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  1. Default Coastal Road Trip: San Francisco to Points North

    [Editorial Note: We moved this post into it's own dedicated thread to avoid some earlier confusion, (when it resided on a thread with the route of travel going some place else)]

    I am thrilled to find this forum.... I too am planning to explore the coastal road between San Francisco and points north. Is there anyone who can comment upon approximate drive times, and preferred routes from San Jose to Sonoma county and then along the coast to favorite scenic vistas? I am very interested in seeing the redwoods, but need to be selective: I have only 5 full days from the time I leave San Jose and need to be back there. I'm not familiar with hwy. 1 and don't want to underestimate drive times and traffic. I consulted a travel agent at my local AAA office and she advised me to take hwy 1 north to Arcata, then turn west on 299 to Interstate 5 in Redding. Her logic is that 5 is a fast way south and back to San Jose. I'm seeking advice on this idea. It looks like a pretty ambitious itinerary for 5 days, given the terrain and possibly the traffic. Thanks.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-07-2009 at 12:16 PM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If this helps, it's about 250 miles from Redding to San Jose by Interstate highways, and should easily be done in 5 hours or less unless you are trying to travel in the SF area in rush hour. This would give you 4 days to get there via scenic routes. Take 5 to 505 to 80 to 680.

    I'd probably take the Golden Gate Bridge on your way up - 2 ways to get there. US-101 all the way, or I-280 to CA-1. Either way, I would allow at least 2 hours to get to and across the bridge, both ways involve SF city streets and traffic, there is no expressway to the bridge from points south. This will put you in Marin County, with the option to head for the coast road or up into wine country.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default 6 of one, 1/24 of a gross of the other....

    My gut tells me, and Google maps seems to confirm, that the fastest route from Arcata to San Jose is down US101, not over 299 to I5.

    US101 is not appreciably slower than I5 (until/unless you hit rush hour traffic); and it will take a couple/three hours to get over to I5 from Arcata.

    That said, your question becomes what will/can you see on the two alternatives?

    CA299 winds through mountains, through Weaverville with an old Chinese temple and the semi-ghost town of Shasta before entering the Sacramento Valley, and should be a lovely drive. From Redding on down the drive becomes less interesting.

    US101 would cover some of the same ground you saw on the way up (I agree w/ glc... take the coast up and the fast way back), and while less scenic than 299, US101 is more scenic than I5.

    You fastest route back would be down US101, especially as long as you don't hit SF between the hours of 3-7pm on a weekday.

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