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California State Route 62 and US Route 95 Retrospective (2016 Cross-Country Trip Part 5)

After crossing the Colorado River I entered California and began westward journey to US 95.  My next major destination was Needles which I intended to reach via California State Route 62 and US Route 95.


Both CA 62 and US 95 are routes I've driven in full several times in California.  Since I don't have a ton of pictures from 2016 I thought that would highlight the history of both highways in addition to throwing some older photos for context.

CA 62 is a 151 mile east/west highway which traverses through San Bernardino County and Riverside County.  CA 62 more or less skirts the boundary of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts throughout it's entire alignment.


Westward CA 62 begins at the Colorado River in the Sonoran Desert and the spur route of AZ 95 at the Arizona line.  Progressing westward CA 62 follows Aqueduct Road for approximately 17 miles before meeting US 95 in Vidal Junction which is the location of a state Agriculture checkpoint.

West of Vidal Junction CA 62 enters the Mojave Desert and runs on Rice Road.  18.4 miles west of Vidal Junction is the ghost town of Rice which was a feature on this blog previously.

Ghost Town Tuesday; Rice, CA and the bomb

Approximately 22 miles west of Rice CA 62 dips into Riverside County and has a junction with CA 177.  CA 62 continues west on the Twenty Nine Palms Highway while CA 177 is the continuation of Rice Road to I-10.  I plan on featuring CA 177 later this year as I've used the route countless times.  I even have a CA 177 shield in my garage which collected since it is such a common route I've frequently visited.


CA 62 quickly reenters San Bernardino County and runs on Twenty Nine Palms Highway through open desert for approximately another 51 miles to the city of Twenty Nine Palms.  Although it isn't signed westbound the section of CA 62 from the Arizona State Line to Twenty Nine Palms is the longest stretch of state highway in California without services at 100 miles.  There is a 100 miles without services sign on CA 62 eastbound leaving Twenty Nine Palms east of the Utah Trail.


Within Twenty Nine Palms CA 62 has access to Joshua Tree National Park in several locations; the Utah Trail, 49 Palm Canyon Road, and Indian Cove Road.  To the west in downtown Joshua Tree CA 62 connects to Joshua Tree National Park via Park Boulevard and Quail Springs Road.  I took this picture of a CA 62 shield later in 2016 while heading north out of Joshua Tree National Park on Park Boulevard.


In Yucca Valley CA 62 has a junction with CA 247 at the infamously named Old Woman Springs Road.


West of Yucca Valley and CA 247 the alignment of CA 62 passes through Morongo Valley before reentering Riverside County in the Little San Bernardino Mountains.  After CA 62 descends through the Little San Bernardino Mountains it terminates at I-10 in the Sonoran Desert near San Gorgonio Pass.

Update October 2019:  This past month I returned to the Palm Springs Area to do some hiking out in Joshua Tree National Park.  That being the case I took some photos of CA 62 between I-10 and Park Boulevard in Joshua Tree.

My approach to CA 62 eastbound was from I-10 west on the outskirts of Palm Springs of Riverside County through the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm which is sometimes locally referred to as the "Windmill Graveyard."  Traffic from I-10 west approaching Joshua Tree National Park is directed to take Exit 117 onto CA 62.










CA 62 eastbound is signed as the "Twentynine Palms Highway."  Although the cardinal direction of CA 62 is eastbound it is actually a direct northward jog initially towards the San Bernardino Mountains.



At Post Mile RIV R0.819 CA 62 eastbound intersects Dillon Road.  Dillon Road is a notable local highway which spans the entirety of Coachella Valley.



Twentynine Palms is signed as 41 miles away on CA 62 east.





CA 62 eastbound intersects Indian Canyon Drive at Post Mile RIV R6.446.






CA 62 east lowers to a 55 MPH zone as it enters the San Bernardino Mountains.  CA 62 continues through a canyon as an expressway into San Bernardino County where it emerges into Morongo Valley at Post Mile SBD 1.207.












CA 62 east passes through Morongo Valley, traffic is advised that Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is accessible via East Drive.





CA 62 east of Morongo Valley is signed as 17 miles from Joshua Tree and 32 miles from Twentynine Palms.


CA 62 east continues to ascend through the San Bernardino Mountains into Yucca Valley of the Mojave Desert at Post Mile SBD 8.356.












At Post Mile SBD 10.531 CA 62 east intersects Pioneertown Road in Yucca Valley.   Pioneertown Road travels westward to the community of the same name which has been a popular Western filming backdrop.





At Post Mile SBD 12.392 CA 62 east meets CA 247/Old Woman Springs Road in Yucca Valley.







Joshua Tree is signed 6 miles from Yucca Valley on CA 62.


CA 62 eastbound continues into Joshua Tree and intersects Park Boulevard at Post Mile SBD 18.267.  Park Boulevard is one of the primary entrances for traffic into Joshua Tree National Park.







CA 62 was not part of the original run of Signed State Highways.  CA 62 was part of Legislative Route 187 which was adopted in 1933 according to CAhighways.org.  The first section of what became CA 62 shows as a state highway between US 60/70/99 in Whitewater north to Morongo Valley on the 1936-37 Division of Highways State Map.


On the 1960 Division of Highways State Map a proposed extension of LRN 187 to CA 18 and Lucerne Valley is shown.


By 1962 LRN 187 reached Yucca Valley and had a junction with LRN 218 east to Twenty Nine Palms.  According to CAhighways.org LRN 218 was defined in 1961.  The extension of LRN 187 and new route of LRN 218 can be seen on the 1962 Division of Highways State Map.


In 1964 LRN 187 from Whitewater to Yucca Valley and LRN 218 were renumbered as CA 62.  The change to CA 62 can be seen 1964 Division of Highways State Map.



Sometime between 1970 and 1975 CA 62 was completed east of Twenty Nine Palms to the Arizona State Line.  According to CAhighways.org CA 62 was extended east to the Arizona State Line legislatively in 1970.  The completed route of CA 62 can be viewed on the 1975 Caltrans State Highway Map.


US 95 was not one of the original US Routes within California.  The modern alignment of US 95 is 117 miles and enters California in San Bernardino County northwest of Needles via Clark County.  US 95 uses an old alignment of US 66 southward to reach I-40.  US 95 multiplexes I-40 to Needles where it splits south towards CA 62.  South of CA 62 the alignment of US 95 enters Riverside County and continues to I-10 in Blythe.  US 95 multiplexes I-10 into Arizona and I believe is the only two state maintained highways with the same endpoint in California.


The alignment of US 95 from the Nevada State Line south to Blythe was part of the original CA 195 which was announced in the Summer of 1934.  CA 195 was slightly different than the alignment of US 95 in that it continued south of Blythe on what is now CA 78 to Palo Verde.  CA 195 was a signing of the entirety of LRN 146 which was adopted in 1933 according to CAhighways.org.  CA 195 can be observed in full scope described above on the 1938 Division of Highways State Map.



Interestingly the section of US 95 between I-40 and Goffs Road was part of the original alignment of US 66.  In the early draft of the US Route System US 91 was intended to enter from the Nevada State Line and terminate at US 60 near Bannock.  US 60 became US 66 and US 91 was shifted to the west on the new Arrowhead Highway alignment; more regarding early history of US 91 can be found here.  Some time between 1930 and 1932 US 66 was shifted south on a more direct route between Needles and Essex.  Interestingly it appears that US 66 was on a County Maintained roadway when it ran on Goffs Road since LRN 58 hadn't been fully built.

1930 State Highway Map 


1932 State Highway Map 


By 1940 US 95 was extended south into California where it ended at US 60/70 which was on Hobson Way in Blythe.  USends.com shows the endpoints of US 95 and the new routing can be seen on the 1940 Division of Highways State Map.



According to USends US 95 was extended into Arizona in 1961.  The California State Highway Map don't show enough detail to show the US 95 extension but the 1961 Arizona State Highway Map does.



As for my trip up US 95 it was very uneventful.  US 95 has numerous dips and dives as it straddles the line between the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts north of CA 62 but it is generally a fast trip given it is mostly signed at 65 MPH.  I found myself in Needles in fairly short order and jumped onto I-40 westbound.  My next destination was an former US 66 in Essex west to Ludlow.



Comments

Anonymous said…


Made the drive between the Blythe Airport and Needles Airport many times. I was a weather observer that worked both sites before they were automated. Late 1980s and early 1990s. Very desolate drive, lots of dips that is for sure!

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