Sunday, May 10, 2015

Route 66 in the Mojave Desert

Roy's Motel Cafe on Route 66
Roy's Motel Cafe alongside historic Route 66
In the spring months I'm often passing through the Mojave Desert, which puts me on historic Route 66.  There are a number of old houses and businesses along the way, mostly in various states of disrepair, but there's a nice cluster of buildings worth checking out in the small town of Amboy, including Roy's Motel Cafe, the deserted and overgown Amboy School, and a picturesque, if dilapidated, church.

Amboy Crater
Spring is also the time for wildflowers in the desert, so if you catch the timing right, you can see many species like this desert sunflower with Amboy Crater in the background.  Amboy Crater is a couple of miles west of Amboy alongside Route 66, and if it's not too hot you can walk about a mile to the crater itself.  The trail winds its way around black lava flows, which warm up in the sun, so brings plenty of water.

If the plants are growing green in the area, keep a sharp eye out for several species of large lizards in the lava, including chuckwallas, which grow to 18" long and nearly 2 pounds in weight.

From Amboy you can travel north to explore Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park, south to explore Joshua Tree National Park, or west to Baker and up the Eastern Sierra.

A short distance to the east of Amboy, the walls of a building have been turned into a canvas for graffiti art.
East of Amboy

This area is covered in my 320-page guidebook to landscape photography in Southern California, coming this September (  In the meantime, if you'd like to buy the Northern California guidebook in the series, written by photographer Gary Crabbe, I've placed Photographing California Vol. 1: North - A Guide to the Natural Landmarks of the Golden Statein my recommendations on Amazon.  If you access Amazon through this link, your purchases there will can fund these travels and reports, and the development of my guides: 

Amboy Church

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