It shouldn’t take me three months to write a blog post about dog friendly Route 66 travel, but sometimes I just can’t get started, or motivated, or in a storytelling mood. That’s ok though, because summer is too hot for you to be road tripping with your dog through Oklahoma and Texas. We had birthday luck the first week of June.
September is actually the perfect time to be reading this post and making your dog friendly fall getaway plans. Just don’t plan too much. If you’re inflexible with your schedule, you’ll miss something. I really can’t stress that enough.
That being said, let’s revisit some lessons learned from our previous Route 66 dog friendly road trip:
Tips For Traveling Route 66 With Your Dog
- Call ahead to make sure hotels and attractions are dog-friendly.
- Go in the Spring or the Fall. KS, MO, OK, and TX are HOT June through August.
- Take cash or checks. Some roadside places don’t take debit or credit.
- Allow time for missed turns, bad weather, and interesting people.
- Give yourself and your pooch rest days in dog friendly places.
- Get the book EZ 66 Guide For Travelers by Jerry McClanahan.
My first dog friendly Route 66 road trip with Henri was much more of an adventure than this one. By “adventure,” I mean missed turns, tornado warnings, and really cheesy stops. I’m looking at you Uranus. That’s because I didn’t have the EZ Guide or the benefit of experience.
If you are in the planning stages of your Route 66 road trip, step #1 is to get this book. It won’t tell you where the dog friendly stops are- that’s what I’m doing- but it will save your navigational hide and maybe your sanity.
Once you have your book, turn to Oklahoma page 16. Mark this. It says, “…visit Artist/ EZ Guide creator, Jerry McClanahan’s McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery.” Do it. The phone number is right there. Call and plan a visit. The book is a travel guide, but Mr. Jerry, its author, has stories. He’ll also autograph your book.
Oklahoma Route 66 With Your Dog
We picked up our dog friendly Route 66 adventure where we ended last time, The Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK. The gift shop was open so we snagged an official Oklahoma US 66 Passport and a stamp.
You don’t really need a passport, but it’s fun to have. We didn’t get a passport in Missouri, so our first Route 66 stamp is located in my leather-bound travel journal. It’s from the dog friendly Boots Court Motel in Carthage, MO. It still stands as one my favorite experiences on the road thus far.
“It’s futile to resist change, man.”- Fillmore, from Disney’s Cars
Mr. Jerry informed us that The Boots is under new management since our visit in 2019, and I’m a little saddened by that. I guess change is part of the road, but the hospitality of Debbie Dee isn’t likely to be replaceable.
Dog Friendly Things To Do On Route 66 In Tulsa
Another tip I have for your Route 66 expedition is: get a road trip buddy without fur. It really helps to have someone reading the book while another person drives. That being said, Catoosa to Tulsa didn’t require a bunch of fancy navigation. We were at our hotel in less than two hours.
The dog friendly Campbell Hotel is located inside a restored 1927 building. It features original hardwood floors, and vintage suitcases found throughout the building prior to remodel adorn the lobby walls. Traveling during the week made it easy to snag the Route 66 themed suite. It’s tastefully decorated with art from the road- including vintage metal signs in the bathroom. A feather-bed mattress topper, large tub, and shower with dual heads make this room extra comfy.
The downstairs bar and lounge area is pet friendly, and there is green space on the east side of the parking lot that is perfect for potty duties. The pet deposit is $25 per night.
You’ll get your neon fix right on 11th Street beginning with the glowing Campbell Hotel sign that marks the street-side entrance to the hotel. About a mile down the road (I suggest you drive), you’ll find more neon at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios. Visit this dog friendly gift shop inside a 1950s PEMCO gas station during the day to grab your Route 66 memorabilia and a fresh bowl of water for your pup. Return after dark to witness the eerie glow cast on a 21 ft. Space Cowboy. Across the street from Buck’s is the Meadow Gold milk sign built in 1934. The original building was demolished in 2004, but the sign was preserved and relocated to this Route 66 location. Details of the sign’s history are provided on plaques located in the pavilion beneath the sign.
For dog friendly dining on Route 66, check out Tally’s Good Food Cafe. It’s only 5 minutes from the Campbell and features a pretty extensive menu of American fare. You can continue to fuel your neon obsession with the interior decor, or enjoy the dog friendly patio with special bowls for your furry friend.
For after dinner fun and to keep things retro, make plans to visit the Admiral Twin Drive-In. Located just off Route 66, they’ve been showing movies since 1951. Francis Ford Coppola used the venue to film the drive-in movie scene in The Outsiders. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Noted in the EZ Guide are a couple of Tulsa side trips: the Blue Dome gas station, the Blue Dome District, and the Gilcrease Museum. From previous trip experience, I can tell you the Gilcrease has five themed gardens and 23 dog friendly acres you can explore with your pup. In the Blue Dome District, your pooch can join you in the dog friendly beer garden at Fassler Hall for German-inspired food.
On your way out of Tulsa you may be tempted to stop at the Cyrus Avery Bridge for a photo op on the 66 Arch over the road. I’m going to suggest that you skip it. The stairs smell of human urine. Until the planned visitor’s center is built and things are cleaned up a bit, consider this a “drive-by” location.
There are actually lots of those on this road trip. Many things aren’t dog friendly, and depending on your interests or time constraints, some things aren’t worth a stop. We got a later start out of Tulsa than we anticipated and though gunning for Amarillo by nightfall, I’ve learned to make allowances for “Oh my gosh! Pullover!” Our next stop wasn’t planned until lunch. Plans change.
Eat At Rock Cafe With Your Dog
By the time we made Stoud, we were getting hangry. We pulled into a gas station across the street from a roadside restaurant and noticed the Disney Cars. There was also a patio. Rock Cafe hadn’t been on our radar because we were planning to grab lunch at Pops.
I knew Pops had an outdoor eating area that was dog friendly. What I didn’t know until we got there was, due to staffing shortages, there was no outside service. This is fine if you’re traveling with a friend or family, but it isn’t a great option if you’re traveling alone. I gave Rock Cafe a call.
Not only are dogs welcome on the patio, when I poked my head inside to let someone know we were there, they invited us to sit in the dining room. I made it clear that Henri was NOT a service dog, but they assured me that if he was well-behaved it would be fine. Our service was prompt and friendly, with water and scratchies for Henri. Looking at the menu, I commented about missing the previous day’s special- meatloaf. Upon hearing my lament, the manager poked her head into the kitchen. Turns out there were two servings left. Meatloaf is always better the second day!
Eating at Rock Cafe is like eating at Grandma’s. The family dog is allowed to park himself discreetly beneath the kitchen table, and the secret to delicious cooking is a well-seasoned skillet. Their secret is 75 year old Betsy, a 4×2 Wolfe grill.
Be sure you stop here. You’ll be asked to sign the guest book, and if you use the restroom, you can write on the wall. If you go in the evening (the last table is seated at 7:30), be sure to snap a photo of the neon sign.
Meet Jerry McClanahan At His Dog Friendly Gallery
With our bellies full, we were back on the road west. Our next stop was Chandler, OK., home of EZ Guide author, Jerry McClanahan. “Drops-ins are welcome anytime,” along with a phone number to call, is an invitation. Jerry answered. He was available and his gallery is dog friendly.
I loved our visit with this personable icon of the Mother Road, and appreciate him welcoming us into his gallery. He signed my book, pet my dog, and I bought some art, but the best part was chatting with him about his experiences. His love affair with the road began as child, traveling from California to Arkansas with his Dad. He knows this road’s history. He’s met her people. He’s documented her story through art. He knows how to call the Hogs. He makes me smile.
Make time for this stop.
Stop At Pops 66 With Your Pooch
Our next planned stop was Arcadia, but before you get there, take a pause in Luther, OK. for gas at the Dollar General. Yes! You read that correctly, Dollar General. I had no idea they sold gas. If you get a gas card from the store, you’ll save $0.03. Waiting until you get to Pop’s to purchase gas will cost you extra. It was $0.50 higher on our trip.
Boasting “food, fuel, and fizz,” Pops 66 is an iconic landmark on Route 66. You can’t miss the 66 foot soda bottle. I suspect you can see it from quite a distance in the evening as it shows off its multi-color LED lights. With a full-service restaurant, adjacent dog-friendly patio with lots of green space, and enough soda and candy for a diabetic coma, this a great place to stretch your legs and break up the monotony of the road. It’s the perfect stop for folks traveling with kids and/ or dogs.
Visit Dog Friendly Oklahoma City
While the state capitol boasts it’s own oil wells and offers tours (which I’m guessing are not pet dog friendly), we breezed through Oklahoma City without a stop. If you’d like to plan a stay in OKC with your dog and want the scoop, you can check-out our weekend stay at 21C. It’s unrelated to the Mother Road, but there’s a dog park and a food truck park that you’ll want to visit with your pooch.
Our visit with Mr. Jerry led us to Route 66 Park just west of OKC. It’s mentioned in the book as a side trip, but without his suggestion, we wouldn’t have stopped there. If you’re traveling with kids or dogs, file this under “good places to stretch.” The restored and reopened Lake Overholser Bridge is cool to drive, but the real treat for restless travelers in this lovely park. It’s a beautiful green space with a big pond, playground, trails, and (locked) public restrooms. Porta-potties are available, but they were pretty gross. Personally, I think they should add a dog park, but it’s still a great place for a potty stop, a leg stretch, or a longer, bring-your-own picnic lunch.
At this point, we were still 3.5 hours from Amarillo, which is laughable in “Route Time.” We weren’t making Cadillac Ranch before sunset, or having dinner at the Big Texan as planned.
Remember what Sally said, “The road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land; it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time. The drove on it to have a great time.”
Not making Amarillo by nightfall turned out to be a great reward for travels thus far. I suggest you screw up your schedule accordingly so as not to miss the glorious neon (it’s really LED) at the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, TX.
Dog Friendly Stops On Route 66 Texas
Built in 1936, Tower Station and U-Drop Inn are still an icon of Route 66. Once a gas station and cafe, the art deco building now belongs to the city of Shamrock, TX and serves as a museum, visitors’ center, gift shop, and the city’s chamber of commerce. While you can no longer purchase gas at the Tower Station, you can charge your Tesla.
During the day, dogs are allowed in the museum and gift shop, but not the cafe. The visitors’ center closes at 5 p.m. The LED lights, designed to mimic the vintage neon, come on at dark.
Dog Friendly Amarillo
Since Route 66 parallels 40 all the way to Amarillo and it was dark, we decided to make the drive easy on ourselves. We cheated and took the interstate. I’m not sorry. We still didn’t make our hotel until almost 11:00 p.m.
Home2Suites by Hilton is a dog friendly hotel located right next to the Big Texan. They allow up to two pets (dogs and cats only) per room with no weight limit, and charge a $50 pet fee for 1-4 nights, and a $75 pet fee for stays of 5 nights or more. The Big Texan is also pet friendly, but they only had a second floor room available. I didn’t want to make Henri do stairs everyday, so we booked the Home2. Elevators are an old dog’s friend, and I don’t think we missed anything by not staying at the Big Texan.
Day one in Amarillo began with brunch. Since Henri didn’t seem too eager to get moving, I didn’t feel bad about leaving him alone in our room to go to Butterlove Biscuits. Unfortunately, they don’t have a patio, but I love a good brunch and the menu looked amazing.
The made from scratch biscuits are as big as my hand, and the mimosa flight is brunch beverage perfection. Forwarning: Butterlove is a very popular spot, and they do not take reservations. The line was almost out the door, but the order-at-the-counter format moves things along quickly. There was no deliberating for me. I had the Hissy Fit– a biscuit with jalapeno pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, bacon, arugula, and a secret sauce. Once your food is ordered, you’ll be given a number to display at your table for delivery. Adult beverages are ordered separately at the bar and handed right to you.
Taking Your Dog To Cadillac Ranch
After brunch, I picked Henri up from the hotel and set off for a day of adventure. First stop: Cadillac Ranch. Dogs and graffiti! What could be better?!
As it turns out, a lot of things. It was cool to take some photos after spray painting Henri’s name on a car, but overall it was just “Meh.” I’m not saying don’t do it. If you have kids, you should definitely do it. If you’re short on time, you can skip it. These cars were never located on Route 66 and still aren’t.
Since Cadillac Ranch is outdoors, dogs are welcome. However, I encourage you to use caution. This might not be the best spot for your pooch.
At three o’clock in the afternoon with a temp in the high 70s, the ground was pretty warm. Even after a morning rain, the dirt was dry and hot. There is no shade, and Henri heated up quickly in the Texas sun. The plowing of the adjacent field combined with the dust and wind really did a number on my allergies. People also leave trash- empty paint cans, lids, plastic pieces- all over the ground. You’ll need to keep an eye on curious, mouthy pups.
As my well-traveled Mema used to say, “We don’t have to do that again!” For those of you who do plan to do this, I have a few suggestions:
Tips For Visiting Cadillac Ranch With Your Dog
- Take your own spray paint (less expensive) and some rubber gloves.
- Take water for both you and your pup.
- Go in the morning and be sure to check the ground temp before allowing your dog to accompany you.
- Consider using paw wax to protect your pups pads.
- If you have a dog prone to eating everything on the ground, be ready to use that “Leave-it” command.
You can rejoin Route 66 from either road that leads to Cadillac Ranch, and since we were trying to catch sunset at Palo Duro, we had some time to kill. We made our way to the Historic Route 66 District west of downtown.
The historic district is listed in the EZ Guide as a “DON’T MISS.” I respectfully disagree. Drive it as part of the tour, but there isn’t much reason to get out of the car. Since my book is copyrighted 2019, pre-pandemic, I’m guessing 2020 took its toll on the district.
Many of the buildings and shops are empty. Those that are not, have bars on the windows giving the area a fairly gritty vibe. As we were parking, we watched a homeless man climb out of a dumpster. We did walk a bit and meander into some shops, but overall there wasn’t much to do or see. Hopefully, now that we are post-pandemic, the area will make a comeback. It certainly looks like they’re trying.
Hiking Palo Duro Canyon With Your Dog
Palo Duro Canyon– the Grand Canyon of Texas- is the second largest canyon in the Untied States, and is absolutely worth the detour on your Route 66 journey. This is my “Don’t miss!” recommendation. In fact, Palo Duro is worth its own trip, sans Route 66.
This was the only part of our trip that was scheduled. I wanted to be in Palo Duro Canyon on my birthday and I didn’t want to get turned away if the park was full. Visit the website to make your $8 per person online reservation. It is also a great resource for all park activities and trail closures.
Because of Henri’s age (15 1/2) and bad knees, we didn’t plan any hiking. Instead, we opted to drive the 16 mi loop through the canyon, taking advantage of overlooks. The view from just about every spot is spectacular!
For those that want to hike Palo Duro with a dog, you’ll be happy to know that every trail in Palo Duro is dog friendly. The park map will tell you distance and difficulty. If you’d like to stay for sunset, what I assume is amazing stargazing, or spend a few days exploring, on-site overnight camping is available.
When you visit Palo Duro with your dog make sure you check surface temperatures before hiking. That packed red clay can get very hot. Leashes are required on the canyon trails, but for your dog’s own safety, you need it. I suggest a regular 6 ft leash and NOT a retractable one. Drop-offs and wildlife (rattlesnakes) could make this a dangerous journey for boisterous or too-curious pups.
Dog Friendly Dining at the Big Texan
While the Big Texan is no longer located on Route 66, you’ll still find the western atmosphere and famous 72 oz steak featured at its new location off I-40. You can’t miss it as the 60 foot neon cowboy still marks the spot. They are dog friendly in the beer garden, but due to staffing issues, there wasn’t any table service in that area.
In all honesty, I’m not sure your dog wants to go anyway. Since Henri was tired, I opted to leave him in the room, and I’m glad I did. Family friendly and very touristy, I found the place to be a little over-stimulating. It reminded me a lot of Fudpuckers in Destin, just a different theme. I was thrilled when they sat us upstairs off the main floor. Our seating overlooked the 72 oz steak eating challenge table, and his hype-woman was very entertaining.
Our service was excellent, but the food was just OK. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy a meal, this is not it.
Day two in Amarillo should have led us to Adrian, the geographical midpoint of the whole route. It was supposed to be our last stop on this leg of our dog friendly Route 66 travels. Located about an hour west of Amarillo, I at least wanted the photo op at the midpoint marker. Alas, I was distracted by the College World Series and the fact that my Diamond Hogs were playing in OKC on the day of our departure. We woke up Saturday morning, snagged togo biscuits from Butterlove, and high-tailed it east hoping to make the game and score some tickets. I forgot all about Adrian, so Amarillo is where this piece of our journey ended.
During football season, we only travel on or between away game weekends. So it isn’t likely that we’ll see Adrian soon. Besides, the next piece of Route 66 I want to drive is Chicago (the starting point) to Carthage, MO where my love affair with this road really began. I think a dog friendly weekend in Chicago is a great way to kick off that trip. Late spring ought to keep us from freezing to death.
To keep up with our adventures, both home and away, follow us on Instagram or Facebook. If you’d like learn more about dog friendly Route 66 travels, you can check out my previous posts here and here, and/or peep my Route 66 Insta highlights. For information on working together to help your dog become a better travel partner, visit www.LoveTrustTeach.com.
I’d love to hear from you!