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  1. #1

    Default Driving LA to SF via I5

    Hi, we are coming to the USA in April from Austraila and are planning to rent a car for 2 weeks in Los Angeles. We are going to be doing the coastal drive from SF back to LA with 3 over night stop. The question I need help with is when is the best time to drive straight from LA to SF on the I5, I figured it would be best to leave on the weekend to avoid the traffic but any advice would be great.

    Thanks, Rick

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default even then

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Making this trip on the weekend could help a little bit, however, really the only parts you have to worry about traffic are getting out of LA and getting into the Bay Area - and both of those areas can and do see traffic at nearly all hours, even on the weekends. Outside of those two areas though you're looking at a pretty rural drive across the Grapevine mountain, and then the farmland of the Central Valley. In those places, you shouldn't see any traffic unless there is a crash.

    You should expect the trip to take 6-7 hours, depending on traffic and where specifically you are starting and ending in each city.

    Of course, by going straight up I-5, you're going to be missing out on Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, both which are spectacular stops could easily be worked into an inland trip from LA to SF.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    To get into SF from I-5, I'd recommend you take CA-152 from Los Banos over Pacheco Pass to US-101. If you go farther north, you will have to deal with one of the few bay crossings. Depending on exactly where you are going, you can stay on 101 or take CA-85 to I-280.

    Another option that's a lot more scenic but still doable in a day is take US-101 all the way from LA. It's freeway quality most of the way and will only add an hour or 2 at most to the drive. There's a lot more "eye candy" than just heading up through the central valley.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Of course, by going straight up I-5, you're going to be missing out on Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, both which are spectacular stops could easily be worked into an inland trip from LA to SF.
    Interesting, I didn't consider going that way. Leg 4 of our trip, after Canada is to visit Las Vegas. From there we are planning to drive to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley etc. I was hoping to get to Mammoth Lakes, but this no longer fits into our schedule.

    Is there a way to go from LA via Sequoia and Yosemite with say an overnight stopover 1-2 hours from SF?
    Last edited by jarz85; 03-02-2010 at 06:20 PM. Reason: clarification

  5. #5
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    Default

    Its always a little tough to give good advice about a trip, when you only are looking at a small fraction of the overall picture. For example, I have no idea what your plans are in regards to Vegas - especially since Death Valley and the Grand Canyon are on opposite sides of the city.

    Anyway, you certainly can't see both Sequoia and Yosemite in one day in any circumstances, even if you didn't have to factor in the drive from LA. You could possibly do a very quick tour of one or the other, and then stay someplace like Merced. However, based on everything else you've said, its quite possible that there are better options that wouldn't require making two stops in LA.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    If you want to see Sequoia and Yosemite on the way from LA to SF, you really need 2 or more full days.

    To get to Sequoia, you take I-5 out of LA, then CA-99 to Visalia. From there, CA-198 goes to the park. Coming out of the park on 198 or CA-180, you take either one back to 99. To get to Yosemite from there, you take CA-41 out of Fresno. To get to SF, you take CA-120 out of the park to I-5 to I-205 to I-580 into the east bay area then cross the bay on CA-92 or I-80.

    If this is in April, check weather and road conditions - Yosemite in particular is subject to spring snowstorms and there's a possibility tire chains may be required.

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