Pulaski County, Missouri, is centrally located along Interstate 44, approximately 2½ hours west of St. Louis and 2½ hours east of Joplin. This corridor is also known for Historic Route 66 and Pulaski County proudly features 33 miles of the Mother Road’s scenic beauty.
“Pulaski County, Missouri, is part of the Ozarks region and provides stunning vista views of the Ozark rolling hills and bluffs along scenic riverways,” said Beth Wiles, executive director at the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau. “Our area is most known for our 33 miles of Route 66 with over 50 stops; gentle river float trips along the Big Piney and Gasconade rivers; and Fort Leonard Wood, the premier installation for military training.”
The bureau can assist tour operators with personalized itinerary building, connecting with area businesses and obtaining bids. Wiles said her team can also help develop unique mystery tour itineraries for daylong or several day trips.
“Our central location in Missouri makes for the perfect Route 66 Hub-and-Spoke option,” Wiles added. “Choose one of our comfortable hotels as your basecamp for the trip and venture to the east on Route 66 the first day, spend the second day along Pulaski’s 33 miles and on the third day, explore to the west.”
Groups will love exploring these Route 66 stops in Pulaski County.
In the scenic Ozark community of Devils Elbow, visitors witness 200-foot-tall limestone bluffs and the Big Piney River. The community’s centerpiece is the 1923 steel truss bridge, part of the Devils Elbow Historic District, designated by the National Register of Historic Places.
Wiles said the bridge is a popular group photo opportunity, as is the infamous Elbow Inn and Devils Elbow Café.
“The Elbow Inn and Devils Elbow Café are not operational but are highly photographed and a very popular stop for groups of all types,” Wiles said.
Wiles describes a visit to Uranus, Missouri, as an “out-of-this-world, hilarious experience.” The attraction includes a fudge factory, sideshow museum, ice cream shop, miniature golf and more. The quirky Uranus Sideshow Museum holds the second-largest personal collection of oddities in the world and features 100 exhibits. Another photo op is the 22-foot-tall Muffler Man “Mega Mayor” statue, a fiberglass likeness of Uranus, Missouri, owner and self-proclaimed mayor Louie Keen. Motorcoach parking and restrooms are available.
Groups will enjoy the easy walkability of downtown Waynesville, which offers boutiques, restaurants and museums.
“Group dining is available by appointment at Hopper’s Pub, or the area is conducive to free-roam restaurant choices and gathering at the Roubidoux outdoor seating area,” Wiles said. “Groups gather for photos at the 8-foot Route 66 Shield and at the interactive canoe mural. A historic walking tour pamphlet is also available to find the hidden gems throughout the downtown area.”
Also in Waynesville, the Trail of Tears Memorial, situated alongside the Roubidoux, is an open-air museum and 1-mile concrete walking trail with historic story boards. The memorial pays tribute to the Cherokee Encampment along the Roubidoux River.
“Groups may choose to stop at any time or schedule a meet-and-greet guide to share the story of this National Park Service area,” Wiles said.
The Old Stagecoach Stop House Museum, a National Historic Site, shares the story of the historic building, which began as a log cabin and later served as a stagecoach stop, inn and apartments, and Civil War hospital.
“Tour guides dress in period costume and share the history of this unique building,” Wiles said. “The 12 rooms showcase Ozark history from the 1800s to 1970.”
During the construction of the Fort Leonard Wood military installation, businesses and residences sprang up in an area the locals nicknamed Eastville. In 1951, Eastville was incorporated as Saint Robert, which is now a thriving commercial center. Visitors will find tributes throughout the city to U.S. servicemen and women.
“With our diverse community, due to being the home to the military installation, Fort Leonard Wood, you will find we are a warm and patriotic community,” Wiles said.
In 2023, the city will debut the new Route 66 Neon Park.
“This open air-museum will feature vintage neon signage that has been restored and displayed in the George M. Reed Roadside Park,” Wiles said. “The park is easily accessible from both the east and westbound side of Route 66 near the Route 66/Missouri Avenue intersection with plenty of room for motorcoach parking.”
For more information about Pulaski County’s tour bus friendly communities visit tourpulaskicounty.com.