Iconic Route 66 – if you haven’t yet done this road trip, you need to pack your bags and head out now! Route 66 sees thousands of travellers each year, all wanting to set foot and wheel on the road that meant so much to so many, and whether you’re American or not, it’s just gotta be done!
There are so many essential sights and stops along the 2,400 miles that it’s impossible to list them all here, but here are our top 5 absolute musts, perfect for you and your TentBox.
Grant Park, Chicago, IL
Start the route in style by pitching up in Chicago and heading to Grant Park to take in the sights. This is where Barack Obama gave his 2008 election acceptance speech and when you see the majestic Buckingham Fountain set within the 319 acres of parkland, you’ll understand why. Grant Park has been a protected open space for Chicago residents since 1835 and its clear that this hasn’t waned over time; crowds flock every day to enjoy the greenery, walks and a chance to relax.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX
There are 114 different campgrounds within the Palo Duro Canyon State Park suitable for parking up, although some are more basic than others. Camping here is well worth it, as Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the country, smaller only than the Grand Canyon itself! With over 30 miles of trails for hiking and biking, ranger programs, museums and wildlife refuges, there’s something for every explorer at Palo Duro! You can also explore The Big Cave with a guided tour.
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
Home to both the Petrified Forest and a portion of the Painted Desert, this national park is perfect for hikers, explorers and photographers alike. There are areas you can drive into, but motorized travel is limited in areas designated as Petrified Forest National Wilderness Areas.
The Petrified Forest dates back over 225 million years, to the Mesozoic Era; columns of petrified wood have been dated back to that time. Some of the bigger trunks still show the wood rings that reveal their life histories in prehistoric times.
The Painted Desert, so named in 1540 by explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, earned its name due to the stratified layers that give it a “painted” appearance. These colors are provided by iron and manganese compounds within the rock.
There are no campgrounds within the Petrified Forest National Park, but you can get a permit for backcountry camping, or alternatively camp at nearby Canyon de Chelly National Monument, El Morro National Monument or Chaco Culture National Historical Park. There are also private campgrounds run throughout the Apache and Navajo counties.
Blue Hole of Santa Rosa, NM
Swimmers will love this blue gem in the middle of the desert, especially if you’re braving the route in the Summer. There are a number of campgrounds nearby as well as camping within the State Park, so parking up isn’t a problem (just book early in high season).
The 100% visibility of the crystalline waters will draw you into the Blue Hole; some fans drive over 10 hours to just enjoy their bathe. The water renews itself completely every 6 hours and stays at a constant 62°F. Sound perfect? Does to us!
Santa Monica Pier, CA
You can’t visit Santa Monica and not go onto the pier. Dating back to 1909, this is a classic American boardwalk complete with iconic entrance, funfair, cinema and rollercoaster. It was the first concrete pier on the West Coast and is also one of the best fishing spots in Santa Monica (and you don’t need a license to do so). You will of course also want to see the famous end of Route 66 sign (and maybe get a Route 66 Completion Certificate from the Visitor Center).
Camping in and around Santa Monica is easy and there are plenty of spots to choose from – Malibu Creek State Park is only 20 miles away and is great for fishing, hiking, bird watching and biking.