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  1. #1

    Default I-40 vs I-10 in California...your thoughts?

    Hi all~
    I'm new to this site and forum, but not new to good old-fashioned road trips. I'd appreciate your thoughts and wisdom on my next trip:

    The first week of April, my son and I will be driving from Southern Arizona to Monterey, California. I'm debating whether to take I-10 to California, through L.A. then up, or if I should take 1-17 to Flagstaff, then take I-40 over. Technically the I-10 route is shorter, but I'm thinking the L.A. traffic would eat any time saved, as well as add additional time. Another plus to the I-40 trip is that it would allow us to be near Route 66 for a short time. My son has become a Route 66 nut like my fiancee and I, and is still ticked that he didn't get to go on our Route 66 jaunt (Missouri to Flagstaff) last year.

    Anyhoo, this is the first time I've driven to Monterey, but each time my fiancee has driven from there to here he's taken I-10, and he's gotten stuck in traffic for hours. I'm thinking the I-40 route would be more peaceful.

    One more detail, if it matters. This will probably be a "power driving" trip, leaving early and going for distance as quickly as possible.

    Has anyone driven both I-10 and I-40 in California, and what are your thoughts and preferences?

    Thanks in advance!!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You Know the Answer

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You clearly would prefer to take I-40, both because it would let you show your son one of the last great remaining stretches of old US-66, and because it should save you some time in navigating the L.A. basin. Well, I'm going to concur with you 100%. I have driven both I-10 and I-40 to the coast from Tucson. In fact, for a while my job required that I occasionally commute between Tucson and Pasadena. What I came to learn from experience was that "L.A." started at Redlands and didn't end until Ventura, nearly 130 miles later. As one last enticement to take I-40 and CA-58 to the coast, you can arrange a tour of Edwards Air Force Base, home of the "Right Stuff" and, if you're very, very lucky, a Space Shuttle landing.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Power Driving? I-10,

    Quote Originally Posted by da_redhead View Post
    The first week of April, my son and I will be driving from Southern Arizona to Monterey, California.
    Notwithstanding the good advice posed by AZBuck, if you are starting in "southern Arizona" and this is to be a power drive -- better not be anywhere near I-40 and Route 66 because there is too much to see and do!

    I would be tempted to take I-10 directly through the heart of LA to US-101 and zoom up to Monterey. Yes, you will hit traffic along I-10, but you will also hit plenty of traffic on CA-58 (westward from Barstow on I-40). Even with the traffic woes, you will still probably save 2-3 hours using I-10 than going north to I-40....


  4. Default If I may offer a suggestion?

    There's perhaps a way around some of the traffic..

    The traffic in LA follows pretty predictable patterns (its people doing commuting, so they're stuck pretty much going the same way everyday).

    To dodge most of the traffic, there are a couple of dodges you might want to check..

    First of all, check one of the LA traffic stations (AM radio news stations), which run traffic info every 10 minutes during the work days. They're a bit cryptic at times, but they'll let you know if there's an extraordinary traffic problem ahead (Like the time I got stuck in the jam behind an overturned asphalt tanker which closed all 4 lanes on one side of the freeway for a half day...)

    Secondly, the I-10 route is by far the fastest route -- but I'm going to suggest a couple of routes to avoid the densest traffic that is around central LA. If you want to take 101 starting in LA, the best route is probably as you come in towards LA through Banning Pass west of Palm Springs to take the 60 freeway west and then up to the 134 west via the 57 (you can stay on the I-10 as well, but the 60 is usually faster). The 134 west turns into the 101 north, and skirts across the top of the central part of LA.

    However, the fastest route wouldn't be 101 from LA. I would take either the I-10 or the 60 west, and and go a little farther north join up with the 210 which follows the edge of the northern mountains bordering LA, then out of LA north on the I-5 to Lost Hills near Bakersfield, and then take the 46 west to the 101 to come in at about Paso Robles. From there, its a straight shot up 101 to near Monterey. That would be the fastest route, probably the most direct, and dodges all of the central LA traffic. It does miss the pretty parts of 101 through Ventura and Santa Barbara, though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Fine-tuning a bit further

    Quote Originally Posted by Larrison View Post
    There's perhaps a way around some of the traffic..
    I drive the I-210, on average, about two times each month. As long as you avoid both the I-210 and CA-60 for the "dead calm" as in nothing moves between the hours of 7:30 am and 10:30 am, I would stay on the I-10 (and not divert onto the CA-60 at Beaumont) until you reach the CA-57 and then follow it north to the I-210 (as Larrison has suggested). And I would suggest the same thing -- use I-5 to Paso Robles and over.

    If you do the I-40 route -- there is no reason to drop into LA at all. Follow CA-58 all the way to I-5 and then north.


  6. Default

    I live in So Cal and drive up to Salinas CA all the time.. I have never taken Highway 40 but should be more interesting then LA... Have fun in Monterey
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-22-2007 at 08:48 PM. Reason: Good Neighbor Policy

  7. #7
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest


    If you take the I 40, perhaps check out Mitchell Caverns between Needles and Ludlow. Probably one of the most missed, yet interesting spots.
    Your child will love it.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-22-2007 at 10:23 PM. Reason: Preferred URL Format

  8. #8


    Thanks for your thoughts and advice everyone!!! Tomorrow I'm going to mark out all your suggestions on a map and then make my decision.

    Again, I really appreciate ya'll!!


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default More LA Bypass Suggestions

    If you are looking to just make good time and want to avoid LA, I'll offer one more suggestion that I used when I traveled from Tucson to Bakersfield a few years ago.

    Take I-10 to the San Bernardino area. Then take I-215 and I-15 to CA-138 over to Palmdale.

    From there you have 2 options. Either continue on CA-138 all the way to I-5 where you could head north to Lost Hills and over to US-101 at Paso Robles. Or you can turn north on CA-14 to Mojave, and then take CA-58 over to I-5 via Bakersfield.

    Instead of using CA-138, you could also go just a little farther north on I-15 and then take US-395 north along the edge of Edwards AFB and pick up CA-58 that way too.

    I think all of these possibilities would let you miss most of the LA traffic, without going quite as far out of the way as using I-40.

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