Route 66 ~ The Mother Road

Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California

September 29-October 17, 2020 • 19 Days • $5965**

Join us as we trace the Mother Road from Chicago to Santa Monica, reliving American history as we wind our way through 8 states from Illinois to California!

**Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $150 discount on Part 1 or Part 2 of the Route 66 tour! New travelers doing the full tour will receive a $300 discount. Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Register with a $300 deposit for Part 1 or Part 2, or a $600 deposit for the full tour!

Route 66 Options

Route 66 ~ The Mother Road (FULL TOUR)

September 29 – October 17, 2020 * 19 Days * $5965**

Join us for the full Mother Road experience, or choose a portion of the Route.

Part 1: Route 66 – Mother Road in the Heartland

September 29 – October 7, 2020 * 9 Days * $2575**

Part 1 begins in Chicago, ends in Oklahoma City, and explores Route 66 in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Part 2: Route 66 – Mother Road Out West

October 6 – 17, 2020 * 12 Days * $3590**

Part 2 overlaps with Part 1 in Oklahoma City, and continues through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

**Traveler Rewards Program: See More Details section.

Part 1: Route 66

Including:

Pricing is based on double occupancy.

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
  • 11 meals: All breakfasts and 3 dinners as listed (BD)
  • 6 walk routes
  • Fees for 6 walk stamps for those collecting AVA credit
  • 2 WAI guides throughout
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guides at select points of interest
  • All tipping for coach driver, local guides, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $575. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Visits to/Activities:

  • Chicago Architecture Cruise
  • Pontiac Museum Complex & trolley
  • Abraham Lincoln Museum
  • Lincoln Tomb
  • Ted Drewes
  • Baxter Springs Heritage Museum
  • Coleman Theater
  • Will Rogers Memorial Museum
  • Route 66 Interpretive Center – Chandler, OK
  • Oklahoma state capitol tour
  • Numerous Route 66 stops along the Mother Road

Optional excursions:

  • Guided Chicago Cultural Mile Walk (Day 1)
  • Chicago Food Tour (Day 1)

Part 2: Route 66

Including:

Pricing is based on double occupancy.

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
  • 16 meals: All breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 9 walk routes
  • Fees for 7 walk stamps for those collecting AVA credit
  • 2 WAI guides throughout
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guides at select points of interest
  • Tips for coach driver, local guides and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $775.

Visits to/Activities:

  • Oklahoma state capitol tour
  • Oklahoma Route 66 Museum – Clinton, OK
  • Elk City Museum Complex
  • Devil’s Rope Museum
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – Balloon Glow
  • Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – Mass Ascension
  • El Morro National Monument
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Arizona Route 66 Museum – Kingman, AZ
  • Countless Route 66 stops along the Mother Road

Adventure Pace

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

Important Info

Group Size

24-28 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

26 Meals included on full tour. Letters BLD indicate which meals are included in itinerary.

Airfare

Not included. Travelers on the full tour will fly into Chicago, IL and fly home from Los Angeles, CA.

Transportation

Included. We use motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 40+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guide Tim FriesenTim Friesen has been guiding for Walking Adventures for several years, most often leading our summertime walking adventures in Europe. Throughout the school year, he works as a high school music teacher in Molalla, OR. Tim took part in our scouting trip for the updated Route 66 itinerary, and along the way fell in love with this indelible part of America’s past. Tim will be accompanied by an assistant from WAI on tour; he looks forward to sharing America’s Route 66 with you!

Itinerary

Part 1 ~ Route 66

Click on each day to reveal more details. BLD refers to meals included, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. 

Day 1-Sep 29: Arrive Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Cultural Mile Walk – 5 km, rated 1A (optional)

Our Adventure along Route 66, referred to by John Steinbeck as “the mother road” and “America’s Main Street,” begins today in the Windy City of Chicago! Travelers participating in Part 1 are with us for the Mother Road in the Heartland, connecting with the spirit of the old road and yesteryear in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Those with us for the entire 2,448-mile route can anticipate an even deeper connection in all eight states including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Because travelers arrive throughout the day, the first official group activity is our Welcome Orientation this evening at our strategically located hotel, across from Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, and on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Optional activities: Two activities are available for travelers who opt to arrive a day early. The morning activity is a guided walk from our hotel along Michigan Avenue, renowned home of architectural and cultural icons such as The Art Institute, Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago’s first public library), the Wrigley Building, Millennium Park, AND the official starting point for Route 66. The walk also features sections of Chicago’s Riverwalk, flanked by a phenomenal forest of spectacular skyscrapers. Estimated price: $25 per person

The mid-day activity is a food tour in two of Chicago’s unique neighborhoods: Gold Coast – home of the most affluent residents of the city who relocated to the area after the Great Chicago Fire, and Old Town– home of St. Michael’s Church, one of only seven buildings to survive that same fire.   Our culinary exploration takes us through these historic areas to seven popular food stops including a tea house, a European bakery, and of course, a windy city food tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a Chicago-style pizzeria! Estimated price: $90 per person

Day 2-Sep 30: Chicago – Pontiac, Illinois (BD)

Chicago Lake Michigan Windy City Walk – 9 km, rated 1A

Today starts with breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant, a Chicago institution since 1923 and a fixture at the beginning (or end) of Route 66 since the road opened in 1926. Our morning walk passes Windy City classics like the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and a long, lovely stretch along Lake Michigan past Navy Pier and onto the Chicago Riverwalk. After free time for lunch, we board a riverboat for the justly famed architecture cruise up the Chicago River. Excellent commentary unlocks a vast store of intriguing Chicagoan history and more architectural wonders per square foot of riverfront than we’ve seen anywhere! By mid-afternoon, our 2,400+ mile pilgrimage to Santa Monica, California begins. After a bit of freeway, we pick up the Mother Road as it snakes through small towns and farmland to our dinner at another Route 66 icon – the Old Log Cabin Inn in Pontiac.

Day 3-Oct 1: Pontiac – Springfield, Illinois (B)

Pontiac is a fun little Route 66 town with a surprising batch of museums and friendly locals proud to share their town. A trolley ride through town passes a delightful array of murals and points out connections to attorney Abraham Lincoln in his pre-presidential days. The Pontiac Museum Complex is a trove of local lore, including a floor dedicated to Route 66, an astonishingly detailed tribute to armed services members from Livingstone County, and several other high-quality exhibits. Today’s no-host lunch is at Dixie Café, laying claim as the country’s oldest truck stop. Not far down the road, the afternoon is reserved for the outstanding Abraham Lincoln Museum, with multiple exhibits and films paying tribute to the life and times of our 16th president, who guided us through what many historians consider to be America’s most trying era.

Day 4-Oct 2: Springfield – St. Louis, Missouri (B)

Abe Lincoln Springfield Capitol Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Our Springfield walk traces the heritage of Abraham Lincoln, passing the state capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, and includes time for a fascinating National Park ranger-led visit through the Lincoln Home. After paying tribute at the Lincoln Tomb, we enjoy a no-host Route 66 lunch at Cozy Dog Drive-In, creator of the first corn dogs. Following the Mother Road (with some sections of freeway), we continue south through pleasing rural scenes and across the border to St. Louis, Missouri for a two-night stay.

Day 5-Oct 3: Activities in St. Louis (B)

St. Louis Amazing Arch Walk – 5/10 km, rated 1A
Forest Park Walk – 10 km, rated 1A (optional)

Starting and finishing from our hotel, today’s walk encompasses many of the highlights of St. Louis, including the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (free admission) and the famous Gateway Arch (admission not included). Other highlights of this outstanding introduction to St. Louis include St. Louis City Hall (a near-perfect replica of Paris’ Hotel de Ville), the Renaissance Grand Hotel (the first hotel in the country to feature air conditioning), the Old Courthouse (where slave auctions were held until abolitionists blocked them in 1861), Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals), and Union Station. Early this afternoon, join us for an excursion to Ted Drewes, purveyor of delicious frozen custard desserts and a Route 66 icon since 1929. From Ted Drewes, walkers interested in today’s second walk or travelers who’d like to do more exploring will be dropped off at Forest Park. Larger than New York’s Central Park, Forest Park was opened in 1876, hosted both the 1904 World’s Fair and 1904 Summer Olympics, and boasts a bevy of top-notch points of interest like Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Art Museum, The Jewel Box greenhouse, and much, much more.  The entire walk takes place inside phenomenal, expansive Forest Park. Admission is free to all the sites within Forest Park.

Day 6-Oct 4: St. Louis – Lebanon, Missouri (BD)

Cuba Mural Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Route 66 leads us diagonally across Missouri all the way to Cuba…Missouri that is! This friendly Route 66 town welcomes us with a creative collection of murals and picturesque, small-town Ozark neighborhoods. Several quirky, nostalgic Route 66 stops dot our afternoon drive through the Ozarks to one of the few remaining Mother Road motels in Lebanon. Posh accommodations are not the goal tonight, but we think you’ll be comfortable and a pizza party in the courtyard seemed like just the right degree of cozy informality to complement tonight’s lodgings.

Day 7-Oct 5: Lebanon – Miami, Oklahoma (BD)

Baxter Springs Walk (KS) – 6 km, rated 1A

We start our day with a pair of Route 66 stops, oozing with more classic Old Road character, on the western edge of Missouri before crossing into Kansas. The state of Kansas lays claim to only 13 miles of the Route, and about half way through we stop for a no-host, deli sandwich lunch at Nelson’s Old Riverton Store (est. 1925).  This surprising little corner of Kansas offers more than its share of historical drama, including the 1863 Battle of Baxter Springs between Quantrill’s Raiders and Union forces. Our Kansas walk features Baxter Springs and finishes at the excellent Baxter Springs Heritage Museum, one of the better small-town museums we’ve seen. Crossing into Oklahoma, we pass through Mickey Mantle’s home town of Commerce en route to the small Route 66 town of Miami (pronounced “my-am-uh”), where we have dinner at the Coleman Theater, 1929 contemporary of Route 66 designed with an elaborate Mission Revival exterior and a stunning Louis XV interior.

Day 8-Oct 6: Miami – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (B)

In 1952, the U.S. Highway 66 Association dubbed Route 66 “Will Rogers Highway”. We learn why when we arrive in Claremore this morning to visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and reflect on the life of this beloved humorist, trick roper, actor, newspaper columnist, and social commentator. Just south of Claremore is the Blue Whale, an obligatory stop for any serious Route 66 traveler! The Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler offers a fun set of films (viewed from the bench seats of classic cars) and exhibits about the Route. Oklahoma has more drivable miles of Route 66 (over 400) than any other state! We cover a good percentage of those today, with more fun or historic points of interest punctuating our drive into Oklahoma City, where we spend the night in Bricktown.

Day 9-Oct 7: Depart from Oklahoma City (B)

Oklahoma City Memorial Walk – 6/10 km, rated 1A

Travelers finishing their tour today are welcome to schedule an afternoon departure and join us for an Oklahoma City Walk in the morning. It features the Bricktown Canal walkway with the spectacular Centennial Land Run Monument – one of the world’s largest with 45 bronze 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, eulogizing those lost in the tragic bombing of 1995. Ample time is allowed to visit the memorial museum (admission not included) before we bus to the state capitol for a docent-led visit of the only capitol in the world with its own oil well on site. NOTE: Travelers who opt for today’s 10 km walk route would use the local club’s self-guided directions and walk by the capitol but would not be with the group for the guided tour.

For travelers departing from Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City airport is about a 15-minute taxi ride from Bricktown. Thank you for joining us for this stretch of Route 66 through America’s Heartland! We wish you on-going connections with a slower, more relational pathway to your next journey.

Part 2 ~ Route 66

Click on each day to reveal more details. BLD refers to meals included, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. 

Day 1-Oct 6: Arrive Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Travelers joining us for Part 2 of Route 66 arrive today in Oklahoma City in preparation for the last and longest section of the Main Street of America – the Mother Road Out West. We are eager to share some of the most memorable aspects of the Route as we travel together through its five westernmost states – Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California! The group finishing Part 1 will rendezvous with you this evening at our hotel in Bricktown.

Day 2-Oct 7: Oklahoma City – Elk City, Oklahoma (B)

Oklahoma City Walk – 6/10 km, rated 1A

Our Oklahoma City Walk features the Bricktown Canal walkway with the spectacular Centennial Land Run Monument – one of the world’s largest with 45 bronze 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, eulogizing those lost in the tragic bombing of 1995. Ample time is allowed to visit the memorial museum (admission not included) before we bus to the state capitol for a docent-led visit of the only capitol in the world with its own oil well on site. NOTE: Travelers who opt for today’s 10 km walk route would use the local club’s self-guided directions and walk by the capitol but would not be with the group for the guided tour. Following free time for lunch in Bricktown, we pick up the Route westbound, headed for Clinton and one of the most popular Route 66 museums along the highway.

Day 3-Oct 8: Elk City – Canyon, Texas (BD)

The Elk City Museum Complex offers an expansive and intriguing glimpse, not only into Route 66 but into all facets of traditional lifestyle of Oklahomans in this part of the state. Several fun western towns lay on our route into Texas, where our first stop in the Lone Star State is the Devil’s Rope Museum (aka “barbed wire”). You may be surprised at the interesting gap in your knowledge of western lore that is closed by this stop! A memorable dinner at the Big Texan Steakhouse makes good the boast that everything is big in Texas; their 72-ounce steak is on the house, provided you can eat it in the space of 60 minutes. We spend this evening in a Route 66 vintage motel in the small town of Canyon, Texas.

Day 4-Oct 9: Canyon – Las Vegas, New Mexico (BL)

Palo Duro Canyon Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Just east of Canyon is the geological phenomenon for which it is named. Our walk of the day is in Palo Duro Canyon, 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 pay homage at the remains of Glenrio, a true Route 66 ghost town straddling the Texas/New Mexico border. A brief stop in the Mother Road town of Tucumcari precedes a beautiful New Mexico drive 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 and Rough Rider Reunions, Cowboy Reunions, and a nasty reputation for outlaws and desperadoes are all part of the Las Vegas lore, which includes more than 900 buildings on the state and National Register of Historic Places.

Day 5-Oct 10: Las Vegas – Albuquerque, New Mexico (B)

Santa Fe Walk – 5/10/11 km, rated 1A

The majority of today is devoted to a popular walk through 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 gives us 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. This evening, we are down the road at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The largest hot air balloon event in the world draws hundreds of balloonists with crafts of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Tonight’s event is the Balloon Glow when brightly colored balloons take to the night skies like glowing Christmas ornaments on a celestial Christmas tree – it’s breathtaking!

Day 6-Oct 11: Albuquerque – Gallup, New Mexico (B)

El Morro Walk – 4 km, rated 2B (unsanctioned)

This morning’s Fiesta highlight is a Mass Ascension of all balloons, an event claimed to be the most photographed happening in the world! Following this hot air high, we explore Route 66 sights in Old Town Albuquerque by bus before continuing our journey west. Picturesque stretches of Route 66 take us to Grants for a picnic lunch, before we leave 66 to discover a different side of New Mexico’s charms. After scenic driving through rugged, lava-ravaged landscapes, this afternoon’s walk route ascends a monolithic sandstone structure that once housed a sophisticated pueblo. Views from the top are expansive, and the return journey takes us past an inscription wall where soft, smooth sandstone proved irresistible to graphic artists going back hundreds of years. We lodge tonight in the iconic El Rancho Hotel, bursting with Route 66, Old West ambiance and frequent home to stars of yesterday like Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Ronald Reagan, and Katherine Hepburn.

Day 7-Oct 12: Gallup – Williams, Arizona (B)

Blue Mesa Walk – 2 km, rated 2A
Billings Gap Walk – 4 km, rated 1B

We follow the open road westward into Arizona this morning stopping first at Petrified Forest National Park. Wrapping around the upper part of the park is Painted Desert, a series of multi-hued badlands in the northern part of Arizona providing a kaleidoscope of bizarre, mineral-induced, colored formations. The lower end of the park is where the beautifully marbled chunks of petrified wood lie strewn around the desert like a discarded game of oversized, prehistoric, pick-up sticks. A duo of remarkable trails take us up close and personal to these Arizona natural wonders. 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 surprised by Williams, Arizona and considered it our favorite Route 66 town! We stay here two nights, using it as a base to explore the Grand Canyon!

Day 8-Oct 13: Activities from Williams (B)

Grand Canyon Walk – 5/11 km, rated 1A/2B

It’s difficult to overstate the grandeur of the Grand Canyon!! We think walking 5 to 11 kilometers along the superb south rim trail provides about as much eye-popping stimuli as a person can handle in one day. The national park runs an outstanding shuttle system that takes the work out of a one-way trail and the further you walk, the more rugged the formations of the Canyon appear and the more dramatic the shades and shadow produced by the lowering angle of the sun.

Day 9-Oct 14: Williams – Needles, California (BL)

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 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 the semi-wild burros that wander the main street panhandling for donkey food sold by local vendors. We overnight across the border in Needles, California in preparation for tomorrow’s final run to the Pacific!

Day 10-Oct 15: Needles – Marina del Rey, California (BL)

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. A last Route 66 diner in Victorville offers a mid-day break for lunch before we cross a final range of mountains for the coast. Beverly Hills is our objective; 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!

Day 11-Oct 16: Activities from Marina del Rey (BD)

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. Then join us for a fun and relaxing Farewell Dinner tonight to reminisce about our memorable journey along the Mother Road!

Day 12-Oct 17: Depart Marina del Rey (B)

Make your way to the 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, on a road obstructed by traffic signals and stop signs that made us slow down, on a road representing a time when relationships trumped efficiency. Thanks for sharing this nostalgic mother of all road trips along the Mother Road.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

Part 1, Part 2, or Both?

Because of the 19-day length of this mother of all road trips, we offer it in two parts to make it more accessible to those with limited time or travel budgets.

Part 1: Mother Road in the Heartland begins in Chicago, ends in Oklahoma City, and explores Route 66 in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. It’s a 9-day adventure that features heartland cities of Chicago, St. Louis, and Oklahoma City but takes travelers off the beaten path as well to connect with small town Route 66 Americana in places like Pontiac, IL; Cuba, MO; Baxter Springs, KS; and Miami, OK.

Part 2: Mother Road Out West overlaps with Part 1 in Oklahoma City and ushers the traveler into the wide-open spaces of the American Southwest on a longer, 12-day adventure. Highlights include natural wonders like Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas, Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks in Arizona, and a Native American connection at places like El Morro National Monument and Gallup, New Mexico. Route 66 highlights abound on this stretch of highway as well: Glenrio ghost town; Seligman, AZ; and Route 66 museums in Clinton, OK and Kingman, AZ are just a few.

Of course, the best experience maintains the continuity of Route 66 by taking the full road trip for 19 days. Travelers who opt for the full 19-day Route 66 adventure save $200 of the combined price of Part 1 and Part 2.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a $300 deposit for Part 1 or Part 2, or a $600 deposit for the full tour, as soon as possible! We will take 24-28 travelers on this tour, with 2 guides accompanying, offering a guide to traveler ratio of 1:14.

Traveler Rewards Program

New Travelers receive a $150 discount on Part 1 or Part 2 of the Route 66 tour! New travelers doing the full tour will receive a $300 discount. Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

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

Modified Payment Terms

Cancellations received in writing 120 days or more before departure will receive a full refund less a $150 administration fee per tour part. Cancellations received in writing 119 to 90 days before departure will receive a full refund less the initial $300 deposit per tour part. Cancellations received in writing 89 to 60 days before departure will receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be made on cancellations received less than 60 days before departure. No refunds will be made on any unused or cancelled services once the tour has commenced.

Please view our General Tour Conditions for more details on our policies and cancellation terms.

Route 66 vs. Freeway Miles

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!

Elevation on Tour

Our route through the central and western states will involve walks and overnight accommodations at multiple elevations.  From our start in Chicago and until we arrive in Santa Fe, elevation does not generally go over 1500 feet above sea level.  In New Mexico and Arizona, elevations are in the range of 5300 to 7200 feet above sea level before decreasing again when we arrive in California.

The elevation of our hotels—where we overnight—has a greater impact on us physically than where we travel or walk during the day. That is, the elevation of where you sleep overnight is usually more important than the elevation of activities during the day. For four nights, our hotels in New Mexico and Arizona are located between 5300 and 7200 feet above sea level.  Activities are generally in that range as well.  The Grand Canyon and El Morro walks are our highest elevation walks, where we are at about 7100 feet above sea level. It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities.

Tour Accommodations

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 motels reflecting the spirit of Historic Route 66, which we think you’ll enjoy. Many, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are single-floor or have elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.

Optional Excursions

A pair of optional excursions are offered in Chicago for travelers who opt to arrive a day early.

Guided Cultural Mile Walk: The morning activity is a guided walk from our hotel along Michigan Avenue, renowned home of architectural and cultural icons such as The Art Institute, Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago’s first public library), the Wrigley Building, Millennium Park, AND the official starting point for Route 66. The walk also features sections of Chicago’s Riverwalk, flanked by a phenomenal forest of spectacular skyscrapers. Estimated price: $25 per person

Chicago Food Tour: The mid-day activity is a food tour in two of Chicago’s many unique neighborhoods – Gold Coast and Old Town. Our culinary exploration takes us to seven popular locations including a tea house, a European bakery, and of course a windy city food tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a Chicago-style pizzeria.  Estimated price: $90 per person

How Is Airfare Arranged?

The official start point for Part 1: Route 66 – Mother Road in the Heartland is our hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The finish point for Route 66, Part 1 is our hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The official start point for Part 2: Route 66 – Mother Road Out West is our hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma while the finish point for Route 66, Part 2, is our hotel in Marina del Rey, California.

More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

What about the walks?

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.

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. 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. Because these are guided group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. 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 talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

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 below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 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).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Travel Insurance

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 of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email: [email protected] -OR- phone: 503-434-6401).  For those of you who purchase airfare through Laura, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. 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

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

Other Planning Considerations

More information to help you plan will be included in the much longer Tips & Tidbits factsheet that is mailed out about four months before the trip.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. An email with critical information on flight arrangements and the Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the 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 enclosed itinerary.  At its inception, Route 66 transformed how America traveled.  Today, the history, people, and culture along the mother road continue to fascinate us!  We are thrilled to be able to share this unique transportation and cultural icon with you, highlighting local walks and historic stops along the way. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Give us a call and talk to one of our Adventure Consultants about how to join us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure program next Fall as we cruise along Historic Route 66 together!