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Route 66 in California

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Route 66 in California: Needles to Barstow Side Trips
Route 66 in California

Roy's Cafe, Amboy - Route 66

©2011 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

The Ghost Towns

Past Needles, old Route 66 diverges from I-40 and parallels the railroad tracks. Some folks call this the "ghost town" section, and with good reason. Little remains of Goffs, Essex, Danby and Summit. If you want to see what's left, exit I-40 at US Hwy 95 north, then go west on Goffs Rd. It will return to I-40 near the town of Fenner, where you can rejoin I-40 or continue to connect with National Trails Hwy near the town of Essex.

National Trails Highway Through Amboy

If you bypassed the ghost town section, exit I-40 onto Mountain Springs Rd. west of Needles. It will soon change names to National Trails Highway, named for the coast-to-coast highway the predated Route 66 and now following most of the Mother Road's remains. A desert oddity that has little to do with Route 66 is the unusual graffiti along the dirt bank on the north side of the highway. Made of rocks, some of which appear to have been carried here from somewhere else, it goes on for miles.

In the 1930s, Roy and Velma Crowl owned the entire town of Amboy. Today, Roy's namesake motel sign still cheerfully points to the old motel, which sits half-renovated. After almost slipping away, the town has a new owner who has managed to re-open the store next door. Just down the road is the Amboy Crater, once a tourist attraction on Route 66. It's been 10,000 years since it erupted, but the desert floor is still strewn with its black lava.

Other towns once stood west of Amboy: Bagdad, Siberia and Klondike, but they are no more. Old Trails Road crosses I-40 near Ludlow and you won't miss much if you get on it there.

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