Route 66 GPS and Navigation

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Choosing the Right GPS

Take a detour down memory lane on Route 66. It's been immortalized in films, songs, books, and - now - in GPS Maps. There are several great segments of the original route John Steinbeck called "the Mother Road," and in-between there's always the interstate. The path to adventure traveled by Tod and Buz in their red Corvette on the namesake 1960's TV series still exists - you just might need a little help finding it with your GPS.

If you are making an effort to follow every inch of the old road that still exists, it is almost impossible unless you have a GPS hooked into mapping software. GPS will aid you in backtracking and correcting yourself when you make those wrong turns. Those of you who believe in belts and suspenders can still also carry the state and local paper maps with you as just-in-case backups.

GPS is short for global positioning system which is a satellite based location system. A GPS radio receiver will show your position in latitude, longitude and altitude. It's an electronic mapping device.

Watch the video to discover how GPS works and check out GPS For Dummies which offers down-to-earth guidance for those who own or are thinking of buying a GPS receiver.


  1. Mapping Capabilities of the GPS Unit
  2. Reception & Accuracy of the GPS Unit
  3. Power of the GPS Unit
  4. Durability of the GPS Unit
  5. Capacity of the GPS Unit
Yahoo! Autos

Handheld or Automobile?

Handheld GPS Units: Plus

  • Easily portable for use in a variety of settings (hiking, biking, driving, boating, etc.)
  • Available in many shapes and sizes, including ultra-compact and lightweight pocket size
  • Most are highly durable, waterproof, and shockproof
  • Can operate off a cigarette lighter or on batteries (20 hour battery life is standard)
  • Comes with optional accessories for securing to the windshield or dashboard
  • User friendly; quick and easy to learn
  • Most popular among hikers, bikers, and kayakers
  • Generally less expensive
  • Can be easily operated with one hand

Handheld GPS Units: Minus

  • Small screens can be more difficult to read, especially while driving
  • Small buttons are harder for large fingers to manipulate
  • Some of the best features (altimeter, compass, illuminated screens, mapping features) tend to decrease battery life
  • Less powerful mapping capabilities
  • Typically less sophisticated than dash-mounted units; fewer bells and whistles
  • Poorer screen resolution
  • Reception tends to be weaker in heavily wooded areas
  • Less popular for vehicular use
  • Most have no swivel mount to rotate the display screen in your vehicle

Recommended Handheld GPS Devices

Most popular GPS devices updated hourly! Which GPS should you buy? The most popular handheld models can be found at GPS BestSellers from Amazon.

Automobile GPS Units: Plus

  • Larger screens are easy to read at a glance
  • Some automatically recalculate your route if you deviate from the planned route
  • Larger buttons for ease of operation while driving
  • Unit can remain securely in your vehicle
  • Some have voice instructions that communicate distance, name of streets, and direction of the next turn automatically
  • No batteries needed
  • Address search capabilities
  • Better screen resolution
  • Some have a personal address book to store locations for fast and easy lookup
  • Advanced mapping capabilities
  • Reception tends to be better in heavily wooded areas
  • Most popular for vehicular use

Automobile GPS Units: Minus

  • Not as portable or easy to remove from your vehicle for use in other situations (hiking, boating, etc.)
  • Larger size takes up space in/on dashboard
  • Least popular among hikers, bikers, and kayakers
  • Tend to be more expensive

Recommended Automobile GPS Devices

Most popular GPS devices updated hourly! Which GPS should you buy? The most popular vehicle models can be found at GPS Vehicle Bestsellers from Amazon.

Turn Your Laptop Into a Personal Navigator

The Garmin GPS 18 Deluxe GPS Sensor with nRoute and City Select Navigation Software (USB Interface) will turn a laptop into a fully functional talking GPS navigation unit for your car, "auto GPS on the cheap". It will provide almost all the functions of a dedicated GPS unit: route finding for all North America, spoken directions, points of interest, even route recalculation when you take a wrong turn. The Garmin GPS 18 GPS Sensor sells for less than a c-note!

A Xantrex Technologies XPower Micro 175-Watt Inverter will provide sufficient power to your laptop.

Download Free Route 66 GPS Maps

The map data requires the use of GPS devices or mapping programs.

GPS map (right click-save as) in GPX eXchange format (GPX is a standard file format for the free exchange GPS data between GPS software, mapping programs, and other services on the Internet). EasyGPS software will open and transfer waypoint and route data in GPX format to your Garmin, Magellan, or Lowrance GPS receiver.

GPS map (right click-save as) in DMT Street Atlas format.

GPS maps (right click-save as) in TPO National Geographic format. Eight waypoints files - one for each state. Compressed using the standard ZIP format.

List of free route planning tools. Where those driving directions really come from is about the modern mapmakers who tally, track and measure every road in America.

Download free Route 66 maps, GPS data and software from Travel by GPS and TopoGrafix.

Google Earth Community maps many of the towns on Route 66.

Recommended GPS capable software

Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS is the customizable trip planning software that helps you get accurate directions, easily explore new areas, and find the services (food, fuel, comfort stops) you want and need along the way. Over 1.6 million points of interest such as ATMs, hotels, landmarks, and more. Enhanced Keyword search helps you quickly find nearby business and POIs immediately. Customizable trip planning options allow you to plan stops, scenic detours, and more. Navigation Mode lets you estimate drive time before you leave your house. Includes sleek USB GPS receiver.

GPS on Verizon Droid Smartphone

Droid, a Motorola phone offerd by Verzion, is the first smart phone to run Android 2.0 which in turn runs Google Maps Navigation. Google Maps Navigation is a free mapping application that calls out turn-by-turn directions while providing a variety of visual guides, including satellite imagery and high-resolution photos of the streets being traveled in places where they are available. There are toggleable layers (show/hide traffic, satellite views, Wikipedia entries, and transit lines). Destinations can be found through voice commands or by typing in an address. Google plans to make it compatible with other systems and devices, including the iPhone and the BlackBerry.

GPS on Nokia Smartphones

All new Nokia GPS-enabled smartphones include the new version of Ovi Maps, pre-loaded with local country map data, with walk and drive navigation and access to Lonely Planet and Michelin travel guides at no extra charge. Ovi Maps includes navigable maps for over 70 countries worldwide.

Mobile 7 package. Navigate in the US and Canada from door to door on your Nokia Series 60 smartphone. The package includes a memory card, software, maps, memory card reader/writer, Bluetooth GPS receiver, route66 lanyard, in-car charger for receiver and a universal car mount for your smartphone.

AAA GeoKicks on Route 66

Geocaching (pronounced jee-oh-cashing) is a fun family activity that uses your detective and navigation skills to track down treasure. To play this high-tech outdoor game, you'll need an electronic GPS unit. Traditional cache's contain prizes.