influence your Route 66 journey. Traffic congestion in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles can add some extra time to your travel schedule, so plan accordingly. Keep an eye on weather conditions, particularly in the desert regions, as extreme temperatures or sudden storms can impact your travel plans. Road conditions may vary from smooth stretches to bumpy sections, so stay flexible and patient. Consider seasonal considerations like festivals or events that may affect lodging availability and travel times.

  • Stay flexible with your itinerary to account for unexpected delays.
  • Check for any road closures or construction that may affect your route.
  • Plan rest stops and breaks to recharge and avoid fatigue during long drives.
  • Embrace the spontaneity of the journey and allow room for detours to explore off-the-beaten-path attractions.
  • Keep an eye on gas stations and services along the route, especially in remote areas.

For more detailed information on Route 66 attractions and planning, check out the official Route 66 website: Route 66 Official Website

Fastest vs. Leisurely Pace

Planning your Route 66 adventure? Consider the pace that suits your style. If you opt for a fast-paced trip, aiming to cover the entire route in one go, be prepared for long driving days and limited time at each stop. This approach is ideal for those with time constraints or a desire to challenge themselves. On the other hand, a leisurely journey allows you to savor each moment, immerse yourself in the local culture, and explore hidden gems along the way. Take your time, soak in the experiences, and create unforgettable memories at your own pace.

Ideal Time of Year to Travel Route 66

Thinking about the best time to hit the road on Route 66? Spring and fall are often considered the optimal seasons for a road trip. During these months, you can enjoy mild weather, fewer crowds, and vibrant landscapes along the route. Avoid the scorching heat of summer and the unpredictable winter conditions by planning your trip between March and May or September and October. Be on the lookout for seasonal events like festivals and celebrations that add extra charm to your journey. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go to ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure.

Additional Unique Insight or Angle: One unique aspect to consider when planning your Route 66 road trip is the possibility of experiencing the annual Route 66 Rendezvous in September. This event attracts car enthusiasts and fans of the historic route, offering classic car shows, live music, and street vendors. Incorporating this event into your itinerary can add a fun and lively touch to your journey.

Key Tip: Remember to book accommodations and activities in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure the best experience along Route 66.

Tips for Efficient Route 66 Travel

Planning a journey along Route 66 requires careful consideration to make the most of your time. Start by mapping out your itinerary, noting must-see stops and potential detours. Allocate sufficient time at each location but remain flexible for unexpected discoveries along the way. Prioritize your stops based on personal interests to ensure a fulfilling experience. Additionally, consider setting a daily travel goal to stay on track and avoid unnecessary delays. Remember, the key to efficient Route 66 travel is striking a balance between structured planning and spontaneous exploration.

Unique Attractions and Detours

While sticking to the main Route 66 route is a classic choice, don’t overlook the charm of unique attractions and off-the-beaten-path detours. Make time for the quirky Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, where a row of vintage Cadillacs stands upright in the ground, adorned with colorful graffiti. For a taste of nostalgia, visit the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, a historic establishment that has welcomed travelers since the 1940s. Consider venturing off the main road to explore the beauty of Oatman, Arizona, a ghost town inhabited by wild burros that roam freely. These diversions may add extra time to your journey, but the memories and experiences gained are undoubtedly worth the visit.

Additional Insight: Stay at a historic Route 66 motel, such as the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, for a truly authentic and immersive experience.

Road Trip Essentials

Embarking on a Route 66 adventure? Make sure you’re well-prepared with these road trip essentials:

  • Maps or GPS: While technology is handy, having a physical map can be a lifesaver if you lose signal.
  • Snacks and Water: Keep hunger and dehydration at bay with a stash of snacks and plenty of water.
  • Emergency Kit: Be ready for any situation with a first aid kit, flashlight, and basic tools.
  • Comfortable Clothing: Dress in layers for changing weather and wear comfortable shoes for exploring.
  • Camera: Capture the memories along the Mother Road with a camera or smartphone.
  • Cash: Some small towns along Route 66 may not accept cards, so carry cash for emergencies.

Remember, preparation is key to a smooth and enjoyable road trip experience!

Route 66 Trivia and Fun Facts

Did you know that Route 66 was officially decommissioned in 1985 but still remains a popular tourist attraction? Here are some more trivia and fun facts about this iconic highway:

  • Length: Route 66 spans approximately 2,448 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California.
  • Historic Landmarks: The route is dotted with historic landmarks, including the Wigwam Motels and Cadillac Ranch.
  • TV Fame: Route 66 was the inspiration for a popular 1960s TV show of the same name.
  • Musical Legacy: The highway has inspired countless songs, from Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” to the Rolling Stones’ “Route 66.”
  • Revival: While no longer an official highway, Route 66 continues to draw travelers seeking a nostalgic taste of Americana.

These fun facts about Route 66 may just inspire you to hit the road for your own adventure along this historic route!

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!