Route 66 Adventures: On the Mother Road in Texas

As we bid adieu to Oklahoma City, we realize the adventurer in us is ready to get back on the road. Just outside Oklahoma City, we make a quick stop at the Route 66 Park where we find a walkable map of the entire historic highway. We reminisce about the places we’ve been and get excited about the ones to come.

Oklahoma City Route 66

Oklahoma City Route 66

Next we pass through El Reno a town we could tell once held promises of a healthy community and a lifeline for its people. Left behind is a shell of a town that we are seeing all too often on Route 66.

Oklahoma Route 66Oklahoma Route 66

Oklahoma Route 66

About 30 minutes later, we slowly drive by Lucille’s filling station, which was built in 1927 but is now closed. In 1999, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association inducted Lucille, the owner, into the Hall of Fame. She was synonymous with 66; serving travelers for 59 years until her death in 2000. What a life. Even with the decline of traffic she remained devoted to the road.

We stopped at the retro diner named in her honor for lunch a few miles further down. The Grill, with a black and white checkered floor and blue and white décor, pays homage to the road that has dazzled so many throughout the years.

The highlight of lunch was the Fried Jalapeno Burger, a burger topped with a hefty amount of fried jalapenos, cheese, and jalapeno-infused bacon. We decide it will be time to diet after this trip! We are finding it way too hard to pass up the recommended greasy items on the menu.

Oklahoma Route 66

Our last stop in Oklahoma is the Route 66 Museum in Clinton. We didn’t want to spend the extra money or have the time to go all the way in and explore so we used the bathrooms, checked out the store and the free portion before getting back in the car.

Oklahoma Route 66

Oklahoma Route 66

We cross over the Texas border into the fifth state of the trip. We slow pace it through more ghostly towns and notice the landscape in the Panhandle is flat and quite boring. Well, except for the electrifying stop at the leaning water tower in Groom. Who needs to go to Italy when Texas has its very own leaning tower?

Route 66

Route 66 Texas

Route 66 Texas

It has been raining off and on all day so we check in at the Amarillo KOA for an early night. We stayed at a tent site with no electric or water. I don’t have any pictures since it rained during our two-night stay.

Since the tent sites became muddy overnight the office let us sleep on the concrete near the bathrooms the last night. You would think it would be bothersome but once we put in our shades and close up the van, we don’t get outside light or much noise.

The next morning we visit the highlight of our Route 66 stint in Texas, the Palo Duro State Park. It’s about forty minutes off the main road, but absolutely worth the detour.

It is the second largest canyon in the country at 120 miles long, 6 to 20 miles wide and more than 800 feet deep. Grand Canyon’s dimensions are 277 miles long, 8 to 18 miles wide and a mile deep so a big difference but impressive nonetheless.

Route 66 TexasRoute 66 Texas

It was raining in the morning with flash flood warnings when we visited so we went back an hour or so before sunset and we lucked out. The sun was shining and it was like a whole different park. We are so glad we made the drive back.

Route 66 Texas

Route 66 Texas

It’s our last night in the area so we decide to hit the oh-so-popular Big Texan Steak Ranch for dinner. The billboards for this place smacked us in the face the last 25 miles or so into Amarillo. It’s a hard spot to miss!

Route 66 Texas

Route 66 Texas

The Big Texan made an appearance on many of the must-stop lists I read while researching our trip. We were ready for a big meal and a big craft beer selection. Everything is bigger in Texas, right?

Unfortunately, the food was overpriced and underwhelming. We tried almost every beer on tap and only found one, the Pecan Porter, that we would order a full pint of. The place itself is as kitschy as they come so it is worth a stop for sure. However, I would not recommend the restaurant for dinner, maybe for a drink or appetizer.

Route 66 Texas

Big TexanRoute 66 Texas

On the way back to the campground, a beautiful sunset made us feel better about the seventy-three dollar mediocre meal we just consumed.

We woke up to another gloomy and wet morning. The first stop on the agenda being the notorious Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation and sculpture minutes outside of Amarillo.

It is a Route 66 roadside attraction that has been glorified throughout the years as a representation of America and is a right of passage for any traveler on the Mother Road. No one misses the famed pit stop.

As we stomp through mud and grass after we cross the street where we parked on the side of the road, I can see the cars off in the distance. It looks like garbage surrounds them and I’m thinking, really this is it?

As we get closer, I realize it’s not just trash but mostly cans of spray paint. I guess some of the allure is the ability to leave your mark? I’m happy we stopped, because if we didn’t I would feel like we missed something but I simply didn’t feel the magnetism.

Route 66 Texas
Cadillac Ranch

The last stop in Texas is a MOMENTOUS one, the Route 66 midway point! 1,139 miles to Los Angeles and 1,139 miles to Chicago. California here we come!

Route 66 Texas

Best things to see and do in Texas on Route 66


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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

6 Responses

  1. Samantha

    This looks like a such a fun road trip across the US! The food looks oh so yummy – I would definitely need to do a lot of activity to work off the food though!

  2. Marvi

    Route 66 looks pretty interesting… I particularly love the landscape at the Palo Duro State Park and totally understand the need to detour.. Really worth the time checking it out with the gorgeous view!

  3. Krupa

    Love this post and I list Route 66 is more of the perfect traveler site to visit. I can imagine what a wonderful trip it would have been. Absolutely love the pics.

  4. Jack

    It couldn’t be more Route 66 than this, would love to embark on a long road trip across the US and Texas would certainly be a stopping point, thanks for sharing!

  5. tracy collins

    Wow looks like you are having an amazing trip on Route 66! Love the look of that food along the way!! Would love to do this trip myself one day!

  6. anshul

    There is a lot of Old West feeling attached to this destination. And what is with Cadillac Ranch. Would love to visit that place atleast once!

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