California Route 66 Unusual

Amboy California Ghost Town

Amboy CA Route 66
Written by Jeff

updated on May 10th, 2019

On our Route 66 road trip to the west coast, we found our way to a curious little town called Amboy, California. Amboy, CA was first settled in 1858 and established in 1883, and has a long history nestled between the towns of Barstow and Needles, California.

Amboy, California History

Amboy, California was originally established by Lewis Kingman for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Amboy was the first of a series of alphabetical railroad stations constructed spanning the Mojave Desert, along with Bagdad, Chambless, Danby, and others. Before the construction of the I-40 in 1973 which bypassed Amboy, this was quite a bustling place. The motel was a popular stop for weary travelers, like a little oasis in the desert.

Amboy, A California Ghost Town

After several miles of driving through empty desert, we came upon Amboy and were greeted by the iconic Roy’s Motel and Cafe sign.

Roy's Cafe & Motel Amboy CA
The iconic Roy’s Motel & Cafe with our new German friend riding by.

We were the only people in the entire town, save for a man running a small gift shop. After 15-ish minutes, a German man rode by on a bike. He stopped to say hello, and told us about his travels across the US.

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After parking near the defunct Amboy gas station, we began exploring the several derelict cabins by the road after noticing there were no doors on them. We couldn’t believe what we found…

Amboy CA Cabins

The first cabin had shelves lined with water bottles filled with urine accompanied by a small sign encouraging visitors to “Recycle You”. In the bathroom, there were funnels and a clearly non-functioning toilet, where adventurous travelers presumably decided to get into the recycling spirit.

Amboy Ghost Town
Amboy Cabins
Ghost Town Amboy California
Amboy California Ghost Town
Because where else are you going to fill up your pee bottle?

Each cabin had a different art installation. One mapped rainfall in the Mojave Desert, and one held a soiled mattress where, as we later learned, the German biker found shelter for the night.

Amboy California Route 66

After checking out all of the cabins we tried to move to the motel behind them. However, it was surrounded by a chainlink fence. I walked up to the fence and shot a photo through the links and headed back to the car to take a look at the decrepit Amboy School, which only closed in 1999, but was also blocked by a chainlink fence. We drove off as the sun was setting, amused by the odd art installations and the empty town.

Amboy California School

It wasn’t until a week after the trip, at home reviewing photos, that we noticed a super creepy photo of this possibly haunted Amboy, California hotel.

Amboy California Motel
Look carefully in the windows
Creepy Amboy Motel

We thought this was at least a tiny bit spooky, so we did what anyone would do: we posted it to Reddit. The photo caught the imagination of quite a few people and made the rounds on plenty of tabloids and websites around the world. While there was plenty of speculation of whether it was real blood and what could have caused such a bloody scene, I figured why not just reach out to those still running Roy’s Cafe. I sent them an email asking about what might have happened in the room. See below- this is a direct copy of the email:

As much as like to tell gruesome stories about Amboy I must say it was from a movie shoot a few weeks ago and at first I was upset with the production crew but then I couldn’t just paint over it. I would have to scrape it off and fix the finished walls.

But then people started noticing it from far and it now keeps people away from getting too close.

Thank you for coming to Amboy and letting us be talked about.

When I replied asking for some more details on the movie that was being filmed, I received this reply:

That is what I was told to tell people but I think there is allot more to this story and the people living in Amboy

I responded asking for more clarification but my reply was never answered.

Were they just trying to maintain intrigue of a lonely town alive, or was there a heinous slaying in the fenced-off Amboy Motel? We’ll let you be the judge.


After looking around the internet we found a news story from Channel 3 Las Vegas who went through Amboy a couple months after us. They mentioned the blood-stained motel wall:

In one of the motel rooms, they say, blood suddenly appeared on one of the walls. Blood that had not been there the day before.

So, did we uncover an unexplained murder? Or did we help the town of Amboy, California begin a new legend they can regale the rare passerby? We may never know the true story.

Want more? Check out all these Route 66 Ghost Towns!

This abandoned hotel on Route 66, with a blood-splattered room, was the creepiest place we've ever been

Leave a Comment


  • I use to live in 29 palms. And would drive through Amboy on the way to Vegas. My best friend and I had had our boys with us on one of the trips. We stopped at Roy’s because they wanted snacks. As we got put of the car and started to walk up the the couple of people we saw quickly places a chair behind the door and locked it. Creepy if you ask me.

  • The blood on the wall? It’s the Hitcher! A very unnerving movie was shot in Amboy in 1986 called The Hitcher. I’d never heard of the place till I saw the movie a few weeks ago but now I’m intrigued by it, and want to go. I love the desert, I would love too see the desert at night also and visit Roy’s Cafe.

    • Hey Purcell! Do you know when in the movie the blood on the walls would make sense?

      I skimmed through the movie a couple times and couldn’t find anything. I’d love to know that’s what the blood on the walls was from, but when I asked they said it was from a movie that shot “a couple weeks ago”, and I can’t imagine that bright red color would have held up that well after 30+ years.

  • Back in 1970 when I was a kid I use to live in Amboy, Calif. I had been in a foster home prior to that and that’s where the county worker took me when I got out of a foster home. my grandmother and mother was living there. We lived kind of across the street from that Roy’s motel. that gift shop use to be a small grocery store. I even attendant that school for a minute. We lived in a mobile home trailer on this desert property across the street from that Motel. We were always told to stay away from that motel and those cabins because they had really bad people who lived there and they would kidnap us and kill us. So we were always afraid of that place.

  • Thanks for sharing your photos. I’m doing research for a book about Route 66 and I stumbled across your website. Interestingly, there is a travel guidebook published earlier this year that claims about Roy’s, “Although the motel is abandoned, the gas station and cafe are occasionally open.” That seemed odd to me, “occasionally open.” From the looks of these photos, nothing is open for business. Did you see anything that would indicate that they do any sort of business there anymore, even sporadically?

    • Hey Kathy,

      The cafe was definitely open. We didn’t go in, so I can’t say if they were actually serving any hot food. If I recall, it looked more like it was setup as a convenience store from the outside.

      I did email back and forth with the “manager”, to ask about the blood spatter on the walls of the motel, so there is definitely someone in charge of the structures in the area.