5 Remarkable Route 66 Attractions

Stretching all the way from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, the legendary Route 66 was one of the first U.S. highways and is considered a true icon of American culture. While it may not be part of the formal Interstate Highway System, Route 66 remains a popular scenic drive dotted with unique and funky roadside attractions.

Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park

Ed Galloway was one of Oklahoma’s most acclaimed folk artists, and his totem pole park is the oldest example of folk art in the entire state. Located in Rogers County, just 3.5 miles off Route 66, Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park is home to various colorful totems, including the world’s largest concrete totem pole, which rises from the back of a giant turtle. A monument to Native American culture, Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park is one of the most impressive roadside attractions in the U.S. and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo by kb35

Photo by kb35

Blue Whale of Catoosa

Once the main attraction of an old waterpark, the smiling Blue Whale of Catoosa is now one of the most recognizable roadside attractions in America. The story of the Blue Whale began in the early 1970s, when a young entrepreneur by the name of Hugh Davis decided to transform his private pond into a waterpark. He spent $2,000 on 126 sacks of cement to build the funny Blue Whale, and presented it as a gift to his wife Zelta on their wedding anniversary. The Blue Whale of Catoosa quickly became a hit attraction and even after the water park closed in the 1980s, it was kept alive by the local community.

Photo by gregwest98

Photo by tydence

Cadillac Ranch

What started out as the artistic dream of an eccentric Texas millionaire has become one of the most popular tourist attractions along Route 66. Cadillac Ranch is the brainchild of millionaire Stanley Marsh and Ant Farm, an art collective from San Francisco. Marsh asked the artists of Ant Farm to come up with a unique creation for his ranch, just outside Amarillo. Art installations don’t get much more unique than ten Cadillacs buried head-down in the ground. Completed in 1974, Cadillac Ranch soon became a favorite stop for Route 66 road-trippers, many of whom started autographing the cars. The tradition is still alive today, and according to Marsh, Cadillac Ranch looks better every year.

Photo by davidw

Photo by mtsrs

Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch

What does one do with a collection of hundreds of plain colorful glass bottles? Most of us would probably recycle them at some point, but Elmer Long came up with a much better idea – he decided to build a Bottle Tree Ranch, right on his property in Helendale (Oro Grande). Elmer inherited the glass bottles from his father, who collected them on his many trips through the desert, and managed to turn them into veritable works of art by attaching them to iron trees. The over 200 bottle trees have turned Elmer Long’s ranch into one of the most impressive-looking roadside attractions on Route 66.

Photo by tobin

Wigwam Village Motel #6

While they could easily find more modern and comfortable hotels in Flagstaff, Arizona, people still travel to the Wigwam Village Motel #6 in Holbrook for the chance to spend the night in a wigwam. If you think these wigwams look a lot like tipis, you’re absolutely right. The founder was fonder of wigwam as a name however. The Wigwam Village Motel #6 is one of seven such motels built by Chester E. Lewis, and is made up of 15 concrete and steel structures, each 21 feet wide and 28 feet high. Complete with a museum of Route 66 memorabilia, Indian artifacts and a petrified wood collection, the Wigwam Village Motel #6 is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Photo by jbcurio

Photo by pictures_by_shuli

6 Comments for "5 Remarkable Route 66 Attractions"

Scott Piotrowski says on October 1st, 2010 at 4:58 am:

While I cannot argue any of your five locations chosen, I just want to know how you managed to limit it to just five?! In thinking of all the places that you had to leave out, this would have been an impossible decision for me!


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