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Old 12-08-2017, 12:09 PM   #1
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How to drive through southern California

We have a trip planned next month that will take us through these SoCal stops:
  • Morro Strand State Beach
  • Hobson County Park, Ventura (currently right next to Thomas Fire-evacuated area, yikes)
  • Bolsa Chica State Beach (near Huntington Beach)
  • Chula Vista RV Resort

Given the stops there's an obvious shortest route... but we don't know the traffic patterns in SoCal and there are so many optional routes we could take if there were advantages.

Our plan is to drive this route -- but if you see something we should avoid or know a better way, we'd love to know about it. We're looking for most efficient, most trailer-friendly route, no need for sightseeing along the way, and likely won't drive faster than 58.5 mph.

Proposed route:
CA1, US101, I405, CA1 from Morro Strand to Bolsa Chica
I405 & I5 to Chula Vista

Any and all suggestions welcomed. Thank you!
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by drpaddle View Post
We're looking for most efficient, most trailer-friendly route, no need for sightseeing along the way, and likely won't drive faster than 58.5 mph.
When we're making tracks for SoCal its I-5 all the way. Hate it, but it's the most efficient way. Good luck with the 58.5. You'll find out what its like to be the slowest vehicle, bar none, on the highway. Let me put it this way. I tow at 62 mph to stay in o/d and as a form of self preservation. I've never caught up and passed anyone going slower but I've been passed by others towing many, many times.

Ron
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Old 12-08-2017, 02:58 PM   #3
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This is long and not of interest to most except drpaddle.

I've driven Ventura to the south beaches many times, a few times towing. A LOT depends on time of day and day of week. It once took me 8 hours to drive the 220 miles from the beach (Carpenteria) to San Diego despite leaving mid morning on a Friday.

For the Ventura to Bolsa Chica section, the most direct route--but you will likely have a lot of traffic any time from dawn to dusk-- is 101, 405.

An alternate route that skirts some of the sprawl of the city, listed as 14 minutes longer but could possibly end up saving you an hour or more, is 126 , 5, 101, 134, 5, 605. The 126 section may look like a long way around, but it is MUCH less traveled and an easy tow...to me, easier and safer than lots of heavy traffic. Keep in mind most Southern CA drivers (I used to be one, but a courteous one) will likely pay no attention to your turn signal to let you in to change lanes if (when!) traffic is bumper to bumper and you have to transition.

A Friday would be the worst day to attempt this journey, and don't leave Ventura past, say, 11 a.m. any week day if you can avoid it. If by next month you mean doing this section anytime from Dec 20 on, proceed with caution. You MIGHT just sail through at any time, but I wouldn't put a dollar on the odds.

If you do not already use the Waze app, I highly recommend getting it on your phone. It will not only give you the best route at the exact minute you leave, but will also update the status of your route and re-route you if necessary as you go (it's crowdsourced). And it has a feature that allows you to plan the drive and give you a graph of the course of a "normal" day's traffic so you can see the usual ebb and flow, and will tell you when to leave if you put in when you want to arrive.

That said, have a wonderful trip!
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drpaddle View Post
We have a trip planned next month that will take us through these SoCal stops:
  • Morro Strand State Beach
  • Hobson County Park, Ventura (currently right next to Thomas Fire-evacuated area, yikes)
  • Bolsa Chica State Beach (near Huntington Beach)
  • Chula Vista RV Resort

Given the stops there's an obvious shortest route... but we don't know the traffic patterns in SoCal and there are so many optional routes we could take if there were advantages.

Our plan is to drive this route -- but if you see something we should avoid or know a better way, we'd love to know about it. We're looking for most efficient, most trailer-friendly route, no need for sightseeing along the way, and likely won't drive faster than 58.5 mph.

Proposed route:
CA1, US101, I405, CA1 from Morro Strand to Bolsa Chica
I405 & I5 to Chula Vista

Any and all suggestions welcomed. Thank you!
As Ron says, I-5 is the fast way, but truck slow lane speeds in CA are 62-65 mph (even though the truck and tow speed limit is 55). US-101 is 60-62, unless it's a big straight stretch, then a little higher. We've towed on both, depending on our starting and ending points. We prefer US-101, because it is more interesting. I-5 is drive, drive, drive. No scenery except the cattle feed lots near Kettleman City. There is the Grapevine/Tejon Pass at 4300 ft.+ as well. US-101 is through the coastal mts. in places; nothing over 1500 ft..

CA-1 is closed in southern Monterey County, north of San Simeon/Hearst castle, until next summer at least.
CA-1 from Pismo Beach,south of San Luis Obispo, to north of Gaviota, where it rejoins US-101, is a nice 40-50 mph drive.
Hobson County Park is questionable: palm trees adjacent to it were in flames in the last 48 hours. I don't know whether the park had damage or is going to open back up soon. (as of 12-8-17).
As you leave Ventura on US-101, you can catch CA-1 through Oxnard and then down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to Santa Monica. It's another 40-50 mph drive, and is very scenic (a lot of car commercials are filmed there!). You avoid the always-trafficky US-101/Ventura Fwy through the San Fernando Valley. From Santa Monica to Bolsa Chica S.B., CA-1 is urban traffic, with red traffic lights whenever you get moving, so I recommend taking I-10 East at Santa Monica, to I-405 south, thence to the beach. Be advised that anywhere you are in the Los Angeles or Orange County urban areas is subject to lots of traffic at any hour, depending on a host of variables.

Another possible route if you don't use PCH is to catch CA-118 in the east side of Ventura, or from Oxnard or Camarillo, and take it to I-5 south to I-605. ((This is my usual route of choice, even though I live within sight distance of US-101; sometimes I even avoid I-5, and use I-210 to go around problem traffic.))
A lot depends on traffic. This helps:
https://www.sigalert.com/Map.asp?lat...118.223015&z=2
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:45 PM   #5
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Very helpful info y'all! Thanks a ton. Yes, I have used Waze, and I will use it again.

Re. highway speeds -- I know, 58 will be too slow on some roads, some of the time. Will boost it up as needed to stay safe and avoid angry glares / gestures. We just like going 58 because it's the best gas mileage for our particular rig. It might be a good reason to take the PCH route recommended.

Scrambling now for Hobson Park alternative to book just in case. Really a shame (for all those Californians) about those fires. Thanks again!
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:58 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=dfandrews;227668
I-5 is drive, drive, drive. No scenery except the cattle feed lots near Kettleman City. [/QUOTE]

Yup, I-5 is drive, drive, drive but it gets us to where we want to be quicker.

Hate the smell from the feed lots but love the end result at the Harris Ranch. Great steaks and free camping.

Ron
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Old 12-08-2017, 04:56 PM   #7
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I've driven by that particular feed lot and the smell and the sight of those poor animals is enough to turn you vegan
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