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How do I get from Santa Rosa, CA to I-5 North?
October 6, 2005 11:55 PM   Subscribe

DrivingDirectionsFilter: I'm in Santa Rosa, California, and I'm planning to take I-5 north to Portland, Oregon. What's the best way from here over to I-5?

The map websites all suggest taking US-101 north to CA-20, and then taking that over to the 5. That will work, but it also means driving through slow, windy mountain roads (which I'm sure I'll get enough of later on), and backtracking a bit into the bargain.

The obvious alternative is to go down to Novato and then take CA-37 and I-80 east to Sacramento. But that seems kind of out of the way, too--I don't really want to spend my first hour of driving going the wrong direction.

So with all the back roads around here, it seems like there must be a better way--something a bit more direct, and maybe a bit less carsickness-inducing. Does anybody have a good idea of what it might be?

(For what it's worth, I'm actually in Healdsburg--about 15 minutes north of Santa Rosa--but I figure it's already a bit of a stretch to hope that someone will know this area that well.)
posted by moss to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (12 answers total)
 
I haven't tried it, but this looks like the best route:

Healdsburg -> Calistoga -> Clearlake -> Willams -> I-5 North
posted by amb at 12:31 AM on October 7, 2005


The 101-to-Clearlake drive is very mountainous. The fastest route by far would be to head back down through Napa -- it's definitely less scenic, but I say that as a lover of mountain driving. (See, if it were me, I'd be trying to get over to Highway 1 for the 7-hour drive up the coast.) You might try going through Calistoga and then south of the other lake in that area, but I've never driven that route and can't vouch for its flatness or presence.
posted by j.edwards at 1:39 AM on October 7, 2005


The best way that I know of is to go almost to Sacramento. I know its out of your way but its the fastest and then it's a straight shot all the way up. long and boring! I've done it about four times now since I moved from Santa Rosa to Seattle 6 months ago.

So take 101S to 37 towards Vallejo, hook onto 80 past fairfield and towards Sac. It can be a bit tricky when you get close but i know 80 connects to 113 right before Davis and then right into 5 N. That's probably the easiest.

I haven't tried amb's way, i remember thinking about it and a friend and I decided that this was much quicker. No small towns, no windy roads just back track south a bit, connect to I5 and set the cruisecontrol for about 700 or so miles :) Hope that helps.

good luck!
posted by freudianslipper at 4:05 AM on October 7, 2005


Get on Hwy 12 East. Go through Sonoma and Napa, get on I80 near Vallejo. Stay on I-80 until you get to I-505, take North that to I-5.

If you are starting more to the south, ie-Rohnert Park or Petaluma, go down and take Hwy 116 over to Hwy 12 then follow the same route.

It's kind of convoluted, but much better than going through lake county, using Hwy 29.

I do this drive many times a month, there is no good way to get to there from SoCo.


BEWARE!!! If there is an event going on at Infineon Raceway you want to time your drive thru the Vallejo area very carefully.

Also, on Friday afternoons, and Saturday mornings, traffic going East will get backed up bumper to bumper for about 8 miles on Hwy 12 south of Sonoma.
On Sunday afternoons, traffic going back to the West is even worse. Get home before 1PM, or wait to try until 7PM or so until coming back thru this area.
posted by whoda at 4:32 AM on October 7, 2005


I still say take 101S to connect, i prefer 2 lanes to one and 12 isn't any faster in my experience. I've never taken 505, took 113, but 505 looks good.
posted by freudianslipper at 4:40 AM on October 7, 2005


Freudian, if you are going all the way down 101S to get on 37 in Novato, you should get off at 116 in Petaluma, and cut the corner over to 37. Lakeville Hwy(116) usually travels at a good pace all the way to the stoplight at 37.

You'll save a couple minutes usually, even more during the morning commute hours. :)
posted by whoda at 5:22 AM on October 7, 2005


Just wanted to add that when I read your question, it almost seemed like you had posted this question while driving! Now that's a feat!
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:22 AM on October 7, 2005


What Whoda said. As a long time petaluma resident with family in Sacramento, that is the route I would take.

From Santa Rosa you can take 12 east all the way to I-80, which is what I would od fram Santa Rosa.

Don't go down to 37 from Santa Rosa- 116 or 12 are both faster from S.R.
posted by Four Flavors at 10:00 AM on October 7, 2005


I am from healdsburg and currently reside in santa rosa.
The way i always go from healdsburg is out hwy 128 towards calistoga then left on tubbs lane then left onto hwy 29 eventually straight onto highway 53 (29 turns left) then right onto highway 20 which takes you to highway 5 just north of williams. here is a google maps link to where tubbs lane is.
there is a section that is pretty twisty for about 8 miles or so just to warn ya.
I have done the Healdsburg -> Calistoga -> Clearlake -> Willams -> I-5 North before and it adds at least a half hour over the route i described. The main advantage is that its a pretty straight route.. good luck.
posted by miles at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2005


What whoda said; I used to make that drive all the time until I got smart and left that hellhole named Sonoma County.
posted by keswick at 12:16 PM on October 7, 2005


Whoda's got it-stay away from hwy 20.
posted by slimslowslider at 11:18 PM on October 8, 2005


Many thanks to everyone for some great advice. I ended up taking Miles's route there and Whoda's route back.

I was leaving Friday evening, so I wanted to avoid the traffic on 80, and there was still enough light left to enjoy something scenic (my biggest worry about twists and turns was for the return trip--I once spent some unpleasant time on the 20 around 3 a.m.). On the way home (that was today) I'd been driving since morning and it was starting to get dark, so I wanted something direct and simple. Both routes fit their purposes quite well.

I timed the trip both ways, and as it turns out, 128->Tubbs->29->53->20 was about 20 minutes faster (from Healdsburg--the Highway 12 route would probably beat it slightly from Santa Rosa, and anywhere south of there I'd just take 37). Still, there are parts of it I wouldn't want to drive at night, so it was good to have some easier ways available too.
posted by moss at 9:27 PM on October 10, 2005


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