Route 66 is America’s most iconic road, known worldwide as the embodiment of the American Highway. Most people know that Highway 66 runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, the California neighborhood of Santa Monica.
Highway 66, which was closed in 1985 as the official American highway and replaced by the Mezhstad system, was 2,448 miles long. Because some sections are no longer accessible, there are now only 2278 miles of different sections connected by modern roads.
While many people dream of a day on Route 66, few know how long it would actually take.
Driving 2278 miles on Route 66 usually takes about 2 weeks if you stop at stops and visit the cities that are on the road. You can take Route 66 in just 8 days if you travel every day and don’t see any of the sights, but it will take you a month to really explore the places you pass.
American Highway 66, as it was then called, was part of the original U.S. highway system in 1926 and became popular when it connected the Great Lakes to Southern California at a time when cars were rapidly entering the mainstream and the U.S. economy was growing as a result of the highway system.
Read the guide below to determine how much time you want to spend on Highway 66 and which factors affect driving time.
What is the driving time on Highway 66?
Since its closure and replacement by a much faster intergovernmental system, Route 66 has not seen any significant improvements or developments. As a result, many roads still have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour or less. It also takes you through a number of cities, residential areas, limited speed zones and intersections that slow down your progress.
Assuming you are travelling at an average speed of 45 miles per hour, taking all of the above factors into account, you will need 50 hours and 37 minutes net travel time to complete your journey.
Before you consider a detour, a night stop or any other form of diversion, you should always stop to refuel, rest in the laundry room and eat, even if you do so on the way.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average megapixel (mile per gallon) in the United States is 24.9. So even if you use a larger car with a typical 15-gallon tank, you still need to drive 373.5 miles per tank. Since mpg values are often optimistic and you don’t have to wait until couples are full, let’s be careful about taking 320 miles per tank as an estimate.
This means that even if you start with a full tank, you need 7 stops to refuel, and let’s assume that at each stop you only need 10 minutes to refuel, go to the bathroom, buy snacks and pay (at least you have to walk an average of 10 minutes!).
This is an extra hour and 10 minutes you have to add. To complete the picture, suppose we lose 13 minutes in 3 days if some of our pit stops aren’t as smooth as others.
The total driving time for Route 66 is 52 hours. It consists of 2 full days and 4 hours of uninterrupted work on the road, with the drivers being changed only at the service stations and stopping nowhere along the way.
This does not include stopping, resting, sleeping, eating, visits or detours.
How long does it take to stop on Highway 66?
If you follow Route 66 correctly, you will stop along the way to enjoy the culture and the food, to smell the places you pass and to see interesting places and cities.
You also want to make sure you get a good night’s sleep, whether in one of the classic motels along the road or in some of the major cities you pass.
With night stops and the ability to do things like lunch and a few random detours, you won’t want to drive more than 7 hours a day. This means that the shortest travel time on Route 66 is 8 days, which does not leave much room for deviations from the route.
The main cities along the route are Chicago, Springfield, Illinois, St. Louis, St. John’s, and St. Louis, Newfoundland and Labrador. Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and the northern suburbs of Los Angeles. Since the route has changed over time, choose the version you take – for example, Santa Fe was on the original Route 66 but was exported in 1937.
This means that if you only drive half a day in addition to the 8 days you drive, the route will be 2 weeks. Separate your stops and remember that once you pass Albuquerque, New Mexico, there will be several major cities as far as San Bernardino.
Most of the small towns you pass can be visited in a few hours, so you won’t lose much time even if you want to see the sights along the way. If you’re trying to make a choice, St. John’s is the best choice. St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Santa Fe/Albouquerque are definitely worth a look.
On the way you can stop at most others, interrupt your trip and still have time to make one or two trips to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Las Vegas.
Is there a faster way to get from Chicago to Los Angeles?
Contrary to what many people surprisingly think, the 66 is not the fastest way to get from Chicago to Los Angeles. If you connect the route to Google Maps, you will see that the quickest route goes further north through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Nevada before arriving in Santa Monica.
This route takes 30 hours to count the stops. If you want to drive as fast as possible, you can do this in 4 days with night breaks. If you are on a high-speed mission and have more than one driver, you can get there in two full days.
A slightly longer ride on the Interstate Highway, which follows Highway 66 exactly, takes 2 hours more on the road, but passes through the same major cities and states.
Some people on Route 66 will use shortcuts to make the most of their time. Some stretches of Highway 66 follow very slowly and indirectly on roads where there is nothing to see. You may also prefer certain parts if you prefer the desert and the Wild West or if you want to explore more major cities at an earlier stage of your trip.
You can ignore them and get back on the road.
Factors that may affect route 66.
Several factors have to be taken into account when planning the duration of Route 66.
The seasons and the weather are the most important. Most people who try to travel over rough terrain do so in summer, and it’s good to take advantage of the weather and outdoor activities along the way.
If you plan to travel in winter, don’t forget that the weather will be very different from start to finish. Winters in Chicago and Illinois are among the coldest in the United States, and you can find piles of snow and ice on the streets. Progress can be slow in the early stages, so build it into your plan.
At the height of summer, the opposite effect is felt as the route becomes particularly tense in July and August. Because of its enormous length Route 66 is never too busy and there are not too many nuts to challenge or just time. Once you’ve said that, there are a few places you can stop on the way.
Be prepared to be surprised when you drive. If you drive your own car, make sure you bring the right tools and that you have the right skills if you get into trouble in the middle of rural New Mexico. When renting an apartment, make sure you know what to do if you get a flat or need the help of a mechanic.
There are repair shops along Route 66, and there are usually a few things you can’t repair, but be prepared to wait a night or two for a part to be shipped if the worst happens and there are contingency plans for the rest of the trip.