Since Route 66 connects so many major metro areas, including those of the American Southwest, it’s easy to make the assumption it must pass through Las Vegas.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if it did?
You could get your kicks on Route 66 and chill with the specters of the Rat Pack all in a single road trip.
Well, the bad news is Route 66 didn’t (and doesn’t) pass through Las Vegas. The closest it comes is about 100 miles to the south.
But the good news is, Route 66 is easily reachable from Vegas. You just gotta hook up with it in Kingman, Arizona.
And once you get to Kingman, there are two equally desirable routes you can take.
So, don’t put those Route 66-Las Vegas road trip dreams to bed just yet.
It’s still an easy connection to make.
Does Route 66 Go Through Las Vegas?
First up, we gotta do a little clean-up work, because, in a way, this is a trick question.
Route 66 doesn’t go through the Las Vegas you’re probably thinking about (you know, the big shiny one in Nevada), but the original alignment of the road did come very close to a Las Vegas – Las Vegas, New Mexico.
While it didn’t quite get to town, the original Route 66 alignment stopped only 5 miles short of Las Vegas, NM, making it one very viable route to take.
But now onto the other Las Vegas, the desert oasis in Nevada.
How Far Is Route 66 From Las Vegas, NV?
There are two main ways you can get from Las Vegas to Route 66, and they are almost exactly the same distances and drive times from the city.
You can go down US-93 to Kingman or you can go down US-95 and meet up with Route 66 at Goffs Road.
Both US-93 to Kingman and US-95 to Goffs Road are just over 100 miles and about an hour and a half drive from Las Vegas.
Either of these will spit you out right on Route 66, one in Arizona, the other in California.
Getting From Las Vegas To Route 66
Route 66 is south of Las Vegas, and no matter which direction you plan to go once you get there, we think it’s easiest to start in Kingman.
That means heading southeast on US-93 out of Las Vegas.
Kingman, Arizona is the place US-93 meets up with Historic Route 66 and I-40 (the interstate that took the place of Route 66 in the Southwest).
From there, it’s an easy transition onto Route 66. You can roll right under the interstate on US-93 and hook up with the historic road, which is still a major thoroughfare through the city.
Then, you only have to decide which way to go next – eastward toward the Grand Canyon or westward toward California.
Las Vegas To The Grand Canyon On Route 66
One very famous attraction you can get to from Las Vegas (somewhat) on Route 66 is the Grand Canyon.
But Route 66 won’t get you there entirely.
Route 66 can take you as far as Williams, Arizona, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, or to Flagstaff, from which you can take US-180 to Grand Canyon Junction.
The Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Route 66 road trip is a fairly popular one, because as long as you just want to see the Grand Canyon (and not linger or hike there), you can do it in a single day.
Just over four hours there, just over four hours back, it’s a highly doable summer drive. (Summer isn’t the most comfortable time of year to visit the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas, but it does make the drive easier.)
The problem with the Grand Canyon leg of a Las Vegas Route 66 road trip is that, if you pop down to Kingman and head east, you won’t see a whole lot of Route 66.
You’ll get one pretty good leg of the old road right out of Kingman and you’ll see more of the road if you continue into Flagstaff.
But you’ll still have considerably less of Route 66 to explore going east to the Grand Canyon than if you take the other popular Route 66 road trip out of Las Vegas.
So, if it’s really Route 66 you’re searching for – and we know for you driving enthusiasts it is – we recommend heading westward instead, just as the good road intended.
Las Vegas To Los Angeles On Route 66
The Las Vegas (or, rather, the Kingman) to Los Angeles segment of Route 66 is kind of a mixed bag.
Some say, once you reach San Bernardino, you might as well pop off the old road and take to the freeways, there’s so little left of the historic road to be found.
And there is a little truth to that.
It gets even truer the closer and closer you get to L.A. proper.
But even if you pop off Route 66 in San Bernardino (or even better in our opinions, in Rancho Cucamonga), you will still see more of Route 66 driving west out of Kingman than you will driving east. Like 200 miles more of it.
Driving Route 66 from Kingman to L.A. isn’t a route to an attraction, it IS the attraction.
And it will take you ALL day to do. This is not an exaggeration.
You want to stay on the old route the entire way? You better have 12 hours and plenty of cold water in the car. (Plus, some other supplies wouldn’t hurt.)
Kingman to Los Angeles on Route 66 is a LONG drive.
But a pretty interesting one.
That’s up for you to decide.
But, if you head west, instead of east, on Route 66 out of Kingman, here are some of the things you can see:
First up, straight out of Kingman, you’ll roll down what we’ve deemed the most scenic segment on all of Route 66 – Oatman Highway.
I say “roll,” but really you’ll be doing more braking and turning than merrily rolling along.
This road is a doozy, a playground for drivers who love hairpin turns and clinging to the edges of drop-offs by the treads of their tires.
Unsurprisingly, Oatman Highway is also one of the most dangerous segments on all of Route 66, if not THE most dangerous.
Up for a drive, but not sure you’re up for that kind of a drive? No problem.
It’s easy to skip Oatman Highway by jumping on I-40 W straight out of Kingman.
The only thing you’ll really miss, aside from the scenery and the road itself, is Oatman, a blip of an Old West town that looks just how it did when miners first built it.
Needles, Barstow & Victorville
After you cross the California state line, and before you reach the San Bernardino Mountains, you’ll go through three towns/small cities that have semi-preserved qualities to them.
None of them are what they were, but compared to the cities in the L.A. Metro area just beyond the mountains they definitely have more distinctive remnants of their Route 66-era pasts.
Sure, modern amenities have taken over these towns just like all others, but you don’t have to squint too hard to see these city-towns as they used to be.
Their histories lie just a little closer to the surface.
Road To Goffs
Route 66 so famously connected so many cities and towns, it’s easy to forget a lot of the road didn’t go through much of anything.
Looking for a peaceful back roads reminder? The road to Goffs should satisfy.
When we made this drive, it was late afternoon and there was no one on the road but us.
Like many segments of Route 66, Goffs Road runs right along the train line, and we watched train after train roll past as we made our way from one interstate exit to another the long way.
Of all the segments of Route 66 we’ve driven thus far, this one may have felt the most out-of-time.
There’s really nothing on it to make it feel that way. There’s really nothing on it at all.
But something about those constant trains’ lonesome whistles just harken to the past.
The Los Angeles Metro Corridor
As soon as you pass through Victorville and Cajon Junction, you’re in Los Angeles Metro.
The L.A. Metro portion of Route 66 passes through multiple small cities, including San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga, Glendora and Pasadena.
It’s here that Route 66 starts to get a little lost to history.
Sure, there are signs of the old route in roadside motels and historic restaurants, and there’s still plenty of nostalgia for what the road used to be. But that history drifts away the closer you get to Downtown L.A.
Still, you can follow the old Route all the way from San Bernardino to its terminus at Santa Monica Pier, the original route drivers would have followed to and through L.A. back in the day.
While it’s not exactly a journey to the past, if you’ve got the time and the patience to spare, it’s a pretty cool thing to do.
More On Route 66
Ready to kick off your Route 66 adventure?
Check out our other Route 66 articles to get started.