Route 66 Frequently Asked Questions

Updated February 18, 2021

Below you'll find some of the most frequently asked questions about Route 66. This is not an exhaustive list and we will continue to update this FAQ as new questions arise in our Forum or Facebook page.

What is Route 66?

Established in 1926, Route 66 was a highway founded on a network of pre-existing roads connecting Chicago, Illinois with Los Angeles, California, crossing eight states and three time zones.

During the 1930’s Route 66 was a major path for migrants seeking a better life, heading west to escape the hardships of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. 

Route 66 underwent many changes to the original 1926 alignment before being officially removed from the US highway system in 1985. Although it no longer exists as a US Highway the efforts of numerous associations to preserve the old road have kept it alive.

These days, for many people, driving Route 66 is an opportunity to pull off the interstate, take the foot off the gas and embrace an endangered American experience.

For further detail check out What is Route 66?

Where does Route 66 start?

Assuming you're travelling westbound, Route 66 starts in Chicago, Illinois. The official eastern terminus of Route 66 has changed over time due to the introduction of a one-way system on Jackson Blvd and Adams St in the 1950's.

The original 1926 starting point was where Jackson Blvd met Michigan Ave but following the introduction of the one-way system you'll now find the 'Route 66 Begin' sign where Adams St meets Michigan Ave.

To complicate things further, in 1937 the official eastern terminus moved to where where Jackson Blvd meets Lake Shore Drive.

To summarise, for those travelling westbound, you can start your Route 66 road trip where Jackson Blvd meets Michigan Ave (the original 1926 start point) or where Jackson Blvd meets Lake Shore Drive (the start point since 1937). For the completists among you, the EZ66 Guide describes a loop you can take that encompasses both!

Where does Route 66 end?

Assuming you're travelling westbound, Route 66 ends in Los Angeles, California. Much like the eastern terminus, the western terminus has also changed over time.

The original 1926 alignment ended where 7th St meets Broadway in downtown LA. However, in 1936 the road was extended to reach it's final official endpoint at the intersection of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards.

However, you may also be familiar with the 'End of the Trail' sign at Santa Monica Pier and wondering where this fits in. In 2009, in recognition of the Route's popularity as a tourist attraction, and the anticlimactic nature of the Olympic/Lincoln intersection, the sign was erected at Santa Monica Pier henceforth becoming known as the 'spiritual' end of the road.

What states does Route 66 go through?

Route 66 passes through eight states. From east to west these are Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

How long is Route 66?

The original 1926 Route 66 alignment was 2,448 miles (3,940 km) but this was shortened over its 60 year history as individual sections of road were improved or made safer. The current length is generally accepted to be 2,278 miles (3,666 km).

Can you drive all of Route 66?

While you can no longer drive Route 66 from end to end uninterrupted, approximately 85% of the original route remains paved and drivable.

This figure of 85% is an approximation for a standard saloon car so with an off-road vehicle you could certainly push this higher.

For further detail and guidance check out How Much of Route 66 is Still Drivable?

How long does it take to drive Route 66?

It is widely accepted that Route 66 can be completed in 2 weeks - only visiting the most popular sights and attraction and major cities - but a 3 to 4 week trip would be preferable.

Of course, you could spend months traveling the road but for most this is unachievable. Ultimately, the length of your trip comes down to personal circumstances but in an ideal world 2 weeks would be the minimum.

For further detail and guidance check out How Long Does it Take to Drive Route 66?

Why is Route 66 not on ordinary maps?

Since Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985 it has ceased to be recognised as a US Highway and as such is no longer featured on standard maps. However, there are specialist Route 66 maps and guidebooks available that will guide you through from one end to the other.

You can find a selection of Route 66 guidebooks and maps here.

Is Route 66 signposted?

When Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985 the official signage was removed but over time each state has taken time to preserve the Route's historical and cultural legacy by erecting new signs and painting new road-shields.

Although not the usual US Highway shield, you will encounter many signs bearing the 'Historic 66' emblem to point you in the right direction along with freshly painted road-shields. These, along with a copy of the EZ66 Guide and/or good map (see here) mean that navigating Route 66 shouldn’t be too difficult.

When should I drive Route 66?

Generally speaking you'll likely want to take your Route 6 road trip between April and October. Outside of this you'll be travelling in the 'off season' and although there will be less traffic/tourists many of the businesses will be closed.

On the extreme ends of this spectrum (April and October) you'll have a much quieter experience from the point of view of traffic and other tourists but with less predictable weather.

The busiest period for Route 66 travel is June through to August where temperatures and prices both reach a seasonal peak. Either side of this, May and September are good months for those trying to avoid extreme heat, busier roads and higher rates.

For further detail and guidance check out What is the Best Time of Year to Drive Route 66?

Should I drive Route 66 eastbound or westbound?

Although most people tend to drive Route 66 westbound (Chicago to LA) the choice really is yours - you won't miss anything either way. Also, if you choose to use the EZ66 Guide it provides directions and points of interest for both eastbound and westbound travelers.

The reason that Route 66 is often seen as a westbound journey is for historical reasons. During the 1930’s Route 66 was a major path for migrants seeking a better life, heading west to escape the hardships of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Migrating familes would get in their cars and drive into the sunset in the hope of finding a better life. It came to be seen as the pathway to opportunity and prosperity, with small-town businesses thriving on the passing trade.

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