Motor Thru California, The Golden State, and you’ve made it! You are in the last state on Route 66! Flatlands and twisty roads have lead you to California.
** I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is to help support my blog and does not have any impact on my recommendations. **
As you Motor Thru California, the first place you come to is Needles, known for tourism and recreation, Needles is also the eastern gateway to the Mojave National Preserve, a scenic desert area. In the comic strip Peanuts, whose creator Charles Schulz lived in Needles as a boy, Snoopy’s brother Spike lived in the desert outside Needles. He frequently heads to Needles to partake of the town’s nightlife, often running afoul of the local coyotes.
Stop in Needles for some food at Wagon Wheel Restaurant, it’s a diner offering good food and a relaxed atmosphere, but be sure to eat your fill because the next food stop is a way down the road!
The road from Needles to Barstow is famous for road closures so be aware of this as you travel. Desert storms, dust and rain, pop up unexpectedly and can be quite strong. If you are traveling on the old road as much as possible, another stretch of Route 66 runs west of Needles and north of I-40 through the near-ghost towns of Goffs and Fenner, on a roller coaster of undulating two-lane blacktop, parallel to the railroad tracks.
Traveling into Barstow stop at the Mother Road Museum, and see the history of this National Treasure.
Another Wigwam Motel! Yes it is Wigwam Village no 7! Check out these great photos from the Wigwam Motel website. They are great and the pool looks so inviting! It’s places like this that make Route 66 such an attraction still today! It reminds us of a simpler time, a past that some still long for today.
The 1939 book “A Guide to the Golden State” by WPA, described the town and its access route as follows:
“ US 66 broad and palm-lined, turns R., dividing the business district (L) of SAN BERNARDINO, (1,073 alt., 37,486 pop.), seat of San Bernardino County. The name San Bernardino was given by a party of missionaries, soldiers, and Indians from the San Gabriel Mission under Padre Francisco Dumetz, who entered the valley on May 20, 1810, the feast day of San Bernardino of Siena. In 1851, Capt. Jefferson Hunt arrived in the valley with a party of 500 Mormons from Salt Lake, who bought Rancho San Bernardino for $77,000 in 1852, and laid out a city along the broad, spacious lines of Salt Lake City. The Mormons remained dominant here until 1857, when Brigham Young, anxious to center his flock in Utah, issued a recall. San Bernardino is today a railroad and fruit-packing center….“.
The guide mentions that “West of San Bernardino US 66 runs along the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains through the heart of a picture postcard 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“.
Built in 1957, the Saga Motor Hotel was designed by architect Harold Zook to catch the eye of passing motorists along Route 66. Today it’s a non-smoking, pet-friendly hotel located across from Pasadena City College. It is also on the Rose Parade route.
Pasadena is the home of the Rose Bowl Stadium, which hosts the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Route 66 was established in 1926 but ended in downtown Los Angeles until it was extended along Santa Monica Blvd. in 1936, to reach Santa Monica, passing through what is now West Hollywood.
Route 66 was aligned to the east along the “Hollywood Freeway” (in 1953) and starting in 1956 the Interstate highway system was built, this led to traffic moving away from Route 66 and its decommissioning in 1964 as a U.S. Highway in this area.
You made it! You arrived at the End of the Trail!
The trail marker is located on Santa Monica Pier and it’s worth spending some time to explore the last stop of this historic roadway, take in the sites and sounds of the pier and the beach. Take time to rest and relax, you’ve just finished driving Route 66, and in true Route 66 fashion, the neon comes on at dark!