About Rialto California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,257 ft (383 m). Population 99,171 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Rialto is a city located on Route 66, in southwestern San Bernardino County in the south of California. (Map of Rialto).
A view of Route 66 in Rialto
The History of the city of Rialto, California
Check our San Bernardino webpage for the early history of this region.
The San Bernardino & Los Angeles Railway incorporated in 1886 and built a line between San Bernardino and Duarte the following year. At Duarte it linked with the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad that via Pasadena and Arroyo Seco reached downtown Los Angeles. The stops along the line became the seeds of future townsites like Rialto and North Cucamonga. A total of 25 stops were built spaced every 2,600 yards, and one of them was Rialto. These companies soon became part of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe railroad.
The "Rialto" colony founded in 1887 by the Semi-Tropic Land and Water company which also founded other townsites in the area: Bloomington, Sansevaine and Fontana. Semi-Tropic brought water from Lytle Creek near San Bernardino to these towns via a six mile canal lined in concrete but to do so, mortgaged its properties. It was later foreclosed and the land was sold to the "Kansas Colony" which also went broke but many of these first settlers who were Methodists that came out from Halstead Kansas, retained their lands.
The Methodists planned to build a college, but it was never built. But that same year (1887) the Rialto Hotel built (it burned down in 1907).
Initially it was an agricultural settlement, a "fruit colony" with lemon and orange groves. Several packing plants were built in the area.
Rialto, the name
Rialto is the contraction of the Italian words "Rivo Alto" or "high" and "river" an elevated mudflat where the first inhabitants settled to found Venice ca. 800 AD. It gave its name to the island and to the canal next to it. It was the old mercantile quarter of medieval Venice. A bridge of the same name spans the Grand Canal, and was built in 1588. The name Rialto became a synonym for "business district" and many towns around the world adopted it.
National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) in Rialto
By the early 1900s, the use of the automobile had grown considerably and there was a need for improved roads. The National Old Trails (N.O.T.) Association went ahead with its plan for a highway linking Los Angeles and New York. They aligned it next to the AT & Santa Fe railroad tracks across California and Arizona.
The town incorporated in 1911 and Foothill Boulevard was improved in 1913. The Automobile Club of Southern California's map of 1912 shows the N.O.T. highway running on the north side of the Santa Fe Railroad, passing through Rialto 58 miles from Los Angeles, and straight, west until reaching Cucamonga in those days it did not have the "Rancho" part appended to its name (46 mi. from LA).
A fire razed the downtown in 1920, and in 1926, the N.O.T. alignment became part of the newly created U.S. Highway 66. And it was gradually improved and widened after that date.
The "Guide to the Golden State" written in 1939 by WPA, said the following about this section of Route 66 during the pre-World War II days:
"West of San Bernardino US 66 runs along the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains [actually, the San Gabriel Mountains] through the heart of a picture post card landscape orange groves overlooked by snowcapped peaks. The tile-roofed stucco towns among the orchards along the way are starting points for roads and trails into the forested mountains.
West of SAN BERNARDINO, is RIALTO, 3 m. (1,203 alt., 1,642 pop.), with several orange-packing plants. From here US 66 runs through billowing foothills past miles of citrus groves and vineyards."
The 1940s Caltrans road map shows Route 66 running straight west along Foothill Blvd., through Rialto and Fontana, then south of Etiwanda and Alta Loma and into Cucamonga. It was here after covering vast distances without towns that the Route 66 traveller encountered the eastern part of the Los Angeles suburbs. Tough in the 1940s they were small towns, that were not yet linked into one gigantic urban sprawl.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse drove along Route 66 in 1946, collecting information for his book "A Guide Book to Highway 66" and when describing this segment west of San Bernardino to Pasadena had little to say about Rialto; he mentioned that there were many towns: " Many of them are so close together as to be practically indistinguishable from each other... At 318 mi. you reach RIALTO, a town of about 2000."
The eastern part is still pretty open, with fields and empty lots, but nearer Los Angeles the old classic fruit stands, Route 66 mom and pop stores, motels and service stations have been torn down and replaced by new buildings, malls and shopping centers.
Nevertheless, despite the growth of Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S., many icons have survived on Route 66 in this area.
Faster flowing traffic led to the replacement of Route 66 in 1964, when it was replaced by the growing Interstate and freeway network east of Los Angeles. This drew business away from the Route 66 motels and the bypassed commercial districts in towns, like Rialto.
Where to Stay in Rialto
Lodging in the City
> > Book your Hotel in Rialto
More Lodging Near Rialto along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Rialto, California
Heading East.... In California
- 5 miles San Bernardino
- 20 miles Cajon Junction
- 41 miles Victorville
- 37 miles Hesperia
- 56 miles Helendale
- 77 miles Barstow
- 214 miles Needles
Further East.... In Arizona
- 285miles Kingman
- 335 miles Peach Springs
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
- 4 miles Fontana
- 14 miles Rancho Cucamonga
- 22 miles Claremont
- 26 miles Pomona (south)
- 28 miles San Dimas
- 30 miles Glendora
- 33 miles Azusa
- 37 miles Duarte
- 38 miles Monrovia
- 40 miles Arcadia
- 41 miles Arcadia
- 48 miles Pasadena
- 54 miles Los Angeles
- 60 miles Hollywood
- 70 miles Santa Monica
Have you slept in a wigwam lately? Book a Room in the Wigwam Motel, just east of Rialto.
Find your room in Rialto
>> Check out the RV campground near Rialto, in San Bernardino
The Weather in Rialto
The weather in Rialto is Mediterranean, known as Continental Mediterranean climate, which has hot and dry summers with cool - chilly winters.
During winter, the average high is (Jan) 68.4°F (20.2°C) and the average low is 42.1°F (5.6°C). In sumer the average high is (Jul) 96.2°F (35.7°C) and the average low is 58.5°F (14.7°C)
About 16 inches (406 mm) of rain fall yearly. Snow falls to the north in the San Gabriel Mountains. Rainfall is least during May to September, with less than 0.25 in. falling monthly (6.4 mm). The town has 38 days with precipitation yearly.
The warm dry air blown in by the seasonal Santa Ana winds through Cajon Pass can be felt during autumn (fall) and this dries the area increasing the risk of wildfires the foothill and canyon communities.
As Rialto is located very far from the Rocky Montains (western limit for tornados), there is no risk of tornados in this area.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Rialto
You can reach Rialto along old Route 66 which here is the "Foothill Blvd." or via Interstate 10, 15, 215 or state higway 210, all of them are freeways.
The Map of U.S. 66 in Rialto, California
See the alignment of US 66 in Rialto, on our Route 66 Map for California, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.
Color key for Rialto:
Pale Blue: the 1928 - 1964 Route 66 through Rialto.
Red: I-15, where it covers the old roadbed of Route 66 or where it must be driven as the old road is closed.
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Rialto
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 Rialto.
Sights and Attractions in Rialto, California
Plan your tour through town
Rialto and its Route 66 attractions
Rialto's classic Route 66 sights include: Wigwam motel (on the city limits with San Bernardino), the El Rey Motel, Rex Motel and the Fiesta Motel and an Adobe from 1853.
Adobe building from 1853
235 N Lilac Ave.
For those who are interested in history, the oldest building in Rialto is an adobe building from 1853. Which was moved to its present location at Bud Bender Park in 1961, and restored.
The city leases it to the Rialto Historical Society for a symbolic $1 per year.
The Route 66 classics start just one block east of Rialto's city limits, with the famous Wigwam Motel:
Wigwam Motel Village #7
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
2728 East Foothill Boulevard, San Bernardino
You can Book a Room in the Wigwam Motel
The old Wigwam Motel is a classic sight on Route 66 and is still open and lodging guests.
Is it in San Bernardino?
The California Wigwam Motel was built within the city limits of San Bernardino in 1949. The motel would later acquire a Rialto postal address, but it was born in San Bernardino and is in that city.
The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino
Head west from the Wigwam and visit the El Rey Motel:
El Rey Motel
454 E Foothill Blvd.
El Rey, Spanish for "The King" is still open after all these years.
The El Rey Motel:
It has a classic motel sign too. Keep west and see the next motel, the Fiesta Motel:
410 W Foothill Blvd.
The Fiesta Motel in Rialto:
1536 W. Foothill Blvd.
The Rex Motel:
Tours & Itineraries
The Alignment of Old Route 66 in Rialto
From San Bernardino to Rialto
As mentioned above, the first road through Rialto was the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) road which was a highway that was projected to link New York and Los Angeles in the early 1910s. This road ran close to the Santa Fe Railroad between Los Angeles and Needles and in Rialto, was Foothill Blvd.
Route 66 in Rialto
Route 66 extends for 3 mi along Foothill Boulevard in Rialto, from North Pepper Ave. just west of the Wigwam Motel, to North Maple Ave. in the west of town.
This is a Map of Route 66 in Rialto.
To the north you can see the San Gabriel Mountains and to the southwest, at a distance of 4 to 6 miles, the Jurupa Mountains, which rise 1,000 ft. (300 m) above the plains.
> > See the previous segment Victorville to San Bernardino
> > See this segment San Bernardino to Pasadena (west)
Accommodation Search box:
A Guide to the Golden State, Federal Writers' Project WPA N. York, 1939.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.