Historic Route 66 Byway – MO
- DesignationAll-American Road (2021)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric, Cultural
- LocationAZ, CA, IL, MO, NM, OK
- Length317 of 2040.6 total miles
The charm, the history, and the atmosphere that make up "The Mother Road" brings travelers from all over the world to experience America down a stretch of highway where "anything goes" is literal.
Story of the Byway
Historic Route 66 in Missouri is not only a state byway, but also a linear community. This roadway is a complex and intriguing network of diversity to which the landscape, people, and communities contribute. The 465-mile route traverses the entire state of Missouri in an east-west direction from Illinois to Kansas. Travelers can view the 630-foot Gateway Arch that stands on the banks of the Mississippi river as a permanent public memorial to those who made possible the western expansion of the United States, particularly the great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and the hunters, trappers, frontiersmen, and pioneers who contributed to the territorial expansion west of the Mississippi. Historic Route 66 is landmarked with significant American history, historic cemeteries, a historic Courthouse, Forest Park, and famous businesses that sit among a dense foundation of commerce, trade, and recreation. Along this byway is a cultural tribute to the Trail of Tears Memorial. Travelers experience a journey of agricultural fields that give way to dramatic topography, historic highway rock cuts at Hooker Cut, and scenic vistas of lakes and river valleys adjacent to Mark Twain National Forest. Historic Route 66 holds the history and culture that many seek to preserve, protect, and promote for travelers’ education and enjoyment.
Historic Route 66 runs across the entire state Missouri from St. Louis at the Illinois state line to Joplin at the Kansas state line, stretching 465 miles long.
Points of Interest
The Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century and signifies the opening of the West to pioneers.
Mark Twain National Forest
Encompassing 1.5 million acres of beautiful public land in 29 counties in Missouri, Mark Twain National Forest maintains a healthy, working forest with a wide range of popular recreation opportunities.
Beneath the rolling hills of the Meramec Valley, lies this complex of rare, beautiful mineral formations and caves. Enjoy the spectacular sites on guided tours with options for the whole family.
City to Caverns
Starting from St. Louis, heading west on old Route 66, embark on the day long journey from the eastern border of Missouri to one of the most epic attractions along The Mother Road. Prior to departing, be sure to soak up the sites in St. Louis, like the Gateway Arch and of course indulge in some Ted Drewes Frozen Custard from the iconic Route 66 stand. Heading southwest out of downtown, follow the old road along Gravois Avenue, Chippewa Street, and Watson Road, just south of the parallel I-44 freeway. Continuing southwest, hop on the I-44 freeway until at least Eureka, and along the way stop at the Route 66 State Park and visitor center to stretch your legs and to see the state park’s picnic sites and bike trails. Just 40 miles from the Gateway Arch, the town of Gray Summit houses the stunning wildflower meadows of the Shaw Nature Reserve. Just before Shaw Nature Reserve, Route 66 reemerges winding its way westward. For the majority of 30 miles between Shaw Nature Reserve and Meramec Caverns old Route 66 is again overwhelmed by the I-44 freeway, so save your Route 66 exploring for another day and head west on I-44 towards the caverns you’ve been waiting for. Rejoice in fun for the whole family at the renowned Meramec Caverns!
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