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Old 09-28-2017, 08:00 PM   #1
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San Diego to Santa Cruz - where to get off the 5

We're starting to plan our spring break 2018 vacation (wife's a teacher and CA parks are a bear to reserve so you start early) and the plan is to head from San Diego straight up to Santa Cruz then take a leisurely trip back down. We are planning an overnight stay around Bakersfield on the way up to Santa Cruz Redwoods RV park (roughly half the outbound trip on day one and the other half on day 2).

Looking at the map we could head west a number of places to cut over to 101 and then up to SC but I don't know any of the roads so I thought I'd ask the RVing brain trust. Our F150 pulls our medium sized trailer very well but I don't like straining things anymore than necessary - including my nerves.

So what route do you take and why?
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Old 09-29-2017, 05:14 AM   #2
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I personally am not a fan of the 5. It will get you where you need to go but it's boring as hell. Once you get to LA I would jump on the 101. You will have a more enjoyable journey and be able to stop off in Santa Barbara, Ventura and my home town Pismo Beach. If you like wine there are numerous wineries in my area and Paso Robles. There are also numerous RV parks in our area. Skip the 5 and take the 101 to Santa Cruz. Unless you are visiting family in Bakersfield, you really aren't missing much by avoiding it.

If you do choose to stay of the 5, head out to Yosemite and kings canyon/Sequoia national forest.
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Old 09-29-2017, 05:21 AM   #3
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If you plan on going to Bakersfield and want to head to the coast, HWY 46 or HWY 166 are the only routes. They will both get you to the 101. The 166 has less traffic and it will put you right outside the city of Santa Maria. The 46 gets A LOT of traffic on The weekends because you have everyone from Bakersfield and the Fresno area heading to/from the coast. The 46 will put you in Paso Robles. There is also rest areas on the 46 whereas the 166 is isolated with nothing between Santa Maria and Bakersfield.
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:50 AM   #4
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Thanks Pismolocal - I had been ignoring that alternative because I thought it would add a lot of time to that segment of our trip. After comparing that route to the 5 version (north of LA) the time is almost identical. I think that's the route we'll take - and finding that half way layover campground should be a lot easier!
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:24 PM   #5
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I live in Arroyo Grande CA ( Pismo Beach area on 101) and camp twice a year at the Santa Cruz RV Park. I suggest that you access the park from hwy 17 and not the shorter route 9 from Santa Cruz. Hwy 9 is very narrow with lots of twists and turns. We do take it after dropping our RV at the park to access Santa Cruz during our stay.

The Paula and Jay the managers of Santa Cruz RV will also give you information on roads conditions etc.

Have a great trip. Linda
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Old 09-29-2017, 02:10 PM   #6
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Well you may be right about it adding a lot of time to your trip...there is just so much more to see and do you might just run out of time before you get to do everything!
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Old 09-29-2017, 02:48 PM   #7
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I will add to the chorus of folks suggesting that you get on the 101 in Pasadena. There are faster routes but those are for locals in cars.
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:35 PM   #8
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We plan on doing about the same trip next month we are in Riverside, not sure which way is quicker for you,to go up the 5 or over to the 15 ?

We are going up the 15 to the 395 up to Kramer junction hang a left at the 58, over through Tehachapi, spend the night at some little lake campground " Brite Lake" up there,
Then down the 58 through Bakersfield up the 99, you can hang a left at Visala go over through Coalinga or a little further up through Los Banos I remember a little camp ground there by a fruit stand. Pretty neat up there.
We are going to stay at Fleming Meadows campground maybe on our trip, we are going for about 2 weeks.
Up and then like you come down for the view, and stuff
hope you have a great time, and us too.
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:08 PM   #9
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I too am not a fan of I-5 North. From Buttonwillow to Santa Nella the road is terrible. If you have to do it, make sure all doors, drawers, compartments are secure and check them at each rest stop. I lost my table and a drawer, the road is not just bumpy, but horribly thumpy. I use 101, takes longer but a better drive. If you do use I-5, take Hwy 152 from Santa Nella to 156 to get to Santa Cruz (PS Santa Nella has Andersen Pea Soup with RV parking and a couple of good truck stops, Loves, TA etc). BTY I-5 north of Santa Nella is OK except for Stockton traffic and the Sacramento road closures, otherwise great all the way to OR, Hwy 101 is great after San Francisco. Hwy 99 is a good option as well, see above.
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Old 09-30-2017, 01:57 AM   #10
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[QUOTE=CurtPutnam;1635968]I will add to the chorus of folks suggesting that you get on the 101 in Pasadena. There are faster routes but those are for locals in cars.[/QUOTE

You have to be aware of traffic. The 101 from Pasadena to ventura can be hell. We take the 5 or more often the 210 to the 5 then North of magic mountain amusement park we go west on 126 in to ventura. Then 101 north.
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Old 09-30-2017, 08:04 PM   #11
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Agree with Tom48. We live in Long Beach and have been traveling north to Monterey for the Annual Vintage Race Car Week in Monterey for over 30 years. Recommend you consider the I-15 North to the I-10 or I-210 West to avoid the I-5 and I-405 traffic nightmares through LA. Reconnect with I-5 North to SR 126 West into Ventura, a pretty drive, not much traffic. Re-connect with US 101 in Ventura. We usually stay overnight at Flying Flags RV in Buelton, one of our favorite parks. Next day you can cruise up 101 to Santa Cruz. We like the KOA just south of Santa Cruz. A bit pricey, but very family friendly and isolated from any downtown or freeway traffic noise.
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