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Route 66 - Western Missouri

Road Trip

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Alamy/Ivan Kmit
197.6 miles: 4 hours, 42 minutes
Route 66 winds through productive farm country, offering plenty of bucolic scenery along the way. Long before the Mother Road was built, however, Jesse James and his gang traveled Missouri’s trails and byways, robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains—a crime spree that gave one of the state’s most infamous native sons legendary status following his death in 1882.
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Alamy/Ken Howard
Joplin to Springfield
89.7 miles: 2 hours, 2 minutes
From Kansas, Route 66 enters Missouri by way of Joplin. The city’s turn-of-the-20th-century mining history is vibrantly reflected in a Thomas Hart Benton mural that hangs in City Hall. Joplin is also resilience personified, recovering from a devastating tornado in 2011. In Carthage, look for the vintage Art Deco-style Boots Court Motel, a Mother Road landmark.
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Springfield to St. Robert
107.9 miles: 2 hours, 39 minutes
One of southwestern Missouri’s geological features you'll see along the highway are bare rock outcrops that often jut out from hillsides (locals call them balds). In and around Lebanon, Route 66 landmarks like Wrinks Market once catered to auto travelers; most are no longer in business, although you can still spend the night at the vintage Munger Moss Motel.