There is no question that 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.
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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