Seattle to LA on Highway 101
I am planning on taking a roadtrip in Dec or Jan from Seattle to LA. I want to take 101 because I have heard how beautiful it is. I was wondering if anyone out there has any experience on 101 and if they have any advice. Also should I take a car or SUV (not taking in to account gas prices :)
The coastal route in Washington and Oregon is US-101 for much of the way. But in California, if you want to see the incredible views you will need to travel on California Rte. 1.
Any size vehicle can be driven on these roads --
There are some adventurous routes off of the main Highways if you are interersted.
I did that trip this April and I would recommend chosing Rte 1 when ever possible. 101 in many places in CA is like an interstate. I found the portion from San Fransico to Eureka to be breathtaking from a scenery point of view. A portion of Rte 1 below Carmel was closed when I drove.
Anyway, this is a very cool drive and don't be in a hurry.
Hi...I live in central california right on the 101...it is a beautiful route and i think the SUV/car thing is only a personal preference issue...you won't be offroading or anything, unless you do want to try to offroad on the "dunes" in shell beach. The pismo dunes are part of a state vehicular recreation area, where you pay about 4 bucks to be able to drive on the sand and over the dunes. Unless your SUV/truck is huge, you're pretty much guaranteed to get stuck going over the dunes, but it's still pretty cool to just drive on the sand. Otherwise, a car will do fine.
Route 1 is a beautiful beautiful drive which hugs the edge of the coast, but be warned, it takes a LOT longer than 101 does.
The only other info I know is that it takes 4 hours to go from the sf bay area on 101to the central coast (san luis obispo, specifically) and another 4ish to get to LA. Thursday nights are good to stop by San Luis Obispo..it's farmers market night which is a surprisingly big shindig for the entire town of San Luis Obispo, with outdoor barbeque, fresh produce, live music, and a lot of people.
Hope this is helpful. Enjoy your drive!
101 is a historical, beautiful route. As the others said, travel on highway 1 when you can. I think it's open between Montery and Morro Bay. If you take this route through Big Sur, you've really got to go slow because it's curvy and windy--as in winding road--with huge dropoffs on your right-hand side heading south. But it's worth the trip. There's a great state park in Morro Bay right on the beach. Morro Bay is a little fishing-type village, still quaint and uncrowded. I don't know when you said you were going, but all along either route, 1 or 101, in the winter and spring all the hills are emerald-green, wildflowers, etc. There's plenty more to say, but I feel I'm rambling. Have a great trip.
We did this trip in May, and it is well worth the time it takes. But you must be careful to fill your gas tank at every opportunity! At dark we found few (from Seattle to San Diego)fuel stops that were open, and they are few and far between even in daylight hours. Good tripping!
US 101 Thoughts...
Reply to me via email if you want specific suggestions...
I have to suggest you spend a day or two in Humboldt County partially because I grew up there and mostly because 101 doesn't really give you anything but "sleepy burgs that are dying for lack of industry" view in the area. There are some amazing places off the beatn track there.
It really depends on what you're interested in doing on your road trip - are you going just for the views and some great hikes, more of the americana kinda of trip, etc....?
Otherwise, my best suggestion is to call or contact Convention and Visitor's Bureaus in the towns or areas you think you'll spend a day or two in. Sure, you get all the touristy stuff but I've found it's a real help to get all the free information you can. Sometimes, just the pictures in their booklets can help you decide your course.
If nothing else, there are a lot of great burger and shake joints on 101 south to SF and some breathtaking scenery and side routes. Make sure you find the Fresh Freeze in Eureka California [!!!!! burgers!!!!], but get your milkshakes at the Humboldt Creamery.
If you're in Arcata [in Humboldt County, on 101] and you want to see some redwoods, take the time to walk through Redwood Park. It's city run and just gorgeous. Not a long or strenuous walk in the least and nothing touristy about it.
Patrick's point State Park North of Trinidad is great and easy to find and I suggest finding Luffenholtz Beach or College Cove.
If you drive through Eureka, get off of 101 and go through their Old Town [1st street is the best part of the drive] it's MORE than worth it, even for a slow drive through. There are great restaurants cool shops and nice architecture as well as real local hang outs.
Take a few minutes to drive off of 101 and through Ferndale [south of Eureka by about 12-15 miles] to see a well preserved and not too touristy preserved Victoriana. Again, mostly architecture - it's a pretty cool place.
If you want some side routes, places to stay, or places to eat I'll be happy to give you more info.
Also, there's book called "Road Trip USA" that gives great advice on the Coastal Highway including places to stay, things to see, and where to eat. Indisepnsable book, really. I just got back from a trip and used it constantly.
[budget oriented unlike many travel guides]
how long did it take for your CA trip?
I want to take the same trip!! for those who wrote, how many days did it take you from Northern Oregon to Central Cal (Carmel), how much time would you allow? I know the more the better, but we only have 2 weeks!
Where are the highlight stops??
The best places to stay??
What must we absolutely see??
I need an advisor from Mt. Hood/Portland to Carmel!! thanks for all your help!!
Fastest and others
Our mapping site is back, fastest route between Mt. Hood, Oregon and San Francisco is 9 hours 57 minutes covering 669 miles. So you will have plenty of time to mosey down the coast and check out the sites. Since you are considering Carmel, you really should take the time to do the Pebble Beach loop tour. Everytime I have driving that stretch of road I have seen seals and sea otters playing among rocks. You really can't miss by driving the whole coastline and stopping whenever you see something truly glorious.
101 in the winter
I am going to Palm Springs from Seattle leaving Dec 10. I will be pulling a 34ft fifth wheel. I am concerned about the snow in the mountains going down I-5..I have been told
that I could bypass the snow by going down 10l. Need some
input from people that have traveled 10l in the winter.