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  1. Default December road-trip up hwy 101

    I want to take a road trip from LA to Seattle this December- January. I have never driven in northern CA/OR and So am not sure what the weather is like that time of year. Can anyone tell me if the driving conditions are okay? I have two toddlers so I really want to be safe. I think Hwy 101 looks like a beautiful drive, but would I-5 be better/ safer? I am really open to a lot of options and would have 2 weeks to make the trip so I won't be in a huge hurry. Also any suggestions of things to see and do would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Cold and Wet Does Not Equal Snow

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Actually, you are far less likely to see snow on US-101 than on I-5, but more likely to wee precipitation. The reason is rather simple. The Pacific Ocean moderates temperatures right along the coast while also keeping the air quite moist. Most of that extra moisture comes out of the air as rain between the coast and the Cascades (US-101), while the air gets considerably colder and drier on the leeward side of the Cascades (I-5). Portland can, and does, occasionally see light to moderate snow, but such precipitation is the exception to the rule. On the down side, winter is the rainy season for this rainier than normal area, with precipitations averaging around 6 inches/month. Even as far north as Seattle, snowfall along the coast is infrequent and seriously heavy snowfalls (more than a foot) are rare. So if the coast looks inviting to you, and it is absolutely gorgeous, then plan on driving it northward. Jest be prepared to take more time than you might be used to and to deal with the cold and wet climate.


  3. Default

    Thanks for the info. I like the rain so that will be fine. But I have heard that there are problems with mudslides and the road being washed away if you take the 101 at that time of year... Any Idea if that is really an issue? Is the 101 generally well maintained?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Its well maintained and heavily traveled - however its still subject to mother nature. I certainly wouldn't say that mudslides are a frequent issue, but they do happen. In the rather unlikely event that there is one, the biggest problem for you would almost certainly be the issue that its not real easy to get back over to I-5 if the road is closed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area


    101 is fine, it's highway 1 that is more subject to slides/etc. Doing CA1 during a storm isn't much fun, but 101 should be OK.

  6. Default

    We drive Santa Cruz to Seattle every December. The coast roads may have trouble but it's so unlikely it's not worth worrying about. There are always other routes if something comes up. It's so beautiful along Highway 1 it's worth the extra time if you are not in a rush. Take the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey. If it's a nice day rent a surrey and enjoy a flat, beautiful beachside ride along the shore. Monterey is great for families.
    I would suggest finding a small town in Oregon to enjoy the big beaches and scenic rock formations. We stayed in Yachats and the tide-pooling in front of our hotel kept our 5 year old consumed for days. There is so much to look at if you are into lazy beachcombing and small town charm. We stayed at the Adobe which was clean and comfortable and inexpensive. It wasn't anything flashy but had great views and decks on the beach. Fun and close to several other towns. We LOVE Florence, Oregon. There are great little places to wander and window shop and lots of seafood restaurants along the river. We watch the fishermen in the marina and the resident sea lions. The town is small and very walkable for young children.
    If you end up inland and are near Eugene, there is a phenomenal playground called RiverPlay and is part of a great trail system. Eugene is a cool college town with great restaurants and bike trails and plenty to do. If you go I-5 you might want to consider exploring Eugene and Portland a bit. They are both great cities. Portland is very progressive with beautiful architecture and kids museums and fun family activities.
    Back to roads.... Sometimes the Siskiyous are snowy but they are plowed each evening and it's better to go through them in the daytime when they get lots of trucks and cars keeping the ice away than to wait and go through in the morning. I've done it both ways many times and can only advise getting through before it's dark. It's usually fine and there are reports as you approach to know the conditions. Do have cable chains just in case but you shouldn't need them. The only bad ice/snow I have encountered was a freak storm between Seattle and Olympia one year. I-5 is heavily used and almost always clear.
    Good luck and safe travels!

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