Through the series, we’ve spent quite a lot of time stateside. But as we’ve seen, there are some great drives and some great cars over there, and the US has always had a love affair with gasoline and scenery. The two go very well together…
Route 66 doesn’t exist, officially, any more. But the road is still there under various new names, such as ‘Historic Route 66,’ or ‘State Route 66’, and many sections are recognised scenic highways. It runs from Illinois to California, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and there are plenty of stretches that are eye-popping gorgeous and reminiscent of the frontier days and the heyday of muscle cars crossing county lines to get away from Highway Patrol.
So which are the best parts? The jury will always be out on this one, but here are a few sections worthy of the debate…
The old ‘unimproved’ section between Seligman, Arizona and Bagdad, California is pretty impressive, and how you might imagine Route 66 to be: dusty, barren and oozing character. The stretch from Mesita to Grants in New Mexico takes you through some amazing scenery, especially the red rocks, and there are beautiful Indian reservations, and small towns that originated as stop-offs for people heading west in search of better lives.
The route from the Missouri border to Edmond, Oklahoma is also hard to beat, with so much to see from behind the wheel, and attractions to stop and enjoy. The Round Barn in Arcadia, for example, is a must-see.
Really, it depends on your time, budget and preferences. But there are always cheap places to stay along the way, and you’ll never be far from a great section to enjoy, or a place to stop and soak up the history of this iconic route. Most people using 66 these days are driving it for pleasure, so you can always ask in a rest area for some top tips.
Just remember, parts of Route 66 – especially those in New Mexico, Arizona and California – are best tackled in an air-conditioned car, as it gets very, very hot in the day, and very cold as soon as the sun goes down. But those sunsets… wow.