Where Does The Historic Route 66 Start and End?

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: December 6, 2023
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Historic Route 66 is one of the most famous routes in the world. It traverses most of the United States. The beginning and end of the route are two famous cities that have a lot of culture and history, and make America what it is. But you’re probably wondering where the historic Route 66 starts and ends. Let’s take a look at the beginning of the route and the end of the route. We’ll also include some of the wildlife you will see along the way if you choose to drive the route on a road trip vacation.

About Route 66

Historic brown and white sign on US Route 66 in Oklahoma

John Steinbeck features Historic Route 66 in his novel

The Grapes of Wrath

, and he dubbed it “the Mother Road.”

©Mike Flippo/Shutterstock.com

First, let’s talk about Route 66. The road was established on November 11, 1926, starting in Chicago, IL. The highway ran through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. It passed through into California and ended in Santa Monica, which is located in Los Angeles County, CA. The entire route covers a whopping 2,448 miles.

Many television shows and songs featured the route, as well as novels. The route was used for those who wanted to create a new life in the West. Many people in the Midwest traveled the road during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today, many sections have been replaced by the newer highway system, although some signage of the historic route still exists in some places along the way.

Where Does it Start?

Chicago skyline panorama aerial view with skyscrapers over Lake Michigan with cloudy sky at dusk.

The song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” is about the historic route, written by Bobby Troup, and covered by many artists including Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones.

©Songquan Deng/Shutterstock.com

The route begins in Chicago, IL, more specifically Lake Shore Drive. Right after leaving Chicago, it goes through its suburbs. Then it goes into other cities in Illinois and passes through the Illinois State Capitol, before making its way through other cities and towns in the state. After 301 miles, you cross state lines into East St. Louis on the Mississippi River.

Where Does it End?

Santa Monica pier Ferris Wheel in California USA on blue Pacific Ocean

Route 66 is also called the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America, and the Mother Road.


The route ends in one of the most famous cities in the country, Los Angeles. More specifically it ends in Santa Monica along the Pacific Coast Highway. While in the state of California, the route goes through LA, San Bernardino, and into Barstow and Needles, before it crosses into Arizona. The route covers 315 miles in California.

Wildlife Along the Way

Spanning 2,448 miles, the landscapes you see on Route 66 are vast and diverse. You will get to see deserts, forests, plains, and much more. There will be a change in weather in every state you go into. You’ll have to be prepared for every type of climate, but at the same time, you will be able to see a diverse selection of animals along the way. In the western states, you’ll be able to spot coyotes, snakes, deer, and turtles. In Missouri and the more plains states, you may be able to see black bears.


And there you have it, Historic Route 66 starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. It traverses through six states in between, totaling eight states of great, diverse landscapes. If you decide to make a road trip out of it, you will see much of the United States. You will learn so much about the country and the people that live in it. It will be a worthy experience that you will remember for a long time.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © EJ_Rodriquez/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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