Exploring the Iconic Route 66: The Ultimate Camper Van Adventure



Exploring the Iconic Route 66

If you have ever dreamed of embarking on an epic road trip, immersing yourself in the rich history and breathtaking landscapes of the United States, then a journey along Route 66 is the perfect adventure for you. This iconic highway, also known as the “Mother Road” or the “Main Street of America,” stretches for 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, offering an unforgettable experience for campervan enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the wonders of Route 66, explore the best RV rental companies, and provide an itinerary to ensure you don’t miss any of the highlights.

Route 66
Route 66

Why Route 66?

Route 66 holds a special place in the hearts of many Americans and travellers worldwide. It represents the spirit of freedom, exploration, and the open road. Immortalized in literature, music, and film, it has become a symbol of the American dream and a bucket list item for adventure seekers. Driving along Route 66 allows you to step back in time and experience the nostalgia of a bygone era. From historic towns and charming roadside attractions to stunning national parks and scenic landscapes, every mile of the journey is filled with wonder and excitement.

Planning Your Route 66 Adventure

Before embarking on your Route 66 adventure, planning your trip carefully to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience is essential. Here are some key factors to consider:

Duration of the Trip

The length of your journey along Route 66 will depend on the available time and your travel pace. While some people complete the entire route in one go, others prefer to break it into smaller sections and explore specific areas more deeply. A typical two-week itinerary will allow you to see the major highlights of Route 66 without feeling rushed.

RV Rental Companies

To fully experience the freedom and flexibility of Route 66, renting a campervan or RV is the way to go. Two popular RV rental companies that cater to Route 66 travellers are El Monte RV and Cruise America. Both offer a range of vehicles to suit different travel needs and budgets. El Monte RV has depots in Chicago and Los Angeles, while Cruise America also has locations near both cities. Comparing prices and amenities will help you find the best option for your journey.

Itinerary and Highlights

Route 66 is filled with fascinating towns, landmarks, and attractions that showcase the history and culture of America. Here is a suggested itinerary that will take you through some of the most memorable spots along the way:

Illinois: The Start of the Journey

  • Begin your adventure in Chicago, where Route 66 officially starts. Take the time to explore the city’s vibrant neighbourhoods and iconic landmarks, such as Grant Park and the famous “End Historic Route” sign.
  • As you travel southwest, stop in Joliet to visit Route 66 Park and immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the Mother Road.
  • Continue to Springfield, where you can explore the birthplace of Route 66 and visit the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in a classic corn dog at Cozy Dog Drive in Springfield before hitting the road again.

Missouri: The Heart of Route 66

  • In St. Louis, known for its blues music and warm hospitality, take a detour to the Gateway Arch and enjoy the city’s soul food scene.
  • Drive across the Chain of Rocks Bridge, a fascinating landmark that spans the Mississippi River.
  • Explore the charming town of Cuba, known as the “Mural City,” and visit the historic Wagon Wheel Motel.
  • In Springfield, the birthplace of Route 66, delve into the history of the highway at the Route 66 Visitor Center and explore the numerous roadside attractions.

Oklahoma: Where the West Begins

  • Experience the culinary delights of Oklahoma at Pops 66 Local Soda Ranch, known for its hearty meals and a 66-foot-tall soda bottle.
  • Visit the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City to learn about the rich Western heritage of the area.
  • Enjoy the thrill of Frontier City, an amusement park that offers fun for the whole family.
  • Take a scenic drive through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where you can spot bison, elk, and other native wildlife.

Texas: Where Canyons Meet Art Deco

  • Explore Amarillo, the only city in Texas where Route 66 passes through. Marvel at the Cadillac Ranch, a unique public art installation, and admire the city’s diverse architectural styles.
  • Indulge in some Texan cuisine and soak up the local culture in Amarillo.
  • Venture to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the second-largest canyon in the United States, and immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Texas Panhandle.

Arizona: Land of Natural Wonders

  • As you enter Arizona, take a moment to appreciate the stunning landscapes and natural wonders that await you.
  • Visit the Petrified Forest National Park and marvel at the ancient trees turned to stone over millions of years.
  • Explore the vibrant city of Flagstaff and take a side trip to the breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to visit quirky roadside attractions and gift shops that line the route.

California: The End of the Journey

  • Finally, reach the end of Route 66 in Santa Monica, California, where you can dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica Pier.
  • Explore the artistic city of Santa Monica, visit galleries in Bergamot Station, and enjoy the stunning sunsets at Muscle Beach.
  • Stroll along the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame and immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

Campervan Life on Route 66

One of the advantages of travelling along Route 66 in a campervan is the freedom it provides. With your home on wheels, you can stop and camp wherever you please, whether it’s a scenic overlook, a national park, or a designated campsite. In the United States, there are many opportunities for free camping, known as boondocking or wild camping, where you can park overnight without fees.

However, respecting local regulations and ensuring you are not trespassing on private property is essential. Additionally, numerous campgrounds and RV parks along the route offer amenities such as electricity, water, and shower facilities.

Essential Tips for a Successful Route 66 Adventure

  • Plan your trip well to secure the best RV rental deals and ensure availability.
  • Pack essentials such as maps, GPS, camping equipment, and cooking utensils.
  • Check the weather forecasts along your route and pack accordingly.
  • Take breaks and explore the small towns and attractions along the way to immerse yourself in the Route 66 experience fully.
  • Stay hydrated and have snacks on hand during long drives.
  • Observe speed limits and traffic rules to ensure a safe journey.
  • Be flexible and open to unexpected detours or spontaneous adventures.

Conclusion

Embarking on a journey along Route 66 is an experience like no other. From the bustling streets of Chicago to the sunny shores of Santa Monica, every mile of the route is filled with history, beauty, and adventure. With the freedom of a campervan, you can immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the Mother Road, explore charming towns, indulge in local cuisine, and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, grab your map, buckle up, and prepare for the ultimate road trip along the iconic Route 66. Happy travels!

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