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.
I thought there would be more to see on Route 66 in Amarillo, and the surrounding area, so I booked us for a week at the RV Park — I was wrong!
Our first few days, we were pretty much stuck inside. First, high winds, then rain, then snow, then snow with high winds. It was three days before we could resume our Route 66 adventures. Three days of cold, wet, and high winds.
The winds eventually died down then the warmer weather came hitting 80 a few days later. It was hard to tell who was moodier at this point - Mother Nature or Me
On our first day on the Route, we did lunch at the Midpoint Cafe. It was…Nostalgic. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Of course, like any other Route 66 traveler, we had to take our photo at the Mid Point Sign.
My favorite sites along Route 66 are old gas stations. Some of my best childhood memories were the summers I spent with my grandpa. He owned a Chevron in Sterling, Colorado, where I spent many a summer with him at the gas station. My main job, (probably to keep me out of trouble) was to keep the gas pumps clean. I had my rag and a bottle of Windex, and I took my job seriously. When customers would pull in, grandpa would greet them, fill their tanks, wash their windows, and send them on their merry way with a smile. Sometimes, I was allowed to help. I would clean the side view mirrors. I had access to all of the bubble gum I wanted and my little chair, where I often sat and just watched my grandpa work on cars. I treasure those times with him, and Route 66 is flooding me with memories of a time when life was so simple.
After lunch, we resumed our Route 66 drive and did the old and new of Route 66 through Amarillo. Sorry, but I was a bit disappointed. What remnants that remain are more than run-down the luster long forgotten. So many other states and towns are renovating their route 66, embracing their history, welcoming visitors, and inviting them to times past and times present, but Amarillo seems tired and forgotten. You can locate parts where they are trying. But, the draw, the magic — it just wasn’t there. At least not for me.
Oasis RV Resort was a nice RV park with big sites and clean. Over the week, I watched as RVers came in for the night, leaving early the next day for their next location. Amarillo was just a stopover, a place to rest the heads of weary travelers traversing the long miles across Texas. Another sign that Amarillo didn’t seem to have much to offer travelers.
We ventured off the Route and drove to Palo Duro Canyon for an afternoon. The Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the United States. The canyon is about 120 miles long and 20 miles wide and is up to 800 feet deep. We ventured down the canyon, stopped at the Trading Post for lunch, then met a fellow Airstreamer (Two Peas and the Pod) in one of the campgrounds. It was the most beautiful part of our week and worth the drive.
We waited until the snow melted before stopping at Cadillac Ranch. You hear about these places and you think, “I must go there, too,” this was one of those places. I expected more to it. I guess I expected them to make more of a big deal of this iconic place. But it’s just ten old Cadillacs buried in the ground. No monument, no fanfare, no parking lot. You park on the shoulder and walk in through a gate. There was a truck selling spray cans, a must for anyone planning on the full experience. Children were having a blast. What more could they want - mud to splash in, spraying cans of paint, and the freedom to deface property with full zeal.
We spent a week in Amarillo, a long week. Maybe it was the weather? Maybe it was my mood? Maybe it was the dreariness? Whatever the reason... Route 66 in Amarillo was just not as magical.
Now, time to move to New Mexico. May Route 66 in New Mexico be filled with Enchantment.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo