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  1. Default San Diego to Crater Lake and back by coast

    Long time lurker, first time poster. My wife and I have October 6-14 off work, I have a truck, and her co-worker is letting us use her nice travel trailer. We want to take our dog with us, so it's time for a road trip. We're thinking of driving from SD to Crater Lake as direct as possible and then coming back via the coast.

    The plan as of now is to leave on Friday afternoon and head straight from SD to Crater Lake (by I-5), stop somewhere along the way Friday night, spend Saturday driving to CL, then set up camp and spend a day there. After that, hit the road south following the coast as much as possible. We'll probably hit Redwood NF, Avenue of the Giants, and then stop somewhere near SF (Half Moon Bay?) so we can visit with some friends in the area. After that, take Hwy 1 down and hit Carmel/Monterey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, maybe Pismo, Santa Barbara, then straight through LA and back home.

    This would give us a week to get from CL back to SD. Ideally I'd like to be able to drive a few hours, set up camp, explore the area for the day, then head out the next morning to do the same thing in the next place. I realize that towing a trailer will be slow going, especially on 1, and having our dog with us will limit where we can go (although she's an indoor dog so she can stay in the trailer all day provided it's not hot), so I'm a little worried that this plan is a bit ambitious. I genuinely enjoy driving (3 years ago we drove from SD to Chicago via a bunch of national parks and then back by Route 66), so I'm not too worried about that, but I want to make sure we have decent time to check out the areas we will be staying. Is this doable, or are we stretching ourselves thin?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,060

    Default First Day needs to be two!

    Quote Originally Posted by LTDScott View Post
    Long time lurker, first time poster.
    Thanks for joining and posting -- Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Have you ever camped with a travel trailer? Is the tongue weight on your truck sufficient to pull the trailer? (Have you confirmed that)?

    If you allowed two full days to reach Crater Lake, you'd be in better shape to mosey on the rest of the drive. By the shortest possible route, that is about 850 miles and the fastest you'll be able to average with the trailer (legally) is about 48 mph when you factor in traffic, fuel stops, construction, etc. Or approximately 18 hours in the saddle... No matter how you structure the day -- that's two full days of hard pushing in the truck.

    The rest of the trip should be fine -- although you may need to push a bit. One really lovely thing -- Oregon State Parks have some of the nicest RV campgrounds in the USA.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome!

    I'd plan on 2 full days to get from SD to CL - you might as well leave bright and early Saturday morning. Otherwise, you will get all jammed up in Friday afternoon rush hour both getting out of SD and trying to get through LA - and I don't think you would be able to make it far enough that evening to make for a comfortable drive the rest of the way in on Saturday.

    What I like doing from SD going north to avoid most of LA is take I-15 instead of I-5, through San Bernardino and over Cajon Pass. Then I take US-395 to CA-58 to Bakersfield. I take CA-99 and cut across to I-5 in Stockton. Then I take US-97 and OR-62 to get into CL. I would plan on an overnight in the Modesto/Stockton/Sacto area.

    I don't think 1 day less for the return trip will impact you significantly, 6 days to get back is pretty decent if you are skipping the coast north of SF - you can easily make it to SF from CL in 2 days and see the redwoods via US-199 and US-101.

    You are fortunate you will be going back through LA on Sunday - last winter I left Lompoc bright and early Sunday morning, took CA-1 to US-101 through Santa Barbara right through LA to I-5 with no delays whatsoever.

    Mark makes a good point - what are the specs on the TT and your truck? Does the truck have a factory towing package and an electric brake controller?

    Remember that the speed limit in Cal when towing is 55 - you can't do 70 on the freeways.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Also, make sure you know how to properly use the trailer. Many folks have loaned out vehicles and not shown someone how to hook up the sewer hose, much to the chagrin of the borrower when s/he gets a bath in black water or grey water. The electric and water hookups are pretty straight-forward. If the rig comes with any specialty thing on the hitch, such as anti-sway bars, be sure to learn how to use those too. You won't regret it. But first, as has been said, make sure that your own hitch can handle the weight of a travel trailer. A ball on your rear fender will not cut it.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Thanks for the response. To answer the questions, I have towed plenty of times, although it has always been my race car on an open trailer, so I know it will be a different animal with extra wind resistance, etc. My truck (2000 F-150 5.4) already has a brake controller, trans cooler, deep pan, temp gauge, etc. The travel trailer is approximately 7500 lbs fully loaded, and my truck is rated to tow 8700 lbs. The friend who owns the trailer also has the weight distributing draw bar and routinely tows the trailer with their Dodge Ram 1500. The only thing I'd need to get is towing mirror extensions.

    I'm not crazy about burning up two full days just to get up to CL, but you're right in that it would realistically take that long, and that traffic will likely suck going through LA on Friday afternoon, so you might be right to just head out on Saturday instead. Although if we can get Friday off work, I'd leave then. glc, your bybass of LA is pretty darn far out of the way. I have a bit of a shortcut across LA to bypass I-5 (going I-15 to 91 to 71 to 210) which works pretty well.

    On the way back down, I wasn't sure if I'd be missing anything significant between Redwood NF/Eureka and the San Francisco area if I went 101 instead of 1. I know that going on that section of 1 would add quite a bit of time if we went that way. Although I might want to duck back onto 1 to go past Point Reyes before entering SF.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Hmm - you are within towing limits but the truck itself may be a bit over GVWR if you don't pack everything in the trailer. It should be a safe tow, but I can see you in the right lane doing 25 mph up the Grapevine.

    My LA bypass may be out of the way, but it's usable at just about any time of the day with no significant delays. I've sort of taken your route too, but staying on 15 to 210. Is 71 a full freeway all the way now? I just checked mileage - my bypass only adds 35 miles to your route.

    If you have the time, the north coast is well worth it. You are correct - it's quite slow.

    Somewhat off topic - note my avatar.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Another bypass for LA that doesn't add so many miles significantly:

    I-15 up to CA-60 West. Then CA-57 (you'll need to follow the signs there as the northbound connector to 57 from 60 isn't a complete interchange) north. This becomes I-210 which will take you around through Pasadena right to I-5. (Watch the signs when you're in Pasadena because you need to take an exit to stay on I-210! Ask me about towing through downtown Pasadena at 3 am one time because we missed the exit! But if you do miss the exit, the route becomes CA-134 and will connect with I-5 anyway....something we didn't realize at the time.)



    Donna

  8. Default

    We've been looking at several of the places we want to stop, and there are a lot of restrictions on pets. We'd ideally like to go hiking with our dog rather than just leave her in the trailer all day, but it looks like that's just not possible in many of the places we'll visit. So that made us re-evaluate taking the dog, which in turn made us re-think taking a trailer, and we have now abandoned that idea and will just take our car instead. This will allow us to travel much faster, use half as much fuel, and be able to tackle parts of the route we couldn't with the trailer (such as Hwy 1 North of SF).

    So now we need to find accommodations along the way. We'll probably camp in some places if the weather co-operates, and we have some friends in the Bay Area who we can crash with for a night or two. Should be fun.

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