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Barstow (CA)

This former mining town on the edge of the Mojave Desert is a favorite stopping point on the famous Route 66. At a junction of several highways and railroads, the majority of Barstow's visitors are on their way someplace else, either following Route 66 or to Las Vegas or the Californian coast. This doesn't mean Barstow lacks attractions for passers-through; on the contrary, this town of twenty-thousand is full of surprises for travelers with time to spare.

For the road trippers, Barstow takes a strategic place along Route 66, with a handful of legendary sites in close range. Bagdad Café is one, made famous in the film of the same name, the El Rancho Motel and Route 66 Motel two more iconic bastions of Americana. Hotels and motels in Barstow have long been used by long-distance travelers to break up their journey – many of them retaining a rustic, retro flavor. For more Route 66 memorabilia, the Mother Road Museum is housed in the Casa del Desierto – a former railway station known for its luxurious facilities and hospitality.

Barstow is located in the west of the Mojave Desert and serves as a popular entry point for the Mojave National Preserve. This preserve features various microhabitats and diverse landscapes that include the Kelso Dunes, Joshua trees, canyons and volcanic rock formations. For the adventure tourist, spelunking is possible in the lava tubes. The Mojave is a major tourist magnet, with hotels in Barstow a logical choice for travelers not camping in the park itself.

Other things to do include going to one of America's last remaining drive-in theatres, visiting the nearby ghost town of Calico Hill and fossil hunting at Rainbow Basin, where footprints and fossils from the Miocene era have been unearthed.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Barstow, click on the interactive Barstow map on the left-hand side of the page.