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Old 01-06-2014, 05:28 AM   #1
Lou
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Default Question about West Coast

Starting to make plans for this year. How early in the year do you think it is safe to head from Vancouver BC down the coast to California and perhaps inland to Arizona? We have a Pleasureway Excel with no snowtires but have heavy duty chains in case of emergency. Can you get to southern California without doing any mountain passes?
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

We've driven down from Vancouver Island in a Chevy Roadtrek in early / mid February and I don't recall any road conditions to worry about. It was an uneventful trip down. I think I remember seeing road signs indicating that carrying chains was mandatory at some points. We came back late Feb and hit some snow in California I believe. I think it was a ski area.

Every year will be different though. Maybe some folks who live out that way will see this post and offer some advice.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

There is a pass required to get to the LA area from the central valley. It will close in a bad storm or have chains required. There are two mountain ranges to take into consideration. Both the coastal range and the Sierra Nevada run generally north/south. You shouldn't have any problems with snow along the coastal roads (US-101 and Pacific Coast Highway). Interstate 5 runs in the valley between the two ranges and goes over a pass called the Grapevine to get to the LA area.

Trying to get to Arizona from California means crossing the Sierra. On I-80 that means Donner Pass at 7,000' elevation. In a storm it will require chains or close. Further south, there is a crossing at Tehachapi that is only 4,000'. From LA or San Diego, the mountains will be less problem.

It is an abnormally dry year, so there is less snow and there have been fewer storms.
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou
Starting to make plans for this year. How early in the year do you think it is safe to head from Vancouver BC down the coast to California and perhaps inland to Arizona? We have a Pleasureway Excel with no snowtires but have heavy duty chains in case of emergency. Can you get to southern California without doing any mountain passes?
Yes.
To get to Arizona, like wabbit says, you'll have to travel pretty far south through California, if you don't want to do too much up and down (steep mountain passes). I-15, I-10, and I-8, near L.A. and San Diego, are your best flat exits east to NV/AZ/UT, I believe.
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

Yes on all the above tips on driving south.
Cari & I have taken our van down from Northern Oregon via i5 through the passes on the Oregon/California boarder, and then the one mentioned toward LA (the "Grape Vine"). We've taken trips in January through May. We've had a hit-miss with snow in the passes off-the-roadway and were able to time things to be able to drive through with the truck traffic. Once, upon arriving in Sacramento we saw that the Or/Ca pass had closed down a few hours after we got through. You just never really know...and that was a trip in late April !

Now that said? My advice is be a bit flexible. The main areas you might have issue are already mentioned in the prior posts. What you could do is have a back up plan in say the Eugene - Corvallis Oregon area (Before you head into the Medford/Grants Pass Oregon area and the boarder-hills/pass). Then look into possible overnight opportunities in the Stockton/Tracy California area which is before heading into the hills on i5 heading south toward the Grape Vine.

Oh one other area that was crazy for us one trip down... we actually got trapped south of "Weed" in Northern California...due to heavy rains and flooding on i5 that closed the highway for several days. Freaky and unlikely, but still possible. We had some extra time in our vacation and just spent a couple extra days in Sacramento with family waiting for the road to clear. Sure we could have spent an extra 6 hours on the road and gone north on i80 over Donner Pass to Reno then north on 395, but it would have required chaining up for any non-AWD rigs (we had a volvo xc wagon so could have done it...but...i really don't like dealing w/Donner and snow. Thoughts of Cannibalism come to mind

Have fun on your adventure!
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

Unless you really want to go to Los Angeles you should take I 5 and will have to do the pass at Oregon/Cali border but once you get to Sacramento take I 99 to Bakersfield, then East ( not sure hywy #)over the Tehachapis to the Mojave desert and on to Barstow then I 40 to AZ. The Tehachapi pass is very rarelly closed and never more than afew hours. Since you will be in your house it should not be a bother.This will save you many miles and a whole lot of traffic headaches.
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

If you wish to actually drive the coast then there are no passes at all.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanw909
If you wish to actually drive the coast then there are no passes at all.
And being right along the coast, the weather is more moderate than the inland valleys. Did I mention that it is a beautiful road?
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Old 02-20-2015, 10:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

My major problem with driving on Highway 1 along the coast is that I want to pull over and take pictures about every 5 or 10 miles. The views are stunning! Be aware, however, that sometimes it can be foggy, especially in the mornings and late afternoons. If there's fog, SLOW DOWN or you might miss a turn and end up going off a cliff.
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Old 02-20-2015, 12:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Question about West Coast

Been there, done that. The morning fog, that is. Southbound from Sausalito towards LA back in 2009. It was clear in tje city while we had coffee and checked email. By the time we were south of SF, it was like a soft gray blanket all around us. Once it burned off it was a really scenic drive.
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