Horror Tours

Lost Highway: Does Route 66 Have Scary Side?

Roads can be a horror movie. Almost every day, we hear about a fatal car accident that ends in the most tragic way possible. That’s why when we talk about a “scary” road, we usually refer to the danger of driving it. The question we need to ask is whether there are roads that look like a horror movie location even without checking the average traffic accidents on them. Route 66, probably considered one of the most famous roads in the world, fulfills these requirements according to some Route 66 scary stories. Even if it is not a location that you should take as it is for a horror movie, there are still some mythologies around it that are important to consider.


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What Is Route 66?

When we talk about Route 66, we refer to the historic road in the United States. It was established in 1926 to connect Chicago to Los Angeles and succeeded in “reducing” the distance between them by more than 200 kilometers. When it opened, it was unusual in several ways. 

First, it is one of the first highways built in the United States, and significant parts of it. To understand why, we must ask how long is Route 66. The answer is that This road was initially about 3,940 km, or 2,448 miles. It means that people who drove it could cross three time zones and no less than eight countries. 

Note that the road was intended to connect huge states like Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, California, and Arizona but also to connect small towns that were “off the radar” till that point to the existing roads. Roads became essential not only because the world became more global but also because in the 1920s, for example, the number of vehicles in the United States almost tripled From about 8 million to about 23 million. People wanted to get from place to place using their cars, whether for business or pleasure and needed roads to enable them to do so efficiently.

As part of the attempts to promote the road and make it a symbol, they decided, for example, to hold a race between Los Angeles and New York City. The main twist is that this Route 66 raceway took place on foot, with stops in towns that agreed to support the race. About 300 competitors tried to take the grand prize, 25,000 dollars. After something like 573 hours, Andy Payne was declared the winner.

As the years passed, Route 66 underwent changes and upgrades. His initial goal was to have perfect driving conditions, including wide lanes, few turns, and a road that should be safe for driving in different weather conditions.

In practice, parts needed to be sufficiently maintained even a few years after it opened. American President Roosevelt saw this, and during the Great Depression, he encouraged many young people who were out of work to join the maintenance and repair tasks of the road. New sections were added to the road designed to improve travel efficiency, including faster lanes. 

Why Is Route 66 Famous?

The result is that during history, the road assumed a critical role in the development of the United States, especially in the movement to its west coast. On the positive side, he assisted in developing settlements and connecting them, a mandatory requirement in the developing economic world. In World War II, it was an integral part of the transportation of weapons and combat. 

The road played a central role in vital times. However, some were negative: the Great Depression, for example, or the “Dust Basin” – a nickname for several dust storms, some severe, that occurred in the United States and Canada in the 1930s and caused tremendous damage to life and property, also on this road. The area, and especially the towns around it, were known for their negative attitude towards blacks, which resulted in hate crimes and various restrictions that applied to those with dark skin.




The principle with road traffic is that it is constantly evolving, and some roads may become irrelevant. Over time, as the areas around the road developed, alternate roads were added, and domestic flights across the United States became more regular, Route 66 lost effectiveness. In 1985, they decided to remove it from the interstate highway system officially and gradually also from maps, and the traffic that remained on it moved to intercity roads that bypassed the towns and were, therefore, faster and more efficient.

The original route of Route 66 has been repaved and replaced with new roads, and today, it ends in the Arizona area. However, many sections of the road are still active (about 85%) and are now considered a tourist attraction, known as “Historic Route 66,” passing through several towns, some active and some abandoned. This road has a lot of drive but many points of interest, which many recommend dedicating at least two to three weeks. 

Route 66 scary road

Why is Route 66 Dangerous?

Although attempts are being made to make Route 66 as safe as possible, many still consider it a somewhat dangerous road. Of course, driving long distances on a road that looks, in many parts, the same, with little around, can be a challenging mission. The lack of gas stations and other facilities is another point you should consider.

 The road can face unpredictable or even wild conditions, like tornados (especially if you drive near the area known as “Tornado Alley”). You should bring clothes for different weather conditions because sometimes it gets “crazy” here.

Another piece of advice is to drive in groups so the passengers of other cars can watch you and give you some help when needed. Stay focused and follow the directions: The signs here may be confusing, so Route 66 maps or a GPS seem like obvious tools you should have in the car.

Here are some driving tips you should read before driving Route 66.


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What Is The Importance Of Route 66?

Route 66 symbolizes quite a few things. Historically, this is one of the last points in the “conquest” of the Wild West or its connection to other regions of the United States. The road has received various nicknames over the years, such as the “Great Diagonal Road” due to its shape, “America’s Main Street” or “The Mother Road,” as it was called in the famous novel “The Grapes of Wrath” by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature c Van Steinbeck.

“The Grapes of Wrath” is about a family forced to leave their home and land during the Great Depression and immigrate to California to start a new page. However, they discover that even in these areas, there is evil, poverty, and mass exploitation. This novel describes the process many families who immigrated to the West during the economic depression went through, hoping for a better future. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1940 and became an iconic John Ford film that same year, starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, and others. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and earned Ford the coveted award for directing.


Another nickname for Route 66 is the “Willie Rogers Highway,” named after the American actor, comedian, and political commentator. Will Rodgers was one of those young people who traveled this road westward, in his case, to fulfill his dream of making it in Hollywood. After the construction of the road, he took part in its promotion efforts until he died in a plane crash in 1935. Since 1952, the road has been unofficially referred to as “Willie Rogers Road,” and several landmarks commemorating the comedian along it.

Some part of the road is known as “The Musical Road” because, near New Mexico, they installed special sensors that caused the song “America the Beautiful” to be played every time the car pulled up to the curb precisely at the required speed of 45 miles per hour.

Songs were written about Route 66, the most famous of which is a rhythm and blues song written by the American jazz singer Bobby Troup (“Get Your Kicks on) Route 66)”). The song became a massive hit after Nat King Cole released it as a single and was subsequently covered by The Rolling Stones, Bing Crosby, and others. “Depeche Mode” also wrote a Route 66 song, but to put it mildly, this is not one of the band’s famous songs or masterpieces.

How Do You Make A Historic Route 66 Tour?

Even today, quite a few tourists visit the sections of Route 66 that remain. A trip along Route 66 is nostalgic and spectacular in some parts but also challenging because you are expected to encounter only a few regulated stopping points during the journey. In other words, the gas stations are far from each other, sometimes more than 100 km away, and in some parts, you won’t find too many places to stock up on water or drinks. 

If you don’t want to be part of a horror movie, you must stock up on enough fuel, water, and food, especially during the hot periods when the road environment may be hot. When planning a historic Route 66 tour, we recommend marking in advance where there are restaurants (which can be very authentic) and also whether there are tourist attractions along your route: a museum, parks (for example, the Petrified Forest National Park, a park that includes an exhibition about the road with historic car models, hiking and horseback riding trails, and more), historic buildings, nature sites and even activities for children, such as the only mountain slide in the Arizona area that is right next to the road.

Please ensure your vehicle is well-maintained and has a spare wheel for any trouble. It is crucial to have a navigation device because the signage here tends to be very problematic, but also a map of US Route 66 in case the technology fails us precisely when we need it the most. Of course, you can get a Route 66 tour guide to go with you. By the way, in recent years, they have been working on a bicycle route that should accompany various road sections.

Proper planning allows you to spend a few days effectively exploring the road and surrounding towns. There are enough places to stay here, most motels that remind in their design and style of the merry fifties in the United States. On the one hand, there is room for spontaneity in trips of this type, but on the other hand, it is essential to remember that the most popular or central motels can be in high demand, so you should reserve a room in advance in many cases. This recommendation is especially true during busy periods or when a big event is in one of the towns along the route, such as the famous Albuquerque Balloon Festival.


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Are There Route 66 Horror Movies?

Route 66 was a central location in several films and TV series. Many of them are travel films, including Route 66 road trips. Such movies are “Easy Rider” (1969), “On the Road” (2012, based on a novel by Jack Kerouac from 1957), “Little Miss Sunshine ” (2006), “No Country For Old Man” (2008) and even the Pixar animated film “Cars” from 2006. In 1960-1964, a drama, journey, and crime series called “Route 66” was broadcast for four seasons and no less than 116 episodes.

As is the best tradition, we also looked for significant horror films in which Route 66 is an integral part of the plot or even the central villain. We only found a few movies that are not very familiar, but here are some suggestions.

Route 666 (2001)

“Route 666” from 2001 is an action-horror film directed by William Wesley (“Scarecrows”), which deals with government agents who are in pursuit of a key escaped witness. On the way back, during the drive on an abandoned desert road (“Route 666”), they encounter the ghosts of a massacred gang or something like that. The agents have to fight for their lives and find out what the chain of events is that led to the death of the gang members.


Killer Holiday (2013)

Let’s drive to a movie called “Killer Holiday” from 2013. We have yet to see this movie, which got primarily negative reviews (3.6 out of 10 on IMDB) and a few ratings, but from the description and trailer, it looks like a B Movie that could be fun. 

The plot here is about a group of young people who are traveling on Route 66, come across an abandoned amusement park, and decide to break into it, that is, if you can call the scene in the trailer that way, where the girl kicks the fence and blows it away. The problem is that it turns out that the park is not so deserted because there is a killer named Kevin “Spider” Holliday. The villain is chasing them and starts murdering them one by one using the traps and the park’s facilities. In the plot description, they promise that at the film’s end, we will know that guy’s motives.

Route 66 Horror Stories

If, because of the name “66,” you thought that Route 66 has some satanic activity or unsolved horror cases, think carefully: the road is considered relatively safe, both in the past and today. Nevertheless, of course, as befits a historic highway, which has become somewhat abandoned, there are enough horror stories around it, mythologies about ghosts living here, and so on.

The first point is that the road connects quite a few ghost towns, which are an integral part of what can be termed “Dark Tourism,” or, as we refer to it on the website, abandoned places that have become tourist attractions over the years. 

Due to the ghost towns surrounding it, you can find many Route 66 horror stories. In fact, this road is considered by many to be the most haunted highway in the United States. A large part of these horror stories are concentrated in the Arizona region and include, among other things, the town of Flagstaff, known for its haunted hotels (allegedly, yes?) or Williams, which, in addition to being the gateway to the Grand Canyon, is considered according to some theories to be a “spiritual center” and a “vortex of energy,” causing all sorts of strange things to happen.

Route 66 tour scary

Flagstaff

Flagstaff is a relatively sleepy medieval town surrounded by mountains that provide impressive panoramic views. Several locations in Flagstaff are considered haunted, such as the Monte Vista Hotel, where murders of workers in the sex industry allegedly took place, a library with a basement that went through various horrors, and especially the Weatherford Hotel, where, according to some reports you can find ghosts roaming the corridors at night, objects that move by themselves, music boxes or lamps that goes on for no reason and so on.

The most famous horror story here is about a woman who thought her husband was gone and hanged herself. When the husband, who was delayed due to a snowstorm, returned, he discovered his wife’s body and committed suicide. Today, if you believe the mythology, you can see both ghosts standing over the guest bed. Well, you probably know it from horror movies or places that try to attract “horror tourists,” and many people remain cynical about stories of this kind.


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Williams

Williams has survived over the years and remains a tourist attraction thanks to its proximity to the Grand Canyon. If you believe the stories, that’s not the only thing left to live there. The Red Garter Inn, currently used as a place to stay, was first established as a saloon and a brothel and later served as a bakery combined with an inn. 

To this day, guests and staff of the place report strange phenomena such as doors opening and closing by themselves, unexplained footsteps in the corridors, shaking of the bed, or a hand touching them in the middle of the night (it could just be related to the kind of activities some young people do in motels, no?) and meeting With the ghost of a young woman in a white robe named Eva, who according to local legend was murdered here.

With or without contact, this is a place of accommodation that receives excellent reviews from guests. Therefore, consider staying here for at least one night if you are visiting the area.

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