a grey and white pit bull type dog standing on a boulder in the desert, with a grene dinosaur statue in the background

Route 66 is (mostly) pit bull-friendly!

If you follow us on instagram know that I returned last week from a short tour of the desert southwest portion of Route 66. I flew to Vegas, piled into an SUV with Sophie Duncan & her pack @thedogempire and we hit the road to Dallas.

2 grey pit bulls and a golden dachschund dog in the back of an SUV

@thedogempire pack, ready for the road! photo credit: fit4apit 2013

What a trip! I-40/Route 66 is Instagramland. You’ll see other-worldly desert landscapes and eerie, crumbling relics from the mid-20th century…most of the small towns you drive through look as if there was some kind of mass exodus in 1962. The route is dotted with quirky neon signs, dinosaur statues, tepee-themed structures and all sorts of other goofy stuff to look at—a veritable graveyard of 50s and 60s Americana.

This really is a trip that has appeal for people of all ages, as there are plenty of fully functional motels, restaurants & attractions to keep everyone rested, fed and entertained along the way. We were particularly pleased & surprised to find that it’s also a great trip to take with pit bulls! Several motels on Route 66 are not only dog-friendly but also have no breed restrictions… and because so many of the sights are outdoors, you can take it all in with your pups at your side. 

Amazingly, we discovered that Route 66 is (mostly) pit bull friendly!

Here’s a starter list of hotels/motels along Route 66 that accept pit bull-type dogs. Most have some sort of pet deposit but it’s often only $10 and with the room rates already much lower than chain hotel prices, it’s still a steal. **Be aware that many of these are VINTAGE motels in nearly every sense of the word. Decor is often original, may be a bit weathered and amenities are extremely basic. But if you’re travelling route 66 just to see The Mother Road, you’re probably doing it to take a step back in time anyway…the general consensus is that these hotels are clean and basic, good for 1 night stays. (I mean, some of the rooms are in tepees…come on). Don’t expect the Ritz and you won’t be disappointed! (If you want to get a sense of what you’re in for, just google the name and check images first, like we did). 

Wigwam Village Motel Holbrook, AZ

A woman and her grey pit bull dog standing in front of a concrete teepee

                                  Sophie & Stan in front of our teepee, photo credit: fit4apit 2013

We stayed there last weekend with 2 pit bulls & a dachshund. The room was bigger than you’d expect a room inside a tepee to be. (the whole cultural appropriation thing made us a little squirmy but hey, it was built in the 50s and it brings tourist money to the area, so we give it a pass). The room had vintage decor, fairly comfy beds and was a little worn but clean. Gravel areas around the hotel were good for late-night potty break. Awesome donut shop by I-40. Trains run beside the hotel, so it can get a little noisy but our room's AC unit drowned most of it out. 

Historic Route 66 Motel Tucumcari, NM 

Also stayed here last weekend. A real mid century gem complete with wood panelling, vintage furniture, comfy mattresses, good shower and an attached espresso cafe. Tucumcari is amazing to look at and I wish we could go back in time and see what it was like in the glory days.

A grey pit bull and a golden dachschund snuggle on a bed together

Charlotte and Daisy, wpied out from a long day. photo credit: fit4apit 2013

We didn't stay at these hotels but reception at each hotel said they are dog friendly with no restrictions:

The Canyon Motel Williams, AZ

La Posada Winslow, AZ

El Rancho Hotel Gallup, NM

Wigwam Motel San Bernadino, CA (more tepees!)

The Big Texan Amarillo, TX (we made reservations here but ended up getting off-schedule and missed it. Crazy little Western-themed place with false-front buildings and a legendary and ridiculous 72 oz steak)

The Saga Motor Hotel Pasadena, CA

Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba, MO

Inkeeper Motel Hamel, IL

Campbell Hotel Tulsa, OK (no breed restrictions but they have a weight limit of 50 lbs

Desert Hills Motel Tulsa, OK (the general policy is no dogs but they will make an exception for well-trained dogs, one-night stay only)

Route 66 Motel Barstow, CA (They seem to have a vague dog policy but it is up to the discretion of the manager…when I was asked “what breed?” and I answered “mixed breed (which is true!), friendly, well-trained” I was told that I could bring them along, no problem. Book at your own risk).


Some cities and counties along your route may have breed-specific legislation and this could potentially affect you--even as a non-resident, interstate traveller. For instance, if you take I-40/route 66 through NM, you'll have to pass through Tijeras, NM, which was the very first city in America to enact a breed ban back in 1984. Their law states that any pit bull-type dog found within city limits can legally be taken from you, impounded and potentially euthanized...just for looking a certain way. There are no alternate roads along this route that allows you to bypass the village so whatever you do, don’t speed and try harder than ever before not to get in an accident during that 4-mile stretch of highway!

Luckily, most of the time you can avoid driving through cities with BSL by first planning your route using Animal Farm foundation’s BSL map and then using Waze  to re-route you around the city or county with BSL. It is ridiculous that I even have to write these instructions and that we even have to think about this when we travel with our dogs. 

Don't let it deter you from taking your dogs on the road, though! With a little research and planning ahead of time, you can have a lot of fun taking them on vacation with you and you'll make some great memories. It's truly worth all the fuss!

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