Elevation Profile of Route 66
Check the altitude of your road trip route
The elevation profile or topographic profile, is a two-dimensional cross sectional view of the landscape that your path crosses. It shows the altitude of your route.
It is fun to know the elevation profile of your journey along route 66, know how high you will be riding along the Mothr Road.
Some of the highest points along Route 66 are:
This is the starting point of US 66 in Illinois. Chicago is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan at an altitude of only 594 ft (181 m).
Route 66 "Begin" sign, in Chicago, Illinois
From Chicago, westwards, the highway runs across relatively flat Illinois, heading downwards towards the Mississippi River valley, where at East St. Louis, Illinois, it reaches a low of 417 ft (127 m).
From here it gradually descends into Kansas and Eastern Oklahoma.
Hooker Cut nowadays in Hooker, Missouri
West of Claremore OK, ( 597 ft. - 182 m) it begins a gradual climb all the way into the Rocky Mountains.
It is in the Rockies that it reaches its highest elevations:
It marks the watershed between the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean basins. It is located at Continental Divide in New Mexico.
Here at Continental Divide is Campbell Pass, with an elevation of 7,270 ft. (2.216 m).
It is crossed by the Interstate 40, old Route 66 and the BNSF Railway.
It is not a sharp valley between towering peaks, instead it is a wide and easily accessible pass between low altitude mountains.
Barton, New Mexico
Route 66 climbs across the Sandia Mountains out of Moriarty in New Mexico, heading through Edgewood. At Barton, 3 miles west of Edgewood it reaching an altitude of over 7,000 feet. Before going down into Tijeras, Carnuel and Albuquerque.
Trivia: Altitude of Albuquerque
Albuquerque is one of the highest major cities in the United States, ranging from 4,900 feet (1.490 m) in the Valley to over 6,700 feet (1.950 m) in the Sandia Mountain foothills.
The city has an elevation of 6,910 ft (2.106 m) and is located on the San Francisco Volcanic Field, formed only 6 million years ago.
A hotspot in the Earth's mantle caused vast volcanic eruptions which formed the highest peak in Arizona, near Flagstaff, the San Francisco Mountain (alt. 12,633 feet - 3.853 m) and also the youngest volcano in Arizona, Sunset Crater which erupted some 900 years ago.
Highest Point of Route 66
Just west of Flagstaff (Exit 190) is the Arizona Divide with an altitude of 7,335 ft. (2.237m).
It s the highest point of the road in Arizona and all of Route 66.
More on Flagstaff
West of Kingman, Arizona is the highest point of US 66 in Arizona: Sitgreaves Pass
At 3,595 ft (1.096 m), the pass offers a great view east and west. Park and enjoy the scenery.
Sigreaves Pass on Route 66
It is located in the Black Mountains, a mountain range that was formed some 15 to 20 million years ago when lava flowed thickly over a base of Precambrian granite.
This range has a north-south alignment and is 75 miles long (121 km) and about 10 mi. wide (16 km). Its highest point is Mount Perkins with 5,456 ft. (1.663 m).
Route 66 was built across the Black Mountains instead of following the route adopted by the railroad which circles them on the range's eastern and southern flanks folowing easier gradients.
US 66 was built along the older National Old Trails highway which in turn was used to move ore out of the mines at Oatman and Goldroad in the Black Mountains.
West of the pass, the road then dropped into Oatman, falling 915 ft. in a winding course with sharp curves.
Cajon Pass in California is a Mountain Pass between the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, used for thousands of years, it is the place where Route 66 leaves the Mojave Desert and reaches Los Angeles.4,300 ft (1.311 m)
View of the San Gabriel Mountains seen from Cajon Pass
San Gabriel Mountains
The mountain range is located to the north of Los Angeles and has a east - west orientation. It's highest peak is Mount San Antonio (Mt. Baldy) at 10,064 ft (3.068 m).
The Mountains' dimensions are:
- Length: 69 mi (111 km)
- Width: 23 mi (37 km)
It is made up of Precambian to Mezosoic rocks that were uplifted as fault blocks during the Cenozoic (5 - 15 M. years ago).
San Bernardino Mountains
Located to the north and northeast of San Bernardino their highest peak is San Gorgonio Mountain at 11,489 feet (3.502 m).
They were uplifted some 11 M. years ago by the San Andreas Fault and are still rising. Snow accumulates on the peaks during winter as well as rainfall which feeds rivers that flow into the surrounding desert.
The Mountains' dimensions are:
- Length: 60 mi (97 km)
- Width: 41 mi (66 km)
The San Andreas Fault
Route 66 crosses San Andreas Fault at Cajon Pass.
The fault runs for 800 miles (1.300 km) across California with a NW - SE course. It marks the tectonic boundary where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates meet.
The plates have a horizontal movement, sliding against each other (right-lateral-strike-slip), where the western part of California moves north and the eastern part wit the rest of North America, moves south. The slip is about 0.9 in per year (4.5 cm).
The plates jam in some sections and tension builds up until the rock fails deep in the Earth's crust, causing the plates to jump into position again and releasing all the pent up energy as an earthquake.
Discovered by Prof. Andrew Lawson in 1895, it was named after the San Andreas Valley. It runs from San Francisco to the Baja California area.
Lowest Point of Route 66
At Santa Monica, California, US66 meets the Pacific Ocean at sea level. This is its lowest point.
The "End of the Trail" sign on Santa Monica Pier
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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.