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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,532

    Default Driving from Portland to Las Vegas

    (This post was made by member celtdancer and moved here by the Editor)

    I just stumbled upon your forum (and this website) about RoadTripping. I'm moving from Portland (Oregon, of course) to Vegas next week. And I still can't decide "which way" to go. The common Map services like Mapquest as well as Triple A told me to just take I-5 all the way down to Bakersfield, then turn in for a ways and go east til I hit Vegas.

    But then there's a thread on this site - which I found by googling - that suggests using smaller roads through Susanville and Reno. Can you help me decide?

    Here are relevant details in case you are familiar with this drive(s) and feel like helping:

    I'm leaving Portland on Sunday March 5th. I don't mind doing two overnights (in hotels) but I'd rather just do one (i.e., split the drive into only two days of driving). It doesn't really snow here in Portland, so I'm thinking that this will be a nice, sunny roadtrip with my sunroof open! However, then I realized I'm going over/near Mt Shasta, where there might be snow, as well as possibly hitting some fog in the Sacramento area (if I'm on I-5).

    I'm driving a little Honda Civic 2-door hatchback. Front wheel drive - which should be "fine" if I hit any snow, but to be honest I'd be way more comfortable if I didn't hit ANY snow, as all my years of serious snow-driving were done in 4WD Subarus! The car will not be too too heavy, as I don't want to pack it too full, but it will have some weight in the back (2 suitcases and a few duffel bags). But still where you can see out all the windows.

    A friend said that I-5 from Sacramento all the way to Bakersfield is really "awful", that it's not only ugly but also full of speeding trucks as well as that potential for fog. So, that sounds scary. But on the other hand, mountain passes if I go the other way, right?

    Help! Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
    Tina in Portland Oregon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,532

    Default Shortest is usually the best when moving

    Quote Originally Posted by celtdancer
    The common Map services like Mapquest as well as Triple A told me to just take I-5 all the way down to Bakersfield, then turn in for a ways and go east til I hit Vegas.
    Welcome to the Great America RoadTrip Forum! Since, by the shortest possible distance it is still 1200 miles and you would like to cover this distance in two days, you really don't have time to take any of the secondary roads. Moving is stressful and a lot of work and we never recommend anyone try and drive more than 500 miles per day (and you will need to drive at least 600 miles).
    I'm leaving Portland on Sunday March 5th. I don't mind doing two overnights (in hotels) but I'd rather just do one (i.e., split the drive into only two days of driving). It doesn't really snow here in Portland, so I'm thinking that this will be a nice, sunny roadtrip with my sunroof open! However, then I realized I'm going over/near Mt Shasta, where there might be snow, as well as possibly hitting some fog in the Sacramento area (if I'm on I-5).
    It has been very mild in the southwest thus far in the year, but you still need to prepare for snowy and rainy conditions as you make your way south.
    A friend said that I-5 from Sacramento all the way to Bakersfield is really "awful", that it's not only ugly but also full of speeding trucks as well as that potential for fog. So, that sounds scary. But on the other hand, mountain passes if I go the other way, right?
    I like the drive and as I have mentioned, you really don't have much choice if you really want to drive down here that quickly.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default Seriously.. take the easy short route

    If you're concerned -- the route you originally suggested is the fastest and easiest.

    I-5 is an interstate superhighway, and south of Sacramento it goes down the west side of the California Central valley. It doesn't go through major towns, and some folks think its boring... And yes, like any other interestate people tend to speed on it (including trucks and cars). But its the best route, particularly if you're concerned about weather.

    I've only ever run into fog on this route on the very southerly end (Bakersfield and south) early in the mornings. If you're concerned, you can just plan on driving later in the day -- the fog is usually totally burned off by 9 or 10 am.

    The alternative route is I-99, which goes down the east side of the Central Valley from about Sacramento. It's a somewhat narrower road, and goes through the towns of Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield, amongh others. In my experience, its a somewhat more crowded road, but is still a very good road. It's also not quite as fast as I-5 (lower speed limits in places), but I know some folks who take it because they find it more interesting.

    If you're doing this as a 2 or 3 day run, I'd suggest for a 2 day run to head from Portland to somewhere in the Redding-Sacramento area for a first overnight stop (probably Sacramento). Sacramento is a big city, and there should be lots of lodging there. The computer maps put that as about the 1/2 point driving time wise between Portland and Las Vegas. For a 3 day run, maybe Redding and Barstow.

    From a weather concern, you might see snow in the Siskyou Pass area near Ashland through Redding -- but if there's any road they're going to clear and make passable its I-5. If you're concerned about fog in the Central Valley, you'll hit it in the mornings, and you'll hit the area I've only ever seen fog by mid morning when most of it should have burned off. I wouldn't take the 395 route through Susanville and Reno -- its longer, the roads are smaller/ slower, and you still get snow in these areas. (Alturas, Susanville, etc as well as the Donner Pass into Reno/ Tahoe area.)

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