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Can You Still Drive the Entire Route 66?

Can All of Route 66 be Driven?

Question and Answer page

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No, you can't drive the "entire" original Route 66, but you can still drive the sections that have been preserved -which are quite a few!

Route 66 was decertified on June 27, 1985 and no longer exists as a U.S. Highway.

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What parts of Route 66 can still be driven

Historic Route 66 brown and white road sign

A New Mexico "Historic Route 66 Sign

Many original sections of US 66 have survived as state or county highways, freeway frontage roads and as streets, avenues or boulevards in the towns, villages and cities that it went through.

It is these segments that can still be driven.

Many of them have adequate signage that mark them as "Historic Route" followed by the state name and the US 66 shield.

Our website has a detailed US 66 Itinerary so you can start planning your route 66 road trip.

We also describe the alignment that can be driven through each of the Towns on Route 66. Click on a town to learn all about what stretch of Route 66 can be driven there.

Maps showing what you can and can't drive of Route 66

Each of our website's Route 66 Maps show the alignments that can still be driven and those that are gone and lost forever.

As an example is the map of Route 66 through Oklahoma City, shown below where the sections that cannot drive are shown in black (segments now gone -cut by the freeway) and red (buried under the freeway). And in the other colors (Pale Blue and Green) are Route 66 segments that can still be driven.

Static Map showing Route 66 alignment through Oklahoma City OK - CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE

Map of US66 in Oklahoma City
Map showing Route 66 in Oklahoma City, OK.
Click on Map to Enlarge

And you can also check this same map on an interactive version here: Oklahoma Route 66 Map

Read on below to learn more about the demise and rebirth of US 66. And how many sections of Route 66 survived for you to drive them.

Route 66 lasted for 59 years

US highway 66 was created in 1926 and was realigned many times: it was straightened out, paved, moved about; loops were cut off to shorten it such as the Santa Fe Loop in New Mexico, it was also extended (from Los Angeles to Santa Monica for instance).

Then in the mid 1950s came the Interstate system to provide safer and more efficient highways.

This marked the beginning of the end for Route 66.

As the Interstate system advanced, Route 66 was decommissioned piecemeal between 1964 and 1985.

The process ended on June 27,1985, when the last remaining segment US 66 was decertified and removed from the federal highway system.

How was Route 66 eliminated?

Decommisioning of US 66 began in California in 1964

The first segment of Route 66 to lose its certification was the one located in Los Angeles County in 1964.

The western terminus of Route 66 was moved from Santa Monica to the intersection of the Arroyo Seco Parkway and Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena.

On January 1, 1975 the remaining stretch of US 66 in California was decommissioned all the way to the Arizona border.

Route 66 is Decertified in Illinois and Missouri - 1974

Following the completion of the interstate system, on June 24, 1974, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (or AASHTO) decided to move the eastern terminus of Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Joplin in Missouri.

The new eastern terminus was located at I-44's exit 15 east of Joplin, in the town of Scotland MO.

Decertified in Illinois and most of Missouri - 1974

official decertification of US 66 in Illinois and Missouri document
AASHTO eliminates Route 66 in Illinois and Missouri

Arizona was next - 1979

However the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (or AASHTO) still considered that it ended near Needles, CA, at its junction with US 95.

Three and a half years later, on June 29, 1979 the AASHTO moved it all the way across Arizona, to Sanders, as you can see in the following image:

Decertified in California and most of Arizona - 1979

official decertification of US 66 in California document
AASHTO eliminates Route 66 in California

This was the move that prompted Delgadillo to act.

The Western Terminus of Route 66 would stay in Sanders until the whole road was eliminated in 1985.

US 66 Decommissioned in 1985

It was finally completely eliminated when it was decommissioned on June 27, 1985.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials voted decertify it:

"Elimination of U.S. Route 66 - APPROVED - Eliminate present U.S. Route 66 between the present beginning at Scotland, Missouri and the terminus at Sanders, Arizona."

That was it, it eliminated US 66 in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and the two short segments that remained in Missouri and Arizona.

Route 66 had officially disappeared.

Route 66 reborn

Although Route 66 no longer exists as a U.S. Highway, the efforts of the communities along "America's Main Street" have kept it alive. Many organizations and associations are dedicated to promoting Route 66 and preserving it, so that we can drive it today and in the future.

Not exactly a dead end, but a second chance!

US 66 dead end sign in Continental Divide New Mexico
Not a Dead End. Route 66 in Continental Divide, NM, by

Route 66 Preservation efforts

Thanks to them, we can still drive Route 66

It all began with Angel Delgadillo, a barber from Seligman Arizona.

When I-40 bypassed Seligman and Route 66 stopped bringing him customers, he took action writing letters, petitioning to the authorities, prodding his colleagues to do the same.

He had a vision, make Route 66 into a Historic Highway to promote travelers to drive it.

He gathered business owners and on February 18, 1987 they organized the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.

They lobbyied the county authorities in Coconino, Mohave and Yavapay, as well as the Arizona state legislature and succeeded.

Drive Route 66 in California

US66 preserved as CR 66 in San Bernardino: highway, desert and road sign
Us 66: now a County Road that you can still drive, CR-66 San Bernardino, CA, by

Barely two years after it was decommissioned, Route 66 was reborn when in November 1987, the State of Arizona declared the former section between Seligman and Kingman as "Historic Route 66" of Arizona.

It later extended all the way through Oatman to Topock, on the state line, becoming The longest remaining stretch of Route 66 in the Country: 159 miles (256 km) of original Route 66 that you can still drive.

His efforts were imitated, and other states folowed the example of Arizona.

Finally, in 1990, the US Congress passed the "Route 66 Study Act" which recognized the importance that US 66 had as a symbol of America and its values.

This Act of Congress authorized a study, conducted by the National Park Service to understand the importance of Route 66, which in turn led to the law that created the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

This program sources technical and financial help to preserve and protect Route 66 and its heritage so we can all learn from it, enjoy it and drive along it.


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Credits

Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.

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