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“Beautiful but mis-named”

Route 66 State Park
Ranked #3 of 14 things to do in Eureka
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Attraction details
Owner description: Travel through history on The Mother Road at Route 66 State Park. Route 66 captured Americans’ imagination and exposed millions of citizens to small towns and different cultures across the country. Sample a slice of that at Route 66 State Park’s visitor center, which has displays showcasing the road. The visitor center is the former Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse that sat on the original Route 66. The park’s location, close to metro St. Louis provides visitors with a quick getaway to nature. More than 40 types of birds have been identified in the park and picnic sites are sprinkled throughout the park.
Reviewed 29 January 2015

Most historic sites in Missouri are insulated by the passage of many years. The Route 66 State Park is an exception. This park was created on the land that was once Times Beach, which had dioxin exposure because of contaminated oil being sprayed on the dirt roads of the village for dust control. The site, along with Love Canal in New York, was one of the nation’s worst environmental disasters. As a result, the entire town of 2,000+ was relocated and the site remediated by the EPA in the 1980’s. There are still some remnants of the town – curbs, foundations, etc. – and it’s not unusual to have history buffs and joggers sharing the same space.

The park name evokes the past, although there are no obvious signs of Route 66 anywhere except for the visitor’s center, east of the park on the other side of the river.

Today the site is a park for biking or walking with lots of parking, picnic sites, clean rest rooms and a playground. It’s one of the few parks in the area that is almost exclusively flat, making it perfect for the non-competitive hiker or biker. The road on the main trail is a one-way loop, 2 miles long that is marked for cars in the center with bikers, hikers and joggers on either side in striped lanes. This is a very sensible way to allocate space and resources. There are plenty of deer and turkey in the park.

Entry into the park – as others have noted – is a little confusing. The park is on the North side of highway 44, west of the Meramec River. The approach is from Eastbound 44 from Highway 109 taking the Williams Road exit, about a mile east of the Highway 44 / Highway 109 intersection. This exit puts you on the South outer road which leads to the park entrance and the road the goes under the Highway 44 Bridge to the park. The Visitor Center is a separate location on the East side of the Meramec River, at the Lewis Road exit. The visitor center is a former roadhouse overlooking the Meramec River at the old Route 66 Bridge - which is no longer in use. All of the typical Route 66 trinkets, etc. are found at the visitor’s center.

The State Parks website: http://mostateparks.com/page/54997/general-information devotes only two sentences to the Times Beach dioxin history, almost as if the official Missouri guidelines prohibit the connection to the park and Times Beach. The rebranding of an historic environmental disaster into a fun, road-trip “route-66” experience is blatant. There is much more dignity viewing the natural beauty of this space with the sober reminder that we need to be careful with our environment rather than glossing over that little “disaster” thing while rushing to convey an image of pink poodle skirts and ’57 Chevy’s.

7  Thank TravelGuySTL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (70)
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"meramec river"
in 8 reviews
"bike ride"
in 4 reviews
"visitor center"
in 5 reviews
"gift shop"
in 8 reviews
"boat launch"
in 2 reviews
"nice restrooms"
in 2 reviews
"the mother road"
in 2 reviews
"great pictures"
in 2 reviews
"museum is free"
in 2 reviews
"memorabilia"
in 10 reviews
"dioxin"
in 5 reviews
"deer"
in 9 reviews
"souvenirs"
in 6 reviews
"visitors"
in 7 reviews
"missouri"
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"ranger"
in 4 reviews
"loop"
in 3 reviews
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Reviewed 27 August 2014

This museum in a refurbished Route 66 motor inn was excellent. Lots of interesting info & artifacts about the "Mother Road". Well stocked gift shop too. Staff was friendly & welcoming.

1  Thank John F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2014

If you can find the visitors center (97 N. Outer Road E #1-Exit 266 off of I-44W-continue on N. Outer Road-Do not bear right on Perimeter Road), this is a nice stop for everything Route 66. The visitors center (free, nice restrooms) is open from March through November and is a great place to walk down memory lane aka Route 66. A large map is in the lobby where you can see if your home city is "pinned". While we were there, two couples came in and pinned their countries: Sweden and New Zealand. The world is obscessing about Route 66 and this is a great place to do just that. Especially interesting were old newspaper clippings on Times Beach-the property that became Route 66 State Park. Lots of old historic memorabilia and photos from restaurants and motels that have sadly gone the way of the bulldozer. The gift shop has some great souvenirs and books, some of which are signed by their authors. Lots of pamplets about the area, and of course....Route 66. One that I picked up is on the Route 66 Association of Missouri. Their efforts go into preserving this piece of history as well as hosting the Annual Motor Tour. Check out their website: missouri66.org

2  Thank LifeWithNoRegrets
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 May 2014

As part of our Route 66 tour of America we stopped for a visit of this eponomous park. What a lovely place it is too. The visitor's centre in particular is well worth the visit. There is a neatly laid out Route 66 display and the shop is full of good Route 66 souvenirs. The park rangers were really nice and friendly and well-informed.

Thank Oakworthgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 May 2014

I'd made a note of the junction we needed off the interstate to visit here but we saw a sign for the exit earlier so we came off at that one and there was no signage. Using Google maps we managed to start heading the right way and realised we should have come of the original one. We followed the sign towards the state park, and pulled in to the first car park. It was completely empty and quiet apart from the noise of the interstate! We realised looking at the information board we were in the equestrian car park so we went back down the road a bit further. Saw a sign for restrooms so we followed that sign, but all the spaces were very long and we figured we were again in the wrong car park (we were in the boat one), so back in car, back again this time we went under the interstate, round a few roads and into another car park. This time there were paper maps and we used the map to walk up to the next area to guess what another car park. We walked a small bit of the trail and it was nice but there was nothing to do with Route 66, it just seemed a nice place to walk your dog. We got back in the car and left (on the way out we noticed the visitors centre is the next exit). From the other visitors photos I've seen I think if your doing Route 66 it's the visitors centre you need, otherwise it's just a nice walk (with noise of the interstate)

1  Thank manchesterLizard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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