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Old 04-20-2019, 09:44 PM   #1
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Vancouver BC to El Centro CA.

Hi All

I will be doing my first long trip from Vancouver BC to El Centro CA and I thought I could get some tips from the knowledgeable people here.

I will be towing my 23 ft TT with my 2017 Durango and can not leave till the beginning of Jan 2020. I know it's still a long time away but I like to plan early.

Has anyone done this trip in January ? My concern is the mountain passes and where some of you would of stayed. How many days did you take to reach my destination or some place near there. Palm Springs ?

I would like to drive only 5 to 6 hrs a day. Did you stay overnight in your TT/5th wheel or motel it ? I understand that the Walmart stores are not letting people stay over night there from what I have read. Mainly WS and OR.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

TIA
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:30 AM   #2
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I did this trip in January 4 years ago from Whidbey Island to Tucson. Going down, I was solo and interested in making time. I was not towing and overnighted in Medford, Or and Bakersfield, Ca.

Coming back I drove our class A with a toad and took a little more time. Our first night was Quartzite at a commercial campground. Our second night was Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area just off I5, west of Bakersfield. Nice park. Our third night was at a casino around Redding. Our fourth night was a KOA near Corvallis, then home. The last day was kind of long, but we stopped for some MH maintenance in Vacouver, Wa.

Those stops spaced it out OK. Remember, Your speed limit in Ca will be 55. I took 99 south from Sacramento but brought I5 northbound. Stick to 99 if you can. It's in much better condition and has more services. Also, you will need to carry chains for both your tow and the trailer. Keep some flexibility in you schedule so that you don't need to use them. We had clear roads through the passes but lots of rain.
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Old 04-21-2019, 03:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by JGriff View Post
Hi All

I will be doing my first long trip from Vancouver BC to El Centro CA and I thought I could get some tips from the knowledgeable people here.

I will be towing my 23 ft TT with my 2017 Durango and can not leave till the beginning of Jan 2020. I know it's still a long time away but I like to plan early.

Has anyone done this trip in January ? My concern is the mountain passes and where some of you would of stayed. How many days did you take to reach my destination or some place near there. Palm Springs ?

I would like to drive only 5 to 6 hrs a day. Did you stay overnight in your TT/5th wheel or motel it ? I understand that the Walmart stores are not letting people stay over night there from what I have read. Mainly WS and OR.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

TIA
we've left middle of Feb, for the last 2 years. the only place of concern is between Roseburg and Yreka, when using I5.
we stay at 7 Feathers RV park, Rolling Hills Casino RV park, Flag City RV park.
California is worse than Oregon and Washington, regarding Walmart overnighting.
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Old 04-21-2019, 08:43 AM   #4
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the speed limit in california is posted at 55 for trucks and vehicles towing. seems to me that doesn't seem to be enforced. i can't imagine a semi doing only 55! if you stay in the right lane and do 65 you will be passed by every type of vehicle ever created.
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:33 AM   #5
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From personal experience I would definitely recommend US395 to El Centro. I5 is ok if you are in a hurry, but if you are interested in a scenic,leisurely, drive then US395 is your kind of road. There is little traffic compared to I5 and far less trucks. Where you pick up 395 is up to you. There are numerous places to stop and see. The Wx can be a daily thing, I would check daily and plan my travel accordingly, but you should have no problems. Be prepared to spend a few days to wait on the Wx and you should be OK.

US395 will turn into some freeway (I15) travel from SoCal to your destination, but by this time you should be able to handle anything.

You can message me if you want more specific info.

Have fun planning, but don't over think it. Enjoy!!!

Cheers
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:04 AM   #6
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In winter stay on I-5. Watch out for fog. The only real pass is in the Siskiyous and it is not that high at around 4,200 feet. I like to camp in the parking lot with the Tribe at Seven Feathers Resort. You can go in the casino and have a nice dinner and hear some music. One of the only really good parking lots around.

Plenty of RV parks and public camping on the route. Watch the weather. Waiting a day can help a lot. Go over the Siskiyous in mid day when it is thawed out if you have to.
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:46 AM   #7
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That's def. a nice long trip to near Mexico. Envious!

Weather on the west coast of WA and the mainland Vancouver area that time of year can vary a lot from year to year and can be mild to cold & snow so you can't predict with much confidence. I'd also seen decent weather here but down around Seattle having really bad snow storms. Getting through or around Seattle can be difficult and if weather happens to be bad, would not be fun.

We usually take the ferry over to Port Townsend and the go down 101 on the east side of Puget Sound. Slower but scenic and a lot less hectic and you get back onto I-5 south of Olympia.

Def. check out casinos to overnight at along the way. 7 Feathers has a fantastic RV "CG". All 50/30 amps with FHUs, manicured grass, etc. and a shuttle over to the casino if you want to eat there or waste some $$ for fun. We've stayed at the casino in Redding a few times but don't know what's there after the bad fire last year. Some casinos just have areas to park in with no services but for a short overnighter are fine.

I-5 between SF & LA is rather boring. I agree with going via 395 through CA which is great. CGs along I-5 are rather sparse and most are along the coast and inland. You don't see many RVs on I-5 even in the summer. I think the farther south you go into CA the harder it will be to find a CG or other place to stay at. You might want or need to make reservations will in advance. To give an idea, the CG we stayed at in Bakersfield (in an orange grove, very cool) was nearly empty in Aug. and they told us they are full over the winter months.

We've towed our TT as far south as Gilroy & Bakersfield and over to Vegas. Always tow at 65 in CA and have yet to see a single cop. Don't know about Socal.
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:10 PM   #8
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What route are you taking? You will hit snow in Washington, OR and Northern CA if you take I-5 in January. 101 is better, more scenic, but will take longer. We live in Southern CA and spent some time at Sunbeam resort in El Centro early last year. I prefer taking I-5 to San Diego and then I-8 to El Centro. Doesn’t take any longer, you drive next to the ocean and don’t have to worry about the wind in the Palm Springs area. We drove our truck to La Quinta yesterday and came into winds both morning and night on I-10.
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:31 PM   #9
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I have driven the length if I-5 in Washington, Oregon and California many times in my motorhome.

As others have mentioned your only major pass is the Siskiyous Pass. I would typically spend the night before crossing the pass at the Seven Feathers Casino (I believe they have free parking but also a very nice RV park with shuttle to the casino). Staying there would allow me to check the pass conditions in the morning and arrive late morning at the pass.

A good place to stay on the other side is the Rolling Hills Casino (Corning, CA) RV park. It used to be one could just roll in, but now it has become very popular so I would recommend reservations. Time your arrival so you can visit the Olive Pit in Corning. They have RV parking.

We have a winter home in Yuma (60 miles east of El Centro) so sometimes we take the motorhome and other times just the car. If I take the motorhome I leave I-5 at Bakersfield and take Hwy 58, then drop down to Palmdale, Palm Springs, Salton Sea and direct into El Centro.

I believe this route is about 50 miles longer, but you miss the Grapevine and north Los Angeles.

Regarding the posted 55 MPH speed for vehicles towing. . .most of the semis travel at 60 mph. I set my cruise control at 60 and only occasionally do I have to pass a slower truck. Makes for a more relaxing drive.

You may know that El Centro is the winter home of the Blue Angels. I was stationed there in the late 60s and, as a Navy journalist, promoted the Blues while there. You will often see them practicing in the skies above El Centro.
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:37 PM   #10
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P.S. I forgot to tell you about the Orange Grove RV Park in Bakersfield. You actually park in an orange grove and they give you a big sack to fill with the oranges you pick. And yes, they are ripe in January.
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:40 PM   #11
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Hwy 101 thru OR is generally less prone to ice/snow in Jan than the inland routes and more scenic thru the windshield wipers. Definitely do NOT recommend Hwy 395 thru OR towing anything in Jan. Always do a TripCheck before starting the day's travel that time of year. Ft. Stevens state park (Astoria), Harborview Inn and RV (Garibaldi), on the north coast and The Old Mill (Coos Bay) are good places to spend a night or two - lots to do and see on the coast. Safe travels :-)
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:58 PM   #12
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What route are you taking? You will hit snow in Washington, OR and Northern CA if you take I-5 in January.
Up here in the southwest corner of Canada, unlike when I was a kid in the 50s/60s and had snow every winter, nowadays we get large swings in winter weather year to year and don't know what to expect.

For ex., when the winter Olympics were in Vancouver BC in 2010, it was so mild they had to truck in snow from 100 miles away up to the venues in the local mountains and we mowed our lawn the grass was growing so much. This past Feb. we had temps. well below freezing for weeks and about 1-1/2' of snow.

If I were the OP, if it's possible, consider leaving earlier or later if needed to catch a decent weather window.

This past couple of weeks has been miserably cold and wet. Our first camping weekend has been Easter but we bailed out this year for the first time. The next couple of weeks is going to be more of the same, pffft. Then all of a sudden it will warm up and we'll be into a drought and the forest fire season.
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Old 04-21-2019, 02:32 PM   #13
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I am not much help to the O.P. On the route down as we came from Ontario but
we spent some time in that area this winter. We had to hug the Mexican border to get decent weather this year. March was better. Palm Springs got flooded with roads washed out etc and then it snowed at higher elevations. Beautiful but not what we hoped for. Great trip lots of memories but no sun tan. Stayed at the KOA in Desert Springs. Then across to Quartzite and back to Yuma.

Wishing I had an off-road vehicle for the imperial sands. Great easy drive in the Central Valley.
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:10 PM   #14
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JGriff, we agree on most of the recommendations above, except for traveling on US 395 in the winter. It it runs down the eastern side of the Sierras and is often closed due to winter storms. In springtime and summer, it is gorgeous and scenic, but not so much in winter.

We recently completed a multi-months long trip through the west with our Cardinal fifth-wheel, and came down the west coast from the Seattle area last summer. We try to limit our towing time per day to no more than 4-5 hours, so our first stop south of Seattle was Portland Fairview RV Park east of Portland, OR. Lovely park, near the Columbia River, with lots of sights to see if you spend more than a day.

Next stop along I-5 was Seven Feathers RV Park, one of the best we have ever seen. Beautiful RV sites with a free shuttle across the freeway to the Casino. The truckers love it, too.

Next stop was Durango RV Park in Red Bluff, CA. Terrific park, right alongside the Sacramento River banks.

We then detoured west to visit family in Novato, CA, and stayed at the Petaluma KOA just off US-101. Very nice park, and just a half-mile from the best micro-brewery in Northern California at "Lagunitas".

We typically drive down US 101 on our way home from there, and have stayed at several RV parks between there and home here in Long Beach, CA, over the years. There are several nice RV parks in the Paso Robles area, but our favorite is Flying Flags RV in Buelton just off 101. Worth spending some time there to see Solvang and other attractions in SoCal wine region.

If you want to avoid the LA area completely, you can turn off US 101 at Paso Robles and take SR 46 east to I-5. Bakersfield has several nice RV parks, but we have not visited them in the past ten years.
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Old 04-21-2019, 08:46 PM   #15
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I drive US 395 often but not in the dead of winter with a trailer. Conway Summit is around 7,300 feet and there are other similar passes. You have to drive past Mammoth Ski Area. Once you get to Bishop it is easy going. Stay over by the Coast or I-5.
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:50 PM   #16
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From personal experience I would definitely recommend US395 to El Centro. I5 is ok if you are in a hurry, but if you are interested in a scenic,leisurely, drive then US395 is your kind of road. There is little traffic compared to I5 and far less trucks. Where you pick up 395 is up to you. There are numerous places to stop and see. The Wx can be a daily thing, I would check daily and plan my travel accordingly, but you should have no problems. Be prepared to spend a few days to wait on the Wx and you should be OK.

US395 will turn into some freeway (I15) travel from SoCal to your destination, but by this time you should be able to handle anything.

You can message me if you want more specific info.

Have fun planning, but don't over think it. Enjoy!!!



Cheers
Thanks for the offer. I will msg you close to our date.
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Old 04-22-2019, 02:10 PM   #17
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Thanks All for your suggestions.

We have done the 101 before from Seattle to Crescent City and loved the drive. I have done that one many times over the years but last year was the 1st time with a TT.

I'm loving the idea of staying at 7 Feathers RV CG and will book that.

keep the ideas coming if you have any others because I sure do APPRECIATE them.
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