There are plenty of cool facts about Route 66, but when you’re getting ready to set out on the Mother Road, it’s more about time and mileage than history and attractions.
Our Route 66 Road Trip FAQ is meant to help you better plan your Route 66 road trip, from determining how much time you need to drive the Main Street of America to deciding what time of year you should go.
Now, let’s hit the road.
How long does it take to drive Route 66?
How long it takes to drive Route 66 depends heavily on how much you want to see and do along the way.
If you’re talking about just driving the route itself (along our Route 66 mapped routes), you’re looking at around 55 hours just in driving time ONE WAY.
At a driving rate of 8 hrs/day, that’s a full 7 days of driving in the same direction.
If you want to drive back along the same route, you need another 7 days, or a full two weeks, of additional drive time. (You can reduce your return trip significantly by sticking to the interstates on the way back, shortening the drive to just over 30 hours or 4 solid days of driving.)
But even two weeks driving back and forth on the Mother Road won’t give you much, if any, time to explore, so for most people even two weeks on Route 66 simply isn’t enough time.
Ideally, you should tack on another week and reduce your daily drive to leave plenty of time for stops.
If you want to stop at every Route 66 attraction, and have time for some leisurely meals along the way, a month may be an even better time frame.
So, if you want to drive the entirety of Route 66 back and forth, we suggest 3 weeks to a month for the journey.
What is the best month to do Route 66?
Route 66 goes through a number of different climates at any time of year.
In Chicago, where the route begins, you can expect very chilly weather from late October through early April and plenty of rain in the summer months.
After Oklahoma City, where Route 66 levels off in the southwest, you can expect extreme heat and incredibly low humidity in the summer.
Since the climates along it very so much, the best months to do Route 66 are the months in which the weather is milder across the country, which means spring and fall.
Mid-April through mid-May and mid-September through mid-October are, arguably, the two most ideal times of year to take a road trip along Route 66.
Just keep in mind, milder weather doesn’t mean you won’t be subjected to extremes in temperature or run into weather events.
The southwest can see very hot days early in spring and deep into fall, and the most elevated areas along the route, like Albuquerque and Flagstaff, can dip below freezing in April and October (or even May or September for Flagstaff).
Still, overall, late spring and early fall are the best times of year to drive Route 66.
These months will give you the most moderate weather conditions start to finish.
Just keep in mind weather conditions along the route are varied and make sure you pack accordingly, which leads to –
What should I pack for Route 66?
When you pack for Route 66, pack as you would for any other road trip… for the most part.
Just make sure you have:
- Both warm and cold weather clothes, including a warm coat, warm hat, gloves, a sun hat, and some extra blankets for the car.
- A good supply of water. You don’t want to be without it if you break down in the desert.
- Snacks. Or stock up on them early along the route. Conveniences get sparser as you roll toward the West.
- An atlas or map. Cellular connectivity and access to online maps get sparser out west too.
What is the most scenic part of Route 66?
The most scenic part of Route 66 is really hard to pick.
It really depends on what you consider scenic.
In the Midwest, you’ll roll through open plains and prairies.
In the southwest, you’ll pass by rocky mountain ranges and deserts.
You’ll cross into California at the Colorado River and dead end at the Pacific Ocean.
Basically, there is a lot of diverse scenery along Route 66 and “scenic” is subjective.
But, for our part, most of the eye-boggling stuff is in the Southwest, so we imagine your most scenic moment will come somewhere west of Texas.
Can you still drive the entire Route 66?
Sort of. You can still drive the same generalized route, but parts of the old road have been permanently closed or abandoned. (You can still walk over a few of them.)
It’s estimated about 80-85% of the original route remains.
Does Route 66 go through the Grand Canyon?
That would be swell, wouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, it does not.
Route 66 does, however, does go through Williams, Arizona, one gateway to the Grand Canyon, so the Grand Canyon is certainly an attraction worth tacking onto your Route 66 road trip.
Is driving Route 66 worth it?
It depends on how much you value history and the freedom of the open road.
In many places, Route 66 looks nothing at all like it once did.
This is especially true in cities, where modern buildings and amenities have largely overwritten the relics of the past.
But there are also pockets along the route where little has changed, where you can easily imagine the road and its surroundings looking exactly the same way nearly 100 years ago when Route 66 first passed through town.
In our opinion, these pockets of the past are well worth the drive.
Well, are you going?
Have you decided to make that road trip along Route 66?
Check out our other Route 66 articles which will help you navigate, plan, and find food along the way: