Posted by: redforkhippie | December 29, 2007

Road Tip 2

Road Tip No. 2: Get yourself a good guidebook.

You won’t find Route 66 in modern road atlases. It’s not signed terribly well in some areas. Setting out without a good set of directions is almost certain to get you hopelessly lost. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — some of our best discoveries have come about as a result of getting hopelessly lost — but at some point, you’d probably like to get back on the road you came to see.

To that end, I recommend the following publications and Web sites:

1. Swa Frantzen’s turn-by-turn directions, available for free at

2. Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan’s HERE IT IS: The Route 66 Map Series. Available from Ghost Town Press for $11.95 plus $3 shipping and handling. Very highly recommended.

3. Jerry McClanahan’s EZ Guide for Travelers, available for $15.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling from the National Historic Route 66 Federation.

4. Bob Moore and Rich Cunningham’s Complete Guidebook to Route 66 and Complete Atlas of Route 66. Sold as a set; available for $29.95 from Route 66 Magazine.

5. The Oklahoma Route 66 Association’s annual Trip Guide, available from the Association for $4.95 shipping and handling, or you can pick up a free copy at member businesses or download it from the Association’s Web site.

When it comes to motels and diners, I highly recommend flying by the seat of your pants, but if you like to make reservations and plan ahead, the following publications and Web sites may be helpful:

1. Route 66 for Kids. Available as a free download from, this guidebook — written by yours truly — is basically like having my personal Route 66 Rolodex in your car.

2. The Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide. The result of a massive biennial volunteer effort, the Dining and Lodging Guide is one of the best tools out there for helping you find good places to eat and sleep. Available for $12.95 plus $1.75 shipping from the National Historic Route 66 Federation.

3. One of my sites, this is a recently hatched effort to spread the word about good restaurants along the road.

4. Another site of mine. A list of my favorite mom-and-pop motels.

For general advice from people who have been there and seen that, join the Route 66 Yahoo! group. With more than 1,300 members, this chatty bunch usually has somebody who’s willing and able to answer newbies’ questions about the Mother Road.



  1. I am planning to leave connecticut end of may and
    arrive in california 17 days later
    route 66 through the desert into california on motorcycles is the road in good shape to travel
    and at what point is the road continuous
    thinking of using 66 from Albuquerque NM

  2. I haven’t driven 66 on a bike, but I know a lot of people who have, and the general consensus seems to be that if you exercise some common sense, you’ll be fine. Big stretches of 66 in New Mexico and Arizona have been absorbed by the interstate, but the pavement that remains is generally in good shape. West of ABQ, the road kind of zigs and zags back and forth across the interstate, disrupted every few miles by a stretch of unavoidable interstate. Once you reach Arizona, the road winds through the Painted Desert, which is awesome, and the stretch from Seligman to Kingman, Ariz., is nice. The Gold Road up to Oatman is fun, but caution is advised regardless of your vehicle — the road is steep and winding, with few guardrails and no shoulder, and the local burros are prone to wander out into the road now and then. West of Topock, you have a brief rendezvous with the interstate into California, but west of Needles, you have a long stretch of original pavement across the Mojave. That section is one of my favorites.

    I wouldn’t get too carried away exploring older alignments (e.g., Cuervo Cutoff), but the main alignments should be fine.

    Your best bet is to sit down with one of the maps or guidebooks mentioned in the post above and take a look at the directions to get a feel for what you’re dealing with.

    The long stretches of unavoidable interstate in New Mexico and Arizona allow you to move pretty fast, so I’d be inclined to pick up 66 somewhere around Glenrio or San Jon and take it into Tucumcari — it’s a nice drive, and the old (partly gravel) alignment from Glenrio to San Jon is in good enough shape that you could probably take it on a bike if you didn’t go too fast.

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