Route 66 tourism has survived many decades and with the advent of electric automobiles this classic cultural phenomena will thrive well into the future. As long as the wheels keep spinning and there are people longing for an alternative to the mainstream cookie cutter lifestyle, the Route 66 culture will survive. All it takes to experience what Route 66 is all about is to get off of the hypnotic interstate highway and drive the old two lane road that so many eager western tourists cruised in the past.
Needles, California certainly is a classic Route 66 destination and this old town cherishes the Mother Road cultural heritage. Just like with many western Route 66 towns, Needles began as a railroad stop in the late 1800s. The old dirt road National Highway system followed the railroad lines through the Mojave Desert and later this road system became Route 66. Needles has seen all forms of modern transportation through the years, including horse and wagon, so the Mother Road heritage runs thick in these parts.
Local tourism went full swing during the golden years of Route 66 and this is when Needles became much more than just a railroad stopover out in the middle of nowhere. Almost overnight the Colorado River, old gold rush ghost towns in the hills and scenic areas in the desert became prime attractions for visitors longing to experience the wild west. Entrepreneurs in Needles catered to this new source of income by constructing accommodations with captivating adventurous themes. Route 66 was all about entertaining all who passed through back in those days and fortunately many of the old classic buildings have survived into this modern age.
On the down side, Route 66 Needles was bypassed by Interstate 40 and just like with so many other helpless communities that suffered this fate, the flow of tourism traffic slowed down to a trickle. Needles always seems to attract the loyal Route 66 nostalgia buffs and these folks have kept the old landmark Route 66 businesses alive. This town boasts a few classic motels, restaurants and a burger stand from the golden years, which have become havens for those who wish to relive the past.
In recent years, Needles has become a basecamp town for Colorado River and Mojave Desert adventures. The new Mojave Trails National Monument and Mojave National Preserve were established right next door, which is a real plus. The improved dirt roads and the addition of facilities in these vast wilderness areas has opened the door for Mojave Desert tourism like never before. The Moabi Regional Park, Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and the old Route 66 pathway to Oatman Ghost Town are just across the river, so Needles is positioned to cater to visitors seeking a world of outdoor adventure. Modern legal cannabis tourism has also entered the local Route 66 scene, but that is another story altogether.
It is easy to see that Route 66 tourism will never fade away and Needles, California will always be there, so there are no worries or hurries. The old historic Goffs Road and Highway 95 alignments are nearby so the dream of cruising old Route 66 through the wide open spaces in a big car can still be fulfilled. Touring Route 66 certainly still is an adventure like no other, so be sure to keep the wheels turning on the road less traveled!
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