Actually, I just received an e-mail from Passport America stating that winter camping in central Illinois is as active as summer camping in that neck of the woods. Can't say personally, but then, never tried it.
I wouldn't say that camping along US 66 in IL is "as active as summer" as a lot of the campgrounds are closed during the winter, usully about Nov 1. Some are still open but you really should call ahead first. Maybe Passport campgrounds are "active as summer" but I wouldn't want to bet on it either to roll in after dark thinking the campground was open.
I live a few miles from what was Rt. 66. From Chicago to at least Springfield, I don't think what is left is worth seeing. Just my opinion. South of Springfield I don't know, but I would bet it's about the same as here.
edit to add:
Oh, it sounded like the OP wanted advice about the feasibility of using a Class C on the route between Chicago and St. Louis. I would say it's no problem at all. You might not want to start right at the beginning in Chicago, wherever that beginning might be. I doubt if any of that stretch still exists anyway, per my comments above.
As someone else mentioned (once you are down to Gardner, IL) from there south it's pretty much the frontage road for I-55. There are a few restored businesses and such on the route, but I don't think it lives up to the expectations. A restored gas station (closed, not operating), a drive in burger place, a barn with Visit Meramec Caverns painted on it, that type of thing. Probably some Burma Shave signs somewhere.
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edited 12/16/11 08:44am by Snowman9000 *
Get Jerry McClanahan's "EZ66 Guide for Travelers."
It has the details on how to find the different Route 66 alignments (in many places the 50's route was not the same as the 30's route), how to get to the various sections from modern highways, and what parts can be driven continuously, what parts are just dead-end access roads, and what is not even drivable.
In western Illinois particularly, the 1926-1930's alignment is quite different from the last alignment marked as US-66, and routing through larger cities was changed as the cities grew. The road running closest to the Interstate is usually the 50's-60's alignment.
Plenty of information also about what there is to see, and history.
This guide is lay-flat spiral binding, organized geographically along the route. My wife finds it real easy to follow our progress and find the points of interest.
My experience following 66 in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and eastern New Mexico has been three hour drives on the Interstate turn into two-three day drives on 66, unless one ignores all stops. Then it only takes twice as long.
Driving a C? Should be no problem if you stay away from the dead ends. It was all US numbered highway, with grades, clearances and weight limits in the 60's for 40-ton trucks eight feet wide. If you stick to the 50's-60's route, it will somewhat depend on your comfort driving rough roads and staying within 10-12 foot lanes (versus the 14-foot and wider lanes on the rural Interstate system). There are some 20's - 30's remnants with pavement less than 12 feet total width, but these aren't open for through traffic.
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As Tom indicated above, Jerry McClanahan's EZ 66 Guide is a MUST HAVE for traveling the entire route from Chicago to Santa Monica. And unlike what some have said, upwards of 80-85% of the original roadbed across the nation is still intact & drivable and many of the same businesses from the route's heyday are still going strong. We took Route 66 as our honeymoon in 2002 and took it from St. Louis to Needles before we had to head home. Regardless of the opinions of some, there is still plenty to see along 66. The fact that your wheels are on the most famous highway in the country (if not the world) is enough to "see" in my book. It's a 2400 mile museum to the culture of America. One read of the book "Route 66: The Mother Road" by Michael Wallis will realize that 66 to this day is alive & well. OK, off my soapbox. ;-)
Also, Route 66 News has a section on there listing campgrounds along the entire stretch of 66. Some are right on 66, others within a few miles: http://route66news.com/campgrounds/
Having driven the Illinois section of 66 more times than I could ever remember, I really can't think of any of the main alignments that would get you in trouble with a Class C. However, I'd contact Jerry just to verify. He's a good guy and has been documenting every Route 66 alignment that ever existed since the early 1980's. He's one heck of a 66 artist and photographer as well! http://mcjerry66.com
As for campgrounds, we've not camped on 66, but it is high on our list of things to do this coming season. There are some KOA's along the route (or near it), as well as some independent RV parks. One we checked out last year was Kamper Kompanion in Litchfield. Basic looking overnight-type stop, but looked clean. Also, there's a little one north of Lincoln (can't think of the name of it) that also looked like a worthy place to stay.
The wife and I took 7 months travelling from CT to Chicago and took as much of the original Route 66 (Although it doesn't "formally" exist)as we possibly could ending on the pier in Santa Monica, CA. We then headed South and then headed East roughly following I-10 to FL. Made it back to CT in March of this year. We had a ball! We not only did Rt 66, but took some awesome side trips, including Lincoln's Tomb and Museum, the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and on and on. We found many city campgrounds, some even free with hookups. There are many state campgrounds along the way. Once we made it out west, you could stay pretty much anywhere in the desert as it was BLM land. We stayed at WalMarts, Home Depots, Cracker Barrels, Flying J's, Lowe's, VFW's, American Legions and many other places of business that are RV friendly.
Do your research on the web and if you want, PM me on what guides we used. There was only one problem we encountered and that was travelling to Oatman, AZ. We should have bypassed that part and took I-40. Going over that mountain pass got my wife a bit excited the higher we went. LOL When we got to Oatman, the locals were pretty surprised that we made the trip with our 30' Class C towing a Tracker.
I would do it again in a heartbeat. We met a lot of very interesting people from all over the world doing Route 66, including bicyclists from France, an older couple doing Route 66 in a 66 Merc convertible, a Vet doing it in a wheelchair, and many more. The wife kept a daily journal and we took over 5,000 pictures that we are still editing.
PM me and I can give you a few tips. There are many exciting adventures that can be had on 66 even though it no longer exists. Some of it is well marked and you will get lost trying to find the parts that are not so well marked, but in the end, you will have many precious memories.
Off to See the Lizard
'99 Four Winds 30' Class C
'97 GEO Tracker
'63 Honda 305 Dream
I-55 follows the general route of old Rt.66 but some of the original hwy. goes through some of the small towns along the way. There are a lot of small drive ins and restaurants that are still decorated in the old Rt.66 theme. There is an rv park at Chatham just south of Springfield Il. that we use for our state rally. The KOA just west of Springfield Mo. is called the Rt.66 KOA, it is just off I-44.