Interstate 40 in California


Get started barstow
End Needles
Length 155 mi
Length 249 km
→ Los Angeles / Las Vegas1 Barstow

2 Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

5 Nebo Street

7 Daygett

12 Barstow-Daggett Airport

18 Newberry Springs

23 Newberry Springs

33 Hector Road

50 Ludlow

78 Kelbaker Road

100 Essex

107 Essex

115 Mountain Springs Road

120 Water Road

133 → Las Vegas

139 River Road Cutoff

141 Needles

142 Downtown Needles

144 → Blythe

148 Five Mile Road

153 Park Moabi Road

Arizona → Kingman

Interstate 40 is an Interstate Highway in the US state of California. The highway runs east-west in the south of the state, from Barstow, just northeast of Los Angeles, to the Arizona border at Needles. One passes through the virtually unpopulated Mojave Desert and east of Barstow there are no larger towns on the route. The route in California is 249 kilometers long.

Travel directions

I-40 at Needles.

In Barstow, a regional town in the Mojave Desert, Interstate 40 exits from Interstate 15, which runs from San Diego to Las Vegas. The highway has 2×2 lanes and runs parallel to Historic Route 66. You pass through the inhospitable Mojave Desert and a little further east is the Mojave National Preserve, a nature reserve. Near the hamlet of Pisgah you pass a solidified lava field. The only place in the desert is Ludlow, a hamlet of dilapidated buildings from the days when Route 66 was still heavily trafficked. Today, that traffic goes via I-40. It crosses a number of dried-up seasonal riverbeds and passes not far from Devils Playground. This area is very remote and there are no facilities for miles around.

One comes over the 793 meter high South Pass, a fairly long climb of 40 kilometers. West of Needles, US 95 joins from Las Vegas and passes Needles, little more than a large town of barely 5,000 inhabitants, but the largest town between Barstow and the Arizona border. That border is not far away and is formed by the Colorado River. First, US 95 merges to cross the desert toward Blythe, onto Interstate 10 150 miles south. It crosses the Arizona border 12 miles southeast of Needles, where Interstate 40 continues in Arizona toward Kingman and Flagstaff.


According to Topschoolsintheusa, the first plans of I-40 in California date from 1947. In 1957 it was proposed to number the road as I-30 because US 40 was already in the state and two identical numbers in one state are in principle not allowed. However, this was rejected and US 40 was renumbered Interstate 80 at the time. The state of California proposed in 1956 and 1968 that State Route 58 between Barstow and Bakersfield also be used as I-40, but this plan failed both times. I-40 eventually replaced Historic Route 66 and some villages on the route have become ghost towns.

The highway was built mainly in the 1960s through the Mojave Desert, in difficult conditions for the workers due to the extremely high temperatures and long distances to villages. Between Barstow and Needles there is not a single village for 200 kilometers. After the construction of the motorway, some truck stops have grown into small towns with facilities for through traffic.

The first section of the highway opened to traffic in 1961 and was a 1-kilometer branch of I-15 in Barstow. Then in 1964 an extension opened from Barstow to Daggett. In 1966, the bridge opened over the Colorado River on the border with the state of Arizona. Large parts of the route were opened up through the Mojave Desert in 1967-1968. The last section to open was the Needles bypass in 1973.

Opening history
From Unpleasant Length Date
0 1 Barstow-Montara Road 1 km 00-00-1961
1 Barstow-Montara Road 7 Daygett 10 km 00-00-1964
153 Park Moabi Road Arizona state line 2 km 00-00-1966
133 141 Needles River Road 13 km 00-00-1967
144 Needles 153 Park Moabi Road 14 km 00-00-1967
23 Fort Cady Road Lavic Road overpass 30 km 00-00-1967
Lavic Road overpass 50 Ludlow 14 km 00-00-1968
7 Daygett 23 Fort Cady Road 26 km 00-00-1968
100 Essex Road 115 Mountain Springs Road 24 km 00-00-1970
115 Mountain Springs Road 133 29 km 00-00-1971
50 Ludlow 78 Kelbaker Road 45 km 00-00-1972
78 Kelbaker Road 100 Essex Road 35 km 00-00-1973
141 Needles River Road 144 Needles 5 km 00-00-1973

Traffic intensities

Exit Location 2007 2016
Exit 1 Barstow ( I-15 ) 19,000 21,000
Exit 78 Mojave Desert 13,000 12,000
Exit 154 border with Arizona 14,000 13,000

Lane Configuration

From Unpleasant Lanes
exit 0 Exit 153 2×2

Interstate 40 in California

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