Help a Nervous Neighbor Get Over the Hill
January 28, 2012 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Topographical info for highways near me generally, and specifically how much grade on California Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay?

My neighbor has a car I used to hitch rides on but it is slowly losing its 'drive' and having more trouble making it up even slight hills (so much so, she's afraid to take passengers, especially ones of my size). Now she has a very important trip to take to Morro Bay and anxiously wants to know exactly how much stress she'll get going up Route 1, compared to the alternate route via Los Osos. Is there a resource anywhere for seeing highway grades? My google-fu has failed me - I can't read the topograpical maps, and searching the words 'highway grade' gets me links to Drivers Ed.
posted by oneswellfoop to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can find an elevation profile for any arbitrary path you can draw in Google Earth; here is a guide. And, in fact, you can search for directions, then go to Edit>Elevation profile to see it without having to draw the path.

The summary:
Elevation gain/loss: 276m, -329m
Max slope: 15.0%, -13.7%
Avg slope: 2.7%, -2.4%

I believe this is for the uphill part calculated separately from the downhill part.

All that said, Google's elevation data isn't perfect; precise elevation is hard to get, especially if there are trees or buildings in the way. I'm suspicious of there being sections over 8% or 10%; that seems way high, although I've never been in that specific neck of the woods. For what it's worth, you should probably look at it yourself in GE, because you have the local knowledge, but more importantly because this elevation profile thingy is really frickin' cool.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:57 PM on January 28, 2012

Oh, and to actually answer your question, it looks like via Los Osos is the flatter route.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:03 PM on January 28, 2012

That's a big D'OH! from me. As much as I use Google Maps, I had never set up Google Earth. (That's why I don't come to Ask often; my questions are usually stupid) Thank you, Homeboy, for going to the Trouble.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:08 PM on January 28, 2012

I realize you pretty much just got your answer! I can't help but pipe in anyhow with a confirmation from experience, because I've driven both of these routes many times.

The route through Los Osos is very gentle. There are many small rises and falls, but nothing that ever strained my 18-year-old car. The grade up Route 1, however, is extreme - it never failed to be a workout for the engine. If slope was a concern, I'd go through Los Osos without a doubt.
posted by marlys at 9:03 PM on January 28, 2012

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