About Amboy California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 615 ft (188 m). Population 5 (2005).
Time zone changes when you cross the California - Arizona state line. Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Amboy is a very small unincorporated community, in central-western San Bernardino County, in southeastern California, on "old Route 66", which here is named "Old National Trails Highway". (Map of Amboy).
Amboy: Roy's Cafe and Motel
The History of Amboy, California
Visit our Needles web page to learn more about the early history of this area.
Pursuing its goal of reaching Los Angeles, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad - A& P (later acquired by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe RR) bought the line a competitor, the Southern Pacific RR in 1884. This line linked Needles on the Colorado River with Barstow in the west.
The A&P built a station and named it Amboy a name which followed an alphabetical sequence all the way to Needles. However, as you can see belwo there were some exceptions, because the sidings were given other names (shown below between brackets)
Amboy, (Saltus), (Altura), Bengal - also Bristol, Cadiz, (Siam), Danby, (Arimo), Essex, Fenner, (Piute), Goffs, Homer, (Bannock), Ibis, (Klinefelter), Java, Khartoum.
Therefore Amboy was the first of the sequence, with the letter "A". It owed its existence to the mining wealth of the salt flats located to the south of town because water was briny and had to be brought in by railcar.
The name: Amboy
Amboy may derive from the town of Perth Amboy in New Jersey, settled in 1690 where the Amboy part of the name is a Delawere Indians place name "Embolink" or "Emboli" or "hollow on the inside" as the place resembled a bowl, a low basin surrounded by hills.
Starting in the late 1800s, the gypsum was dug out of the soil, from pits and sent by a small railway to the Pacific Cement Plaster Co.'s mill at Amboy where it was processed for use as wall plaster. That and the mines in the mountains were Amboy's source of income. The plant closed for good in 1924.
The National Old Trails (N.O.T.) highway created in the early 1910s to link Los Angeles with New York crossed the Mojave Desert following the railroad. So it was routed through Amboy en route to Needles.
The Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) shows Amboy in its 1912 map as having gasoline. In their 1915 map, the road had shifted from the southern side of the Santa Fe Railroad to the north side, and at Amboy the road crossed back to the south side, following the older alignment. The town at that time had two "Club Signs" beside the road. By 1922 the map showed Amboy as having Motel (perhaps J.M. Bender's hotel), Gas and Oil plus a Cemetery.
The National Old Trails Guide published in the 1920s, mentions that it had a population of 50, "Store, modern camp ground, garage and good hotel".
In 1923, the Automobile Blue Books informed about "J. M. Bender west end of Town Amboy - California General Merchandise Garage. Hotel."
Route 66 was created in 1926 and it was aligned along the N.O.T. road through Amboy. This increased the flow of traffic and created new opportunities for business.
The Great Depression slowed things down as did World War II, but after the war Amboy lived from tourists driving along Route 66 until it was bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1973.
Where to Stay near Amboy
Lodging close to Amboy: Needles:
More Lodging Near Amboy along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Amboy, California
Heading East.... In California
- 74 mi.Needles
Further East.... In Arizona
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
Book your hotel in neighboring Needles
>> Check out RV campground near Amboy (also see Newberry Springs and Barstow)
The Weather in Amboy
Amboy is located in the Mojave Desert and has a "Subtropical desert climate" with very dry and hot weather. There are 290 sunny days every year.
During summer, the average high temperature (Jul) is a searing 107.4°F (41.9°C), with a very warm average low of 78.8°F (26°C). The winter average high (Jan) is a balmy 65°F (18.3°C) and the average low is a rather cool 37.2°F (2.9°C).
Rainfall is very scarce in Amboy around 10.6 in. (269 mm) every year and there are 34 rainy days each year. The dryest months are April to July which are followed by the "rainy" summer monsoon season. Watch out for severe thunderstorms during summer. Snow is extremely rare with scarcely 3 in. per year.
During summer make sure you stay hydrated. The hot and dry desert climate can dehydrate you quickly. Drink plenty of water and dress for the heat. Read more.
Amboy is located to the west of the Rocky Montains, so there is virtually no risk of any tornados in this area.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Amboy
You can reach the town driving along old Route 66 which here is named "Old National Trails Highway". Also from I-40 at Exits 78, 50, 100 and 107.
Map of Route 66 in Amboy, CA
Check out Amboy on our Route 66 Map of California, with the complete alignment and all the towns along it.
This is the map of Route 66 through Amboy. The following color key applies :
Pale Blue: the "old 1926 to 1931" alignment of Route 66 to Fenner and Essex from US 95 Arrowhead Junction and Exit 133 of I-40.
And for the Needles - to Exit 133, it is the 1926 to 1970s road. West of Essex it is the 1931 - 1973 alignment, through Needles.
Black: the 1926 to 1931 alignment in Fenner, bypassed later when I-40 was built, and Goffs Rd. moved west to link at Exit 107.
Blue: The post 1931 alignment of Route 66 from Mountain Springs to Essex.
Map with the alignment of Route 66 through Amboy
Click on this link > > US 66 alignment in Amboy
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Amboy
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite the survival of long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica.
Click Here for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in Amboy.
Amboy's Landmarks & Sights
If you visit Las Vegas
Some tours and sightseeing
Sightseeing in Amboy
Amboy, site of Roy's Motel and Cafe
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Amboy
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse's classic book written in 1946 ("Guide Book to Highway 66") is a valuable resource for those driving the Mother Road on the look out for remains of its glorious days during the Post-War period.
Rittenhouse does mention the town and locates Amboy 12 mi. west of Chambless. He records its population as 165. In 1946, it had "two cafes, a garage and a cafe- nothing else.". He does mention the Amboy Crater too.
One of the Cafes is certainly Roy's, the other is probably Bender's (which was later "Conns - one stop super service station" with a cafe). He fails to mention Bender's Hotel or Roy's cabins so they probably were not yet open (Roy's) or had closed for good (Bender's). Benders was located on the south side of Route 66, in front of where Roy's now stands. It had several "cabins" and a service station that resembled the one at Chambless, further east. (See an old postcard of Bender's).
The main landmark and attraction is Roy's Motel and Café:
Roy's Motel and Cafe
87520 Old Trails Hwy. Amboy
Roy Irvin and Velma Crowl who lived in the area, opened a service station with a garage for repairs in 1938 on Route 66 during the Great Depression. They also had a wreck truck to haul broken down cars -quite common in the desert in those days.
Roy was the township's constable at that time, and he recruited the help of Herman "Buster" Burris to run his business.
In 1945 Burris who had married Roy's daughter, Betty Crowl, opened a Café next to the service station.
And in 1948 he built the tourist court, with six cabins. Tourist Courts were the first motels, they had separate units, the "cabins". He built them with concrete blocks and a gave them a neat classic look with their gabled roofs.
Business boomed so he added more units in the rear, by building a 18 roomed two-floor block.
The world famous sign was erected in 1959 during US 66s heyday.
When I-40 opened in 1973, bypassing Amboy, business took a turn for the worse. Buster sold out in 1995 and passed away in 1999.
The place changed owners until it was bought by Albert Okura in 1995 (the wealthy owner of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain). Okura restored the property and reopened it in 2008, but lack of infrastructure - mainly potable water - in Amboy has thwarted his plans and the place is closed (motel and cafe).
The Café, modern futuristic architecture
The café is a classic sight, with the flying-V roof giving it the futuristic appearance of "Googie architecture".
Pronounced "gu:gi", it was a form of modern building design inspired in the Atomic and Space ages, with its geometric shapes, vast glass surfaces and symbolic motion designs (atoms, boomerangs, wing shapes, disks) with Space Age themes.
It appeared in California in the late 1940s and was popular until the mid 1960s. Cafes, motels and service stations sported these modernistic designs. And Roy's Café and its sign are clear examples of it.
The Sign at Roy's Cafe and Motel
A bold combination of colors with the red arrow pointing at the cabins invited passersby to stop. Its height made it stand out from a distance. The name in yellow on a black background announced the famous attraction.
It has also served as a backdrop for many world class brands advertisements.
(Click for larger image)
Route 66 shield on the road
Don't miss the U.S. highway 66 shieldd painted on the road's tarmac, they are on both lanes, in front of Roy's service station and to the east, just past the cabins.
Tours and Nearby places to visit
National Natural Landmark
2.5 mi. west of Roy's Cafe just south of Route 66. See this map with directions.
Amboy is in the lowest part of a large relatively flat basin and to the south are some dry lakes, which as salt flats yield, salt and gypsum. Towards the west, heading for Bagdad and Ludlow, you climb out of the basin going from around 600 ft. at Amboy to 1800 ft. in Ludlow.
To the north lie the Marble Mountains and west, beyond Chambless is the Iron or Bristol Mountain Range.
To the west, and heading towards the northwest is a volcanic field, between Amboy and Bagdad, the Amboy Volcanic Field.
Amboy crater is a notable example of a volcano and due to its visual appeal and geological significance it has been designated a National Natural Landmark.
The volcano, is a cinder cone that is 250 ft. high (76 m) and 1,500 ft diameter at its base (460 m). It has a crater on its summit. It is relatively young speaking in geological terms: between 600 and 6,000 years old.
Inside the crater, light colored clay has accumulated, creating two small flat areas.
There is a breach on the west side of the crater where basaltic lava poured out covering 24 sq. mi. with lava, 62 km2.
The crater formed in the Barstow-Bristol trough, a fault along the boundary between the Mojave and Sonoran tectonic blocks.
Walk the Trail to the Crater
3.5 mi. round trip (5.6 km) - 2 hour trek. Trek Trail map
A trail leads up to the crater and into it. Good views. Restrooms and Shaded spots. Tables for picnics.
Take water with you, hat, sun screen and look out for spiders, snakes and scorpions.
Rittenhouse wrote, in 1946: "An extinct volcano, whose lava flow touches US 66 about 2 miles west of town. There is a footpath to the top of the carter, providing an opportunity to actually visit a volcano."
The Alignment of Old Route 66 in Amboy
Updated Dec. 12, 2019
Since 2017 Route 66 has been closed west of Essex, all the way to Chambless. The road east of Essex to I-40's Exit 115 (Mountain Springs) is also closed. There is complete information, with maps at the San Bernardino County Road Closed web page).
Apparently Essex Rd. from Essex to I-40's exit 100 is open, so you can go along it, take I-40 westbound and then reach Chambless or Amboy and retake Route 66 by driving Kelbaker Rd. from Exit 78.
From Danby to Amboy
As mentioned above, the first road through Amboy was the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) road (Los Angeles to New York highway) built during the early 1910s.
This first N.O.T. westwards from Danby crossed at Danby Station to the eastern ⁄ southern side of the Santa Fe tracks. And remaind on that side all the way to Ludlow, passing south of Amboy station.
The Automobile Club of Southern California's Road Map of 1915 shows that road from Danby to Amboy had by then been moved to the northern side of the Santa Fe R.R. and Amboy was shown wiith Gasoline and Oil.
Route 66 was aligned along the N.O.T. road in 1926 and after crossing the broad desert valley to the SW of Danby it crossed the Bristol or Iron Mountains through Summit, dropping down into the basin where Chambless was located in 1932 when the road was paved.
West of Chambless, the road and the S. Fe Rairoad tracks run between wide basins and mountain ranges, reaching the lowest part of the basin near Amboy. The road ran in a perfectly straight line all the way into Amboy, where it crossed to the southern side of the tracks and headed west towards Bagdad.
This is the Map from Danby to Amboy.
Accommodation Search box:
Outdoors, National and State Parks
Mojave National Preserve
Kelso Dunes in Mohave Preserve California, "Mike" Michael L. Baird
The Mojave National Preserve protects almost 1.6 million acres of desert habitat; it is a scenic National Park located just west of Needles, east of Barstow, between I-15 and I-40 and the California - Nevada state line.
Observe wildlife like the Desert Tortoise or Bighorn Sheep. Visit the "Hole in the Wall" area, the Cinder Cones, Cima Dome and Kelso Dunes.
Read more at the Official National Parks website.