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  1. Default Advise Needed -- San Simeon to Williams

    My wife and I are planning to visit the San Simeon/Big Sur area and then head for Williams and the Grand Canyon. Really would appreciate any advise etc on the best route to take and things to do and see on the way. We have set aside about three days for this portion of the trip. In advance thanks for the help

  2. Default It's not a bad leg of the trip..

    Probably the fastest route from San Simeon area to Williams AZ is to take CA-46 east from near Cambria, and then across the California Cental Valley at Lost Hills, to 99, and then catch CA 58 from Bakersfield east to Barstow, and then I-40 beyond.

    It is doable in a long day's drive (like 10-12 hours on the road), so 3 days is enough time to do some exploring or take a more leisurely drive.

    The road from Cambria to Paso Robles is very nice, although it comes up over the coast range (with at least one really nice viewpoint you can pull out at -- its not marked but pretty obvious), and then twists a bit going into Paso Robles past a bunch of small wineries. It goes through Paso Robles a bit, and then heads east out over the Tremblor range, and over the San Andreas Fault (which is visible if you know what to look for -- long linear features along the sides of the hills), and then through the cattle country to Lost Hills in the Central Valley. It's interesting to note the Lost Hills Petroleum field -- a field of pumps outlining the subsurface feature, and then you go through farm and cattle lands across the floor of what used to be Tule Lake -- the largest lake in California. Tule Lake was a seasonal lake -- really only there when there were big rains, but now mostly farmland. But there are still quite a few swampy areas, and several wildlife preserves in the area for ducks and other water fowl.

    East of Bakersfield, 58 goes through the edge of the Tehatchapi Mountains (the very southern end of the Sierras) and within sight of some large wind energy farms, and then heads across the high Mojave desert for Barstow. You'll skirt Roger's Dry Lake, home of Edwards Air Force Base which is the primary test field for the USAF so you might see something interesting int he air, and you'll pass the world's largest solar energy field around Kramer's Juction.

    East of Barstow on I-40 you'll pass many volcanic flows in the desert, and you have the option of side tripping a bit to the Kelso Dunes, or the up to the Caverns in the Providence Mountains or through the Mojave National Preserve. If you swing south of this,you can take the National Trails Highway -- actually old Route 66 -- through Amboy with the Amboy Crater, a recent volcanic crater and lave flow.

    East of Needles. there's another section of old Route 66 you can take through Peach Springs, which puts you near the Grand Canyon Sky Walk (which is on Indian lands at the western edge of the Grand Canyon).

    WHere you want to stay, or where you want to visit -- you'll need to pick. But, there are lot sof hotels in Bakersfield and Barstow, as well as in Kingman and Needles and in many small towns along the way.

    Given an extra day, and what your interests are, there are lots of side trips and visits possible along here, ranging from wildlife and nature, to possibly through Death Valley and Vegas, or elsewhere.

  3. #3

    Default CA 46 is great

    Hello Frank,

    As Larrison so eloquently states, CA 46 is very nice. I've only been on a small portion of it immediately east of Paso Robles, but I also traversed a section of CA 58 and Bitterwater Road more or less parallel to CA 46, but about 30 miles south of Choalme.

    At Choalme, you can bag a "two-fer" by stopping at the small cafe/store where the James Dean Memorial is. Proceeding just a quarter or half mile farther east brings you to the highway junction where his fatal car crash took place. Stopping at the wide pullout by the sign marking the spot, you can see the San Andreas Fault trace directly east of you.

    For those with a morbid curiosity like mine, Dean was traveling west (towards you) in the late afternoon of September 30, 1955, with the afternoon sun in his eyes, at 100 mph in a two-seater Porsche, when a student headed home from Cal Tech San Luis Obispo took a left off of the eastbound side, directly into his path. Dean's passenger survived the wreck, as did the student. He was the only fatality.

    If it turns out that you want to overnight in Williams, AZ, my son and I had a very nice room at the Best Western there, right off of I-40, back in October 2007. Nice, recently remodeled rooms and a hearty, hot breakfast (with several juices, milk, cereal, and coffee) included in the room price, and served starting at 0600. Sweet.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Good, Better, Best

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As you read through the many posts and discussions here, you'll find that a recurring theme is that there is no one 'best' anything. Now, the most direct route from San Simeon to Williams is to just go a short ways south on CA-1 and turn east onto CA-46. Take that all the way until it ends at CA-99 and then south on CA-99 to Bakersfield and CA-58 east which will take you to Barstow and I-40 east to Williams. Now that is 596 miles which is near or maybe a little over what is comfortable for a one-day drive. Making this drive in one day certainly wouldn't leave any time for 'things to do and see'.

    If you decide to take a few of days for the drive, then you can continue south on CA-1 to Morro Bay and San Louis Obispo, take a short jog on US-101 north to CA-58 east and watch for the signs for Soda Lake Road south through the Carrizo Plain National Monument. When you exit the Monument, CA-166 east will again take you to CA-99 north to Bakersfield and you can follow the rote from there (CA-58/I-40) described above or you can take the time for one or two side trips to Edwards Air Force Base, through Mojave National Preserve, or along parts of Historic US-66.

    If you have even more time than a couple of days, then all sorts of things open up to you, including all the places mentioned in the previous two posts. What's best for you is up to you.


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