Seattle to LA Road rip

Started Jun 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
MarkInSF
Senior MemberPosts: 1,877
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Re: Seattle to LA Road rip
In reply to Doug Pardee, Jun 8, 2013

Doug Pardee wrote:

drh681 wrote:

I'd only add that Highway 1 from Monterey to Morro Bay is 150 miles of mountain road. A very strenuous drive if you are alone.

I can't really recommend that Big Sur drive in your situation. Yes, it's very pretty on a sunny day. But the road demands to be taken slowly, and photographic opportunities are limited and will take some time: finding a place to pull over, hiking back to the spot of interest, climbing up or down the slopes to get the right angle, etc. And in the end, you get a bunch of almost interchangeable photos of rocky coastline. Very nice photos, yeah, but there's a sameness about them.

And if it happens to be foggy that day, your speed will be further reduced and your photos won't be so spectacular.

Highway 1 through Big Sur is a 2-lane road with essentially no alternative routes once you get on it. Accidents, land slides, road construction, etc. can set you back by hours. CalTrans has the following notice (sorry for the all-caps, but that's the way they report it):

1-WAY CONTROLLED TRAFFIC 13.4 MI NORTH OF BIG SUR /AT ROCKY CREEK RD/ (MONTEREY CO) FROM 0700 HRS TO 2100 HRS MONDAY THRU WEDNESDAY & 24 HRS A DAY FROM 0700 HRS THURSDAY TO 2100 HRS SUNDAY THRU 9/1/13 - DUE TO CONSTRUCTION

Personally, I'd do anything possible to get to Yosemite. By driving the main road through Yosemite, you can stop at just about any wide spot and take an amazing photo. Almost every photo you've seen of Yosemite was taken within a few feet of the main road. Okay, some of the photos were taken within a few feet of the spur road out to Glacier Point.

Getting to and from Yosemite, maybe not so scenic. A chance to make up some lost time.

Please do allow plenty of time for the LA traffic at the end of your trip. It sounds like you're okay, planning to arrive the day (night) before.

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Much as I love Yosemite, it is very hard to fit into a north-south trip.   CA 49, the road that runs up and down through the Sierra foothills, is winding and slow.   To get from the Bay Area to Yosemite is half a day, and once you get to Yosemite you won't want to do a quick drive through.   It needs more time than that.   True, you'll get more distinctive photo ops there than in Big Sur, but one can be driven through on the way to LA and the other is a major side trip.

I've driven Hwy 1 many times and never had any significant tie ups.   During the winter there are more likely to be problems caused by mud/rock slides.   The only summer problem is the possibility of fog, and weather forecasts will tell you whether that's likely.   Road conditions should in all cases be checked out to see if major construction is likely.   As for fog, you can get a pretty good idea by conditions on Monterey Bay.   If it is socked in, skip it.   If you have an extra day, by all means consider Yosemite.   But it is a day extra, if you're otherwise staying near the coast (as you will, I5 being boring).

On the way down through Oregon both 101 and I5 are acceptable.   The coastline is pretty, but fog is a possibility and it is a much longer, slower trip.   And you miss Crater Lake, which is out of the way somewhat, but one of those amazing places unlike any other.   It does take some effort to get there, but less than Yosemite, and the roads criss-crossing Oregon are all quite scenic.   I'd have a hard time deciding which roads to take.   The coastline of Oregon and California is all lovely, but also similar, though the northern bits are forested, which runs out south of Big Sur.   The best reason for going through Big Sur is that the inland roads are less interesting.   101 is OK, but the Salinas Valley gets a bit dull after a while, and I5 is deadly dull except for the stretch just north of LA (over the Grapevine).

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