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  1. #1
    imported_Bill Guest

    Default Reno to Irvine, CA

    I live in Nashville and have always wanted to drive in the west. I love scenic drives on back roads. I have a convention in San Diego coming up next week and I thought about flying to a city out west a couple days early and then taking my time driving down. I don't have time to stop and see much just looking for a pretty drive. Right now I am considering flying into Reno and working my way down to Irvine to see some friends prior to heading to San Diego. Probably could take 2 days to make it happen. Any quick suggestions???

  2. #2


    If you've got 2 days to do it, you could almost do the entire route without getting on a major highway. It depends what you want to see, and how many hours you want to drive a day. I'll try and post a more detailed route when i have time.

  3. #3
    imported_Bill Guest

    Default Thanks!

    Thanks for the reply. I have nothing specific I want to see. I just love to drive and would enjoy a scenic one. The entire route without a major highway would be fantastic. 8 hours a day would be ideal. Thanks!

  4. Default Interested

    I'm curious what LA Native will recommend -- US395 maybe?

    I would use US395 with stops at Virginia City NV, Manzanar, and Death Valley -- and lots of other places that caught my eye, like some hot springs -- I KNOW there's some along this road somewhere! Then I'd go CA 2 across the mountains north of LA (very twisty road, slow going I'll bet), then south through the city to Irvine maybe using CA 19 (from East Pasadena), CA 72 (through Whittier) and CA 39.

    This supposedly is about a ten hour drive, total, not counting stops. Bob

  5. #5


    Ok, wrote a long post but lost it, I'll try and summarize. 2 days might not be enough, I spent 16 hours driving from the Bay Area to LA without taking a major freeway, and that was straight driving, almost no stops. So I think you'd have to take a few freeways to get there in two days. I'm more partial to the coast or mountains, rather than desert, but there are some nice desert roads. I'll just name a few roads that I can remmeber right now.

    Coming down, you cut across 108 across the Sonora Pass. Great mountain road with great scenery. This is an alternative to the 120 through yosemite which might be closed or crowded. 395 isn't bad, but definitely more travelled and faster. If you come down 395 make a stop at Bodie and Mono Lake, well worth a visit.

    Going further south you could pass through sequoia/kings canyon roads, I can't remember exactly which roads to take, but a map should take you there. On the south side of sequoia there is a road, I think it's the 107, but I can't remeber exactly which one I was on. this will lead to lake isabella, down the 483, to intersect wtih sherman pass/breckenridge road. From here you'd have to cut down through the 14 (although there are smaller roads that would get you through here too, but I can't remember exactly which ones) and hit the Angeles Crest. I'd take it east to the intersection of the 15. Head down the 15 into traffic, but instead of coming into Irvine through the 5 or 91, take the back way in by coming down the 15, cut across a short section of Route 66, then come down one of the larger streets down through the Anaheim hills. There is a road that will intersect with Santiago canyon and take that all the way down to south irvine.

    There are a lot of gaps in this route that I would need a map to fill in, but it will give you a general direction. I think doing this route would take at least 2 days, so you might have to skip some parts. Anyway, here are a couple of links to give you an idea

    I don't ride motorcycles, but those guys always have the best road pages. I apologize if there are any errors, I didn't double check the route. What I normally do is just start heading in a general direction, then keep going until I feel like turning. You'll eventually find ways of getting to where you're going. As long as you have plenty of time, getting lost is a lot of fun.

  6. #6


    Thanks! This is a huge help. I will have 2 full days so I won't mind if it takes a little longer. . . I'm looking forward to it. Sounds like some great scenery.

    Thanks, again.

  7. #7

    Default 395 or 108 across Senora Pass?

    these posts have been so helpful. I am really looking forward to this trip. I am working my way to Bakersfield where I am going to take 58 east over to 15 and then down to CA 2 in to Los Angeles. I'm a little bit torn between whether I should take 395 from Reno all the way down to to 58 in Mojave or take 108 across the Senora Pass to 49/41 to the south of Yosemite into Fresno then take 180 through the western tip of Sequoia into Visalia catch the 99 from there into Bakersfield then hit 58 east and catch the 15.

    Do you think the latter route is going to take a really long time??? I would like to see the parks and I'm afraid 395 won't allow that. I guess my question is, am I missing a lot of scenery by just going 395 the whole way. Because if I'm not, then I would prefer 395.

    BTW, I can't believe this website and forum. It is really is incredible.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default 395 has awesome scenery


    First of all, I never tire of driving US-395. If you are interested in hot springs en route consider the <a href = "">Whitman Tubs<a/> near Convict Lake.

    The route over Sonora Pass is beautiful any time of the year, but your indicated route would be nigh impossible to do in one day -- I doubt it could be done in less than 18 hours of on the road time (not all driving, but still on the road). However, since you have two days to do it, a night in Murphys and then an exploration of the <a href = "">Gold Rush Trail<a/> would be a fun two-day trip.


  9. #9

    Default Scenery

    You won't miss any scenery, it's always outside your window. It just depends on what you prefer. Like I said, I'm more partial to mountains and coastal areas, but a lot of people prefer the desert. I would definitely classify the 108 as mountain scenery, windy road, very green, and different around every turn. The 395 is more straight forward, more flat, but beautiful in a different way, and a LOT quicker. You're driving between mountains, as opposed to the 108 where you're actually driving IN the mountains. I have pictures from driving on both of them, I just havne't had time to post them up, but I'm sure you can find a lot of pictures on the web. But like I said, it depends on what you like.

    Going the 395 is probably the quickest way down, you can make it down in one day. The other route is definitely much longer, more roundabout, and IMO, more fun. the 49 is really interesting, you feel like you've stepped back in time 100 years when going through some of those small towns. Somewhere in Calaveras county they have a recreation of Mark Twains cabin, I probably couldn't find it again because I was lost when I found it. They also have a lot of caves around the area. But it will be a lot slower because in some places it's more of a street than a highway. And if you go through bakersfied, it's a little out of the way to cut all the way across the 58 to the 15. You could save a lot of time by keep going down the 99 all the way down to the 5.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Continuing the US-395 Option


    Since you are flying into Reno -- might I suggest a visit to Virginia City? It is a totally cool town -- yes, it is touristy, but still one of our <a href = "">favorite places<a/> to grab a tall one and listen to the yarns spun by the locals.

    For that matter, the state capital -- Carson City has to be seen to be believed.

    Mono Lake (at Lee Vining) is worth checking out -- the Tufa is very other worldly. Mammoth Lakes is a fun place to stop over-night.

    When you get to Bishop -- if you like jerky at all -- YOU MUST STOP at Mahogany Meats and don't forget the unbelievable fresh bread available at Schat's Bakery.

    When you get to Lone Pine -- veer to the right (sorta) and take the Whitney Portal Road to the road's end/campground. Just make sure you got good brakes -- the road climbs from ~ 3733 at US-395 to ~8,000 feet (actually I can't remember how tall it is ) but it is steep!

    Farther south, near Little Lake is the Fossil Falls recreation site -- very cool lava tubes.

    ...and so it goes


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