A boomtown during the heyday of “America’s Highway” Route 66, Amboy once served travelers on the western end of the long road from Chicago to Los Angeles.
When the completion of the Interstate Highway System in the second half of the 20th century made Route 66 obsolete, Amboy, like many other route boom towns, passed into desolation. One of the original residents maintained what little there was left, allowing a few Hollywood movies to be filmed there, but at the turn of the 21st century, he’d had enough and sold the entire town. Amboy then passed through different hands and was, at one point, even listed for sale on eBay. The town is currently owned by the owner of the California-based fast-food chain Juan Pollo, Albert Okura.
Okura has repainted the old motel cabins with a goal to slowly re-open the town, cafe, gas station, and motel cabins. Now that the cafe and gas station known as Roy’s is up and running, Okura had new neon tubes manufactured and held a lighting ceremony for the new signage.
The service station has recently started selling gas again, with regular hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, every day. The school, church, airport, and graveyard can still be explored by adventurous travelers who can handle the heavy heat of the Mojave Desert, and a nearby volcanic crater adds to the atmosphere. Come to town with your own water and a full tank of gas, in case Roy’s isn’t open. The only sound you might hear during a visit to this town is a train passing through and the occasional small aircraft landing on the gravel airstrip.
Know Before You Go
Located about 50 miles north of Twentynine Palms and about 80 miles west of Needles, Amboy is accessible from I-40; exit 78.
If coming from the Palm Springs area, take I-10 to CA-62 through Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. Route 62 does not go to Amboy. In 29 Palms, you must go north a couple of miles to Amboy Road before turning east toward Wonder Valley and the Mojave Desert. Amboy Road becomes Route 66 for a few miles and continues straight into the old town of Amboy (turn to the east). Be prepared to wait for long BNSF trains to pass both directions before entering the town. If you want to go to the Amboy Crater instead, turn west at 66 instead, and continue for one mile.