Route 66 west of Ludlow follows alongside the interstate for 27 miles. The road is in really bad condition so I recommend skipping it. It’s so bad that we drove on the gravel shoulder part of the way because it was a smoother ride! The painted 66 shields are in very good shape because there’s so little traffic. :-D
The original Bagdad Cafe was 50 miles west of this location and is long gone but this cafe near Newberry Springs was used as the setting for the movie “Bagdad Cafe” so it’s a popular stop. The motel seen in the movie is no longer standing but the sign is still there along with an old Airstream trailer.
A short side trip down Santa Fe street in Daggett goes past a small cluster of buildings from the 1880s - a corner market, an abandoned stone hotel, a store front and a metal sheathed garage. For a short time Daggett was a terminal for silver and borax mining operations.
This little building, now a private residence, was a cafe built in the 1930s.
Barstow got it’s start as a railroad town. Now it’s where I-40 and I-15 meet and merge to continue onto LA. Many of the original Route 66 era motels still line the road through downtown.
One of the most interesting is the El Rancho which was built in 1947 using railroad ties for the walls.
Three small, free museums are located in Barstow. The Mojave Valley River Museum is filled with donated articles including Native American artifacts, minerals, fossils, gold mining tools and antique furniture.
The museum is accessible but some of the cases are too high for easy viewing of the items inside.
The parking lot is small so large RVs will fit better on the street or at the park located on the opposite side of the street.
Although Amtrak still stops at Barstow, the depot, which was bustling with activity in the early 1900s when passengers rushed off of the train to eat at the Harvey House restaurant, is now quiet and almost empty. The building houses the Chamber of Commerce, a few city offices, Route 66 Museum and the Western Railroad Museum.
Both museums are full of artifacts but small so it doesn’t take long to see them. They’re opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. The railroad museum has very little information about any of the items which makes it hard to figure out how they were all used. Engines, cabooses, and service vehicles are on display outside.
Both museums are accessible. The Route 66 Museum is located in the lower level of the building and has a ramp inside at the entrance. It’s fine when entering but hard when exiting because there isn’t a landing.
The parking lot is large enough for any RV. Large RVs can park across the spaces by the train cars. The museums are on opposite ends of the depot.
The Sage Brush Inn, west of Helendale and now a private residence, was a roadhouse in the 1930s and 40s and later a gas station.
Watch for the sun sparkling off of the bottles at Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch and slow down to stop and walk through this usual forest. Elmer Long’s interest in bottle collecting started when he was a boy, taking road trips with his father and exploring old dumps along the way. Eventually he had a large collection of bottles and other junk. The bottle ranch was born when he inherited his father’s bottle collection and wanted a way to display everything.
Don’t forget to look up to see all of the stuff at the top of each of the trees!
The ground is sandy but it’s possible to maneuver a wheelchair through most of the bottle forest.
There’s enough room on the side of the road for RV parking but go slowly because it has a hump.
The short stretch of commercial buildings along the west side of Route 66 in Oro Grande houses a colorful mix of antique stores and restaurants.
Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe was built in 1947 by Bob and Kate Holland. When Richard and Emma Jean bought it in 1979 they added Emma Jean’s name to the existing name. The cafe is still run by Emma Jean’s children.
The fun little California Route 66 Museum in Victorville is a must stop. The museum is packed with Route 66 memorabilia. Visitors may also climb into a VW hippy van or an “Okie” truck for a cute photo opportunity.
The museum is accessible. The truck and van do not have ramps.
A large parking lot is located on the south side of the museum building but there isn’t an entrance on the main street. The only options are to hop the curb or try to maneuver through the alley and under low hanging wires. It was difficult for us so it would not work with a larger RV. On street parking of RVs is not permitted in Victorville but there is a large public parking lot across the street where RVs can park.
I’m not sure if the haze in the air as we headed down the interstate into LA was caused by population or dust.
Taking exit 129 leads to this section of Route 66 through Cajon Pass. The two lanes on the left are not used any more. After six miles the road is blocked off so it’s back on the interstate for the final miles down the hill.