50 Route 66 Photos to Inspire You to Road Trip the USA

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My Route 66 road trip was an epic solo journey into many parts of my home country that I never would have otherwise considered visiting. I took my camera along for the journey and below I’m sharing 50 of my favorite Route 66 photos.

It was actually difficult to choose only 50 photos from the hundreds I took along the “Mother Road.” And that’s not because they’re all gorgeous, stunning photos of America’s most beautiful places.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I found Route 66 to be both astoundingly beautiful in some places, while also gritty, desolate, depressing, and dilapidated in others. But sometimes, it’s those places that make for the most interesting photos.

Below, see Route 66 through my lens.

50 Route 66 Photos That Show the Real America

In some ways, the desolation you see in some of the photos below is actually part of the appeal of Route 66. If you’re planning a Route 66 road trip, you know that the original Route 66 has been largely passed over by the faster, more efficient I-40 freeway. So in many ways, the very essence of Route 66 is peeking into sections of America that have been passed by and forgotten.

You really see both the best and the worst in America, and how these two polar-opposite realities coexist not only in the same country, but along the same road. Route 66 forces upon the road tripper the vastness of our country, both its many faults and its beauty.

Along Route 66, I drove through snow in Illinois and Missouri, ate fried chicken and waffles in a gluten free brewery in Oklahoma, wandered in the mud of outdoor art installations in Texas, visited ghost towns and mountains in New Mexico, ogled at the Grand Canyon and white knuckled hairpin turns in Arizona, and slept in motels and ate In-N-Out burger in California.

In the 50 Route 66 photos below, you can take that visual journey with me!

SHOP | All photos are taken with my Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera, lightweight and ideal for travel!

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK.
A very much needed early morning coffee along historic Route 66 in Chandler, OK.
The Slug Bug Ranch on the outskirts of Amarillo, TX.
Another view of the Slug Bug Ranch in Amarillo, TX.
Spray painted crops and discard spray paint cans litter the fields at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.
A different kind of view of the iconic Cadillac Ranch.
Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich and fries at Brent’s Cafe in Amarillo, TX. A classic American dish for a classic American road trip (although this was gluten free – does that make it more or less American?)
MidPoint Cafe, in Adrian, TX, along the halfway point of Route 66.
A view of historic Route 66 at Midway Point. You can see the trucks on the left are where I-40 is.
This exact spot in Adrian, TX marks halfway through Route 66. I traveled Route 66 in January, so my first half was more focused on trying to escape the snow storms than taking photos. As you can see I started taking more photos as I got further into Route 66!
Glenrio is a ghost town on the border of Texas and New Mexico. As you can see in the couple photos below, it was quite eery.
Glenrio ghost town.
Shards of glass litter the abandoned cafe in Glenrio ghost town.
Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, NM is one of the most iconic original Route 66 motels that remains.
The guest rooms at Blue Swallow Motel.
A Route 66 mural in Tucumcari, NM.
A mail box at TeePee Curios, a gift shop in Tucumcari, NM.
A chocolate elixir drink (70% chocolate, organic almond milk, and vanilla) at Kakawa Chocolate in Santa Fe, NM.
An American flag and one of many chili pepper garlands found in Santa Fe, NM. Santa Fe is located on the original alignment of Route 66.
A view back toward the mountains after passing through Albuquerque, NM and stopping for gas – the last gas for 100 miles or more.
The famous WigWam Motel in Holbrook, AZ. Here, you can sleep in wigwams. This motel was also an inspiration for Disney’s “Cars” movie franchise.
WigWam Motel. This motel was also an inspiration for Disney’s “Cars” movie franchise – can you see why?
The Twin Arrows, a famous Route 66 stop that featured in the Forrest Gump movie. I found them underwhelming and covered in graffiti and carvings.
A view Route 66 in Arizona before passing through Flagstaff. This is the first time in my life I saw real life tumbleweed (no, it’s not just in cartoons!!).
The truly awe-some Grand Canyon in Arizona. While not technically on Route 66, it is a must-do side trip that is on many people’s Route 66 itineraries.
A lucky penny I discovered at the Grand Canyon.
Me during dawn at the Grand Canyon.
I spent all day at the Grand Canyon and the light around 10am (in January) was my favorite all day.
Sunset at the Grand Canyon was pretty stunning too, though 😉
A mural at a gas station in Williams, Arizona, the town on Route 66 that is closest to the Grand Canyon.
A funny sign on the back door of Delgadillo’s Snow Cap, a popular diner in Seligman, AZ, another town that is a frequent stop along historic Route 66.
Signs along Angel’s Gift Shop in Seligman, AZ.
Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, AZ.
More stickers on the front of Hackberry General Store. This is a frequent sight along Route 66 – you will see stickers from all over the USA and world.
Some old cocacola bottles in front of Hackberry General Store.
Another common motif you’ll see along Route 66 – signed dollar bills pinned to ceilings and walls.
A final photo of the interior of Hackberry General Store – like traveling back in time.
Route 66 Bakery in Kingman, AZ.
Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman, AZ.
A Route 66 shield – there were many of these along the way, but this one was photographed in Kingman, AZ by D’z Diner.
As historic Route 66 diverges from I-40 west of Kingman, I drove onto the famed Oatman Highway. This “rest stop” at the fork in the roads was a sight to see.
A historic Route 66 road sign as I began my drive along the 48-mile Oatman Highway.
No turning back now. This is the view at the beginning of the Oatman Highway’s Sitgreaves Pass, a somewhat terrifying 191 hairpin curves in 8 miles.
One of said hairpin curves. This was probably the most difficult road I’ve ever driven.
Oatman, AZ – a half ghost town, half Disney-esque tourist trap, at the end of Sitgreaves Pass. I parked my car, wiped the sweat from my palms, and breathed a sigh of relief.
The other notable thing about Oatman, AZ? (Besides that if you make it here, it means you survived Sitgreaves Pass?) A herd of wild donkeys roam the town. This one here is named Oliver and he’s the alpha of the herd.
A classic Americana sign found in Oatman, AZ.
The Route 66 Motel, where I stayed in Barstow, CA.
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, on Route 66 between Barstow and Los Angeles.
A Route 66 sign at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch.

Photographing Route 66 – The Great American Road Trip

In this post, you can see that I went to plenty of the most popular Route 66 sights. However, some of my favorite photos are from other places I simply discovered along the journey, or even the sights that might be considered “ugly” – but that I think show the true, raw, and gritty atmosphere of Route 66.

If you decide to take a Route 66 road trip, I encourage you to go into it with neutral expectations. And a camera. Definitely take a camera!

SHOP | I recommend the Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera, lightweight and perfect for travel!

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Check out these 50 best Route 66 photo spots, for your road trip along the Mother Road.
Looking for the best Route 66 photo spots and opportunities? These 50 Route 66 photos take you along the great American road trip.

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Oh hey! I’m Sarah, the writer behind Endless Distances. When I’m not here, spilling all my gluten free travel and wellness travel tips, you can… find me on the floor at parties petting the dog.

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