Road Trip: Route 66 through Pulaski County, Missouri

Sandstone bluffs…Devil’s Elbow…W.H. Croaker. We’ve driven almost all of the Mother Road over the years. I can’t believe we missed exploring Route 66 through Pulaski County, Missouri, especially since we drive through Missouri often. When we finally made it to Pulaski County this summer, we followed the auto tour that the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau laid out in a brochure. The route is filled with natural beauty, remnants of Route 66 treasures, and one quirky road side attraction.

We actually stumbled upon Pulaski County a couple of years ago. We were on our way down to southern Missouri and got off the interstate to take a slower, more leisurely route for a while. Little did we know how slow it would end up being! It happened to be the day of the Waynesville High School homecoming parade, and we got caught by a parade roadblock. We tried going up and down different streets to no avail. But we saw so many interesting things that we knew we had to return.

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So return we did. We spent three days in Pulaski County. We kayaked the Gasconade River, played Pitch & Putt golf, and visited nearby Fort Leonard Wood to catch an antique military vehicle convoy that came through town. Then we drove Route 66 from one end of the county to the other. The auto tour begins on Highway Z, the I-44 Exit 169. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Hooker

Hooker Church and graveyard - Route 66
Our first stop was the Hooker Church and graveyard, which dates back to the early 1900s.
Hooker Cut - Missouri Route 66
At one time Hooker Cut was said to be the deepest road cut in the United States.

Side trip to Piney Beach Cabins

Piney Beach Cabins along Route 66 in Pulaski County Missouri
Following the auto tour guide, we turned off of Route 66 to head to the Piney Beach Cabins. The cabins are constructed of “giraffe rock.” We often see cabins and homes built of this rock throughout the Ozarks, but rarely anywhere else. Giraffe rock was apparently popular in 1940s construction. The cabins, which suffered damage in a spring “hundred year flood” are being restored.

Devil’s Elbow

Devil's Elbow, Route 66, Pulaski County Missouri
The Elbow Inn, located in the unincorporated community of Devil’s Elbow, also suffered damage in the spring flood but was open again when we visited in September.
Big Piney River, Devil's Elbow in Pulaski County Missouri
We turned off Route 66 onto Temporal Road to get a closeup look at the sharp bend in the Big Piney River. The bend and a large boulder lodged in the bend earned the area the name “Devil’s Elbow” by early loggers, as logjams often occurred here.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - trestle bridge
The U.S. Army constructed this 40′ trestle bridge during the construction of Fort Leonard Wood in 1941.
Route 66 through Pulaski County at Devil's Elbow
Back on Route 66, we crossed the Big Piney River on this 1923 steel truss bridge.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - Shelden's Market and Post Office in Devil's Elbow
Shelden’s Market and Post Office was also still recovering from the spring flood during our visit.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - scenic overlook at Devil's Elbow
A scenic overlook offers a gorgeous view of the valley at Devil’s Elbow.

Saint Robert

You may want to spend some time in Saint Robert. Saint Robert served as our base during our Pulaski County visit. The city offers many restaurant options, including several ethnic foods. We ate two meals here.

Missouri Avenue Food Park, Saint Robert MO
The Missouri Avenue Food Park gave us a choice of three options: S.W.A.T. for various sandwiches and soups; Mobile Thai Kitchen, and Brothers BBQ. We couldn’t pass up the HUGE Big Brother Sandwich, made up of pulled pork, beef brisket and a hot link. The sandwich is so large that it was plenty for us to split.
The Hub German Restaurant in Saint Robert, Missouri
One evening for dinner we dined at The Hub German Restaurant. The schnitzel was so large and the spaetzle so plentiful we took half of it with us and ate it for lunch the next day. We discovered it’s good cold, too!
Route 66 through Pulaski County - water tower
We originally snapped this photo because our young granddaughter likes to find water towers that are different, and we thought she’d enjoy this. However, our auto tour brochure explained there is significance to the three legs. Each leg points in the direction of one of the three rivers in Pulaski County: Big Piney, Gasconade, and Roubidoux.
Military Tribute Rocks and Freedom Rock, Saint Robert MO
Saint Robert unveiled the city’s Freedom Rock (top photos) just weeks before our visit. Artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II painted the mural and plans to paint a Freedom Rock in each of the 50 states. The Freedom Rock joined  existing Military Tribute rocks.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - tank
A USMC M-60 Tank stands in George M. Reed Roadside Park.

Fort Leonard Wood

It isn’t surprising that Saint Robert has several military tributes, since Fort Leonard Wood is located only two miles away.

Antique military vehicle convoy along Route 66 at Fort Leonard Wood
During our visit, an antique military vehicle convoy traveling Route 66 stopped at Fort Leonard Wood for an evening. The event was open to the public.
Army Engineer Museum, Fort Leonard Wood
While we were on the Army base, we toured the United States Army Engineer Museum.

Waynesville

Route 66 through Pulaski County - W H Croaker
Back on Route 66 headed toward Waynesville, W. H. Croaker sits high on a hillside. (W. H. stands for Waynesville Hill.) A local tattoo artist painted the rock when residents noticed it resembles a frog. Fort Leonard Wood military groups maintain it.
Pulaski County Museum, Waynesville MO
Waynesville is the Pulaski County seat. The old courthouse, built in 1903, now houses the Pulaski County museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed during our visit.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - Old Stagecoach Stop
When you pick up your auto tour guide from the Pulaski County Visitors Center, be sure to also pick up a Waynesville Walking Tour guide to help you identify historic buildings in Waynesville, like the Old Stagecoach Stop, shown above.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - Waynesville
Take some time in Waynesville to browse shops or grab a bite to eat. We had a glass of wine and a burger one evening at Cellar 66. We also ate sandwiches for lunch at Nona’s Kitchen.
Trail of Tears Memorial at Roubidoux Springs
Roubidoux Springs was the site of a Cherokee encampment during their forced migration from their homes in the east to Oklahoma. A Trail of Tears Memorial in Laughlin Park consists of several boards along a concrete path through the park.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - Roubidoux Springs
The spring water looked refreshing on the hot day we visited. In fact, a handful of swimmers were enjoying the cool, clear water.

Route 66 to the county line

Idumea Church and Graveyard
Idumea Church and graveyard. The first building was constructed in 1876. A more modern church building is adjacent.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - Spring Valley Court
Spring Valley Court had four cabins and a shower house. Today, unfortunately, the buildings are crumbling and overgrown with weeds.
Route 66 through Pulaski County - Gasozark Cafe
Our last photo of Route 66 through Pulaski County was the former Gasozark Cafe. 

If you take the Route 66 auto tour through Pulaski County

You can download the Historic Auto brochure here or pick up a copy at the Pulaski County Visitors Center located at 137 Saint Robert Boulevard in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Accomodations

We stayed at the Baymont Inn and Suite in Saint Robert during our visit to Pulaski County. Check rates here.

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Route 66 Pulaski County

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Disclosures: The Pulaski County Tourism Bureau hosted our visit to the area. However, all opinions in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “Check rates here” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

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6 thoughts on “Road Trip: Route 66 through Pulaski County, Missouri

    • November 13, 2017 at 7:53 am
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      Pulaski County does have some of the most scenic parts of Route 66 in the Midwest.

      Reply
  • November 13, 2017 at 7:01 am
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    My travel bucket list includes driving Route 66 (well, what’s left of it) from Illinois to California. This does such an amazing job of showing one slice of the experience!

    Reply
    • November 13, 2017 at 7:52 am
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      Thank you! We have a couple of small stretches left that we somehow skipped over the years. We had planned to do it all at one time a couple of years ago, but to see everything would take at least three weeks.

      Reply
  • November 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm
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    There is literally SO much to see on Route 66! I done it in just under 3 weeks back in 2011, so had to skip parts! We stopped in Devil’s Elbow so saw the Elbow Inn and the steel bridge but I don’t remember seeing any of the other bits! Really interesting read!

    Reply
    • November 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm
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      You’re right that there is SO much to see on Route 66, especially when you get into some of the cities. You really could take months doing the route if you wanted to see and do everything.

      Reply

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