In today’s post, we will walk the stretch of Route 66 from Los Angeles to Amboy. It’s 209 miles to leisurely drive and sees some of the most famous attractions on this famous highway.
At this moment is when one of the phrases that you are going to see the most in the memories or souvenirs of Route 66 makes sense: “Get your kicks on the Route” or “Get your kicks on Route 66”.
That you know is the title of a song that Bobby Troup composed in 1946 and was performed for the first time by Nat King Cole. Since that time, more than 60 versions of this song have been made, and it has become a motto of Route 66.
We recommend that you read: Route 66 planning and budget to start organizing your trip.
Stretch from Los Angeles to Amboy on Route 66?
Today’s goes from Santa Monica Beach to Amboy, in the state of California. It takes about four hours by car to travel 209 miles (336 km).
Directions for leaving Los Angeles and heading for Route 66
Better than you have equipped yourself with a GPS to get out of Los Angeles. Some rough directions are that in Santa Monica, take Route 10 until you see the signs to South Pasadena (Route 110).
The 110 takes you directly to Pasadena. If you continue until you cross E Colorado Blvd and turn right onto this avenue and continue along with it without ever leaving it, it becomes Huntington Drive.
If you continue and do not leave, it becomes W Foothill Blvd, which continues to be called E Alosta Ave. This avenue, just after passing the intersection with North Barranca Avenue, is renamed West Route 66. You are already on Route 66!
You have not stopped seeing buildings on one side and another. I already told you that Los Angeles is huge, and the populations surrounding it are glued to it, so you do not distinguish when you go from one to the other.
You must get to San Bernardino. You will cross Pasadena, Duarte, La Verne, Upland, Fontana, Rialto, San Bernardino, and you are going to take 215, which then continues on 15 towards Victorville.
These indications may change over time. It’s best to get a GPS with U.S. maps, carry internet on your mobile or rent a car with GPS (now almost everyone has it)
Route 66: from Los Angeles to Amboy
Madonna of the Trail
In Upland, you can see the Madonna of the Trail monument. It is not a monument dedicated to Route 66, but to the value of the women who pioneered the United States, especially during the nineteenth century during the great migrations to the West.
12 of these monuments were placed, one in each state that crossed the road between Washington DC and Los Angeles, the so-called National Old Trails Highway. Thanks to the efforts of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).
Two of those monuments were placed where Route 66 would later pass. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Upland, California.
When you pass through Fontana, you can see a giant orange next to the road, which was actually a stall for selling oranges, it’s funny, it’s called Bono’s historic Orange, it’s not the only one, there are a few distributed throughout California.
We continue on Route 15, leaving San Bernardino behind us, and we have to go through Cajon Pass.
It is the mountain pass that allows you to cross the San Gabriel Mountains north of San Bernardino and allows you to reach the South of the Mojave Desert. The highest point of this pass is at 4000 feet, which are approximately 1200 meters.
At this point is the Cajon Summit Inn Cafe; it is not the original from the 30s, since the route was modified and they had to move it, but it does date from 1950. A good place to make the first stop for a soda or coffee (forget about the roll cut with milk or alone, it is American coffee, quite watery and bad, although you get used to it …).
Victorville, Roy Roger Museum
The next stop is Victorville. We still haven’t come across those endless straights with desert on both sides, but little remains. We are approaching the Mojave desert, very hot, with a lot of sand, and nothing on either side.
But first, we have to go through Victorville, in this town we will find the place where the Roy Rogers Museum was. It was a museum dedicated to what was considered the “King of the Cowboys.” It’s currently in Branson, Missouri.
In Victorville, Route 66 separates from I-15; while Route 66 passes through Helendale and Lenwood, Highway I-15 travels a little further east. Logically we go along Route 66.
If we have been more or less good and have left at a decent hour, we will be in Victorville around twelve or one. So we’re on a pretty good time to get to our next major stop and get something to eat in Newberry Springs.
Barstow and House of the Desert
Between Victorville and Newberry Springs is Barstow. Here you have to visit the so-called “House of the Desert,” part of which has become the “Mother Road Museum.” Another must-see on Route 66.
It is part of a chain of luxury hotels that thrived while still traveling by train or wagon. They are an example of the lifestyle lived before the automobile boom, and there are several distributed in California, New Mexico, and Arizona, three of the states that you will cross.
If you want to visit the museum, go ahead, depending on how long you go. Yes, tell you that there are a few along the route, you will visit them as you like.
Starting in Barstow, Route 66 runs parallel to I-40.
A few miles from Barstow is Calico, which is a ghost town on Route 66. It is not the last that you will find during the route, and if you want, even if only out of curiosity, come over.
You have to deviate a bit to get there, but if you come from Los Angeles, it is one of the first ghost towns that you come across. Most likely, you want to visit it.
Newberry Springs, Bagdad Cafe
In Newberry Springs, you will find an icon of Route 66, the Bagdad Cafe, an essential stop in the middle of the desert.
This iconic place was the filming set of the German American film “Bagdad Café.” A cult movie shot in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
The Bagdad Cafe, the setting for German filmmaker Percy Adlon’s 1987 cult classic of the same name, brought the Mojave Desert to fame.
It wasn’t always the Bagdad Café. Until the producers selected it for their film location, it was known as the Sidewinder Cafe. The name “Bagdad” was used about a ghost town 50 miles east of Route 66 called Bagdad, a nod to its location in the United States’ driest corner.
The interior of the cafe speaks of the visitors received throughout the years. Flags of countries worldwide hang from the ceiling, stickers taped to every inch of the wall, and guestbooks filled with commentary dating back several decades.
Bagdad Café is one of those places with history, and it brings to mind those images that one has of Route 66 or the typical cafes lost by the hand of God in the middle of the desert.
In Barstow, Route 15 continues on its way to Las Vegas. At the same time, the road we must take is Interstate 40 that crosses the entire United States from East to West, from Los Angeles, California to Willmington in North Carolina, so you are going a few kilometers on this route.
Route 66. Ludlow
Once we dare to keep going, we left Newberry Springs behind and continued towards Ludlow before reaching Amboy.
Ludlow is a small town on Route 66. It was named after William B. Ludlow, A&P Railroad master auto repairman.
Not only was it a stop to recharge water after climbing through the split at Ash Hill (1,944 feet), it was also a rail link to local mines.
The year it became Route 66 (1926), the highway had a straighter course, and Ludlow had a Hotel and gas station. The city changed from an economy based on mines and railways to one based on catering to commuters.
During the following years, US 66 was improved, widened, and better bridges were built. It was paved in the early 1930s.
After World War II, diesel engines replaced the old steam locomotives. The water stops were no longer necessary. So the railroad became even less important to Ludlow.
The business focused on US 66 and did so for the next 25 years until I-40 arrived in 1973. Without the arrival of travelers, Ludlow declined rapidly.
Remember that Route 66 is NOT I-40, but the original route crosses I-40 from side to side and is sometimes a service road and sometimes a two-way road. My advice: go on Route 66; that’s what you’ve come for, right?
Just after passing Ludlow, Route 66 and I-40 separate, we continue on Route 66 to Amboy.
Detour to Joshua Tree National Park
In this section, you will see a detour to Joshua Tree National Park. It is 49 miles away; depending on how you go with time and win, you can pass.
The Joshua Tree (besides being the title of one of U2’s best albums) is a very special indigenous cactus that practically only grows in this area and gives its name to the national park.
Amboy, Roy’s Motel & Cafe
In Amboy, it’s where we’re going to do a night at Roy’s Motel & Café (if it’s open), or wherever you want, but don’t miss it.
It is a complex that includes a motel, cafe, gas station, and a workshop. It was built in the 1920s. Its signal, one of the many that you will see during the route, is a classic in the photos.
Roy’s Motel & Café may no longer be working when you decide to make the route. If so, you’ll have to sleep at “The Farm B&B” or the surrounding area (although there’s not much to choose from) and do this stretch again in the morning.
You can also sleep in Joshua Tree, there are several hotels, but it is further away. You can also continue to Needles, which is 81 miles ahead.
From Amboy, you can visit Amboy Crater, a 6000-year-old volcano.
Designated as a National Natural Monument in 1973 and located off historic Route 66, Amboy Crater is an example of geology that creates geometry: it is an almost perfectly symmetrical volcanic ash cone.
This 250-foot pothole, part of the Mojave Trails National Monument that partially surrounds the Mojave National Reserve, offers panoramic views of some amazing features, including a 26-mile-long lava flow, Bristol Dry Lake, and marble mountains.” VisitCalifornia
There is ample parking for all types of vehicles, along with a platform to view the crater, picnic tables with and without shade, and restrooms. The best, the visit is free.
Directions on Google Maps
Keep in mind that the route that I mark on these maps is when I try to be more faithful to the original Route 66. If you notice, it does not run along the Highways, but through the route itself, except for those sections in which Route 66 and the highway are the same or because the section of Route 66 that corresponds to it has disappeared.
In some sections, although not in these that play today (that I remember), you will know that you are going along Route 66 because it was built with pink concrete blocks, with a characteristic triangular edge on both sides and that is approximately three meters long.
You will notice that each block you pass makes the characteristic noise when you pass an asphalt junction or a pothole with the car. You will see that they even reproduce that sound in some museums, like a kind of rattle. It’s the sound of Route 66.
I include three links with the path in google maps divided into three parts. Since it does not allow me to define the route as I describe it in a single map.
Detour to Las Vegas
This is when one thinks, “come on! That I will be 300 kilometers from Las Vegas, and I am not going to go? not a joke ”.
Okay, if that’s what’s on your mind like it did to me, then add a couple of days to your planning, but don’t go down I-15. Just go through today like that and when you get to Amboy, continue to 95, go North until Las Vegas.
- The first detour to Las Vegas is in Barstow. If you continue on I-15, you arrive in Vegas.
- The second detour is before reaching Needles. Here you take the US-95 that almost reaches Las Vegas. Put the GPS 😉
- The third detour is in Kingman, on US 93.
How many days to be in Vegas?
- Spend 2 days visiting Las Vegas,
- 1 day to visit Death Valley National Park
- and 1 or 2 days to visit the Grand Canyon, National Park.
If you’ve already been to Las Vegas, then skip this comment and continue on Route 66.
Route 66 day by day itinerary
- Where to start Route 66? Chicago or Los Angeles?
- Route 66 Planning and Budgeting
- Day 1. What to see in Los Angeles?
- Day 2. Los Angeles. California – Amboy. California. 209 Miles.
- Day 3. Amboy California – Kingman. Arizona. 143 Miles
- Day 4. Kingman. Arizona – Holbrook. Arizona. 239 Miles
- Day 5. Holbrook. Arizona – Grants. New Mexico. 157 Miles
- Day 6. Grants. New Mexico – Santa Rosa. New Mexico. 247 Miles
- Day 7. Santa Rosa. New Mexico – Amarillo. Texas. 172 Miles
- Day 8. Amarillo. Texas – Clinton. Oklahoma. 176 Miles.
- Day 9. Clinton. Oklahoma – Bristow. Oklahoma. 160 Miles.
- Day 10. Bristow. Oklahoma – Springfield. Missouri. 213 Miles.
- Day 11. Springfield. Missouri. – St. Louis. Missouri. 216 Miles.
- Day 12. St Louis. Missouri – Bloomington. Illinois. 162 Miles.
- Day 13. Bloomington. Illinois – Chicago. Illinois. 134 Miles.
- Day 14. Chicago Illinois. Visit Chicago
Top on US Route 66
- The Major Cities on Route 66
- 15 Ghost Towns on Route 66
- 20 must-stops on US66
- Travel Insurance for the United States
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Happy and safe travels!