Betty Jo (the Airstream) enjoyed the stay at a variety of RV parks along Route 66 from Marshfield, MO to Needles, CA. Each of them were conveniently located off of HWY 40.
RV EXpress rv Park - Marshfield, MO
Coachlight RV Park - Carthage, MO
Mustang Run RV - Oklahoma City
Oasis RV Resort - Amarillo, TX
Blaze-in Saddle RV - Tucumcari, NM
Route 66 RV Resort - Albuquerque
USA RV Park - Gallup, NM
Meteor Crate RV park - Winslow, AZ
Grand Canyon Railway RV Park - Williams, AZ
Desert View RV park - Needles, CA
Route 66 was a dream of a ride. Touring through America, catching bits of Americana Nostalgia and the excitement of today’s Route 66, it has been a true pleasure and an amazing experience.
RVing full-time allows us some freedom and flexibility to choose a route, heading back from the east coast to the west coast, Route 66 was the only route that called to us and I am so grateful we listened.
We left Charleston on February 17th, still close to winter weather we decided to start our Route 66 just east of St. Louis with a beginning goal date of March 8th. Watching the weather closely, we chose a route from Charleston to Pacific, Missouri that provided a shorter route from point a to point b. The route took us to towns we would normally not have chosen, yet, we enjoyed immensely.
Since we were still in the off-season for mainstream RVers and the weather was unpredictable, we planned our stops and the length of our stay around the weather, planning about a week out at a time. I had made a list (yes, I am list maker) of RV parks along the route, with their phone numbers, starring my preferred RV parks. Check out our blog post for a list of the RV parks we stayed at, with a short review.
Our tour of Route 66 ended in Needles, California on April 25th. There are so many highlights to our Ultimate Road trip and hundreds of photos, it will be hard to choose, but I will give it a shot. We also made a few side trips, which I highlighted in my post about our Grand Detours.
Most importantly, it will be the memories we will treasure.
So many wonderful highlights in Missouri, you can read about most of them in our post "Building Excitement."
Cars on the Route, the inspiration for the movie CARS! And where you can stand in three states at once - Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
They really promote the route in Oklahoma and each town tries to stay somewhat authentic. It was a fun and easy-going ride, through small towns and bits of countryside, some of it weaving through the larger towns like Oklahoma City and Tulsa where you can still can find history mixed with urban development. Read more in our post - Oklahoma is OK.
Texas Route 66 was colorful and just like they state, they do everything BIG! Read our post - Moody Route 66.
Most of our time was spent in Albuquerque, where Route 66 is Alive and Glittering with NEON Lights. Tucumcari also had great NEON lights, do the route at night, it's pretty short.
Read our post - Where the Past and Present Merge
Tucumcari and Santa Rosa
Albuquerque and Old TOWN
Arizonia has so much to offer Route 66 travelers. The road itself is not intact, each community has pieces of it, so the best way to travel the route is Hwy 40, but what pieces they do have are worth the stop. Read our post on Standing on the Corner.
Signs of route 66
On Route 66, there are locations that are a must for travelers. A must-see. A must-do. A must-visit. The Corner in Winslow, AZ, is one of those must-do locations.
We arrived at our RV Park, Meteor Crater RV, shortly after 1:00 pm. It was a short drive, around 148 miles. The wind had finally died down, so cruising Hwy 40 was easy and light. It amazes me how the scenery can change quickly just by crossing a state line. Gallup, New Mexico, was a small town surrounded by hills, then traversing into Arizona, the landscape changed to show off the Arizona red rocks and rolling landscape.
We started our Route 66 journey in Fanning, MO. Each stop along the route has been special and unique in its own way, but it was Winslow, AZ, I was most looking forward too. Maybe it was from growing up on The Eagles' music and listening to the song “Takin’ An Easy?" Maybe, it was years of hearing about The Corner? No matter the reason, it was the place I was most looking forward too.
I did not know what to expect? I have found most of the locations on the route do not match my exceptions — some exceed them, others not so much. Winslow not only exceeded, it surpassed the images I had seen online. Once you arrive in downtown Winslow, The Corner is hard to miss. Just look for the LARGE Route 66 symbol on the street and the crowds of people standing on the corner with their cameras. When it comes to this small town, the LARGE Route 66 symbol gives the impression of Larger than life. And to this day, Winslow is still one of the most impressive locations on the route.
I jumped out of the truck and parked myself on the corner, waiting patiently for my husband to do the get-your-vehicle-photo-with-the-LARGE-Route-66-symbol. We were fortunate that traffic had lightened up.
He then parked so we could explore. The downtown itself is not very large, making it an easy town to walk. Since, it was evening, most of the shops were closed. We did The Corner selfie, then found a delicious place to enjoy dinner, the RelicRoad Brewing Company. We met a couple, also full-time RVing in their schoolie bus, and spent an hour comparing notes.
This must-stop location is a must-do and a favored tradition on Route 66. It is one of the highlights when taking the Ultimate Road Trip on The Mother Road. Enjoy!
In the past, Route 66 was a bustling road. Winding its way through the small (and large) towns of America, it introduces travelers to places many would never have visited.
Bright Neon lights lit up The Mother Road, inviting visitors to linger and enjoy what the town had to offer. Bars and restaurants overflowed with laughter, food, drinks, and music. Shiny cars sparkled as they cruised up and down the route, showing off for all to see.
The streets were lined with small businesses, each vying for travelers' attention and their pocketbook. Local businesses that contributed to their community. But then the interstate came and pretty much crushed the heart of many of these small towns. Some are trying to recapture days long past, attracting a new (and old) generation of Mother Road travelers, some just let the road wither away.
Albuquerque has been successful in merging its past while creating a present that attracts young and old to enjoy Route 66 the way it is meant to be.
Neon lights brighten the skyline for miles, showing off the Route in all its glory. Bars, restaurants, small businesses, and renovated theaters, are all seeking to capture the attention of locals and tourists. Some of the motels that once lined the route have been renovated into small businesses or small apartments, keeping some of their lusters and preserving their iconic history. Gas stations no longer line the route, replaced by newer chains, but the feel of the old stations, now converted into some other form of business, still remains.
Albuquerque is a Foodie haven and Route 66 embraces its history, offering delectable dishes in true New Mexico fashion. Everywhere you go, the smells of Route 66 entice you to enjoy a good meal.
It was a Friday night in downtown Albuquerque when we visited. The historic Kimo Theatre was having a grand reopening to show off its new updates and renovations. The sides streets were closed off to crossing traffic and Route 66 turned on the lights. Cruisers slowly make their way up and down Central, just like they did in the past. The sidewalks are lined up with pedestrians, all dressed up for an evening out on The Mother Road. Music was dancing out of the bars or out of the cars cruising the avenue. The smell of New Mexico dishes captured the attention of people walking by, tickling the senses to come inside. Route 66 was ALIVE and HAPPENING, just like it used to be.
Locals said that Albuquerque had done a great job of renovating downtown and Central Ave (Route 66) bringing back its vitality for many to enjoy. They were right.
As we walked along Route 66 in Nob Hill, I could see much of its 66 nostalgia, now mixed in with hip new businesses creating a hipster vibe and an invitation for the younger generation to create the next 66 legacies.
We then visited Old Town, now surrounded by new and old, hanging onto much of its history, giving visitors a view into the past. Little Alleys draw you in to explore and shop. A variety of small businesses vying for attention line the plaza and alleyways. But it was the beauty and colors that captured my attention — and my camera.
Albuquerque embodies the past of Route 66
while retaining its history for all generations to enjoy.
In some sections, the Mother Road is as worn out as an old woman. Weathered. Wrinkled. Worried. With many years of experiences and stories to tell.
One may find sections that have recently been refreshed, giving the appearance of a younger mother. But most sections are as tired as a mother with a passel of children and a young one on her hip.
Unfortunately, we did not have the time to drive the whole true Route 66 through Oklahoma. We are traveling full-time with a 27’ Airstream and we don’t feel comfortable towing her on roads that may be fractured, bouncy, or narrow. As we have done so many times before (in 26 states so far), we leave Betty Jo (the Airstream) behind at RV Parks, such as the Mustang Run Rv Park in Yukon, OK while we explore. I saw a few travel trailers on the historic route and for the most part, most sections of the route are fine for towing. Finding gas stations (especially diesel) are few and far between. There were RV parks on the older route, but many of them looked as old as the route they were on.
We are traveling Route 66 from Cuba, MO to Barstow, CA. We hit the Mother Road on March 7th and arrived in Oklahoma City on March 15th. We travel mostly by Interstate Highway, the "newer Route 66," while towing. This allows us to park Betty Jo and travel as much of the original routes as we can with our truck, with a lot more flexibility and the ability to stop suddenly whenever something strikes our fancy - and needs to be photographed. The curse of being photographers is your creative eye is always on the lookout for that next shot.
In Missouri, we parked Betty Jo at the RV Express RV Park in Marshfield, MO. From there we ventured out on the older Route 66 in that area. We then stayed at the Coachlight Rv Park in Carthage, MO and explored Route 66 around Carthage, Joplin, Webb City and Galena, Kansas.
I found the Route in Missouri, confusing and discombobulated. There were so many versions of the Route; The original route (1926), newer routes (1958), while various byways of the route kept appearing. They all seemed to go in different directions - east/west, north/south. We often missed something because the old was mixed in with the new and so we would miss it. I often felt like it was going in circle. Ah, the fun of exploration.
In Oklahoma, the route seems more straight forward. I enjoyed this much more. There are still many of older sections (the Original), they are mostly short in length, while weathered and worn, which makes for a bumpy ride. We drove the main Historical Route from El Reno to Tulsa, seeing a lot of back country areas the Interstate misses. For the most part it was easy to follow, they have signs saying “Historical Route 66” about every 1/2 mile or so, also indicating if it's "original, addend or bypass," but I still relied on Google Maps to make sure we were on the route for I found it would often take turns without any warning.
What I enjoyed most about the route in Oklahoma was our ability to stay on the route. They really promote the route in Oklahoma and each town tries to stay somewhat authentic. It was a fun and easy-going ride, through small towns and bits of countryside, some of it weaving through the larger towns like Oklahoma City and Tulsa where you can still can find history mixed with urban development. There always seemed to be something new or unique around each turn, you just had to keep your eyes open. Traveling Route 66 is Okay in Oklahoma and worth the time, no matter how you do it.
As a child my fondest memories were road trips. And Route 66 is the Ultimate Road Trip.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo