Route 66 | The Classic American Roadtrip Itinerary

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One of the most ‘American’ experiences you can ever have, is one of hitting the open road. The United States is a vast landscape filled with endless valleys, mountainous ranges, sprawling deserts, and gorgeous beaches. Very few trips offer you the chance to see all of that in a single go! That is why the historic pilgrimage across Route 66 is such a popular roadtripping experience.

Route 66 is a 2,300 mile (3,600km), stretch of highway that runs the length of most of the continental United States. On this stretch of historic motorway, you will find no end of exotic and charming americana motifs and breathtaking nature. For those who are looking to make this massive trip in an RV hire, this is the ultimate itinerary for you!

Now, without any further delay, let’s dive into your 3 week long Route 66 one way RV rental excursion.

Day One/Two – Chicago

Day one is going to start in Chicago–like most Route 66 road trip itineraries. This is because the historic Route 66 originally began in Chicago, in 1926, at the corner of Michigan and Jackson Blvd. So if you want to stick to the original beginning, you will want to start in Chicago.

Once you have arrived in Chicago, you will want to immediately get the keys to your RV and stock up on foods, and snacks. The epic Route 66 drive will leave you driving for several hours at a time, and you want to be well nourished! You will want to take your time exploring Chicago and all the wonder it has to offer, as we won’t be coming back here again on this trip!

Try having some lunch at the world famous Lou Mitchell’s, and explore some of the nation’s oldest skyscrapers!

Day Three – Pontiac

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Day three is going to have you make the 2 hour journey to the town of Pontiac. Pontiac, IL, is the home of the famous Route 66 Hall of Fame, and plenty of old time eateries to choose from. Pontiac is a charming little city, and absolutely should be on everyone’s list of ‘must see’ spots along the way.

Once you have finished exploring Pontiac (a couple hours here is usually enough to
capture the charm) you will continue driving to Springfield, IL. In Springfield you will find tons of Route 66 landmarks, like the famous Route 66 Drive-In Theater! Route 66 runs through the heart of this historic town, and will really set the tone for the trip early in a proper way.

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Day Four/Five – St. Louis,

Day four is going to take you 1,5 hours to the city of St. Louis, MO. St. Louis is one of the largest cities you are going to drive through on this trip before reaching Los Angeles at the end. In this regard, it’s nice to spend 1-2 days in the city to fully experience it before you immerse yourself in the flatland roads.

St. Louis is home to world class blues music, the ‘Gateway Arch’, the famous Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and limitless eateries to choose from. Here you will get the chance to explore one of the gems of the American midwest, before heading on to more ‘wild’ destinations.

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Day Six – St. Louis to Tulsa

Day six, you are going to want to wake up bright and early. This is going to be one of the longest stretches of driving you will experience on this trip, as you head from St. Louis to Tulsa, OK. The drive itself will take about 6 hours, but you can break that up by stopping in Branson, MO, if you wish.

Branson is a small detour but offers plenty of fun and charm from the Meramec
Caves, to the Ozark mountain lakes.

Once you reach Tulsa, you are going to want to settle in and rest. If you are feeling up to it, you can spend some time exploring Tulsa a bit; however, this is merely an overnight stop as you just finished the longest driveable stretch of your journey and will likely need to unwind.

Day Seven/Eight – Oklahoma City

On day seven, you are going to send off week one by heading 100 miles to Oklahoma
City. Oklahoma City is at the heart of what Route 66 travelers know as the ‘Mother Road’. Here you will find an amazing mix of modern design, and old west historic feeling. Oklahoma City is the home to amazing museums, historic monuments, and the famous ‘Bricktown’. You will want to spend the evening in Bricktown as it is jammed packed with excellent live music, world class restaurants, and beautiful architecture.

On day eight, you will spend the day exploring the many museums that Oklahoma City has to offer–such as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Day Nine – Welcome to the wild west

Day nine will have you leaving the midwest behind, and entering into the true Cowboy Country. Here you will head from Oklahoma City to Amarillo, TX. Amarillo is a small but charming city at the northern tip of the Lone Star State. Here you will experience the true wild west nature of Route 66, and you will spot plenty of the famous Route 66 monuments–such as the Rattlesnake Ranch, and the Cadillac Ranch.

Make sure to visit the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and explore the canyon on a
guided horseback tour!

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Day Ten – Tucumcari

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Day ten will have you making the short jaunt over the border to Tucumcari, NM. The
drive will take you less than two hours, however make sure you stop in the town of Adrian along the way. Adrian, TX, is the perfect geographical midway point along the route, and will give you a chance to pat yourself on the back and eat at the Midpoint Cafe.

Once you make it to Tucumcari, you will get the chance to experience the gorgeous
street art and murals dedicated to Route 66. Here is a great place to rest, and enjoy a short day off.

Day Eleven/Twelve – Santa Fe

Day eleven will begin with you heading up to the historic Route 66 destination of Santa Fe, New Mexico. While many route itineraries will have you going on to Albuquerque, we believe that Santa Fe is the best way to go. Santa Fe is home to over 300 art galleries, and is one of the most historic cities in the region.

In Santa Fe, you will find a culture and city steeped in old American Indian tradition and history. For those who want to experience the real ‘wild west’ of the old American frontier, Santa Fe cannot be missed. We recommend spending two days here to really experience the culture, history, and art.

Day Thirteen – The Durango detour

Day thirteen will have you making a slight detour, but the trip will be worth it. You will head north up to Durango, Colorado. In Durango, you will get to experience one of the most sunny and bright locations in the USA. In addition, you will get to explore the Rocky Mountains by riding the old time Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Durango is a great little detour stop for those who want to experience something truly out of a history book in both feeling and appearance.

Day Fourteen – Monument Valley

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Day fourteen is going to bring your second week to a close with a bang. You will head
over to Monument Valley, right on the border of Utah and Arizona. Monument Valley is one of the most striking places on earth, and will instantly transport you to a western movie like The Lone Ranger (which was actually filmed here).

With the massive megalithic stone structures and sprawling desert landscapes, Monument Valley is among the best places in the country to watch the sun set.

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Day Fifteen/Sixteen – The Grand Canyon

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Days fifteen and sixteen are going to keep you in nature, and take you to the town of
Williams, AZ. Williams is the ‘gateway’ to the Grand Canyon, and will offer you a chance to park the RV and embark on guided hikes and tours of the world famous natural wonder.

The Grand Canyon is one of the largest national parks in the United States, and will take at least two days to fully experience. Make sure you take your time exploring as much as you can before heading on your way.

Day Seventeen – Kingman

Day seventeen will be a breezy one, as soon you will be in the hustle and bustle of city
life again. You will leave Williams/The Grand Canyon whenever you see fit, and head over to Kingman, ArZ. Kingman is a small stop along the way, but the drive is almost entirely along Route 66. In this way, you will get to see plenty of the road as well as some interesting monuments along the way.

In Kingman, you will have the chance to see the Hualapai Mountains from up top at the Kingman Campgrounds, where you will hike, eat, and rest up.

Day Eighteen/Nineteen – Viva Las vegas!

Days eighteen and nineteen will be spent in the wild city of ‘sin’, Las vegas, NV! Las
Vegas is a one of a kind city that everyone should have the chance to experience. If the gambling isn’t your thing, don’t worry–Las Vegas still has plenty to offer. Here you can dine on exotic foods, catch some entertaining shows, and explore the world famous Las Vegas Strip.

You will want to spend at least two days here soaking everything in, before making the final leg of your journey.

Day Twenty/Twenty-One – Los Angeles

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The final drive of your trip will take you through the beautiful Mojave Desert along the route. After a 4 hour drive, you will arrive in the sunny and golden Los Angeles, CA. Los Angeles is one of the most stunning cities in all of the United States, and will be the perfect place to bring this adventure to a close.

Make sure you take the time to see the Hollywood sign, walk Sunset Strip, catch a show at The Comedy Store, and unwind on the numerous beaches. Here you can finally kick back, enjoy the golden sun and palm trees, and reminisce about the journey you just went through these past three weeks!

Final Thoughts

The historic Route 66 is the perfect journey for those looking to hire an RV, and explore the wide open roads of rural America. From the skyscrapers of Chicago, to the Mojave Desert and Los Angeles beaches, Route 66 is the ultimate road trip. So, the next time you are planning your ultimate holiday getaway, consider hiring an RV and making your way down the old Route 66.

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