Amboy

Amboy, California is a favored desert ride destination for my riding group, in addition to hundreds of others. For me, there’s a certain nostalgia about the route, since I frequently rode and drove the roads through it, including the stretch of Historic Route 66 between Amboy and Essex near I-40, in the 70s and 80s in order to visit relatives living near Bullhead City, Arizona. In the photo shown here, Kim and Danny Underwood take a break with bottles of cold soda from Roy’s.

Spending as little time on a freeway as possible, we typically get off I-10 at Route 64 and ride through the growing desert towns of Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. In Yucca Valley, Hutchin’s Route 62 Diner serves up hearty traditional diner fare. In Joshua Tree, the Joshua Tree Saloon offers a fine amber bock on tap, and burgers and dogs from an outside barbeque.

After gassing up in Twentynine Palms, a left turn onto the Utah Trail takes us over the hill toward the Marine base. At the bottom of the hill, a right turn puts our tires on Amboy Road.

Amboy road runs nearly straight east from Twentynine Palms. Because of the rolling topography of the valley floor and the sometimes iffy state of repair of the asphalt, it is not a high-speed road, but even at 60mph, there is always something to look at. The area is surprisingly populated, and there is light local traffic.

Not far past the fire station, the road turns north in a long banked curve, then rises up over the Sheephole Mountains through the Sheephole Pass. The curves through the pass are deceptive in places and include dips and decreasing radius turns. The photo shown here is a view from a convenient stopping point in the pass toward the valley in the north where Amboy is located.

On the north side of the pass, the road runs down a long grade toward Bristol Dry lake, and the town of Amboy can be seen in the far distance. In 2009 the stretch of road between the pass and the town was smooth, but ten to twelve year spans between resurfacing are typical. The attractions at Amboy include Roy’s, Amboy Crater, and Bristol Dry Lake.

Roy’s is the center of the town of Amboy and an iconic location on Historical Route 66. In it’s heyday, Roy’s included a gasoline station, restaurant, and motel. Due to the heat, Amboy is not a good summer destination for motorcyclists.

Even in the winter, the shade of the gas station canopy provides a welcome break from the sun. Gasoline and drinks are available at the gas station. Since Albert Okura bought the town in 2005 for a purported $450,000, efforts aimed at the restoration of the town have been steady and ongoing.

Bristol Dry Lake is the location of a mining operation. The earth of the dry lake bed is periodically reformed with heavy equipment and large areas of the lake are flooded with water to leach the salts from the ground. Note the “dragon’s tooth” in the distance on the dry lake bed.

A very short ride to the west of Amboy on Route 66 will take you to the parking area for Amboy Crater. The facilities at the crater include a somewhat rough dirt entry road, a graveled parking lot, restrooms, a shaded picnic table, and a shaded observation deck. This photo was taken from Amboy Road and shows part of the lava field with the crater in the distance.

The crater is estimated to be around 6,000 years old. The interior of the crater contains a lava lake. A breach in the crater’s walls allowed lava to flow out of the crater and form a 27 square mile (72 square kilometer) lava field. One can easily explore the lava field around the crater or from Amboy Road beside the dry lake.

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