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RVing on Route 66

 I’ve been a Route 66 enthusiast since the early 1990’s and have driven a portion of it every year since 1993, as it’s some 3 hours away from my central Indiana home. Throughout the years, I’ve exclusively driven Route 66 via car and stayed in motels, while never really giving campgrounds a second look.

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However, this year we decided to see Route 66 in a different light. Recently we hitched up our Shasta and took our 4 year old grandson on an RV trip along Route 66 to Amarillo, Texas. The trip encompassed some 8 camping nights at 7 different RV parks along the 1,000 mile journey to Amarillo, picking up Route 66 in St. Louis. This post is to provide some insight on how you too and comfortably RV on Route 66, as well as give an overview of the RV parks we stayed in along the way.

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Traveling the 80-85% of what’s left of US 66 in an RV, one needs to be prepared. For some, the challenge may be too much. But if you can come to terms with a few inconveniences such as maybe parking a few blocks away in a big parking lot in a small town to get to that “must stop” café or roadside attraction, you’ll find that little inconvenience is more than worth the trouble. Also, much of Route 66 can be a little bumpy and unforgiving. Afterall, there are many sections of 66 (especially western Oklahoma) that still uses the same 80+ year old Portland concrete that carried traffic when it was a commissioned highway. To aid in the adventure of traveling 66 by RV (or even just in your car), I highly suggest picking up a copy of Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers, available through Amazon and other online sources.

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Jerry does an excellent job of giving some important “RV Alerts” when a section of 66 may be difficult for an RV and should be avoided. Jerry has been documenting various alignments of Route 66 for over 30 years and is a well-respected “road scholar” and photographer. He’s also quite the accomplished artist as well. His art studio is in a house just about a block off Route 66 in Chandler, Oklahoma. Visitors are welcome to stop by (306 Manvel) and browse his artwork that’s for sale, have your EZ Guide signed, or even have a picture taken.

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My best advice if traveling 66 in an RV is to use your best judgment and don’t forget to pack your common sense before you pull out of the driveway. Route 66 is never far from an interstate, so if you find a section that is getting a little too rough, you can always jump on the super slab in a short amount of time.

Now to the meat of our trip! Just a couple of notes. All sites were pull throughs with full hookups. We also received a 10% discount at the KOAs by using our VKR  discount card, and 10% at non-KOAs by using our Good Sam membership card.

Night One: Route 66 KOA. Springfield, Missouri. Recently I gave a review of this KOA on the southwest side of Springfield, so I won’t go into too much more detail, as I covered it in this post here. Despite the nearby railroad that frequents a couple times an hour, this is a well run KOA, and strong supporters of Route 66. Cost: $42.15IMG_8565

 

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Night Two: Cross Trails RV Park, Sapulpa, Oklahoma (southwest Tulsa). Where, oh where to begin with this one? If you look through their website, it sounds like nothing but sunshine and roses:

Sapulpa’s newest RV Park located on 7 Scenic acres with all the amenities that you need to feel at home. We are located in the scenic hill country on the Southwest side of the Tulsa metro area. We use the Eaton Powerhouse Pedestal that has 50/30/20 Amp electrical plugs, TV cable jack as well sewer, trash and free WiFi internet access. Our clubhouse offers a Laundry Room, Showers , a Playground area for the kids, a Dog Park, Picnic Area and Storm Shelter.”

You’d feel at home there for sure…if your home was on the surface of the moon. Why they’re open is beyond me. It’s situated next to a storage unit atop a slight hill next to I-44 and Route 66. They’re new in the sense that they’ve started construction and decided to go ahead and “open” without being anywhere close to done. There are concrete pads and electrical posts with water, but most of the pads don’t have electric and they’re covered with construction materials. We were in phone communication with the owner on the way there, but upon arrival, no one was around to take our campsite fee. When we got back from dinner, we contacted the owner and were told his son would meet us by the dumpster to take our money. At this point it was dark and I was getting a bit nervous. Approaching the fence that separates the storage facility from the campground emerged the son, where I gave him my campsite fee through the fence. From there, he disappeared into the darkness. I’m still not sure if I was in a Breaking Bad or Twilight Zone episode.

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The advertised “clubhouse” was closed the entire time we were there, likely because it was still under construction. And the dump station didn’t look like it was usable, although we did have a full hookup site.

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I can’t say that once we got unhitched for the night we had a “bad” experience, although the place is a far cry from what the website portrays. But the whole thing was just…weird. I would suggest until they show any kind of progress in completing the place and having an actual staff on duty to avoid this place. And that’s putting it mildly. Cost: $30

Nights 3Elk City/Clinton KOA, Foss Oklahoma.  Due to some wicked 25 mph constant crosswinds, we had to make it a short day on the road. We pulled into the Elk City/Clinton KOA, situated about halfway between Elk City and Clinton Oklahoma. There’s not much thrill to this KOA compared to some, but that’s OK. We were greeted by a friendly staff and given our site number among some shady trees on this hot western Oklahoma afternoon. The park is the only thing there is at this interchange of Interstate 40. It’s a good overnight stop when you’re on the road looking for a place to pull over for the night. They do have a decent playground that kept my grandson content for the afternoon. Cost: $34.65

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Nights 4 & 5: Oasis RV Park, Amarillo, Texas. The Oasis RV Park was quite the extreme from our experience on Night 2 near Tulsa. Here there are 180+ sites with all level concrete pads with full hook-ups and multiple shower houses and laundry facilities. This park, just west of Cadillac Ranch on the south side of I-40 near the Arnot Road interchange, caters heavily to retirees. Even though our Shasta is practically new at just 6 months old, I felt a little out of place being nestled amongst $100,000+ motorhomes and high end fifth wheels. I didn’t mind though, as we felt safe and sound there. Amarillo is a GREAT place for RVers to stay. There are several good RV parks in town where you won’t have any worries. I narrowed our choice down to two, so I let my grandson pick based on the playground. It worked out well, as we stayed at the Oasis RV Park in….our Shasta Oasis. There’s a Love’s Truck Stop 1/2 mile up the road near the interchange, so that makes fueling up before hitching up a nice convenience. There’s a good photo op on the grounds as well with a motorhome buried nose-first into the Texas soil, which is a nice tribute to the park’s neighbor to the east, Cadillac Ranch. Amarillo is probably my favorite Route 66 town. When there, be sure to visit the Jack Sisemore RV Museum, located on the grounds of the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV dealership. It’s small, but they have an impressive display of RVs from several eras. Click here for more info. Cost for two nights: $65.70.

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Night 6: Twin Fountains RV Resort, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Much like the Oasis RV Park in Amarillo, the Twin Fountains RV Resort in Oklahoma City caters to a lot of retirees with high dollar rigs. This place was a fantastic stay, and we were sorry we were there for only one night. The grounds were well groomed and they offered a nice lodge with 24 hour laundry, swimming pool, miniature golf, and a few extra niceties like massages and a hot tub. The park is located next to I-44/I-35 on the near southeast side of OKC, just north of Remington Park. I can’t say enough good things about this place. We look forward to heading back there sooner rather than later. Cost: $40.05 

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Night 7: Joplin KOA, Joplin, Missouri. Our 2nd to last night on our trip was at the KOA in Joplin, Missouri next to the interchange of MO-43 and I-44. Like the KOA between Elk City and Clinton, Oklahoma, this KOA is geared towards overnight stops. However, I give HIGH marks to the staff here. Any shortcomings at the facility are quickly washed away with the great staff at this park. They went out of their way to offer us any assistance we needed. The park was clean, although surprisingly sparse on the Friday night we stayed there. Someone who saw a picture of our campsite suggested we were parked in a drive-in movie lot instead of a campsite. They have a really nice playground here, but the big draw for my grandson was the fish pond. Stocked with perch, carp, and monster catfish, the office has free fish food you can take out under the shade of the gazebo and feed the fish and ducks who also patrol the grounds. I score this with HIGH marks just for this feature alone. Cost: $38.60

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Night 8: St. Louis West – Historic US 66 KOA , Eureka, Missouri. This was our final stop on our trip. We had stayed here in 2013 and it left a positive enough impression on us to stay here again. Unlike the Joplin KOA, this one was heavily activity oriented. We had a prime spot next to the pool, with Route 66 in front of us. There was a bounce house for the kids, and Sunday morning they offered t-shirt coloring for the kids as well. Again, no complaints this trip either. This KOA offers a lot of good sites for tent camping, has several Kamping Kabins, and even has a nice pavilion, where a wedding reception happened to be taking place the night of our arrival. There’s also a real caboose near the front of the park that you can sleep in for the night as well. With a well stocked shop filled with a good variety of Route 66 souvenirs, this is one of the better places for anyone RVing on Route 66 to stay when in the St. Louis area. Cost: $44.76

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We found traveling Route 66 with an RV to be a really fun experience…one that we weren’t sure about when we left home. What we found out is that there is a good amount of RV parks out there along the shoulders of 66 that eagerly cater to those specifically traveling Route 66, just as those who are out there discovering 66 via car and staying in motels. And we found some of those RVers ourselves, as I encountered several RVs at some of the parks that were sporting Route 66 license plates or decals affixed to their RV. But this trip also gave us the luxury of staying in our own bed each night, while still moving to a new place each day.

If you’re doing your own research on RV travel on Route 66 and contemplating your own journey, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’ll give you a new way to explore Route 66 with all the comforts of home.

If you have any questions on RVing on Route 66, please leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail: pat@smalltrailerenthusiast.com

 

 

 

 

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