Travel Historic Route 66 on a Winter RV Vacation

Picture of a Route 66 SignDrive a historic trip along Route 66 on an RV vacation to experience all the wonders of the American Southwest. This is a perfect adventure for winter months, as the weather and road conditions will cooperate. Historic Route 66 does not appear on current road maps, but is signposted off I-40. You will begin in Glenrio, NM which sits on the New Mexico/Texas border. You will travel across New Mexico all the way to Topock, Arizona, near the California State line.

From Glenrio to Santa Rosa, follow the best routes so you don’t run into trouble on the rough roads with your RV. When you reach Tucumcari, be sure to take your family photo by the Route 66 sign. Montoya is also a must-see, a ghost town where you can even visit a boot hill cemetery.

Santa Rosa, New Mexico is known as the “City of Natural Lakes.” This oasis is a great place to stop for a while and sight see. If you are a scuba diving enthusiast, you will want to try out the Blue Hole. Leaving Santa Rosa and driving to Tijeras, there are many sights to see. Stop at Longhorn Ranch to view the ruins here, and get a real flavor of the Old West.

You will likely want to follow the post 1937 alignment of Route 66 as you move from Tijeras to Grants, New Mexico. But the choice is really yours. Study your maps carefully. In Albuquerque you must see Old Town as well as the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center you will absorb the fascinating history of our Native Americans, and at the National Museum of Nuclear Science History you’ll learn all about the Atomic Age.

In Grants, you can enjoy some great meals out (if you are tired of cooking in your RV). Then take a side trip to Bandero Volcano and the Ice Caves. From Grants to Manuelito, you will move through more haunting landscapes. When you reach Gallup, you will find a long list of attractions, and if you are visiting in December, you simply must go to the Red Rock Balloon Rally.

The next phase of your trip is in Arizona. Traveling from Lupton to Winslow is filled with anticipation as you approach some of the most famous sights in Arizona. At Houck, you will want to bring back some memories by seeing the old fort built just for the television show, the F-Troop. See the ruins of the Old Querino Canyon Trading Post.

Of course, for amazing stretches of desert and colorful views, drive into the Painted Desert a ways. The lavender, gray, red, pink and orange hues simply take your breath away. And the Petrified Forest has a 28-mile drive that will take you to some of the most popular parts of this National Park area.

Next, Winslow to Flagstaff is a drive to remember. Winslow is filled with Southwestern history. Visit the Old Trails Museum. Stop on the corner of 2nd Street and Kinsley and sing that old Eagles’ song – “Take it Easy“. This was the corner referred to in the song.

To view one of the largest “accident” sites in the world, stop at the Meteor Crater. A huge meteor crashed into Earth about 50,000 years ago, making a gigantic crater of one mile across and more than 550 feet deep. Check out the former observatory and stop in the Visitor Center on the rim.

You will continue on your trip, from Flagstaff to Seligman, only wishing this vacation will never end. The desert expanses give you the feeling sometimes that you are on the moon. At Flagstaff, take a side trip to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument where you can view old extinct volcanoes and the black remnants of lava flows. Contrasting colors and the jagged fields of old lava invite you to experiment with your camera to capture the unique scenes.

When you come to Williams, Arizona, you are really close to the Grand Canyon, so you can make a 60-mile side trip here if you would like! Everyone loves the Grand Canyon’s beauty and the scenery between Williams and this amazing wonder of the world.

The last leg of your journey is from Seligman to Topock, AZ, with more beauty and spaces stretching before you. It is a shame to be done with your Route 66 adventure, but this highway continues on all the way to Los Angeles. If you feel up to it, you can drive this historic route onward – a winter trip with nothing to compare.

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How About RV Camping Historic Route 66?

Now you go thru St. Looey…Joplin, Missouri!
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty.
You’ll see Amarillo…Gallup, New Mexico.
Flagstaff, Arizona: don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino

– From the song (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 by Bobby Troup

US Route 66

US Route 66 is a former semi-trans continental highway. Established on November 11, 1926 as one of the original U.S. highways, it’s route spanned 2,448 miles miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles California passing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona along the way. Route 66 has also been known as known as the “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road“.

Decline of Route 66

Over its history, starting in earnest in 1956 with the signing of the Interstate Highway Act, Route 66 was slowly replaced with more direct routes. The last section of Route 66 was decommissioned in Arizona with the completion of Interstate 40. US 66 was officially removed from the U.S. Highway System on June 27, 1985.

Portions of the old US Route 66 in many states are now designated as “Historic Route 66” and other portions have been designated a National Scenic Byway. In Southern California, portions of the road have been designated as State Route 66.

In 2008, The World Monuments Fund added US Route 66 to its World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Importance of Route 66

The National Historic Route 66 Federation characterizes traveling Route 66 as taking “the offramp into a bygone era.” As Route 66 was decommissioned, entire communities declined or perished. What has been left behind is a microcosm of roadside America stuck in time. Traveling the route (and 85% of it is can still be traveled) is like driving into a time machine to see the U.S. as it was. Tourists from around the world come to the United States to travel Route 66.

RV Camping Along Route 66

Why not travel Route 66 in you own accommodations. An RV is a great way to see the attractions of Route 66.

There are many RV campgrounds along the entire distance of Route 66. The Campgrounds page at Route 66 News site lists 10 Illinois RV campgrounds, 22 Missouri RV campgrounds, 1 Kansas RV campground, 13 Oklahoma RV campgrounds, 12 Texas RV campgrounds, 33 New Mexico RV campgrounds, 24 Arizona RV campgrounds, and 9 California RV campgrounds. The resource does not claim to be a complete list but it does appear to be up-to-date.

How About a One-Way RV Rental to Travel the Distance?
How about renting an RV at El Monte RV’s Chicago RV Rentals Location at the start of Route 66 and dropping it off at any one of several Southern California locations, including:

Other Route 66 RV Camping Resources

Other Route 66 Resources

And Remember…

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, the highway that’s the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66!

– From the song (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 by Bobby Troup

Posted in Route 66, RV Camping, RV Vacation Ideas | 2 Comments