Riding History on Route 66

Dec 13, 2021

Download the GPS file - Route 66 Motorcycle Ride

There are few things that are as quintessentially American as a Route 66 motorcycle ride. Oh sure, there's baseball and apple pie and bald eagles too. But there's something magical about traveling a 2,400 mile stretch of road that is almost half as old as our country itself.

Debuting in 1926 as part of the first Federal highway system, the official decommissioning of Route 66 happened 59 years later in 1985. Five interstates had, over the years, replaced Route 66 for speedy state-to-state travel. But that decommissioning didn't take away from the historical and social significance that the highway holds.

Route 66 began its life as the fastest way to travel from Chicago to California. When commissioned in 1926, the road ended in downtown Los Angeles. Though some ten years later it was extended into downtown Santa Monica, about a mile from the beach. It wasn't until 2009, 83 years after it was first built, that the unofficial End of the Trail sign appeared on the Santa Monica Pier.

Route 66. End of the Trail.

If you're taking off from Chicago, and headed doing a Route 66 motorcycle ride, here are a few things you should see, eat, and do along the way:

Portillo's Italian Beef - Chicago: Don't leave Chicago without getting a beef (preferably dipped, with hot peppers) from this Windy City stalwart. Natives will argue that it's not the best, but it is the easiest one to find because there are several locations around the metro.

City Museum - St Louis: Oh sure, the Arch is cool. But what about a 10-story former shoe factory turned into the ultimate urban playground? Why yes, that is a school bus, hanging precariously off of the roof.

Cherokee Nation - Oklahoma: A Supreme Court decision in 2020 reaffirmed what many have always known -- this is land that belongs to the native people. There are now over 7,000 square miles of historic sites and attractions across northeast Oklahoma, ready for you to explore.

Stafford Air & Space Museum - Weatherford, OK: Named for Weatherford native and NASA test pilot Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford, this museum is open 361 days a year. It features over 63,000 square feet of exhibits, has free parking, and only costs $7 for adults.

Sadie's of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM: No, not Mexican food. We're talking about New Mexican food. Yes, it's different. And you'll find the very best of it at Sadie's of New Mexico. They've been serving up favorites since 1956, and you can even buy some of their famous salsa to take home.

Grand Canyon Caverns - Peach Springs, NV: Back in the 1960s, the Grand Canyon Caverns held emergency rations during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Today these underground rooms are available for tours, and they make a great escape from the Arizona daytime heat!

Of course these are just a few of the sites, sounds, and attractions that you'll see along the way. There are wonderful towns that still thrive on the route, and a preservation society is working hard to make sure that they'll stay that way. Whether you're starting in Chicago, snagging a bike in St. Louis, or taking a turn in Albuquerque, Riders Share is ready to get you rolling.