Route 66 ~ Part 2: Mother Road Out West

OKLAHOMA, TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, ARIZONA, & CALIFORNIA

May 9 – 20, 2024 • 12 Days • $4490

Route 66 ~ Mother Road in the Heartland was offered in September & October 2023 and followed Route 66 from its starting point in Chicago through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, finishing in Oklahoma City.

Route 66 ~ Mother Road Out West is offered in May 2024. This western section starts where the eastern section finished, in Oklahoma City, and ushers us into wide-open spaces of the American Southwest.

The western section of the Mother Road includes natural wonders like Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas, Pecos National Historic Park in New Mexico, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, with an optional visit to Grand Canyon National Park.

Native American connections are made at places like Pecos National Historical Park and Gallup, New Mexico and Route 66 highlights abound on this stretch of highway as well. Glenrio ghost town, NM; Williams and Seligman, AZ; and Route 66 museums in Clinton, OK and Kingman, AZ are just a few.

Tour Type: Classic Curated

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Las Vegas, New Mexico – just a stone’s throw off Route 66 and chock full of classic historic buildings from the 19th century, including our 1882 hotel, nicknamed “The Belle of the Southwest”
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona – offering a varied series of walks through a graveyard of petrified logs, Native American petroglyphs, and bizarre, colorful formations of the Painted Desert
  • Williams, Arizona – our favorite Route 66 town with the most concentrated collection of fun, quirky Mother Road eateries and shops, located just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel
  • Seligman, Arizona – home to a colorful handful of Route 66 diners and gift shops, including the barber shop formerly run by Angel Delgadillo, widely considered the “Father of the Mother Road” for petitioning for “Historic Route 66” designation for the Road in Arizona, a 1980s movement that carried to the other seven states
  • Santa Monica Walk – through upscale neighborhoods in Marina del Rey, along the canals of Venice, meandering through only-in-California scenes on seaside promenades of Venice Beach Boardwalk and Venice Muscle Beach, finishing at Santa Monica Pier, California

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined in a 50+ seat motorcoach
  • Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
  • 14 meals: All breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 10 walk routes (plus optional walks in OKC on Day 1 and at Grand Canyon on Day 8)
  • Walking fees for 6 walk stamps for those collecting AVA credit (if AVA sanctions approved)
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for coach driver and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $990. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Visits to/Admission fees:

  • Stafford Air & Space Museum – OK
  • Oklahoma Route 66 Museum – OK
  • Devil’s Rope Museum – TX
  • Big Texan Steakhouse special dinner – TX
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – TX
  • Pecos National Historical Park – NM
  • Santa Fe – NM
  • Petrified Forest National Park – AZ
  • Williams Route 66 town – AZ
  • Grand Canyon National Park (optional)
  • Seligman Route 66 town – AZ
  • Arizona Route 66 Museum – AZ
  • Countless Route 66 stops along the Mother Road

Optional excursions:

  • Pre-day activities in Oklahoma City (Day 1)
  • Visit to Grand Canyon (Day 8)

Itinerary

Click on each day for more details. (BLD) refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Optional Oklahoma City Capitol Walk – 10 km, rated 1A

This All-American Adventure begins near the geographic center of the USA in Oklahoma City. Travelers who arrive early are invited to participate in the self-guided Oklahoma City Capitol Walk, which can be started from our hotel, or consider other worthwhile points of interest within a short taxi ride.

Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, a moving visit to come to terms with the horrific events of April 19, 1995, when a 4000-pound bomb was detonated in the heart of Oklahoma City, taking the lives of 168 people, and injuring four times that number. Estimated admission: $15 plus transportation. Timed entry must be booked in advance.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, located about a 15–20-minute taxi ride north of our hotel and one of the country’s premier repositories of American Western history, art, and culture. Estimated price: $15 plus transportation

Oklahoma State Capitol, for a fun and intriguing docent-led visit of the only capitol in the world with its own oil well on site.

A Welcome Orientation meeting this evening at our hotel gives us a chance to get acquainted and talk about adventures ahead on America’s Mother Road.

Walk #1: Oklahoma City Bricktown Walk – 6 km, rated 1A
Walk #2: Bethany Route 66 Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Today’s first walk features the Bricktown Canal walkway with the spectacular Centennial Land Run Monument – one of the world’s largest bronze statuaries with 45 figures frozen in time during the dramatic Land Run of 1889.

Also along the trail are the seven-story, cylindrical Crystal Bridge at Myriad Botanical Gardens and the evocative Oklahoma City National Memorial (but not the museum), eulogizing those lost in the tragic bombing of 1995.

From OKC, we head west, picking up Route 66 and stopping in the town of Bethany to participate in one of the few trails where we walk directly on Route 66.

Following time for lunch, we continue west through other one-of-a-kind, small, western towns with links to the Mother Road en route to Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford. This highly regarded Smithsonian-affiliated museum is named for Lt. General Thomas Stafford, legendary pilot and astronaut and a Weatherford native.

Our hotel is just a few minutes away in the bustling Route 66 town of Weatherford. We’ll offer an early and a later shuttle from the museum to our hotel and tempt you this evening with an optional Route 66 culinary experience at Lucille’s Roadhouse Diner.

Several fun western towns and Route 66 stops are sprinkled along today’s route through western Oklahoma into Texas. Our first stop is just down the road a piece in Clinton. Here, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum beckons us with an audio tour that winds through exhibits chronicling the sixty-plus years of American and Oklahoman history the Mother Road has witnessed.

Our first stop in the Lone Star State is the Devil’s Rope Museum (aka “barbed wire”). You may be surprised at the unexpected and intriguing gap in your knowledge of western lore closed by this stop!

Finally, a memorable dinner at the Big Texan Steakhouse makes good the boast that everything in Texas is big! Their 72-ounce steak is on the house, provided you can eat it in the space of 60 minutes.

We spend this evening in the small western town of Canyon, Texas.

Walk #3: Palo Duro Canyon Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Just east of Canyon is the geological phenomenon for which the town is named.

The walk of the day is in Palo Duro Canyon, by some measures the second largest in the USA at roughly 120 miles long and six miles wide on average.

Continuing our westward pilgrimage, we stop for a photo of the eclectic Cadillac Ranch then enjoy a Route 66 no-host lunch at the halfway point on Route 66 between Chicago and Santa Monica.

A short and somewhat surreal stop offers a chance to pay homage at the remains of Glenrio, a true Route 66 ghost town straddling the Texas/New Mexico border.

Pausing briefly to stroll past a few Mother Road icons in the town of Tucumcari, we continue with a picturesque, high desert drive through New Mexico north to Las Vegas. This is not the town of casinos in Nevada; Las Vegas, New Mexico is a true western cowboy town settled in 1835 by ranchers who received a land grant from Mexico.

The Santa Fe Trail, Teddy Roosevelt Rough Rider gatherings, Cowboy Reunions, and a nasty reputation for outlaws and desperadoes are all part of Las Vegas lore; the town boasts more than 900 buildings on the state and National Register of Historic Places, including tonight’s hotel!

Walk #4: Pecos Ancestral Trail – 2 km, rated 2B
Walk #5: Santa Fe Walk – 5/10/11 km, rated 1A

Leaving Las Vegas, we ascend over one of the most challenging sections of the earliest alignment of Old Route 66. New Mexico’s Glorieta Pass, winding between towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Glorieta Mesa at an elevation of 7500 feet above sea level, severely challenged primitive internal combustion engines of the 1920s and 1930s.

Today’s first stop is fascinating Pecos National Historical Park, set in the Pecos Valley, a path of least resistance through these mountains for thousands of years. Various Native America groups, Spanish conquistadors and missionaries, Mexican and Anglo armies, Santa Fe Trail followers, and travelers like us along Route 66 and later, Interstate 25, have all passed through the Pecos Valley.

The main attraction at Pecos National Historical Park is an introduction to the Pecos Pueblo with a short, scenic high altitude walk passing through ruins of the original circa 16th century settlement.

The afternoon and evening are devoted to a walk through fascinating and ever-popular Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital established in 1610, ten years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock.

A captivating tapestry of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures offers insight into the heritage of New Mexico as we stroll past the capitol building, the original Palace of the Governors, and the 17th century San Miguel Mission Church.

Our hotel is near the center of town and shuttles will be offered later this afternoon between the enchanting old core of Santa Fe and our lodgings.

Walk #6: Albuquerque Old Town Route 66 Walk – 5 km, rated 1A
Walk #7: Sandstone Arch Trail – 1 km, rated 1B

In the 1930s, Route 66 was rerouted from the northern alignment in New Mexico to a southerly path through Albuquerque that involved less challenging elevation gains. This morning’s first activity features a taste of the oldest part of Albuquerque and sections along both Route 66 and El Camino Real, the Royal Road form Mexico City to Santa Fe.

Picturesque stretches of Route 66 across high desert landscape and through miniscule Mother Road communities take us to the town of Grants. Here, we take a break for a picnic lunch before leaving 66 to discover a different side of New Mexico’s charms.

The afternoon drive takes us through rugged, lava-ravaged landscapes, with multiple opportunities to get out and stretch our legs and experience remote New Mexico.

We lodge tonight in iconic El Rancho Hotel, bursting with Route 66, Old West ambiance and frequent home to stars of yester-year like Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Ronald Reagan, and Katherine Hepburn.

Walk #8: Petrified Forest National Park – 5 km, rated 2B (unsanctioned)

We follow the open road westward into Arizona this morning. Our first activity today is a series of short trails highlighting the diversity of Petrified Forest National Park, where beautifully marbled chunks of petrified wood lie strewn around the desert like a discarded game of oversized, prehistoric, pick-up sticks.

Other park highlights include Native American petroglyphs, the multi-hued badlands Painted Desert, and even crossing an overgrown section of Old Route 66.

After “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona”, we better appreciate the feelings of song writer Jackson Browne of the 1970’s Eagles band who was briefly stranded in Winslow after a car breakdown before penning the famous song.

We were pleasantly surprised by Williams, Arizona and consider it our favorite Route 66 town! We stay here two nights, using it as a base to explore the Grand Canyon!

Optional Grand Canyon South Rim Walk – 5/10 KM, rated 3B — elevation-7000’

Today is a free day. Our hotel is just a few minute’s walk from shops, restaurants, and diners of Route 66; browsing, window-shopping, and snacking are a great way to enjoy the Route 66 ambiance and relax after a busy week along Route 66.

Optional Grand Canyon Excursion: For those who’d like to keep moving and see one of the wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is within reach on a memorable day trip.

Due to challenging group restrictions in the Park, WAI is not able to arrange a group visit. However, a vintage railroad trip is a fun and easy way to see the Canyon from Williams.

Grand Canyon Railway charges about $100 per person round-trip in coach class. The train departs at 9:30 am (train station walkable from our hotel) and arrives at the Canyon at 11:45 am. You then return on 3:30 pm train, getting back before 6 pm.

WAI will send information to help you book train tickets in the Adventure Advice memo that comes a bit later in the process.

Canyon-goers should be back in Williams in time to enjoy a fun dinner along Route 66.

We leave Williams today, returning to Route 66 to travel the best-preserved section of the Mother Road.

Our midmorning stop in Seligman offers a colorful handful of Route 66 diners and gift shops, including the fabled Snow Cap Drive-In Restaurant, a Route 66 icon started by Juan Delgadillo. Juan’s brother, Angel, is widely considered the “Father of the Mother Road” for successfully petitioning for “Historic Route 66” signage and designation for the Road in Arizona, a 1980s movement that carried to the other seven states.

We continue along 66 from Seligman to Kingman for a no-host diner lunch and a visit to an excellent Route 66 museum. The last Route 66 stop of the day is the old mining village of Oatman, known for semi-wild burros that wander main street panhandling for donkey food sold by local vendors to be handed out by visitors.

Our lodgings for the night are across the border in Needles, California, jumping off point for tomorrow’s final run to the Pacific!

Walk #9: Beverly Hills Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Beyond Needles, the dreaded heat of the Mohave Desert awaits. Feared by drivers of less reliable, older vehicles more than any other stretch of Route 66, we better understand this anxiety as we cruise the parched and unforgiving but often picturesque desert.

Entering the more populated areas of Southern California, lunch today is a stop for burgers and fries at a quintessential SoCal culinary institution, an In-N-Out burger joint.

A final range of mountains is our final barrier for reaching the coast and our objective in Beverly Hills. A walk here takes us through two famous segments – homes of the rich and famous and Rodeo Drive, the ultra-posh shopping district where seeing and being seen is more important that what you buy.

We end the day in a lovely hotel in Marina del Rey in anticipation of finishing Route 66 in style tomorrow!

Walk #10: Santa Monica End of the Road Walk – 8/11 km, rated 1A

The Mother Road ends at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, a stone’s throw from the waves of the Pacific in the popular ocean resort town of Santa Monica.

The final walk starts from our hotel in Marina del Rey and winds through upscale neighborhoods and along the canals of Venice to the beach. A stretch along the Ocean Front Walk – a lengthy and colorful seaside promenade that includes Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice Muscle Beach, and several parks, finishes at the Santa Monica Pier, right next to the end of Route 66 on Ocean Avenue.

You have all day to enjoy this walk and explore “end of the road” attractions such as one of Santa Monica’s many museums, public murals and monuments along the walk, shops and restaurants along the pier, a Venice Beach food tour for lunch, or any of a host of bike, Segway, or bus tours offered in the Santa Monica/Los Angeles area.

Join us this evening for a fun and relaxing Farewell Dinner to reminisce about our memorable odyssey along the Mother Road!

Day 12: Depart Marina del Rey (B)

Make your way to nearby Los Angeles International Airport this morning, bidding farewell to fellow Route 66 Roadies before returning to your own corner of America. As the song says, we “got our kicks on Route 66.”

We connected with our country on a road less traveled down the Main Street of America. We took a road obstructed by traffic signals and stop signs that made us slow down, a road representing a time when relationships trumped efficiency. Thanks for sharing this nostalgic mother of all road trips along the Mother Road.

Before You Book

Click on each heading for more details.

To register, a non-refundable $300 deposit is required to hold your spot. A final payment is due 90 days before departure and is non-refundable after the due date. You will receive a prompt email from us 2 to 3 weeks in advance.

Once the tour has a viable number of participants, an “Adventure Advice” email will be sent with critical information on flight arrangements as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Adventure Advice email.

Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.

When designing Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination—the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.

Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see, but also touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.

Along the way, interactions with locals amplify the experience by sharing insights into the magic of that particular location.

Route 66 was first opened in 1926. It began to change almost immediately as planners and engineers looked for more efficient ways for automobile traffic to traverse the space between Chicago and Santa Monica. As a result, there are often multiple iterations or “alignments” of the road according to when they were used. In many cases, the road was covered by subsequent freeway construction.

We will not be on Route 66 for the entire 2,448 miles of the original road. That is no longer possible because of the covering of the road by freeway in some cases and by the impassable condition of the road in other places. We will, however, travel significant sections of Route 66, and our planners have selected what we believe are the most interesting sections of the road to share, those that reflect the spirit of Route 66.

We intentionally avoid long sections of freeway frontage road that are labeled “Route 66” but simply run adjacent to the freeway and offer little interest or value. Instead, we are in search of sections of the route that take us through the countryside of America and through the small towns whose fortunes ebbed and flowed with the pulse of traffic along Route 66. It’s an epic journey, and we hope you can join us!

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Several walks on this trip are oriented more towards education, and therefore take longer due to stops for guide commentary. Nature walks, on the other hand, generally continue at a steadier pace because we’re stopping less to talk.

In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please call our office at 1.360.260.9393.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented on the table below:

INCLINE

1. Minimal hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: <200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 1000-2000 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).

Walks on this tour are a combination of trails planned in partnership with local walking clubs and vetted by our WAI guide team or planned on site by WAI tour planners.

As a group, this is an easy collection of trails, most rated as 1A, the easiest category in our rating system (see Walk Ratings above).

Because we are on Route 66, many of these trails explore towns and cities along the Route, and are therefore on sidewalks and hard surfaces rather than natural trails.

Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary.

Because much of this Adventure is in small towns, a few of our properties are quality heritage hotel reflecting the spirit of Historic Route 66, which we think you’ll enjoy.

Accommodations on this adventure are single-floor or have elevators.

The official start point for Part 1 is our hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The logical airport to use is the Will Rogers World Airport (airport code OKC), about 20 minutes from our hotel.

The official finish point for Part 1 is our hotel in Marina del Rey, California. The logical airport to use is Los Angeles International Airport (airport code LAX), about 15 minutes from our hotel.

We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in an Adventure Advice PDF by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provides air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Laura Pfahler: 503-434-6401 or [email protected]
Sharon Mitchell: 971-261-2091 or [email protected]

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

Be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions (i.e. some benefits, such as coverage of pre-existing conditions, are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package). In addition, remember that airfare is not covered by any travel insurance policy you may have purchased for the tour.

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

WAI bears no responsibility for travel insurance benefits advertised by various credit card companies. If you are relying on this type of benefit for insurance, we advise you to verify coverage types and limits and that your purchase does in fact qualify you for this insurance.

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 15 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received.

This refund policy contains one exclusion. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Though it is rare, unforeseen circumstances can force us to cancel a tour. In cases where supplier’s non-refundable policies are imposed, WAI attempts to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

Our approach to wellness on tour has traditionally been to encourage travelers to:

  • Focus on health before the tour so you start healthy.
  • Pace yourself while on tour; travel is inherently stimulating and can produce adrenalin boosts that mask energy drain. Guard your energy reserves and consider the length of the trip and whether to opt out of some activities and/or walks.
  • Be self-aware. If you feel yourself tiring or feel a bug coming on, take precautions to block it (e.g. extra rest, extra doses of vitamin C, etc).
  • If you feel a bug coming on or if you take ill, distance yourself from others when possible.
  • If you feel ill, isolate yourself towards the back of the bus and away from others

Click WAI Wellness on Tour Policy to view the WAI policy on Wellness on Tour.

Soon after registration, an “Adventure Advice” email will be sent with critical information on flight arrangements as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Adventure Advice email.

A final payment is due 90 days before departure (February 9, 2024) and is non-refundable after the due date. You will receive a prompt email from us 2 to 3 weeks in advance. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

Around 2 weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the above itinerary. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us for this nostalgic Walking Adventure journey along Route 66—The Mother Road!

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

About Adventure Pace

Important Info

Your Guides

Tim Friesen has been guiding for Walking Adventures since 2003, most often leading our summertime adventures in Europe. Throughout the school year, Tim recently finished a long career as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, and is occasionally known to burst into song on the trail!

In 2019, Tim worked with brother Dan Friesen, WAI owner, on a 3-week long project to review and update our Route 66 journey of nostalgia,  scouting out the best haunts and venues for this historic highway linking Chicago to Santa Monica. Along the way, Tim was taken with this indelible part of America’s past and looks forward to sharing America’s Route 66 with you!

Jim Brickley has always loved a good adventure and the opportunity to explore.

Now retired, Jim served for over 30 years as an Advanced Math teacher for high schoolers. He has been married for over 30 years to his wife Kathy and has 2 grown sons. Jim enjoys interacting in various environments with different cultures, and welcomes the challenges travel brings.

His hobbies include motorcycling and scuba diving, as well as hiking and travel. He anticipates growing through diverse travel encounters that challenge his paradigm of “normal” and looks forward to sharing these learning experiences with you on tour.

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Route 66 ~ Out West 2024
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