The Best Time to Drive Route 66

Driving along Route 66 in California
Mojave Desert

Route 66 by season

There’s nothing to stop you driving Route 66 at any time of year, but the most popular time is between May and October, when the weather is warm and sunny. Don’t forget that the route covers a large area, so the weather is likely to vary considerably and you should come prepared for all eventualities, whichever time of year you travel.

Spring in Flagstaff, Route 66

As the days start to lengthen again, Route 66 opens up once more. It may still be a little chilly in places, with snow still around in Illinois and the mountains of Arizona, but days are bright and pleasant and the traffic is sparse. It’s a good time to travel to avoid the peak summer traffic but still enjoy sunny days. Look out for green fields and spring flowers blooming by the roadside.

Summer on Route 66

By the time summer rolls around, all of Route 66’s hotels and attractions are open. This is peak season, so the route gets busy, and in the middle of the day it can be very hot too, so air conditioning in your car is a must. Despite the heat and crowds, the long hours of daylight give you plenty of exploring time, making this an excellent time of year to drive.

Autumn on Route 66

Autumn brings cooler temperatures to Route 66, and as the schools start to go back, the route empties once more. The days become shorter but remain bright and sunny, and the beautiful reds and golds of autumn appear on the trees. Note that Thanksgiving weekend is a very popular time for domestic travellers, so you might want to avoid it/join in, depending on your interest.

Winter in Arizona

There’s every possibility of snow if you drive Route 66 in winter, even in the desert. While a dusting of the white stuff can make the scenery look pretty, the road conditions are not at their best, and some facilities along the route may be closed. That said, it’s also the time of year when you’ll encounter the least amount of traffic, so if you like peace and quiet, it’s ideal. Just come prepared for the cold.

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