Drive Cross Country on US Route 6

What’s the longest Federal Highway in the USA?  US Route 20. What’s the SECOND longest (and longest CONTIGUOUS) highway?  US 6! 

Map of USA with Route 6 in Red from Massachusetts to California

US Route 6 History

The historic highway, also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, is now 3,205 miles long.

Before 1964, when California renumbered its roads, and Route 6 ran coast to coast from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Long Beach, California, Route 6 was the longest highway in the land – at 3,652 miles.

Now, driving US Route 6 will bring you through 14 states and some of the best small towns and cities in America that, before establishing the Interstate Highway system, had their moments in the sun.

Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach CA
The RMS Queen Mary served as a luxury cruise ship with the Cunard Line from 1936 to 1967. Since retirement, the Queen Mary has been docked in Long Beach, CA, where she is a one-of-a-kind historic hotel.

U.S. Route 6 Terminus

Historic Route 6 begins and ends in flamboyant, artsy, touristy, entertainment-rich Oceanside towns.  Provincetown, MA, in Cape Cod, on the Atlantic Ocean, draws playwrights, gay activists, and many tourists every summer. 

Long Beach, CA, on the Pacific Ocean, an outer borough of Los Angeles, is rich in the glitz of a similar sort.

What To Expect On US 6

What’s in between is a virtual timeline of American history. Revolutionary War sites in New England give way to pioneer homes in the plains and prairies of Iowa and Nebraska. And then eventually to the stark silver and gold mining camps in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California.

On its way across the United States, Route 6 travels through two towns called Brooklyn, and neither is in New York. 

It touches two oceans, runs along the shore of one Great Lake (Erie), crosses most of the country’s major rivers, traverses five state capitals, and climbs, exhilaratingly, up and over the Continental Divide.

It meanders through land both barren and lush.

US 6 takes you from the Technicolor gardens and forests of the East Coast to the sepia tones of the Western desert through some of the friendliest cities and towns in our country’s midsection. 

Most are not tourist destinations. You’d likely never know about them except that they are on what was once the main cross-country route.

Sign at Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide with Rocky Mountains in the background.
At the summit of Loveland Pass, take a photo of the Continental Divide plaque–the highest point of Route 6 at 11,990 feet above sea level. It’s the best view of the Rocky Mountains.

But for road-trippers, that’s part of the joy of discovery. In many of these locales, inhabitants welcome strangers with open arms, introducing travelers to the best places where they eat and shop.

Plan Six Weeks On US Route 6

To do the whole route justice, plan to spend at least six weeks on the road.  Of course, you might be tempted to idle in resort areas and larger cities, which will extend your trip. 

If you’re in a rush (besides the point of a two-lane highway trip), you can drive in half the time by picking and choosing what is most important to you.

You can also break up the journey into the following segments (designed to begin and end in cities with accessible airports).

Brown US Route 6 Sign stating Bishop, CA 3,205 Miles Long Beach, CA 3652 Miles

US Route 6 Itineraries

Provincetown, MA (see our Provincetown MA travel guide here) to Cleveland, OH

775 Miles

Covers the Atlantic Ocean, National Seashore, beach towns, whaling, commercial fishing industry. And, Revolutionary War history, Hudson River, Pennsylvania lakes and forests, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Owner of only perfumery in the US with operations under one roof standing in her factory

Cleveland, OH to Omaha, NE

800 Miles

Lake Erie, Cedar Point Amusement Park, Farms, Annie Oakley Perfumery,   I&M Canal, Land of Lincoln, Hogs Soy and Corn, UNESCO “City of Literature” (Iowa City), John Deere, Mississippi River, Missouri River, Durham Museum, Old Market, Boys Town.

Way, way off the interstate in Iowa - White Pole Road formerly US Route 6

Omaha, NE to Denver, CO

550 Miles

Lincoln State Capitol Building, Nation’s Breadbasket, Grain Elevators and Silos Galore, Farmland, Oregon Trail, Sophisticated “Cowtown,” Wonderful Westernaires, Foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Young horse riders in setting sun at the foothill of the Rocky Mountains

Denver/Golden, CO to Spanish Fork/Provo, UT

500 Miles

Miller/Coors Plant Tours, Buffalo Bill Grave, Continental Divide, Gold and Silver Mining, Hot Springs, Mountain Climbing and Recreation, Colorado National Monument, Desert Outposts, Dinosaur Digs.

Stuffed and mounted elk with cigarette in mouth - Major's Place, Nevada

Spanish Fork, UT to Long Beach, CA

850 Miles

Basin/Range, Trilobites, Gambling Halls, Queen of the Silver Mines, Area 51, Eastern Sierra Mountains, Desert, Dust Storms, WWII Interment Camps, Aerospace, Film Sets, Hollywood.

Find It In The US Route 6 Book

For a more comprehensive, Mile By Mile Guide to all 3,652 Transcontinental miles Route 6, BUY THE BOOK HERE.


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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14 thoughts on “Drive Cross Country on US Route 6”

  1. This looks like an incredible experience! It was great to meet you at TBEX today & hear about it first-hand!

  2. Hi Adam – Yes, my cross-country Route 6 trip brought me to many great “Fly-Over” states. They will be fly-over no more! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  3. Pingback: Lincoln Highway - New York to San Francisco Or Bust | Albany Kid
  4. It is a dream of mine at age of 65 to travel cross country to see all the free sights I am able to.

  5. We love to fuss over cross country travelers on Route 6. If you are truly crossing the USA on 6 let me buy you a cup of coffee at the Red Rose Diner, 526 Main Street, Towanda, Pa 18848

  6. I live in Long Beach, and as far as I know, there is only one plaque marking the western terminus of U.S. Route 6. It is located on the South side of Ocean Blvd at the intersection with Long Beach Blvd. It is sadly forgotten through most of California.

  7. I found it, covered with foliage, when I was there in 2011. It was put up in 1953 and sadly forgotten. Thanks for commenting. Malerie

  8. i will be taking rte 6 from province rhode island,to cleveland ohio,i wonder if that will put me in the thousand mile book,as i drove from erie pa to province rhode island. and come aug first,i will do the rte 6 escape to cleveland ohio

  9. Taking the Route 6 trip July 1st. From California back to Provincetown. Hope to share our experience with you all.

  10. I grew up in a small town in Nebraska and always wondered if I could go back home taking the scenic route of hwy 6 because now I live in Toledo Ohio

  11. I live in Lincoln, NE. Its always a great place to come back to! I love it after being gone for awhile.. that’s when I love where im from the most 🙂

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