5 Reasons to Avoid a Route 66 Road Trip

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5 Reasons to Avoid a Route 66 Road Trip

No question traveling along Route 66 is a classic American road trip, but it may not be for everyone.

The historic highway has its charms, for sure. However, there are also some reasons you may want to bypass it. We’ve come up with five reasons to avoid a Route 66 Road Trip.

Let’s dig in!

What Makes a Route 66 Road Trip So Special?

In some ways, a cruise along America’s Main Street, as it’s sometimes called, is a ride down Memory Lane. Taking the 2,400-mile trip from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, is a quintessentially American experience. The Mother Road spans the very heart of our beautiful nation. During the 20th Century, it helped usher in the freedom to travel that we continue to celebrate today.

Nostalgia is a big part of the appeal, too. Rolling along this historic route offers more than a glimpse into bygone days, though. It’s also a chance to move at a slower pace and enjoy a series of almost cinematic landscapes.

5 Reasons to Avoid a Route 66 Road Trip

But to sing a slightly different tune, you might want to get your kicks somewhere else. Here are some reasons that a Route 66 road trip may not be the best idea.

#1 – Much of Route 66 is Desolate

There’s a lot to see along the way, including many iconic and kitschy attractions. Some of these have survived through the decades, while others are more retro in nature. Truth be told, there are long distances between them where there’s not much of interest.

Worse, there are sometimes too many miles between places where you can service your vehicle if you need to. You certainly don’t want to be stranded by the side of the road, no matter how historic it is.

#2 – Gas Prices are Crazy 

It was the tourist trade that built up Route 66 back in its golden era. A growing stream of traffic gave rise to more businesses to cater to those visitors. That’s why so many motels, restaurants, and service stations sprang up.

These days, the price per gallon for gas and diesel along Route 66 is sometimes astronomical (almost always above the national average).

There are a few reasons for this. There’s less competition, so gas stations can trap motorists into paying the going rate. With traffic being down, especially in the off-season, mom and pop might raise prices to stay in business.

#3 – Many Attractions Are Gone or Shut Down

The heyday of Route 66 is long gone, though there have been some admirable efforts to revive it in places. In fact, many of those slices of Americana we associate with Route 66 are history.

You’ll find numerous crumbled ruins or boarded-up shells in many places. They’re interesting to see, but also sad reminders of another time.

#4 – Some of the Original Road is Gone

It isn’t just the thrill that’s gone. Some of the actual pavement is, too. When the interstate system came along in the 1950s, the government bypassed parts of Route 66 and paved over others. This makes it impossible to drive the original route.

Long stretches have disappeared, covered by newer construction or transitioned into federal Interstate.

#5 – It Can be Busy in the Summer Season

It’s not all derelict, however. So the powerful appeal of a Route 66 road trip endures. Older generations love revisiting the road while many younger motorists are eager to discover it for themselves.

During peak times of the year, crowds are so big that you can almost visualize those glory days. Unfortunately, this spells overcrowding because there aren’t as many existing businesses to cater to them anymore.

Is a Route 66 Road Trip Worth It? 

Route 66 ain’t what it used to be, that’s for sure. There are many places along the route, however, that are still worth visiting. It’s kind of hard to put into words, but it has an almost magical place in our history.

It also crisscrosses some gorgeous terrain. Perhaps the best way to experience Route 66 is by making a series of strategic strikes. Research places on the old route that you want to visit and find ways to access them from other highways.

Pro Tip: Here are the best roadside attractions on Route 66.

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip Wisely

Some say a Route 66 road trip is an epic adventure, while others call it boring, expensive, and overrated. We think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Plan your trip wisely and realize, sadly, that it may not completely live up to its almost mythical status.

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3 comments

  1. The only advantage of being old is I’ve seen things The way you young will never see. This includes the original Route 66 in 1963. Now days I prefer to travel the secondary roads instead of the interstates. So much more relaxing driving my class b at 55 to 60 instead of the 70 to 80 of the interstates.

  2. You obviously did not drive the Route 66 I know or you would have never of written this. For if you do drive Route 66 there is a magic that happens and it has all to do with the folks along the Route in the small towns and yes in the city too. You did not meet the folks keeping their doors open to domestic and foreign travelers and relishing the stories of where that tourist is from and giving them a hearty welcome. You didn’t see all the hard work that goes into keeping a neon sign lit so you can admire it. You did not see the dedicated people who go out and toil and labor to pull weeds so that you can go to that abandoned site and visualize a motor motel in days before air conditioning You two have no imagination or respect for history. You saw desolation where we see survivors. You saw closed attractions where we see the next entrepreneurial that knows the value of Route 66. You saw a Route that may not be printed on a map where we see adventure. You have missed the entire allure of Route 66 and for that I pity you. It is the people that make Route 66 magic “We’re the people that live Can’t nobody lick us We’ll go on forever We’re the people “ These are the last words of Grapes of Wrath but just as powerful today We’re the people!

  3. I’ve done the Route, all the way from Chicago to LA. Some of the comments in the article are true, there are desolate stretches, attractions that are no longer open, and parts of the Route that are now closed or have been turned into roads like I-40.

    That being said… no, gas prices aren’t any higher on the Route than anywhere else. For the most part these days it’s either a local road or it’s close to an Interstate. You aren’t going to get stuck paying more for gas just because you are on Route 66.

    But if you want to see America, the real America, cities great and small, ghost towns, amber waves of grain, deserts, forests, great rivers and mountains, and meet real, live people who are passionate about what they are doing you can’t beat the Route.

    There are wonderful museums, interesting places to eat and stay, amazing scenery, and people from all over the world.

    For all the reasons not to drive the Route I and many others can give you dozens why you should drive it, in many ways it’s the ultimate American road trip, and there is nothing else like it in the world.

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