Best way to cross California?
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Sep 28, 2012 7:27 AM Last Post By: Bouteloua1
Sep 27, 2012 1:38 PM
Best way to cross California?I'm moving from Texas back to the British Columbia Coast and am planning on driving between the two. When I moved here I drove through the interior of the US (Montana, Arizona, Utah etc) and on the way home I'm planning on driving along the coast -- hopefully sticking to the 1 and the 101 as much as possible, and cutting in to the I-5 if I start running out of time.I've read a bunch of the threads on here about the Pacific Coast Highway, and have gotten some great suggestions for the coastal part of the trip.
I'm looking for suggestions for the best place to cut across California? I'm going to be starting in the Dallas area. I'm guessing we'll want to avoid driving in LA, and so cut to the coast further north from there. One option would be to take the I-40 to Barstow and then switch to the 58 to the coast. Or...I could drive further north and drive through Yosemite. But if we did this we would miss the LA-San Fran part of the coast.
A friend is joining me for the trip, so it's part 'road-trip' and part 'I'm moving across the country with a car completely loaded down with stuff'. We both like nature/wilderness and are looking more for scenery than attractions. The trees in Yosemite sound amazing....but so does the coast. Are we likely to get similar types of forest at places along the coast if we skip Yosemite?
Sep 27, 2012 2:09 PM
Sep 27, 2012 2:12 PM
2Your route is a good one if you're aiming for Hwy. 1 without going through greater LA, and it lets you stop at San Luis Obispo on your way to the coast. A few other options:
- Since the western parts of Hwy. 58 is fairly winding, a bit faster would be to turn north from Hwy 58 onto I-5 for a few miles, then take Hwy 46 west through Paso Robles, hitting the coast near Cambria. Hwy. 46 is straighter but less scenic than 58.
- If you've got some extra time, a way to add some interesting scenery with limited extra miles would be to skip I-40, stay on I-10 to the south entrance of Joshua Tree Nat'l Park, cut north through the park and then follow Hwys 62 & 247 to Barstow, where you can catch Hwy. 58.
Sep 27, 2012 3:18 PM
3We'll be leaving the middle of next week (admittedly, there's not lots of time to plan the trip, but I'm moving because I got a new job and I'm now trying to finish up work at my old one job before the move!). And I need to start my new job in Vancouver on the 15th
So in all we have about 8-9 days to do the drive. I realize it will be a lot more time driving than being able to stop, explore and see things. The main purpose of the drive is to move cross-country. This is one of the reasons we are more interested in scenery than other 'attractions'. Although if there's things we shouldn't miss along the coast we're open to suggestions (I know that's vague. If it helps, we're both biologists, and love 'cool nature things')
We'll also likely cut in to the I-5 before Portland, as we've got friends we'd like to connect with there. I'm not sure how much that affects the time we'll take for the drive though -- Portland isn't really all that far from Vancouver.
Sep 27, 2012 3:41 PM
Sep 27, 2012 4:18 PM
Sep 27, 2012 5:28 PM
6Take Highway #395 north along the spectacular front range of the Sierra Nevada. Mt. Whitney, tallest peak in lower 48 USA is opposite from Lone Pine. Bishop is beautiful -- see Galen Rowell's photographic art gallery. Mammoth -- take a day hike maybe as far as Thousand Islands Lake to see Mts. Ritter and Banner. Mono Lake may be even more affected by the drought. Make sure that you have lodging in Yosemite Valley. See Ansel Adams photography gallery. See Mirror Lake beneath Half Dome and maybe hike up the beginning of the John Muir Trail beside Nevada and Vernal Falls. Take the route from Yosemite Valley across to Monterey, then drive south for a short detour to see Big Sur before driving north along the coast to San Francisco. Stop at Año Nuevo Beach to see the elephant seals, if they are there in October. North of San Francisco and Stinson Beach, stop at the bohemian village of Bolinas and drive out to Point Reyes Bird Observatory to see the interns banding migrating birds. Many waterfowl winter over at Bolinas Lagoon and great blue herons and snowy egrets will nest in the Spring nearby at Audubon Canyon Ranch. The nearby Farralon Islands and deep San Andreas Trench are home to the great white sharks and research on them is done by biologists connected with Audubon Canyon Ranch and PRBO. Bodega Bay also has Brandt geese and osprey that winter over. Dungeness crab is caught fresh nearby and sold on the dock. Just south of the village of Mendocino is abalone diving near a State Campground. Jughandle Creek State Park just north of Mendocino has a pygmy forest because the acidic soil caused by leaching from Lapland tea shrubs causes caliche rocklike layers of soil stunting vegetation. There are roses and bog plants such as pitcher plants (insect-eating). Then you have the beautiful redwood forests.
Edited by: trekker502
Sep 27, 2012 5:48 PM
Sep 27, 2012 6:43 PM
8Gain the I-40 at Amarillo...With selected scenic side trips, stay on the 40 to Seligman AZ. Drive then,the "Old Rt 66" alignment into Kingman & take the 93 to Las Vegas(stopping at Boulder Dam). From Vegas the 95 to the 266/168 into lone Pine...Then North on the 395 to the 120(visiting Yosemite)... Continue on the 120 to the 99 & through Sacramento to the I-5...Turn off at Woodland, for the 16/20 to the 101... until you can no longer stand it... My choice, would be the 20 at Newport OR. Happy trails ...carracar
Sep 27, 2012 10:49 PM
9Much as I love Yosemite, you've got to make some choices....and I'd suggest that early fall on the tail end of an abnormally dry year is not the best introduction to Yosemite: no waterfalls, no mirror lake, no high country snowfields, and a generally brown/gray cast to the east side. Head for the coast via Barstow, more or less, and have a nice drive.
It wouldn't hurt to cut inland to the Cascades part way up the Oregon section of 101. The southern bit is the best of the Oregon Coast, and that would allow you a quick drive-by of some nice volcanoes, plus Crater Lake on your way to Portland.
Hope that's helpful.
Sep 28, 2012 7:27 AM
10Thank you for all the suggestions! I'm finishing my last day of work today, and will go through them in more detail this weekend.
I appreciate the suggestion to cut in a bit earlier than Portland in Oregon -- Crater Lake looks cool, and we will have been on the coast a long time at that point.
When I drove down here, I saw the Grand Canyon and Bryce and Zyon, plus a lot of Utah, which is why I thought I'd stick to the coast. But, the friend travelling with me hasn't been anywhere like that, so I'll also look more closely at the various suggestions for actually getting to California (eg. Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Boulder Dam from above).
I'm so glad I posted this here! Thanks for all the suggestions...
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