Traveling Route 66 with a campervan rental is an iconic journey westward that combines history, nostalgia, romance and the American Dream. For generations, Route 66 was the primary road across the country to the Pacific Ocean, linking Chicago, Illinois to Southern California. Passing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, Route 66 is firmly embedded in pop culture. It appears in classic movies like The Grapes of Wrath as well as modern flicks like the animated feature Cars – and you’ll even find it in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Getting your kicks on Route 66 is an American rite of passage.
Today this historic “Mother Road” still represents the impetus to go west and the quintessential American road trip. Dotted with old motels, neon signs, gas stations and trading posts, this funky scenic byway is the charming alternative to faster Interstate routes.
You can’t drive the 2,448-mile Route 66 in its entirety anymore; much of the highway has now been converted into part of the Interstate system. But you can travel along sections of the historic route, which is especially well marked through New Mexico and Arizona. This classic journey still offers plenty of quirky roadside stops and campgrounds to explore.
Route 66 Highlights
- Gemini Giant – Located at the eastern entrance to Wilmington outside the Launching Pad Drive-In Restaurant, this 30’ green statue holds a rocket ship – your first photo op!
- Route 66 Museum – Stop in Clinton, Oklahoma to explore the history of Route 66 and see an original Valentine Diner and the Tradewinds Motel.
- Cadillac Ranch – Situated just west of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle, this funky attraction and art installation features a collection of junked-up Cadillacs halfway-buried head first in the ground. Park on the frontage road and walk through the gate to visit.
- Petrified Forest National Park – Ancient and a little bit eerie, this collection of colorful rocks is actually a forest that is 225 million years old.
- Wigwam Motels – Built in the 1930s and 1940s, this throwback hotel chain lets you stay in teepees. You can still stay in them along Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona and San Bernardino, California.
- Barringer Crater – Check out this massive crater, which is one of the best-preserved on earth and measures 3,900 feet in diameter and 570 feet deep.
- Seligman – Packed full of Route 66 signage and kitsch, this must-stop is a step back in time – or into a movie set. Relax at a 1930s soda fountain at Historic Seligman Sundries.
- Oatman – Roamed by wild donkeys, this random destination also features a saloon, souvenir stops and restaurants along Main Street.
- Santa Monica Pier – You made it! Wander along the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, the unofficial end of Route 66. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel and enjoy a bite of cotton candy with a backdrop of mountains.
There are over a hundred campgrounds along historic Route 66 and nearby, including federal lands, state parks and private locations. Make reservations in advance if at all possible, especially if you’re traveling during the high summer season.
- Mark Twain National Forest – MO
- Santa Fe National Forest – NM
- Cibola National Forest – NM
- Petrified Forest National Park – AZ
- Kaibab National Forest – AZ
- Prescott National Forest – AZ
- Havasu National Wildlife Refuge – AZ
- Mojave National Preserve – CA
- Angeles National Forest – CA
- San Bernardino National Forest - CA
- Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area – CA
State Parks & Recreation Areas
- Fossil Rock Recreation Area – Wilmington, IL
- Moraine View State Recreation Area – LeRoy, IL
- Weldon Springs State Park – Clinton, IL
- Beaver Dam State Park – Carlinville, IL
- Sangchris State Park – Springfield, IL
- Robertsville State Park – Robertsville, MO
- Meramec State Park – Sullivan, MO
- Onodaga Cave State Park – Leesburg, MO
- Bennett Springs State Park – Lebanon, MO
- Twin Bridges State Park – Fairland, OK
- Foss State Park – Foss, OK
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Canyon, TX
- Santa Rosa Lake State Park – Tucumcari, NM
- Blue Water Lake State Park – Grants, NM
- Homolovi State Park – Winslow, AZ
- Lake Havasu State Park – Lake Havasu City, AZ
KOA (Kampgrounds of America) – With almost 500 locations across North America, this massive network of campgrounds provide numerous amenities like hot showers, Wi-Fi, swimming pools and bike rentals. KOAs can be found along Route 66 in 21 different locations.
- Eureka, MO
- Stanton, MO
- Springfield, MO
- Joplin, MO
- Claremore, OK
- El Reno, OK
- Canute, OK
- Amarillo, TX
- Tucumcari, NM
- Las Vegas, NM
- Santa Fe, NM
- Bernalillo, NM
- Albuquerque, NM
- Grants, NM
- Holbrook, AZ
- Flagstaff, AZ
- Williams, AZ
- Seligman, AZ
- Kingman, AZ
- Needles, CA
- Pomona, CA
There are also dozens upon dozens of independently owned campgrounds and RV parks with friendly service along Route 66. Enjoy exploring the “Main Street of America” and happy trails to you!
Let Bakpak Dave book a campervan rental or RV hire for your road trip adventure and experience Route 66!