What is Route 66?
U.S. Route 66 or U.S. Highway 66 was one of the original highways in the United States Numbered Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.
Route 66 reduced the distance between Chicago and Los Angeles by more than 200 miles, which made Route 66 popular among thousands of motorists who drove west in subsequent decades. Like other highways of its day, Route 66 reflects the origin and evolution of road transportation in the United States.
Nowadays, over 85% of the original alignments of U.S. Route 66 are still drivable. Many segments of the road are simple two-laned highways, so you should drive with care and pay attention to the road signs.
Route 66 starts in downtown Chicago
and ends at the Santa Monica pier in California
The drive takes about 40 hours.
Plan to be on the road for at least five days—or longer—depending on how many stops and side trips you make. Route 66 rolls through small towns (with plenty of stop lights) along the way, so you won't be driving as fast as you would on an interstate highway.
Route 66 crosses eight states and three time zones. Some of its best-preserved sections include the stretch between Springfield, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma; the road west of Seligman, Arizona; and the Oatman Highway through the Black Hills of Arizona.
Since the highway was decommissioned, Route 66 no longer exists on modern maps. In some places, in fact, the physical road is unpaved and virtually impassable. However, you can still follow some of the original road in your car. In many states, Route 66 parallels the interstate highway.
Interstate 40 subsequently replaced a large segment of Route 66 and the roadway was decommissioned in 1985. However, in the aftermath, a variety of non-profit groups were formed to help preserve the historic highway and much of Route 66 remains drivable today.