Historic Route 66, Westbound
The tour program describes the main attractions for the 15-day journey on the world-famous, legendary and historic U.S. Route 66, also known as “The Mother Road”. Route 66 has throughout history been the road for migrants, dreamers, desperadoes and a whole generation of holidaymakers, who explored the road to the west. The 1950s were Route 66’s peak. Thousands of cars drove “bumper-to-bumper” to experience the western emigration route. Hotels, motels, and the “new America” grew up everywhere. Much of Route 66’s original roads, restaurants, gas stations, and nostalgic landmarks are preserved just as they were in the ’50s. Hence the famous and nostalgic Route 66 is a heaven for motorcycle riding.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Chicago – Los Angeles|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Begin at your convenience on your designated start date|
“At Explorify Tours we believe that good experiences and camaraderie are at least as important as the journey. Our goal is to fill your tour travelbag with as many positive memories as possible, so you go home with a big smile on your face. And with friends, you didn’t have before you started the tour.”
Note: Because of the time difference we will arrive home the date/day after we departed the US
Day 1: Arrival Chicago
After months of waiting your departure day is finally here: Welcome to Chicago!
After arriving at the Chicago airport and picking up your luggage (Baggage claim), please exit the arrival hall to the traffic island (outside) with the “red” sign with the writing “Hotel and Courtesy Shuttle”. Look for mini-bus with the “Hotel name”, which is very close to the airport. The hotel offers a free shuttle bus service every 30 minutes. For the hotel’s address, see above. At the hotel reception, you will be met by one of our friendly tour guides. NB: Please note that the hotel does not allow check-in until at 3 PM (15:00)
When all tour participants have arrived, we meet for a welcome reception and refreshment, with the introduction of all tour participants and tour leaders. The evening’s program is getting to know each other. Those who are not tired after the long journey may go to a local bar nearby.
Day 2: Chicago - Springfield, Il
(Driving day 1: 307 km/187 miles)
This is the day we start our Route 66 adventure!
When everyone is ready on their bikes, we start our ride on the 4.000 km / 2.500 miles long Historic Route 66. Chicago disappears behind us as we head east/west for a unique adventure full of history and fun. Our first stop is Joliet, home of the Blues Brothers. Then Wilmington and “The Gemini Giant”, where we eat lunch.
Afterward, we drive Route 66 past the old gas station at Odell (a good example of many day-open stations), to the museum in Pontiac, before arriving Springfield, today’s end stop.
Day 3: Springfield - St.Louis, Mo
(Driving day 2: 179 km/111 miles)
It will be a day full of traditional riding on Route 66 and spectacular nature. Many villages, ancient towns, and historic Route 66 places. Our first stop is Mt. Olive, an old Route 66 gas station. We continue to Hamel, where we take a break on at traditional Route 66 diner and enjoy the sun.
We continue our journey through several small towns before arriving St. Louis, where we cross the Mississippi River on the historic Chain of Rocks bridge before we stop at one of the most famous landmarks in the USA, “The Gateway Arch”, a monument raised in honor of the pioneers who went west. The Arch can be seen at a 6 km distance. St. Louis was long the last civilization. Like the real pioneers, we ride by the “Arch” and stop to capture the moment. We will spend the evening here.
Day 4: St.Louis - Springfield, Mo
(Driving day 3: 348 km/216 miles)
We continue south-west through the stunning mountain scenery of the Ozarks, which is among the most scenic along Route 66. Keep your cameras ready! Our first stop is at Stanton and the Jesse James Museum in Meramec Mines. We get the opportunity to go into the caves where Jesse & his gang hid all the loot they had robbed from their many raids.
We continue through the “heart” of the United States, full of various experiences and impressions. This is the way people originally drove Route 66. Our next stop is picturesque Cuba. We continue to Lebanon, where we look at the legendary Munger Moss Motel. We proceed to our final stop Springfield, home of President Abraham Lincoln.
Day 5: Springfield - Oklahoma City, Ok
(Driving day 4: 494 km/312 miles)
We continue our journey along exciting Route 66. Our first stop will be a famous traditional Route 66 gas station, The Gay Parita Sinclair, who currently is run only from donations and sales of Route 66 effects (The station is the legacy of Gary Turner, also known as the kindest man on Route 66). We continue and drive by Joplin, and it’s “Welcome Kansas”.
The drive through Kansas on Route 66 is very short, only about 31 km. We stop at the famous “4 Women on the Route” and Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge, enjoying the historical aura, before continuing to Baxter Springs and into Oklahoma. Oklahoma is the state that has preserved most of the original Route 66 (in total, you can drive about 633 km), and the residents of Oklahoma are those who currently use Route 66 most because a lot of the new Interstate 44 is levied by tolls. It was in Oklahoma people began to use the term “The Mother Road”. Oklahoma is also the state where the landscape changes from foresty to dry.
We ride through the beautiful & lush Oklahoma and make several stops: Tulsa, where we visit the Route 66 Harley Davidson, Stroud, and the Rock Café.
Our journey continues along with the many small and cozy Route 66 towns several towns before we reach our final stop for the day; Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City is the 31st largest city in the U.S. according to population, but the 8th largest according to land area.
Day 6: Oklahoma City - Amarillo, Tx
(Driving day 5: 427 km/267 miles)
After we have digested Oklahoma City, we continue our Route 66 adventure. We ride to Yukon, home of the famous country music artist Garth Brooks. We continue to El Reno, before embarking to Weatherford.
We move into a cowboy country and the nation’s largest state, Texas. This day will drive through the prairie country, and there will be some straight-line driving. In some fashion, this will also be the day of “the steak”.
Our first stop is Elk City, where we visit the National Route 66 Museum and take pictures in front of the large Route-66 sign. On the way to Amarillo, we stop in McLean at a traditional Route 66 steak house to eat lunch. Here you can eat one of the most tender steaks you ever tasted. The owner personally buys all beef to ensure the best quality.
Afterward, we head straight to Amarillo, where we take several fun stops. One of them is Cavender’s Boot City, where we stack up with cowboy accessories. We drive to the hotel and check-in before we are picked up in a limo and driven to a Route 66 legend: the “Big Texan Steakhouse” where you can eat the famous 2.2 kg (72 oz.) steak. Those who manage to eat the entire meal within 60 minutes (2.2 kg/72 oz. steak, baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail, butter, and bread) get the meal free. Many have tried – most have failed. Are you up for the challenge?
Day 7: Amarillo - Santa Fè, Nm
(Driving day 6: 451 km/280 miles)
It will be a hot driving day in cowboy country, with long flat fields and countrysides. Partially, we will ride on I-40, since parts of old Route 66 no longer is drivable in this area. Our first stop is the famous “Cadillac Ranch”, where you can sign a very special work of art. We drive to Adrian, who is “Midpoint U.S. Route 66; we are halfway to Los Angeles. We’ll drink a cup of coffee at the local Midpoint diner before we ride out of Texas and into New Mexico. We continue to Tucumcari and visit the “Blue Swallow” (the friendliest motel on R66). We also eat lunch in Tucumcari, before driving to Santa Rosa.
The final stop is Santa Fe, one of the most beautiful cities in the western United States and the capital of New Mexico. Santa Fe will be our home for the next two nights. You will use no more than a few minutes in Santa Fe’s narrow streets until you love the city and the population.
Day 8: Santa Fè
(Explorer & fun day)
We have ridden over half of the distance on our Route 66 adventure and take a day off to recharge the batteries and enjoy more of the wonderful Santa Fe. The city is located high in the mountains; scenic “Sangre de Cristo “, and is rich in Spanish and Native American history and culture. A unique blend that can be seen in the local art and architecture. The day is free to use as you wish.
You can relax by the pool, enjoy one of the many art galleries, explore Santa Fe or a guided city tour, or visit one of the town’s micro-breweries. You can buy local art in the local market. Do not forget to try “The Green Chili Stew” which has become a favorite among our guests. Santa Fe’s cuisine is famous. In the evening we go to a real cowboy restaurant, eat steak, drink and enjoying the real cowboy way of life.
Day 9: Santa Fè - Gallup, Nm
(Driving day 7: 363 km/199 miles)
We move out of cowboy country and into Indian native territory. It will be an eventful day as we drive through the land that Indians have lived on for centuries. We start by riding the small fun and curvy roads to Madrid, where the “Wild Hogs” movie with John Travolta was recorded. You can walk into the bar the guys sat in the movie and relax with a refreshing drink. Then we drive just outside Albuquerque to the Route 66 Casino, where we eat lunch. We ride straight to Acoma Sky City, which is the Acoma Indians holy city, lying on top of a high “Mesa” (rock formation). We park outside the Acoma Museum, buy tickets, and take the bus up to the holy city (it is forbidden to walk up on your own). When we arrive at the top, we must stick together and close to the guide. There will also plenty of opportunities to purchase handmade Native American art. We finish the day by driving to Gallup.
Day 10: Gallup - Williams, Az
(Driving day 8: 390 km/244 miles)
This will be a day of desert driving and unique nature. First, we ride in Navajo and Apache territory to Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Is it stone or wood? And is the sand painted? We drive through this wonderful nature reserve, which is a memory for life. We continue to Holbrook and Winslow, where we make a stop at the “corner”. Eagles fans know what “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” means. We eat lunch in Winslow.
After our glucose recovery, we continue along Route 66 to Williams, which is one of the coolest destinations on Route 66. We will stay here for a fun night.
Day 11: Williams - Grand canyon - Kingman, Az
(Driving day 9: 433 km/271 miles)
This day will for many be the highlight of the tour. We drive to the Grand Canyon helicopter base. Those who have ordered the helicopter tour will get an experience of a lifetime, truly something they will never forget. To hover in the air over one of the seven wonders and experience this natural phenomenon up close is absolutely magical. Highly recommend! After the helicopter ride, we drive a short distance to the visitor center, where you have the chance to watch the world’s most viewed Imax movie. When you see the film it feels almost like standing inside the Grand Canyon. Thereafter, we ride into the Grand Canyon, where we take this year’s holiday photo! NB: Helicopter rides must be booked in advance.
When we finally are able to leave Grand Canyon we drive to little Seligman, which has one of the greatest advocates for Route 66’s origin. Seligman is a fun, cozy and traditional Route 66 town, a lot of great photo opportunities. The rest of the day will consist of desert driving, very hot conditions and wonderful scenery. We stop in Hackberry, a small traditional Route 66 gas station, full of history, like taken out of an old movie. We enjoy an ice cream or cola in the shade. Then, we cruise to Kingman, another important city on the route.
Day 12: Kingman - Las Vegas, Ne
(Driving day 10: 229 km/143 miles)
We start the day with a spectacular drive to Oatman, an old western village in Mohave (county), which was established by two gold diggers in 1915. The driving distance to the Oatman consists of narrow curvy roads at different height levels, with mountain and desert landscapes. Ideal for filming, perhaps the best opportunity on the tour. Remember to lock your bikes in Oatman and watch out for donkeys & outlaws in the streets.
We continue Route 66 before we drive straight to Las Vegas. Welcome to the city called “The adult playground” or “Sin City”. Vegas Baby! Have fun! Las Vegas has everything, stunning buildings, unique shows, casinos and all kinds of entertainment. Vegas is never boring! We highly recommend visiting Caesars Palace, Bellagio, MGM, Stardust, Treasure Island, The Venetian, Mirage, and the Wyatt. In the evening you will be able to watch volcanic eruptions every 15 minutes at the Mirage. The garden is transformed into a flame show. Inside the casino, you will find rare white tigers. The water show outside the Bellagio is also a memory for life.
Day 13: Las Vegas - Big Bear Lake, Ca
(Driving day 11: 352 km/219 miles)
It will be a day of city-, highway- and desert driving, and it will get very hot. We recommend riding with a hydration (cooling) vest, which makes it much easier to cope with the heat. We eat breakfast and drive “the strip” before taking a group photo in front of the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
We head towards Los Angeles, stop at Calico Ghost Town, and eat lunch in Barstow. After lunch, we drive to the beautiful vacation resort Big Bear Lake, where we spend our last magical evening on the road.
Day 14: Big Bear Lake - Los Angeles, Ca
(Driving day 12: 253 km/157 miles)
We end our tour with a big bang. Today we will enjoy the magical roads and spectacular views on one of US Best motorcycle roads; Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2). It will be a breathtaking riding experience for the history books. Make sure to have your cameras ready and fully charged. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We take several stops and make our time on Angels Crest Highway before we head towards Los Angeles. We return our bikes and check-in to the hotel before we drive to Santa Monica Pier, the end of Historic Route 66 and our Farewell party.
Day 15: Departure - Home Travel
We check out of the hotel and grab a shuttle bus to the airport to return home. Thanks for a great ride, good times and sincerely thank you for choosing to travel with Explorify.
Note: Because of the time difference travelers from Europe will arrive home the date/day after departing the US.
Also: This program is a guideline for activities and experiences on the tour. Deviations may occur, but we guarantee that our positive tour leaders will do their utmost to execute the program as described – as far as it is feasible and circumstances allow. We are continually working to improve the program, thus you may experience positive surprises.