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  1. Default Carmel, CA to San Diego via Highway 1


    I will be driving from Carmel to San Diego over one day in early August, and plan to take State Route 1 for the scenery (especially through Big Sur).

    For anyone who has driven this road before, how concerned should I be about morning fog? Would I experience much less fog if I changed my departure time from, say, 7 am to 10 am? If it is somewhat foggy, will I still be able to see much from the lookouts along the way?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default August IS foggy season

    Quote Originally Posted by NY Traveler
    I will be driving from Carmel to San Diego over one day in early August, and plan to take State Route 1 for the scenery (especially through Big Sur).
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum. It turns out that the hot summer winds that form in California's central valley in August are the #1 source of fog along the coast in August. As the heat-filled air masses rush to the coast, they smash into the cooler sea breezes and presto-magic you have instant fog banks. So the hotter the interior gets, the faster (and denser) grows the fog. Because of this duality of air massess, there is no particular advantage in waiting later in the day. In fact, many days there is less fog at 7:00 am than there is at Noon!

    All that said, fog predictions are a tricky business -- because sudden shifts in local wind conditions can bring stunningly clear vistas in August. The best predictive source I know is the coastal fog and channel buoy reports issued by the national weather service -- they are a bit obtuse -- see if you know any surfers in the Carmel area that can teach you how to understand them.

    For three awesome shots of what it can look like when it is clear -- look at these captured by RTA member Pashnit.

    It is a pretty road -- I have driven ~50 times in recent years.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-22-2006 at 10:16 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Long, Long Haul

    Carmel to San Diego is around 450 miles which would be a good day's drive under the best of circumstances, but you will have three major time sinks. The first will be the coast road, a gorgeous piece of highway but by no means a quick drive. Then you'll have to traverse LA, a feat that will take at least several hours. Finally you will have to navigate the freeways by the beach towns north of San Diego and San Diego itself to your destination. This is going to be a very long drive so you should probably get as early a start as possible and not plan on being finished until quite late in the evening.


  4. Default

    Thank you for all the advice! I know it's going to be a long day of driving, so I'm planning on starting very early - and am glad to know that I shouldn't postpone leaving so as to avoid fog.

  5. Default

    Hmm.. a couple of random comments?

    Rather than taking Coast One (or PCH as its know around here) all the way to San Diego, you might consider taking some of the other nearby highways through areas of little scenic interest, just to speed along in a day.

    PCH from Carmel down to San Simeon or Morro Bay is gorgeous. But from Morro Bay south its inland, and not that fast. An alternative is to catch 101 at San Louis Obispo and make time heading south to where PCH and 101 come back to together at around Buelton/ Solvang (just north of Santa Barbara). 101 and PCH are essentially combined through Santa Barbara down to about Ventura. At this point, you have the option of getting back on PCH and taking it down through Malibu to Santa Monica. This is a somewhat scenic route, but in my opinion (and I'm a bit jaded about it I guess), its not worth the time to get into LA. Once you get to Santa Monica PCH becomes essentially a local street meandering through the cities in LA and Orange County, until it catches back up with I-5 (Interstate 5) at about Dana Point in Orange County. You can get off I-5 to follow it to San Diego in northern San Diego, but again, its a somewhat slower not that interesting local street.

    My suggestion to speed things along and maximize your scenery versus travel time is PCH through Big Sur to Morro Bay. Then cut inland a few miles and speed south to Santa Barbara. Its your option if you want to take PCH from Ventura through Malibu (I'd recommend against it), but I'd definitely get back the freeways at Santa Monica and take the 405 freeway south from just east of Santa Monica. I'd get off the 405 freeway at around Los Alamitos (605 freeway junction) and take PCH south through Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Crystal Cove, and Laguna Beach. This will let you see the "OC" surfers and sandy beaches and the artists colony at Laguna, but avoid most of the slow stop and go. At Dana Point I'd get back on I-5 and continue on it into San Diego.

    Note on LA area traffic: Going through LA at rush hour can be hellish -- and I live in SoCal. The 405 freeway has a carpool lane for much of its length (starts at about Los Angeles International Airport), so even if traffic is congested, you can make reasonable time -- once you get to the carpool lane sections. Beach traffic in the summer can also be an issue, particularly on hot summer weekday afternoons like today. PCH, once you get inside an urban area is not a "thru way" -- its typically a major traffic artery with stoplights every intersection or thereabouts. You won't speed along at 50+ mph on PCH in an urban area (except for a very few isolated sections -- Bolsa Chica area in Huntington Beach, Crystal Cove area near Laguna, and the western end of Malibu). You'll need to factor that time consideration into your plans.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Yep, sounds reasonable to me

    Quote Originally Posted by Larrison
    Note on LA area traffic: Going through LA at rush hour can be hellish -- and I live in SoCal
    I concur, although LA traffic is not as bad as they lower bay area (San Francisco) or parts of New Jersey and nothing compares with the nightmare that arises in Boston, it can be pretty darn frustating to be stuck in LA traffic. Given the realities of such a drive, I would jump on the freeway at Santa Barbara and not deviate from it until you reach San Diego. Save Laguna and the lower coast for another time.


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