US 80 Guide

Mountain Spring and In-Ko-Pah Gorge

80-mtn_sprng_old_rd.jpg (31523 bytes) Rugged Terrain
The area around Mountain Spring has always posed a problem for highway designers. As the pictures shows, this is very unforgiving, rocky terrain. The concrete road in the center of the picture was bypassed in 1940; modern I-8 is in the background.

Mountain Spring

I-8 has a huge split between the east bound and west bound lanes as it descends into the Imperial Valley. As far as I've been able to tell, this is the biggest split on an Interstate highway, as the lanes are close to two miles apart at one point. This section of I-8 was built in 1966. The eastbound lanes follow the general route of US 80 down the In-Ko-Pah Gorge, while the westbound lanes, which ascend Devil's Canyon were added in 1964. While much of US 80 was obliterated in favor of the Interstate lanes, portions are still visible along the canyon, demonstrating the advances made in road engineering over the period of 40 years. From the appearance of the old road, US 80 in this section must have been an exceptionally dangerous stretch of highway. The remaining portions, visible mostly to the left, follow the contours of the canyon walls, following a tortuous route of sharp curves and steep descents. The road itself looks to be narrower than the section through the mountains, with little to no shoulders. It looks similar to the old Ridge Route, north of Los Angeles, which is covered in detail on Mike Ballard's page.

The bottom of the In-Ko-Pah Gorge offers a remarkable contrast in scenery. The mountains suddenly stop and give way to desert. The freeway rejoins itself just to the east and US 80 remains buried under the westbound lanes of I-8 for about two miles to a point just beyond the junction with SR-98 and the railroad overcrossing. The next exit is Imperial County S2, which is where the tiny town of Octillo is located. This is a good place to get gas, water and other supplies for the long drive across the desert.

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80_old_shield2.gif (3780 bytes) East: Mountain Spring
West:  El Cajon and Laguna Mountains, West


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