U.S. Route 66, the road-trip that will wake up your wild side

U.S. Route 66, the road-trip that will wake up your wild side

Legendary, U.S. Route 66 is   the most mythical road in the United States. To go through it gives   you a taste of the American dream. For years, it has been a road that has   seen a succession of travellers, caravans and adventurers. It excites our   imagination, and remains engraved in our heads by the clichés of Hollywood   cinema. This is the road you can imagine yourself on in a Harley Davidson, a   Van, an XXL camper, or a Cadillac. For those who want to see the deep   America, land of cowboys and Indians, U.S. Route 66 is an absolute must. All   you have to do now is rent your holiday in the USA.

A journey that can be appreciated over time

To fully appreciate U.S. Route 66 (or The Mother Road), you should   not go as fast as possible. The secret of this mythical itinerary is to take   the time to discover each stage. To immerse yourself in its atmosphere,   and above all, not to hesitate to think outside the box.

If, like Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on their   choppers in Easy Rider, you want to feel as free as the air, the ideal is to   plan to make the trip in a month.

Most of the tours sold are done in two weeks. Which is quite correct   to see the main points of interest on U.S. Route 66. But to make the most of   this road-trip, you shouldn't hesitate to plan much more time. Remember too   that you will be travelling nearly 4,000 kilometres.

After all, it's a trip you usually only take once in your life! So   make the most of it, let go and fill your photo album with memories.

The main points of interest on U.S. Route 66

U.S. Route 66, which has been used since 1857 to connect Chicago, the   central United States, and California, enjoyed its heyday between 1926 and   1985. To travel this legendary road is to cross no less than 8 states. It is   also a journey through the landscapes seen on a big screen.


Your journey begins in the famous city of Chicago, Illinois. This is where   your plane will land, and this is also where you will pick up the rental   vehicle (which you thought about booking well before your departure).

Take advantage of your visit to Chicago, the city of gangs and   prohibition (as it was kwown to be that before), to enjoy its architecture,   history, musical culture, or even do a little shopping before heading out on   the road.

Allow one to two days on site to visit the city and recover from jet   lag.

You are now on your way to Springfield. On the way, not far from   Chicago, take a walk through the city of Joliet. You can admire its   European-style theatre, and above all its prison, now closed, which served as   the setting for the famous Prison Break series.

To get back on U.S. Route 66, go through Wilmington. You will see the   giant mascot of the Launching Pad restaurant. It's a bit of a foretaste of   what awaits you along your journey.

You are now crossing McLean. This village is famous for its Dixie   Trucker's Home (now Dixie Travel Plaza), which was one of the very first   establishments to welcome travellers on U.S. Route 66.

You arrive in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and the home of   Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. You can stop to   visit his house, or go to his grave.

A little further on, you absolutely must stop at Auburn. This is a   mandatory stop, since it is where you will see the remains of the authentic   road. You can admire the two kilometres of red brick road, which are listed   in the register of historical monuments.


You leave Corn Belt, the name given to the vast plains of Illinois,   to enter Missouri, and directly into the city of Saint Louis.

The latter has become a legend, since it is the historical border   between the Far-West and the East of the country. Its famous Gateway Arch is   the symbol of this.

Take the time to visit the city centre and its famous museums. Cross   the reputed Mississippi by taking the equally well-known Chain Of Rocks   Bridge. This bridge, which is now a pedestrian bridge, was once part of U.S. Route   66. It has the particularity of forming an angle at 30° in its centre.

Be careful: do not confuse this with the New Chain Of Rocks Bridge,   which is newer, accessible by car, and has no 30° angle.

You are now leaving St. Louis for Oklahoma. You begin to see the   unique landscape of Missouri, between vast wild plains, forests and   grasslands.

On the way, and since you pass by Stanton, you can visit the Meramec   Caverns. They are open to the public, and are famous for having served as a   den for Jesse James and his gang. Inside, you can admire stalactites and   stalagmites that are several million years old, as well as a huge mineral   waterfall.

Continue your road trip through Missouri to Lebanon city. On the way,   don't miss the Devils Elbow, the legendary bridge on U.S. Route 66.

Once in Lebanon, you will see the Munger Moss Motel. This motel is   one of the oldest motels on U.S. Route 66 still in operation. You won't be   able to miss its huge brightly colored sign, characteristic of the idea of   American motels.

Take the road back to Oklahoma until you reach Joplin. There, you can   find a drive-in cinema dating from 1949. And since it is still in operation,   if you are there on a weekend evening, you can watch a movie.


U.S. Route 66 makes a short quick tour through Kansas, including the   city of Galena. It is located in an almost abandoned mining region.

What makes it interesting is that it is here that an old rusty   recovery truck inspired Pixar for one of Cars' characters (I let you guess   his name).

A little further on, you will pass through the Rainbow Bridge, a   bridge built in 1923 especially for U.S. Route 66.

Oklahoma, the emblematic state of U.S. Route 66, has the largest and   best preserved portion of it. You can enjoy the vintage gas stations and the   famous "diners" that follow one another along the road.

Just before arriving in Tulsa, you will continue on U.S. Route 66   until you find the giant statue of a blue whale, located on the edge of one   of the ponds in the city of Catoosa. It is one of those symbols of the time   of the renewal and development of U.S. Route 66.

Now you're in Tulsa, which likes to call itself the "world oil   capital". Take advantage of this stopover to see the famous statue of   the Golden Diller.

On your way to Texas, make a stop at Elk-City. You can visit the national   museum of U.S. Route 66.

You are now arriving at the Far-West. It's time to put on your   santiags and your Stetson. You are about to cross the territories of the   Indians, but also of Jesse James.

In Texas, The Mother Road is full of curiosities. In Shamrock, you   will come across the U-Drop-Inn, an art-deco style building built in 1936. It   was also used as a model for the creation of one of Radiator Springs'   buildings (still for Cars by Pixar).

Further on, you will come across a giant cross, presumed to be the   largest cross in the United States. Then a leaning water tower, like a tower   of Pisa. And finally, in the middle of the desert, the famous Cadillac Ranch   with its 10 cars lined up and sunk into the ground.

Finally, you finish your crossing of Texas by the ghost village of   Glenrio. Located on the border of New Mexico, it is registered in the   National Register of Historic Sites.

New Mexico

New Mexico, with its red rocky landscapes, welcomes you in its turn.   This is the spirit of U.S. Route 66, far from any civilization, with its   semi-arid landscapes, wooden bridges, dirt tracks, and strong Amerindian   culture.

Santa Fé

Of Spanish inspiration, Santé Fé is one of the oldest and most   beautiful cities in the Western United States. It is also known for its art.   So take the opportunity to stop and discover its jewelry, sculptures,   paintings...

If you can, discover the Pueblo de Taos, a world heritage site   located in the heart of an Indian reserve.

Continuing along the Turquoise Trail, you arrive in Albuquerque. U.S.   Route 66 crosses it for 24 kilometres. If you are there at the beginning of   October, you will have the chance to attend the International Balloon Fiesta.   On this occasion, the city becomes the world capital of hot air ballooning.

Continue your journey, and enjoy the view of the valley of Indian   territories and the Rio Grande.

Just before leaving New Mexico, is the city of Gallup. It dates back   to 1881, and is famous for its large Indian population. This is an   opportunity to put an end to the clichés propagated by American cinema.

Many films have been shot in Gallup. You can also visit the hotel El   Rancho, which has hosted many actors during the various shoots.

Take the road again, and enter Arizona.


Arizona, a famous desert area, quickly puts you in the mood. Indeed,   just a few kilometres after your arrival in Arizona, U.S. Route 66 plunges   you right into the middle of Petrified Desert National Park, and also gives   you a glimpse of Painted Desert National Park.

Petrified Desert is famous for its tree trunks so old that they are   transformed into stone (we speak of 225 million year old trunks).

Painted Desert, as its name suggests, is known for its rocks of   different colors.

A few miles further on, you arrive at the Meteor Crater. It is a huge   hole (1,200 metres in diameter) dug by a meteor that crashed 50,000 years   ago, destroying with it all life within a 150-kilometre radius.

You then arrive in Flagstaff, a small town worth a visit, because it   has kept the atmosphere of The Mother Road.

Then you go through Williams. It is from here that you can take the   train to the Grand Canyon. This is obviously a must-see visit of the American   West.

Finally, to get to California, you will cross many small towns such   as Seligman, Hackberry or Kingman. They have all been marked by the   atmosphere of the great time of U.S. Route 66.

If you have a few days, and before you go to California, you cannot fail   to go to Sin City. Las Vegas is less than two hours from Kingman, it would be   a shame not to enjoy it.


Far from the glitter of Hollywood, California welcomes you with its   40,000 km² Mojave desert. When passing through Needles, remember to fill up   on gas and food. Indeed, you will not have many shops and gas stations until   Ludlow.

In Newsberry Springs, you will come across the Baghdad Café where the   film of the same name was shot. The real Baghdad Café, the one that inspired   the film, was located in the city of Baghdad about 100 kilometres away, and   was destroyed in the 1960s.

Continue on to San Bernardino, which was founded by the Mormons in   1851, is in the heart of a region renowned for its citrus fruits. You can   also see the mythical California Theater.

Here you are in Los Angeles, and you are getting close to the end   of your road trip. The Mother Road takes you through Hollywood and   Beverly Hills, taking you to the famous Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica   Boulevard.

At the end of Santa Monica Boulevard, along the Pacific Ocean, on   Palisades Park and Ocean Avenue, there is a plaque commemorating U.S. Route   66.

The Mother Road is taking its leave, and you can now take a   few days to visit the sprawling City of Angels.