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American Roads: Site Map > U.S. Highways > U.S Highway 80 > U.S Highway 80 in California

U.S. Highway 80 in California

US 80 over Carrizo Creek


Driving historic U.S. highway 80 through California is a real road adventure. The old road stretches from Yuma on the southwest border of Arizona to downtown San Diego. You'll travel back into an earlier time as you pass through desert sand dunes, mountain pine forests, and on to the Pacific coast. There's plenty to see along the way, including classic road house cafes, hot springs, ghost towns, vintage sections of concrete roadway, casinos, historic tourist stops, and real cowboys and native Americans. Highway 80 passes through picturesque town centers, passes right by San Diego's famous zoo and Balboa Park, and ends in one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.


Historic California State Highway US 80

The opening ceremony of state historic route US 80, featuring a series of ribbon cuttings along a motorcade route, occured in San Diego County, October 2006.
Opening ceremony and motorcade photos.


Road Status

Most of old U.S. 80 still exists in California.
Only five sections are discontinuous and require a detour onto the interstate highway. These are west of Yuma at the check station, through the Algodones Dunes, up the In-Ko-Pah (Mountain Springs) grade, between state highway 79 and Viejas Indian Reservation, and between El Cajon and La Mesa. These correspond to the following freeway exits:

  1. Between exits 166 and 164

  2. Between exits 159 and 151

  3. Between exits 89 and 77

  4. Between exits 40 and 36

  5. Between exits 14 and 15

This makes a total of about 27 miles of detours. This does not mean that U.S. 80 does not exist in these areas, however. Remnants of 80 can be found in each section. In section 1, a spur can be driven northwest of exit 166, and traces of the older road exist between the check station and exit 164. In section 2, long stretches exist as Grays Well Road in the Algodones Dunes area, and bits of the older asphalt and plank road, bypassed after 1926, can also be found. The Ocotillo and Mountain Springs area, section 3, has many cut off spurs and isolated loops of both US 80 and the older auto trail. In section 4 can be found a long concrete spur along Wildwood Glen Lane making up almost half the length of the detour. The freeway in the area of section 5 can be avoided completely by taking a detour on city streets parallel to the interstate. In either direction you'll end up feeding right onto 80.

The rest of U.S. 80, about 150 miles, can be driven continuously on the original road bed.

US 80 in Bankhead Springs U.S. 80 has been decommissioned in California since July 1, 1964, when "route 80" came to mean I-80 in the northern part of the state. The road was still used as a state highway and signed as a U.S. numbered highway until completion of Interstate 8 in 1974, however.


Drive Maps

Below are the links here for my California U.S. 80 drive maps. These first editions maps cover all of California from Yuma to Point Loma in San Diego. If you note errors on any of the maps posted here, please let me know the error and the source for correction. I can change the drawing file and make a new image easily.

These maps can be printed in landscape orientation onto 8.5 x 11 inch card stock, and cut down the center to create strip maps of the route. They look quite large on screen since they are 300 dpi for printing.

(Note: printers are funny creatures, and the margins can be very different on them. I recommend doing a preview before printing to make sure everything fits onto one page. The neat line boxes should be exactly 9.5 x 3.5 inches, and the scale bar exactly one inch long once printed. The actual image size is slightly longer than 9.5 inches. Don't print directly from the browser window. Browsers put information in the margins that mess things up. Download the image and print in an image program such as Photoshop. Even though I uploaded the image myself, once I downloaded the image and opened it in Photoshop, I still had to tweak the margins to make it work.)


U.S. 80 driving directions

GPS tracks for U.S. 80

These rough tracks can be used for finding geocaches along a route. The files are kml and gpx files generated by Google Earth and Links are also provided for members of to the route pages in order to create geocache pocket queries.

KML and GPX files of US 80 tracks caches along a route links

U.S. 80 Region Maps 

1924 San Diego and Imperial map

1924 California State transportation highway map, San Diego and Imperial Counties.

1934 San Diego and Imperial map

1934 California State transportation highway map, San Diego and Imperial Counties.

1944 San Diego and Imperial map

1944 California State transportation highway map, San Diego and Imperial Counties.


Aerial and Topo Layout Maps

The maps below were created by laying the track from a right of way map onto aerial photos or topographic maps.

My Photo Tours of U.S. Highway 80



Copyright © S. Varner 2006