The best time of the year to travel along Route 66 is from the middle of spring, through the summer, and up to mid-fall.
And to understand why that’s the most ideal time, it’s best to consider the various factors that affect travels on Route 66. While Route 66 can be a quintessential road trip, things can go off course quite fast if you don’t plan adequately. Consider this: the US 66 or Route 66 stretches for over 2400 miles, connecting rural and urban communities from Chicago (Illinois) to California (Los Angeles).
As such, Route 66 extends over a wide range of climate zones and altitude. You’re, therefore, bound to experience dissimilar weather while travelling the entire US 66. But the weather is not the only things that might affect your travels.
Check out the following pointers:
Route 66 and Tourism Seasons
Being a famous tourist attraction, Route 66 has its low and high seasons. Throngs of tourist flock this road during the high season to visit various attractions and sights.
High season is mostly in the summer months when the weather is more pleasant. During the winter, the threat of inclement cold, ice and snow makes traffic along Route 66 slacker.
Geography and Weather
Route 66 starts in Northern US near the Great Lakes. It then crosses through the southern reaches of New Mexico’s and Arizona’s Rocky Mountains. Not to mention the Ozarks in Kansas and Missouri.
US 66 also goes through the Mojave Desert as well as the Midwestern plains in Texas and Oklahoma. It ends on the Pacific Ocean’s seaboard in Los Angeles.
As such, it can be cold in one region and warm in another at the same time. Yes, you can experience snow, rain, and sun in a single day as you travel along Route 66. With that said, check out how the various weather seasons affect travels on US 66:
Winter usually comes through in December, January, and February. This is definitely not an ideal time to drive along Route 66. Sleet, snow, ice on the road, and the cold weather deter many drivers as driving in such conditions requires experience and expertise.
What’s more, severe weather may cause some roads to get closed. This will ultimately eat into your travelling time. And even if accommodation prices fall during the low season, most spots remain closed.
Another reason why winter isn’t the best time to road trip through Route 66 is the longer nights and shorter days. This shortens the time available for travelling under good daylight conditions and sightseeing.
When it comes to Route 66, you ought to divide spring into two sections: early spring and mid-spring. Early spring falls in March and April, with the former being the transitional month between winter and spring.
During the transition, the weather varies throughout the route. The Northern areas become extremely cold while the Southern ones feature moderate weather. It may even snow in higher parts of the route such as Illinois and Arizona.
Furthermore, due to the reduced number of visitors, many facilities and attractions in the Northern parts of Route 66 close down. So, if you decide to travel in early spring, ensure to confirm that the places you intend to visit will be open.
April is still low season even though the weather is milder. Mind you, the southern parts of the US 66 experience hot midsummer temperatures during this period. You can, thus, expect not to see crowds of people on the road if you travel in April.
Falling in May, mid spring is one of the best times to explore Route 66. This is mainly because you’ll encounter fair weather- not too cold, not too hot.
What’s more, there is always a lesser number of tourists travelling in May as compared to other favourable months. Thus, many key attractions will not get crowded at this time.
Summer is the high season and it falls in June, July, and August. It’s the holiday period for many people based in the Northern Hemisphere (US, Canada, Europe, Japan and China). This is to say that crowds flock Route 66, while the hotels and airlines get fully booked.
You should, therefore, expect to find long queues at various spots along the route. The best part about summer is that the days are warmer and there are many daylight hours. Still, some parts of Route 66 experience frequent rainfall, including torrential downpours and thunderstorms during this season.
Take note that even the desert areas Arizona and California may feature rainfall. The Western parts of the route may have pretty warm temperatures during the summer. You should, thus, ensure that your car’s air conditioning is working.
Also, ensure to carry clothes for both hot and cold weather. Some parts of Route 66 can be extremely hot during the day and extremely cold during the night.
Autumn or fall is also another excellent time to drive through Route 66. For such a road trip, you can divide fall into two sections: early fall and late fall. Early fall runs from September through October. At this time the weather is warm and there are fewer crowds, which is mainly because folk get back to work and the school year begins in September.
Even so, you should avoid exploring the US 66 during the Labour Day weekend. Otherwise, you’ll encounter parked roads and hotels. Not to mention the exorbitant rates many facilities charge at this time.
Late fall comes in November and is usually a transitioning period between fall and winter. During late fall, the days become shorter and the weather cools. By all means, most parts of the route are less crowded, though things can be different on Thanksgiving Day.
As you can see from the above pointers, the best months to explore Route 66 are April, May, September, and October. You can also travel in June, July or August, but these months fall in the peak season period. If you decide to travel in the snow cold months, ensure to prepare for the tough conditions beforehand. With that said, enjoy your road trip.