Historic Route 66 in California receives National Scenic Byway status


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Needles Field Office

Media Contact:

Michelle Van Der Linden
Route 66 at Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert. (Photo by Bob Wick, BLM)

Moreno Valley, Calif. —  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Barstow and Needles Field Offices are thrilled to share that the Historic Route 66 between Needles and Barstow is officially one of America’s Byways. The Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byways Program announced the designation of the California Historic Route 66 Needles to Barstow Scenic Byway last week.

“Historic Route 66 from Needles to Barstow is a unique section of the 2,400-mile route,” said Needles Field Manager Mike Ahrens. “You’ll see beautiful desert vistas and more than 120 impressive wooden bridges, travel through small historic towns, connect to several recreational opportunities on public lands and areas of historic interest.” 

The California Historic Route 66 Needles to Barstow Scenic Byway connects visitors to the Mojave Trails National Monument with 1.6 million acres to explore. Research shows that a scenic byway designation results in increased tourism and economic benefits for local communities.

“We are thrilled by what this means for the BLM and our many partners,” said Barstow Field Manager Katrina Symons. “Route 66 plays a huge role in American history. This important byway designation will draw even more travelers to the route and have a very positive economic impact on local communities.” 

The California Historic Route 66 Association and the BLM, California Desert District, in 2014, began developing a plan to preserve the history of Route 66 through the Mojave Desert, and later partnered to submit the byway nomination. The historic 178-mile stretch of roadway was among 63 nominations reviewed for consideration. Of those, 49 byways in 28 states were designated, including 34 National Scenic Byways and 15 All-American Roads. The California Historic Route 66 Needles to Barstow Scenic Byway was the only byway designated in California.

“This is a must-see portion of roadway and a treasure trove for history buffs and travelers alike,” said California Desert District Manager Andrew Archuleta. “The landscape has changed very little since Route 66 was formally adopted in 1926 as part of the national transportation system and there is so much to see and do in the area. We look forward to celebrating this significant milestone responsibly once CDC COVID guidelines allow.”

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.