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  1. Default When to avoid I-5 from Southern California to Portland?

    Hi there,

    The posts in this forum are making me long for a leisurely, scenic road trip! But up next for me is driving my son (and his car) from our home in Southern Calif. to college in Portland, then flying home. We are somewhat flexible on the days/times and plan to stay over one night, probably in Ashland, OR. Since we are flexible, I'd love some advice on any days or times to avoid any particular section of the I-5 northbound (besides the obvious LA traffic). For example, if we leave on a Sunday morning, will we hit a lot of traffic from people heading home from weekend trips? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    First question -- approximately where in Southern California are you leaving from? Ashland is too far for one day, even with two drivers, from LA, because it's well over 670 miles. If you're driving from anywhere south of downtown LA, it's even further. My recommendation would be to make your first stop in Redding, CA -- once again assuming downtown LA mileage -- because that's a far more reasonable 550 miles.

    Sundays would probably not be a great idea, for the reason you stated. I'd probably avoid Fridays, too, for the same reason.


    Donna in San Diego County

  3. Default

    Thanks, Donna. Coming from Orange County. Not reserving a hotel so we can stay wherever we get to before feeling ready to stop, so maybe Redding is a better thought. Deciding whether to leave Saturday morning (Aug 20) arriving in Portland on Sunday, Sunday morning arriving Monday, or Monday morning (before or after LA traffic) arriving Tuesday. We will choose the dates in part to avoid any heavy traffic areas in that time frame!

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

    Default

    If it were me, I would leave on Saturday morning, early, and catch a late breakfast somewhere north of the Grapevine. (To those of you reading this that don't know, the Grapevine is I-5 north of San Fernando Valley and south of the junction of I-5 and CA-99.)

    Redding would put you at 568 miles driving for the first day. Getting into Portland the next day, 425 miles. Red Bluff is probably more like the halfway point (using Anaheim as the guide for starting place), if you wanted to split it easier.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Thanks again, Donna. We now plan to leave Saturday morning and arrive Sunday evening.

    For anyone reading this who wonders why I'd be so concerned: as a Southern California resident I know that you DO NOT ever ever ever want to be on I-15 southbound between Las Vegas and San Bernardino on a Sunday evening, or northbound on a Friday afternoon. Ditto I-10 between Palm Springs and LA, westbound Sunday, eastbound Friday. These are things we locals know that people traveling longer distances may not. So again, if anyone along the I-5 between LA and Portland has this type of "never travel this day or time" info, please chime in.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Thank you for reiterating one of my mantras around here: the one about LA to LV and vice versa on Fridays and Sundays! Ack, a nightmare! It's not much better going the opposite direction on Fridays or Sundays, either, as the "desert rats" want some beach time on the weekend.

    The information I have about the Bay Area is from personal experience, but also from my cousin who has lived on the east side of the Bay all of her life. We made the mistake of coming into the Bay Area from Lake Tahoe on a Sunday, two years ago. UGH, double UGH! My cousin, who travels all over with her dogs (dog shows), tries to time her departures and arrivals around the heavy traffic, too.


    Donna

  7. #7

    Default

    Today seems to be the one to mention my worst favorite highways ;) The I-5 stretch from LA to Sacramento is one of them. Can't comment on I-5 from Sacramento to Portland but can't imagine much changing. I-5 between Seattle and Portland can be managed in small doses (only a few hours).

    My personal preferences are to route on CA-99 or US-101 (with a healthy dose of CA-1, if possible). The speeds won't be as fast as the I-5, but it is a more leisurely drive if you can add one day to the trip. The scenery isn't much on the I-5 in Calif below Sacramento and most of the time your eyes are glued on the tractor trailer in front of you. The rest areas rank in the bottom 25% of the ones I have used across the USA--just too many people and too few resources.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    CA-99 isn't any better than I-5 for scenery between LA and Sac, it's flat as a pancake and almost all agriculture and trucks. US-101 is a lot more scenic and not much slower, but it dumps you right into the SF traffic.

    I-5 from Sac north isn't bad at all.

  9. #9

    Default

    Yes, I agree with your observation about scenery on CA-99 compared to I-5. My recollection though is it being a better overall experience driving. US-101 does run into the metro San Francisco traffic at the lower beltway in San Jose... check your phone for traffic flow and shoot through it! And continue on US-101 north of SF.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
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    Default

    Referring back to the original post, US-101 is not really an option for a 2 day trip. I-5 is pretty much it unless you want to take CA-99. If you do take 99, I'd advise you use CA-4 through Stockton to get back to I-5.

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