Who hasn’t heard of Route 66! The mother road, built in 1926 and stretching 2451 miles connecting Chicago and Los Angeles. It was removed from the United States Highway System on the 27th of June 1985 after it was replaced by the Interstate highway System. Fortunately sections of the road have been preserved allowing would be explorers to enjoy them. Be sure to do your research, some of the roads are in a very bad way, we even found ourselves down a gravel road that lasted for miles and miles! Although it can be tempting to rent a camper van to travel Route 66 we urge you not to. Originally this was our plan but after reading about Route 66 extensively online we decided to hire a convertible Ford Mustang (very American) and stop off at all the Route 66 motels. Not only is it a better ways to see and experience Route 66, but it works out a hell of a lot cheaper too. You can’t just pull up on the side of the road in an camper, you will need to book in to RV parks, and they are not cheap.
There is just so much to see on Route 66, get yourself a book or do extensive research before you setup off, marking a map with all the places to stop. Picking a select few is just too hard so we have added a couple of places that you might not have thought to visit on your trip but are well worth it.
If you are driving Route 66 you are not going to miss this because the road passes straight through it! Williams was the best town on the road and has managed to stay prosperous thanks to it’s close proximity to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately most of the towns along Route 66 have fallen in to a very bad state of disrepair, but Williams gives you a glimpse of what towns would have been like way back when Route 66 was in its hay day.
The Grand Canyon South Rim
The south rim is the largest and widest part of the Grand Canyon and only an hour north of Route 66. Most people visit the Grand Canyon at the west rim on a day trip from Las Vegas. The west rim is very commercialised with excursions, helicopters, boats and more, whereas the south rim is a protected site that maintains it’s natural beauty. You are. embarking on a 2500 mile journey, take this short detour, you wont be disappointed.
In the middle of the Arizona desert there is a meteorite crater measuring 1200 meters across and 170 meters deep. It is said to be the worlds best preserved meteorite crater in the world. The crater was made 50,000 years ago by a 50 meter wide, nickel / iron, meteorite traveling at 45,000 mph! Entry to the site is a little expensive at £19 each, but you do get a guided tour and detailed explanation on the history. Well worth a trip if you fancy a little break from 66.
Motels Motels Motels, that’s really your only option. We found the cheapest seemed to come in at around £30 per night which is not too bad as you probably aren’t alone. If you are not the backpacking traveller type that is not used to roughing it, you might want to up the budget to £50 per night, some of the places we stayed were, well, very interesting. There is the option to camp, but campsites are few and far between and you really want a bed after spending all day in the car.
Because you are mostly going to be in small towns your only option for eating out will be fast food, diners or cafes. You should definitely try out a selection of the Route 66 themed diners, there is great one in Williams that you cannot miss. You will almost certainly meet other people who are making the pilgrimage offering a great opportunity to share your experiences with others and get some advice on what’s up ahead. Travelling Route 66 is expensive and we found stopping off at local supermarkets was a great way to save money, we even had a camping stove so we could cook simple meals.
The only way to do Route 66 is in a car. If you live in the UK you will be please to know that fuel over in the US averages out at about 50p a litre. I think we spent about £350 on fuel in total and we was driving a 3.6 litre car.
Is hitch Hiking an option? I don’t see how you would be able to hitch hike Route 66. The only people who really drive the road are tourists with a few locals and trucks. You could very easily hitch hike across the country, but you will be taken on the interstate and not down 66.