Route to California
January 5, 2005 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm helping my mother move from Texas to California. Starts in San Antonio, stops once in Tucson, AZ and finishes in Santa Rosa, CA. The on-line map services all seem to go by Interstate without regard to other roads. Can you recommend a quicker route than the Interstate system or is that indeed the quickest route?
posted by Captaintripps to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
It is indeed the quickest route.
posted by dness2 at 12:45 PM on January 5, 2005

My brother took part of that route once, It's about the fastest, unless you want to detour and take highway 10 through Phoenix to LA. Having lived in Arizona for a few years I can definitely say the backroads can be incredibly winding and confusing. Best bet to stay on the Interstates.
posted by efalk at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2005

I second that. Although, the Painted Desert was so beautiful, I couldn't get out of Arizona for several hours...
posted by Specklet at 12:48 PM on January 5, 2005

Is this going to take place soon, and does the route take you through L. A. at all? Reason being that the major highway out of L. A., the 5 (oh, okay, for non-Southern Californians, the I-5) has been shut down the last few days due to snow (though it is open today). Check with CalTrans before you go.
posted by vignettist at 1:08 PM on January 5, 2005

Response by poster: I'm doing it starting next week, but I'll check out CalTrans on my way. Thanks for the tip.
posted by Captaintripps at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2005

My grandfather, who made this trip with his mother 80 years ago, says that rest stops are a wonderful idea that someone should have had a lot sooner.

I'm sure there are alternate routes for most of the trip, and some of them may be faster, counting traffic bottlenecks, etc into the picture. But you'd have to have a very detailed, time-sensitive journey plotted out in order to take advantage of all of them. Otherwise, the interstates are indeed the widest, straightest roads with the highest speed limits between the states. But that doesn't mean that from time to time you won't pick up a few minutes by taking a frontage road past a crowded interchange.

Were you wondering if there were wider, straighter roads out there that aren't on the map? Or wondering about traffic and delays, etc?
posted by scarabic at 1:42 PM on January 5, 2005

Response by poster: I was mostly concerned with the fact that all I got was interstate routes and since I'm unfamiliar with the area, I thought there might be state highways that took a quicker, more direct route from one to the other. It appears that there are not.
posted by Captaintripps at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2005

CA 99 is a good alternative to 5. Slightly less traffic, and about the same lack of scenery. You can take I-80 to the Bay Area from Sacramento. When I moved out here, I drove the U-Haul on 99 instead of 5. It turned out to be a wise choice.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:02 PM on January 5, 2005

Interstate 10 between about Junction, TX and El Paso is pretty boring. At least there are hills and stuff along I-5 in central CA.

I live in Austin and made the drive to Vegas a few times [I-10 to Phoenix, then north on 93]. Just getting out of Texas takes all damn day. I hope people are trading off driving since I usually want stop for the night in Las Cruces NM. And Tucson to Santa Rosa is going to be a long day too.

[On preview: to slightly disagree with fandango_matt, PCH [Calif Rt 1] through the LA area can be a nightmare traffic-wise. When I've gone from PHX to Sacramento, I would take the 10 to the 210 to the 5 to avoid LA traffic.

The 101 between LA and SF is a prettier drive, but if I were going up that route, I'd do I-10 directly to the 101 in LA.
posted by birdherder at 3:19 PM on January 5, 2005

With normal conditions Interstate 5 will cost you less time than I10 to PCH going from L.A. to the bay area. The Santa Monica freeway (I10), downtown L.A., and the southern parts of PCH can be quite crowded. Another bottleneck on 101 is mid-day Santa Barbara traffic. I do agree with fandago_matt that PCH is a much more interesting and enjoyable drive.
posted by rdr at 3:53 PM on January 5, 2005

Also, I agree that 99 is a good alternative to 5, but if you are going through L. A., you have to take 5 over the Grapevine to get to 99, which splits off about 20 mins. south of Bakersfield. The Grapevine is the problem area at the moment, and we are due for more rain/snow from now until Sunday.
posted by vignettist at 4:36 PM on January 5, 2005

The main issue is the crossing at the Rockies, and there are precious few of them, and of those I-10 is the best. I-40 isn't bad and I like the desert and Indian Country too but it is windier than I-10 and also a little out of direction once it goes to Barstow, although I-40 is a good option if the Grapevine is closed (take I-40 west of Barstow to CA-58 and continue on CA-58 to I-5 and thence north). The state and US routes that cross the Rockies tend to cross in a diagonal direction and neither of them are particularly fast.
posted by calwatch at 9:11 PM on January 5, 2005

Here's another vote for California Highway 99 over I-5 through the Central Valley. The distance and speed of the two are pretty much the same, but with 99 you have the security of a new city or town every fifteen miles.
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:10 AM on January 6, 2005

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