U.S. Route 66 in California

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This article is about the section of U.S. Route 66 in California. For the entire route, see U.S. Route 66.

Historic US 66 (CA).svg

U.S. Route 66
Will Rogers Highway
Route information
Length: 315 mi[1] (507 km)
Existed: 1926 – 1964
Major junctions
West end:
US 101 Alt. in Santa Monica
East end: US 66 at Arizona state line
Highway system
SR 65 SR 66

U.S. Route 66 (US 66, Route 66) is a part of a former United States Numbered Highway in the state of California that ran from the east in Santa Monica on the Pacific Ocean through Los Angeles and San Bernardino to Needles at the Arizona state line. It was truncated during the 1964 renumbering and its signage removed in 1974. The highway is now mostly replaced with several streets in Los Angeles, State Route 66 (SR 66), Interstate 15 (I-15) and I-40.


US 66 was assigned by the American Association of State Highway Officials in November 1926 and signed in 1928 by the Automobile Club of Southern California; however historic US 66 shields and even present day US 66 shields remain.[2] US 66 continued to be signed east of Pasadena until 1974, when it was removed, and the remaining separate section became SR 66.

In 1977, "Hotel California" alluded to Route 66 in its opening lines, "On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air, Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light, My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night". According to Eagles guitarist Don Felder, "Everybody had driven into Los Angeles on what used to be Route 66. And as you drive in through the desert at night, you can see the glow of Los Angeles from a hundred miles away. The closer and closer you get, you start seeing all of these images, and these things pounded into our heads: the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, movie stars, palm trees, beaches and girls in bikinis."[3]

Nationally, Route 66 has been a decommissioned highway since 1985, with the last section through Williams, Arizona, bypassed by I-40 in 1984. The first efforts to return the route to maps as "Historic Route 66" date to 1987 and Angel Delgadillo's Arizona Historic Route 66 Association. This initiative was soon followed in all eight US 66 states, including California.

The California Historic Route 66 Association, established in December 1990 to advocate the preservation, restoration and promotion of historic Route 66 in California, is the youngest of the eight state-level Route 66 Associations.

Old Trails Highway[edit]

1916 Trails Arch Bridge spanning the Colorado River

From San Bernardino to the Arizona state line US 66 followed the old National Old Trails Highway. The old highway veers away from I-15 between Victorville and Barstow, following the railroad through Oro Grande, Helendale, and Lenwood. Through Barstow, it is Main Street. East of Barstow, the National Old Trails Highway passes through a Marine Corps base, limiting public access and forcing traffic onto I-40. From Daggett, Historic 66 leaves I-40, crossing it three times before winding away through Bagdad, Amboy, and Essex. US 66 was all paved in California by 1935.

This area is desert; towns like Amboy originated as Atlantic and Pacific Railroad stops and were sustained by Route 66 traffic during the Mother Road's heyday, then became ghost towns when I-40 bypassed them to the north. From Essex the highway was Goffs Road through Goffs until about 1931, joining I-40 at the US 95 exit. The later alignment is now I-40 east of Essex. The original highway winds around I-40 in the Needles area, before crossing the Colorado River into Arizona.

Route description[edit]

Will Rogers Monument at the western terminus of Route 66 in Santa Monica

Santa Monica to San Bernardino[edit]

Starting in Santa Monica, California, US 66 originally started at the southwest end of Santa Monica Boulevard, which was, from the Santa Monica city line with Los Angeles up to US 101, added to SR 2 during the 1964 renumbering, the same name it had before 1936.[4] In today's terms, it followed the Santa Monica Boulevard until the east end, where it continued to the southeast as the Sunset Boulevard up to SR 110 (Arroyo Seco Parkway), at the interchange with US 101.

Running northwards on SR 110 to the northern terminus in Pasadena, the highway continued east onto Colorado Boulevard. When crossing North Baldwin Avenue, Colorado Boulevard becomes Calorado Street, and after 0.3 miles (0.48 km) it changes again to Colorado Place.

In Arcadia the highway continues eastwards as Huntington Drive, which it follows until it became Foothill Boulevard after 5.7 miles (9.2 km). Following Foothill Boulevard, the highway became Alosta Avenue in Azusa. When entering Glendora the highway changed names to Route 66 and when leaving, it becomes Foothill Boulevard again.

Foothill Boulevard is numbered SR 66 from the interchange with SR 210 in La Verne onwards. It follows SR 66 until it reaches I-215 in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino to the Arizona state line[edit]

CR 66 shield on the former US 66 west of Barstow.
Route 66 highway sign, near Needles.

US 66 originally exited San Bernardino on Mount Vernon Avenue and Cajon Boulevard, which meandered its way up to Cajon Pass. US 66 originally followed 7th Street and D Street through Victorville then the National Old Trails Highway through Barstow, California (where it took on the name "Main Street") and across the Mojave Desert to Needles. US 66 followed Broadway Street through Needles, then crossed into Arizona on the Trails Arch Bridge (1916-1946) or the Red Rock Bridge (converted from railroad bridge in 1946, abandoned 1966, dismantled 1976).

By 1964, most or all of this part of the route had been replaced by three Interstate highways, the first being I-215, known as I-15 in 1964. It followed I-215 from SR 66 up to I-15. After I-15, the highway followed I-40 until it got to the state line with Arizona in Needles.

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile[5] km Destinations Notes
Los Angeles Santa Monica 0 0
US 101 Alt. / SR 1 – Santa Monica
Terminus. Alt-US101 was renumbered in 1964.
West Los Angeles 4 6 I‑405
Hollywood 12 19 SR 2 / US 101
Los Angeles 20 32 I‑5 U.S. Route 99 formerly intersected US 66 in this city.
Pasadena 27 43 I‑210 / SR 110 south
San Dimas 49 79 SR 66 east / SR 210
San Bernardino San Bernardino 77 124 SR 66 west / I‑215 north
Victorville 116 187
Barstow 151 243 I‑15 / I‑40 east
Newberry Springs 171 275
Ludlow 203 327 I‑40 east – Goffs
Interstate 40 diverges from US 66, bypassing Amboy, California (now a ghost town).
The roads re-join at Essex. This is desert with few services available to motorists.
San Bernardino Amboy 237 381
Essex 264 425 I‑40
Needles 294 473 US 95 north
306 492 US 95 south
316 509 I‑40 / US 66 – Topock, Arizona
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi



Roy's Motel and Café was once the largest roadside business in what is now the desert ghost town of Amboy, California. The motel has been closed for years as the town died when Interstate 40 in California diverted traffic ten miles further north. Amboy, as a ghost town, had been used as a filming location for various movies. More recently, the Roy's filling station and café have operated at least sporadically in an attempt to preserve this landmark for tourism.

The Summit Inn, a diner and filling station originally located in 1928 at the summit of the Cajon Pass, moved to Oak Hills, California when the highway was re-routed in 1952. Its visitors include Elvis Presley, reported to have kicked the jukebox and left without dining after finding none of his own records among the available selections. This oversight has since been corrected; the diner remains open, complete with memorabilia of the roadside Texaco which is no longer in operation at the site.

Camps, motor courts, and motels[edit]

66 Motel in Needles

Route 66 has attracted campers since the Great Depression era, where The Grapes of Wrath describes a large but primitive riverside campground as one of the first sights when arriving in Needles, California from Arizona. Needles later became the site of the Carty's Camp cabins seen briefly in John Ford's 1940 film version of "The Grapes of Wrath" (now a deteriorating ghost tourist court) and the later adjacent 66 Motel (which currently offers long-term rental only).

The 1924 Aztec Hotel in Monrovia, a National Historic Landmark in the San Gabriel Valley, is notable for its Mayan Revival architecture.

One of three restored Wigwam Motels accommodates motorists in San Bernardino near Rialto. Based on a once-patented novelty architecture, these are tourist courts in which each cabin is a free-standing concrete wigwam. This group of motels served as an inspiration for the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars (film).


California devotes a pair of museums to the history of old Route 66, the California Route 66 Museum in the former Red Rooster Café in Victorville and the Barstow Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum in the town's former Harvey House Railroad Depot.


The Figueroa Street Tunnels carry the Arroyo Seco Parkway through Elysian Park in Los Angeles; a Four Level Interchange connecting the Hollywood Freeway (Route 101) to Route 66 was the first stack interchange in the world.

The historic 1916 Trails Arch Bridge spanning the Colorado River from Topock, Arizona to Needles, California still stands but is no longer open to traffic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Route 66 California". www.roadtripusa.com. Avalon Travel. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Photo of US 66 shield". AARoads. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Interview: Don Felder on The Eagles' classic song, Hotel California". MusicRadar. August 21, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ "1963 Caltrans Los Angeles and vicinity map". Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ "US66". Google Maps. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 

External links[edit]

U.S. Route 66
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