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Route 66 in California

Historic Route 66 in California: crosses the southern part of California through the Mojave Desert and the Cajon Pass, from the Colorado River by Needles, to Los Angeles and Santa Monica, on the Pacific Ocean. Learn more about the "Golden State", its history, Sights & Attractions, landmarks and Towns along U.S. 66. as well as places to stay during your road trip across California.

State of California, CA

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About California

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Area: 163,696 sq. mi. (423.970 km2). Population: 38,802,500 (2014 est.).
Width: 250 mi. (400 km). Length 770 mi. (1.240 km)
Time zone (along U.S. 66 alignment): Pacific (PST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).

  • Nickname: "The Golden State"
  • Motto: "Eureka"
  • Capital: Sacramento
  • Highest point: Mount Whitney 15,505 ft. (4.421 m)
  • Most populous state in America.
  • Third largest state in the U.S., after Alaska and Texas.
  • Admitted as the 31st state of the Union on September 9, 1850
  • Route 66 length in Texas is 318 miles (511 km).
Name: California

Chivalry novels were popular in Spain during the 1400s and 1500s. One of them mentioned a mythical island located on the western coast of the Indies, named California after its Queen, Calafia.

The book ("Las Sergas de Espladian"), "The Adventures of Espladian" was written in 1510 by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo.

By the way, Patagonia in Argentina also derived its name from a character of a chivalry novel (Patagón).

Strangely enough, California appeared on a map drawn by Michiel Coljn, of Amsterdam, as an island for the first time in 1622.

History of California

Human beings have been living in California for at least 10,000 years. It had over 70 different Native American groups during the historical period.

The Spanish sailed along its coasts in 1542 and incorporated it to the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain (current Mexico). In 1769 Spanish missionaries established towns around their missions, which would later develop into modern cities like Los Angeles (which in Spanish means: "The Angels") and San Diego ("St. James).

Route 66 in California

US 66 in Arizona
Route 66 Victorville to Barstow, California.

Mexico retained California after its independence from Spain in 1821, but a growing inflow of American settlers, miners and trappers would create unrest and revolts during the 1830s and 40s. The 1846 rebellion led to the creation of the California Republic and after the Mexican American War (1848), the area was ceded to the U.S.

It joined the Union in 1850 as a slave-free state. The transcontinental railroad linked it to the rest of the nation in 1869.

California, its Geography

The northern two thirds of the state are cut by the California Central Valley running parallel to the coast and bound on the west by coastal mountains and on the east by, from north to south, the Cascade Range, the sierra Nevada (Spanish for "Snowed Mountains") and the Tehachapi Mountains.

The southern third of the state (crossed by Route 66) is a relatively flat 1000 - 2000 ft. high arid area (The Mojave Desert), bound on the east by the Colorado River, and on the west by the Sierra Madre, San Rafael, San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains.

To the north lies the depression of Death Valley and to the south another depression with the salt water Salton Sea Lake in the Colorado Desert.

California has a relatively high Earthquake risk: the San Andreas Fault passes through Cajon Pass next to U.S. 66's alignment between San Bernardino and Victorville.

California's Climate

A state with such an extension and topography has different climate zones. The Southern part, where U.S. 66 crosses the state, has a Mediterranean Climate, cooler and less extreme along the Pacific coast, more continental and extreme further inland.

The coastal mountains block humidity from reaching the interior and create the deserts east of them. There summers are hot and winters are cold. Death Valley has the record of highest temperature in the world (134°F - 57°C).

Rainfall is limited in the Mojave Desert. July temperatures can range from the 105 to 75°F (40 - 24°C) in summer to 60 - 40°F (15 to 4°C).

A phenomenon known as the Mexican Monsoon or "Southwest Monsoon" funnels moisture from the Ocean (The Pacific and also the Gulf of Mexico) into the desert region of the Southwest causing strong thunderstorms with intense downpour over the mountains.

Tornadoes are extremely unlikely in this area.

Thunderstorm looming over the Mojave

Summer thunderstorm over the Mojave, California
Summer thunderstorm over the Mojave California.
By

Cities

Los Angeles (Pop. 3,884,307) and San Diego (Pop. 1,355,896) are the largest cities. Greater Los Angeles Area is the second-largest urban area in the U.S. with 18 Million inhabitants in 2011. Eight of the top 50 cities in the US are located in California.

Around 2.15 Million people live along Route 66's corridor through California.

Culture

Californian Culture is a blend of Western US and Hispanic influences. It is often evoked as a land of freedom, a paradise along the Pacific coast, a high-tech, young society. The land of Hollywood, Disneyland and open-minded San Francisco.

Where to Stay in California

US 66 California Shield

Accommodation in California

The towns along Route 66 offer different lodging options. Check out hotels and motels in the main towns.

Towns listed from East to West

Near Needles...

>> Book your Hotel in California

Check out RV and Motorhome Parks & Campgrounds in California.

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Book your Hotel along Route 66 in California

Map of Route 66 through California

Interactive Route 66 map in CA

See our California Route 66 map, with the location of each town, and links on the map that give full details on attracions, sights, Route 66 icons and more.

Towns located on Route 66 in California

From East to West

Click on the links below for complete information on each town and village

List of Route 66 Towns in California from East to West:

Choose the town for full details...

California

Alphabetical list of Towns

Route 66 itinerary across California

Route 66 logo

Detailed description of the alignment of U.S. 66 through California, from East to West:

California

California ¦ Arizona ¦ New Mexico ¦ Texas ¦ Oklahoma ¦ Kansas ¦ Missouri Illinois

Route 66 in California

Current mileage: 318 mi.

Route 66 crosses California from the Colorado River to the Pacific coast, from Needles to Santa Monica through the Mojave Desert and Los Angeles.

Full description of Route 66 across California from Santa Monica to Needles with its sights, attractions and landmarks. "Get your kicks" in sunny California.

Kelso Dunes in Mohave Preserve California

Kelso Dunes in Mohave Preserve California, "Mike" Michael L. Baird

We will start in the middle of the bridge on I-40, over the Colorado River, (mile zero), at the Arizona state line.

The original Route 66 Bridge is the steel arch bridge just south of I-40. It is a Historic Bridge, and it appears in the movie "Grapes of Wrath".

You are entering the driest part of the trip, the Mojave Desert region, which was the toughest on both drivers and vehicles in the old-days. Keep on I-40, which turns north, towards Needles.

Leave I-40 at Exit 148, (6 mi.) turn west and then north along Five Mile Road, and then north along U.S. 95, pass under I-40 (at Exit 144) and enter Needles.

Needles

Amboy Crater, Amboy, California

Amboy Crater, Amboy, California, Public Domain

Visit the Historic Place El Garces. Go through the town (13 miles) and follow Broadway St. (US 66), follow it, and take a left at Needles Highway, pass under I-40 and keep north, the road (River Road) crosses I-40 again (Exit 141 - 16 mi.), follow the fork to the left along the National Trails Highway and return to I-40 at Exit 139 (18 miles).

Goffs

At Exit 133, (24 mi.) go north along U.S. 95 towards Goffs, then (30 miles) take a left along Highway 66. The road goes by Goffs (45 mi.) and curves to the Southwest.

Roy's Cafe & Motel, Amboy, California

Roy's Cafe & Motel, Amboy, California, Photographersnature

Route 66 reaches I-40 at Fenner by Exit 107 (55 mi.). Keep South as the road goes on to meet the National Trails Highway with the post-1931 alignment south of I-40, heading with a Southwest course passing by Essex (visit the Wayside Cafe), Danby and Chambless (see the old Store, Cabins and Store there), finally reaching Amboy (94 miles) after crossing the desert with mountains to the north and south.

Amboy

See the vintage Roy's Motel and Café. The dark cinder cone of Amboy Crater is to the south of Route 66 next to the small town. The road skirts its lava field and turns Northwest passing by the ghost towns of Bagdad The driest spot in the USA and Siberia and reaching I-40 at Exit 50 at Ludlow (122 miles).

Ludlow

At Ludlow, pass under the Interstate and take a left along the north frontage road (National Trails Highway) towards the west.

Bagdad Cafe, Newberry Springs, California

Bagdad Cafe, Newberry Springs, California, Vicente Villamón

Route 66 crosses to the south side of I-40, then crosses the railroad, and keeps westwards along the south side of I-40. West of the access to Exit 23 it passes by Bagdad Cafe, and reaches Newberry Springs, where it crosses I-40 at Exit 18 (154 mi.).

Follow the road along the north side of I-40 passing through Dagget (166 miles). When you reach Nebo St. you must take a left to return to I-40 (168 mi.) because although US 66 keep on straight, it enters a Marine Base.

Access I-40 via Exit 5 and just after the Base exit again (Exit 2 - 171 miles), pass under I-40 and take East Main St. towards the West, along the south side of I-40, entering Barstow (173 mi.).

Barstow

Both Barstow and San Bernardino are named in the song Route Sixty-six (Get your kicks...).

At Exit 1, follow Main St. to the north of I-40, cross I-15 and keep west. Visit the Harvey House Railroad Depot, a Historic Place with its two Museums.

The road arches round Barstow, crosses CA hwy 58 and takes a Southwesterly course.

Route 66 (National Trails Highway) will pass through small towns of Lenwood (179 miles), Hodge, Helendale (197 mi.), with its Polly Gas sign and Oro Grande (site of the Iron Hog biker stop) (205 miles).

The Torches Motel, Barstow, California

The Torches Motel, Barstow, California , Highsmith, Carol M.

It becomes North D St. and passes under I-15 at Exit 153, entering Victorville (210 mi.).

Victorville

Take a right onto Seventh St. southwards and at Exit 150 join I-15 southwards.

I-15 and the old alignment of Route 66 take a sharp curve towards the south through San Bernardino National Forest. You can take Exit 129 (234 miles) and follow Cajon Boulevard, on the west side of I-15. At Exit 124, Kenwood Ave. enter I-15 and keep to the left, along I-215 towards San Bernardino. After the interchange of I-15 with I-215 keep right and exit again, onto Cajon Blvd. (242 mi.) which will take you into San Bernardino.

San Bernardino

Landmarks

The Post-1930s alignment followed Kendall St. and then south along North E. St. until W. 5th St. where it turned west again.

It was on N. E St. that McDonald's opened their first Hamburger store

Also visit the Wigwam Village #7, a Historic Site and one of the two surviving Wigwam hotels along U.S. 66.

Cajon Blvd. turns into Mount Vernon Ave. take it south until W. 5th St. and take a right (252 miles) . At Lytle Wash Creek it becomes Foothill Blvd. (CA 66).

The road goes through Rialto, Fontana (259 mi.) and Rancho Cucamonga (268 miles) with a westerly direction.

It keeps on west through a chain of towns: Upland, Claremont (275 mi.) , and then takes a NW course at La Verne, crossing CA 210 and going through San Dimas and Glendora (284 miles).

After Azusa it becomes Huntington Dr. through Irwindale, Duarte and Monrovia (with its historical Aztec Hotel), crosses I-210 (Exit 33 - 294 mi.) and keeps on westwards through Arcadia ( there is another town with the same name in Oklahoma) until it becomes Colorado Blvd., on the south of Sierra Madre, through Lamanda Park and into Pasadena (302 mi.).

Aerial view of Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California

Aerial view of Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California, Highsmith, Carol M.

Pasadena

There are several sites in Pasadena that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Foothill Boulevard Milestone, Howard Motor Company Building, Colorado Street Bridge, Bekins Storage Co. and the Rialto Theatre (which is in South Pasadena on an older alignment of Route 66); there are several US 66 alignments from Pasadena into Los Angeles: the original 1926 one that ended in downtown Los Angeles, later 1930-40s variants through Northeast Los Angeles, and the late 1940s ⁄ 50s road which we describe below:

Route 66 into Los Angeles

See all the Route 66 alignments in L.A.

In downtown Pasadena turn left onto Arroyo Parkway southwards which becomes CA 110 and in South Pasadena turns west as Arroyo Seco Parkway (which is a Historical Place). It passes on the north side of Montecito Heights, and right in front of the Dodger Stadium and take Exit onto US 101 N, (right - 311 miles), this is the Hollywood Freeway.

At Exit 7, leave US 101 towards Santa Monica Blvd. (315 miles) and take a left along Santa Monica Blvd. (CA 2) Here you will meet the 1930s and 40s alignment again.

Hollywood

The Boulevard takes you through the heart of Hollywood and West Hollywood famous for its Sunset Strip, and then it takes a southwesterly direction through Beverly Hills and passes under I-405 (325 mi.).

Santa Monica

Terminus

Original US 66 ended in downtown Los Angeles (1926) it was later moved to the Pacific Coast Highway (then US 101 Alternate) which is current SR 1, in Santa Monica, California.

It heads towards the sea, through Santa Monica. Where it used to end, on Lincoln and Olympic Blvd. in the 30's and 40's.

But don't turn left on Lincoln Blvd. Keep straight ahead to its western terminus, on Ocean Avenue, 0.3 miles north of the Santa Monica Pier. End of Route 66. (396 miles).

There is plaque at Ocean Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. that dedicates US 66 as the Will Rogers Highway.

Sources

Image, Image by Hig hsmith, Carol M., Library of Congress, the Highsmit h (Carol M.) Archive Collection; Public Domain

Image by Photographersnature under its CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Image by "Mike" Michael L. Baird under its CC BY 2.0 License.

Image, Public Domain

Image by Vicente Villamón under its CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

Image by Joyradost under its CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License.