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  1. #1
    Carrie Gill Guest

    Default

    Hi, me and a couple of friends are planning a trip to the States in December and are intending to drive from Las Vegas to San Francisco after Christmas. Any advice on the best route to take? We have to do the drive within 2 or 3 days. I have heard that the I-5 can be dangerous driving. Is that true??

  2. #2
    Guest

    Default Dangerous roads?

    ANY road can be dangerous, and some highways have worse records than others when it comes to mishap statistics, but remember that PEOPLE cause the collisions, roads don't. We have the responsibility to drive within the requirements of the conditions at hand, and within our capabilities, taking into account ALL the other crazies out there with us. The only real problem I've heard of that occurs more frequently on I-5 than other places is multi-vehicle pile-ups that result from following too closely in poor visibility (frequent fog, I think). Defensive and careful driving will minimize YOUR risk anywhere you practice it -- keep your eyes way down the road, don't drive too fast for conditions, definitely don't out-drive your visibility, and don't drive fatigued or impaired in any other way (just a few suggestions). That said, American roads aren't any more dangerous than any others, so don't be fearful about driving anywhere in our country. Perhaps the Californians among us can comment on any other problems specific to I-5, just in case I've missed something, and also on the following.

    As far as Las Vegas to SFO routing, I am not a local to that route, but I believe you may have problems (or could have) crossing the Sierra Nevada in winter. Many roads will be closed for snow blockage, I suspect. So the route I would prefer may not be a possibility (I like state highways and lesser roads), leaving you with the Interstate system to just get you there. I'd be willing to bet that our Moderator knows if there is another all-weather route across the mountains, since he knows that area very well.

  3. #3
    Guest

    Default

    I've driven this route a number of times. Take I-15 from Las Vegas to Barstow, then go through the town of Mojave (I can't remember the road number offhand, but it will be obvious from the map), and Tehachapi. Take CA route 223 (just past Tehachapi) over to I-5 (through the town of Alvin). Then it's I-5 up to the Bay Area. It's a 9 to 11 hour drive, depending on traffic. It certainly can be easily done in a day, and will take no more than 2. You bypass the Sierras, so the weather should not be too bad, although there can be snow through the Tehachapi mountains...but it's never as bad as crossing the Sierras. Just check the weather the day you leave. It's a nice drive if you like desert scenery, and the first 2-3 miles of route 223 are gorgeous...high California mountain meadow scenery. I-5 is no more dangerous than any other interstate, unless there's thick fog...if there is, then SLOW DOWN!!!

  4. #4
    Carrie Gill Guest

    Default

    Thanks...That alleviates my worries. Someone in Dallas told me that the I-5 was dangerous and can get very steep. In fact, she said that it was common to do 100/miles/per hour during the steep portions of the highway, while depressing the brake. It sounded a bit off, thats why I wanted a second opinion....Thanks guys....If you have any further comments on this, I would appreciate it.

    Cheers
    Carrie

  5. #5
    Guest

    Default 100 mph while braking...

    I don't think so. Interstate highways rarely have more than a 5-7% grade -- and if you downshift one gear (from "D" to "2" with most automatic transmissions), you won't even need to USE the brakes much -- the engine will hold your speed for you. You won't have any problems on the route Robby suggests -- so as he says, keep an eye on the weather and enjoy yor trip! Bob

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Where is I-5 "steep"?

    We do the LV to SF route a couple times a year. Portal to portal is about 9 hours (unless you hit extra heavy weather or traffic)

    There are plenty of routes, but the fastest is I-15 to Barstow, CA Route 58 to Bakersfield (via the Tehachapi pass). Go past CA-99 and continue west on CA-58 over to Buttonwillow and get on I-5 north. (The road from Bakersfield is a quiet two-lane farm road -- but it moves briskly). Continue north up I-5 to I-580 and west until you reach the east bay. Personally, I would counsel staying on I-580 (as it provides a stunning view of the bay from the lower Oakland hills) and then over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.

    A couple of points, it is not necessary to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains to reach San Francisco from Las Vegas. Further, it is much slower to go north and use I-80.

    If time is not as critical (flex ~1.5 hours) I would further suggest departing I-5 at Los Banos and use CA-156 to cross over the Coast range into Gilroy (lovely aroma -- garlic capital of the world) and then use US-101 up to San Francisco. There is a descent down the hill from top of the ridge into Gilroy -- but it a classic California road -- redwoods, sweeping views -- nothing to break a sweat over!

    The only place I can imagine calling "steep" along I-5 would be the "Grapevine" section between Castiac and Gorman, but your route from Las Vegas won't go that way. In any case, it you ever encounter "steep hills" gear down and keep your foot off of the brake!

    If time is flexible -- there are ~ 100 scenic routes between these two cities.

  7. #7
    imported_Warren Guest

    Default Stockdale Highway

    A little secret, if you take CA-58 west of 99 until it ends, make a right turn, then a left at Stockdale Highway. This is much quicker than taking either 58 or 46 across the valley to I-5.

    Also, winter is when fog is common in the valley, so check the weather before you head out. If fog is predicted in the San Joaquin Valley you probably will want to take 15, 210, 134, 101 to SF (through LA). If you want to go through LA, go through there between 11am and 2pm on Mon-Thu, there is no traffic. Which means leave Las Vegas between 8am-9am.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A great tip!

    Hmmmmm. Very interesting -- that is a great tip. You are right, that should cut-off some needless signal lights. What is the Stockdale highway like? It is possible that I have gone that route and not known it. I will pay better attention next time.

    No traffic between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on the LA portion -- relative to where? There is heavy traffic on the LA route 20 hours each day. Even at 3:00 am there is sufficient traffic to be considered "congested" in most urban areas.

    But thanks for that Stockdale tip!

    Mark

  9. #9
    imported_Transplanted Midwesterner Guest

    Default Stockdale Highway

    Stockdale Highway is a much faster trip than Hwy 58 (aka Rosedale Highway) from Bakersfield to I-5. The road is 4-6 lanes through bakersfield, and then a lightly traveled 2 lane rural highway out to the 5. It is slightly shorter than 58, but the biggest advantage is the traffic. Rosedale is the only place in Bakersfield where you can actually get stuck in a traffic jam, Thanks to heavy growth in the NW part of town, but no inferstructure improvments to handle it.

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