Following the direction that most early adventurers took toward the Golden State, this tour starts at the California/Arizona border and goes west toward Los Angeles. To reverse it, just start from the bottom of the page and work up.
Route 66 in California: State Line to Needles
Modern I-40 has replaced old Route 66 across the Arizona-California border. The landscape is stereotypical desert: dry and uniformly brow-hued. Even the Colorado River, which forms the state boundary is barely noticeable. Early travelers must have wondered why anyone wanted to settle in this dry place. If they came by in the 1950s or 60s and were fans of the Twilight Zone television series, they may have imagined Rod Serling's opening narration as we did: "There the signpost up ahead. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone."
Route 66 in California: Needles
Needles is a prickly name for a little town - apparently acquired not in reference to a sewing implement but to the sharp, rocky peaks above the valley. Follow the Historic Route 66 signs through town and you'll find a few remnants. Most notable is the Route 66 Motel, whose sign makes a nice photograph, but the most interesting piece of yesteryear in Needles predates the Mother Road. Near the railroad tracks, you'll find the shell of the elegant El Garces Hotel, built in 1908 to serve travelers on the Santa Fe Railroad and considered the best of entrepreneur Fred Harvey's chain.
Route 66 in California: Needles to BarstowThe easy way to get from Needles to Barstow is I-40. It runs through the same countryside as old Route 66.
The next page describes two side trips which more closely follow the original Route 66.