Officially, the 66 road no longer exists since 1984. Yet it is the most famous route in the USA or even the world! It symbolizes in itself the greatness of the United States, the freedom of motorized travel peculiar to a united America and in motion. The 66 road is far from the longest of the USA: it is only 3670 km long (against 5415 km for the US 20, the longest road in the United States). The 66 road crosses postcard landscapes: disproportionate cities, large parks, nature reserves, deserts, cactus forests, lakes, mountains on the traces of Indians and cowboys to the Pacific Ocean.
Back on the history of the 66 road, which today travels on a motorcycle trip to the USA or by car for the nostalgic and all curious about the American culture. The road, offers a wide panorama of the United States through 8 states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
For more than 78 years, Route 66 has seen the passing of motorcycles, cars and Ford Mustang of all eras!
The history of the 66 road
The first tarred transcontinental of the USA
It all started in 1920 with the explosion of Fordism and the success of the Ford T, sold millions of copies in the US. The question of the road network arises, each state having its own roads, drawn by Native American without any coherence to rally the west of the country. In 1921 Cyrus Stevens Avery, the father of the 66 road selects the cities that will be crossed by this future federal network, allowing to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. The road was carried out between 1926 and 1937, each state financing at the height of its means this national shipyard.
To discover a beautiful part, Marcel, specialist Harley Davidson and mythical vehicles in the USA, accompanies you on this trip USA out of time, having kept all its authenticity!
The symbol of the freedom and renewal of the USA
Bobby Troup will make the 66 road famous with “Get your kicks on Route 66” performed by Nat King Cole in 1946. Bobby Troup wrote this song during his military trip on Route 66, when he was forced to join California to perform his national service.
The road is called the Mother Road because it is to it that converge all the portions of roads in each state. The 66 road is the symbol of renewal and freedom in the years 40 at the time of the Great Depression. Millions of farmers and workers take the road to California, a state where employment prospects seem better. Farmers are fleeing the agricultural disaster caused by the dust Bowl drought wave. It’s a whole time translated into John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath.
America of the years 50
The 66 road is a major development axis around which cities such as Amarillo, Albuquerque, are modernized… Hundreds of motels, cafés in formicas, souvenir shops and petrol stations are established along the road, the symbol of an America of the years 50, free and modernized, where everything is possible. It is the golden age, the Americans now join California not only to work but to spend their holidays.
To see on the road 66 during a roadtrip in the USA
The 66 road travels today during a road trip by motorbike, car, convertible or muscle car. Equipped with a roadbook, a map follow the itinerary of the historic 66 road that reserves many surprises to all the roadtripers in search of the Grand West.
The gates of the 66 road
The old road 66 is taken in Chicago. After visiting the skyscrapers and lake Michigan you glide on the 66 road for a trip of more than twenty days. The old route of the road steps into St. Louis with its large arch symbolizing the western gate. We stop in Saint-Louis to visit the museums of the city and to be lulled by the sound of Jazz. The 66 road continues in Texas with the famous “Cadillac Ranch” by artist Stanley Marsh, where 10 different Cadillac models are planted in the Texan desert. The Cadillacs are allowed to be tagged in the participatory artistic trend of Route 66, “public Art”.
New Mexico with Santa FE
In New Mexico, Sant Fe is the Hispanic city with the most pleasant architecture of the route. The city was quickly ejected from the circuit of the 66 road, because it is too isolated, but it is a must-have stage with its brick and earth buildings as well as its ornate lanes with a relaxed atmosphere.
The deserts of Arizona
The 66 road continues in Arizona. The park of Petrified Forest is a must-have stage with its fossilized trunks. Right in the heart of the Arizona desert is Meteor City with its famous meteor Crater. 50 000 years ago, the desert was struck by a meteorite destroying over a radius of 150 kilometers all animal and plant species. You can now observe a crater of 1250 m in diameter and 180 m deep.
California between mountains and desert, up to the glitter of L. A
California is then reached between desert and mountain towards the end of the 66 road, after 4000 kilometers of road. The 66 road travels the Mojave desert with the hottest city of the United States, needles whose temperatures adjacent the 45 degrees in summer. Needles are opening the gates of the Mojave desert.
The Graffiti corridor continues the tradition of participatory art along the 66 road and invites all travelers to take ownership of the work: to hang their shoes or other accessories tagged on a corridor of several kilometers between Essex and Amboy. On the road, we cross many motels abandoned following the decline of the 66 road in the years 80. These ghost towns testify to the golden age of the years 60 with their red and white neons, like the Baghdad Café, made famous by the eponymous film.
The bottle Tree Ranch to the east of Helendale, is one of the sights of the road, formatting a collection of bottle recovered along the road 66 in the year 50.
Finally you penetrate Los Angeles and touch the myth, as an explorer in the conquest of the West. You travel through Hollywood Boulevard and its stars, discover its legendary cinemas. The 66 road ends in Santa Monica, in front of the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, after a route in the USA of almost 4000 kilometers of souvenirs.
The decline of the 66 road
En 1984 The 66 road is definitely short-circuited, due to the highway network developing all over the West. Its use is becoming more and more local, so it loses its status as a national road. This means the decline of the small tourism business bordering the 66. Today the 66 road bears witness to another era, that of the cocktails Lounge to the sound of the juke box and the stripes of petrol at $1.
Preservation by travel on the 66 road
Since 1990 the movement of the Sisty-Sixters has ensured the preservation of the Historic Route 66. By browsing this mythical itinerary by motorbike or by car, you also enter this circle of lovers of the road 66 and Roadtrips in the long run!
If the Adventure tempts you!
Planet Ride likes to share these invitations to the trip. If you want to take the act and Travel (!), click on these links to discover our motorcycle trip on the 66 road and all the trips and road trips in the USA (car, motorbike…) of Planet Ride.
You also want to discover the famous natural parks of the American West? It’s over here!