Actual Drive Times in California? Should I take take the scenic route?
July 28, 2008 8:25 AM   Subscribe

I am traveling from San Jose to Anaheim today (Monday). Is the number 5 Freeway a lot faster than the Coast (101)? The map tells me approximate drive times but I have no idea what the traffic is like.

I would like to take the scenic route but don't want to set myself up for a hellishly long drive.
Any advice would be appreciated.
posted by Toto_tot to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The 5 has been faster in my experience. You will probably have to burn some time on the Pacheco Pass highway before you get to the 5, but it's more direct overall than the 101, so it should save you time overall. (I like the scenery in the Pacheco Pass.)
posted by kidbritish at 8:35 AM on July 28, 2008

Yes, I-5 is faster than 101 by a fair quantity. The right lane on I-5 is really bad along some sections, because all that trucking traffic destroys it. You'll probably find the left lane to be in somewhat better shape, but clogged every few miles with a truck that's decided to pass another truck at about +5 MPH.
posted by majick at 8:43 AM on July 28, 2008

Thirding the 5. It's not as pretty, but it's straight through at high speeds, as opposed to nice views on the 101 and more twists and turns. Watch your speed though--no one wants to get a ticket in Kern County. Once you hit LA, you may experience quite a bit of traffic, but that would happen on the 101 as well.
posted by faunafrailty at 9:01 AM on July 28, 2008

I was held up in traffic for about 30 minutes before going over Pacheco Pass yesterday at the intersection of 152 and 156. The intersection there gets clogged up very easily, as people on 152 stop for people on 156 when they shouldn't. There was a CHP officer at the intersection keeping things moving, and still there was a substantial backup. I've been stuck there for more than an hour in the past. 5 is also just generally maddening to me. I prefer taking 101 south if I can.
posted by zsazsa at 9:08 AM on July 28, 2008

Also, you could take 101 just part of the way down. Cutting across on 46 at Paso Robles is a good option. It's a fast highway.
posted by zsazsa at 9:10 AM on July 28, 2008

I used to live in Santa Cruz and would go down 101 to Paso Robles, then take 46 (two lanes) east to Lost Hills, from where it was about an hour to the Grapevine.

It's very pretty, relatively lightly trafficked, and is a good alternative to Pacheco.
posted by mdonley at 9:12 AM on July 28, 2008

I generally take the Highway 25 bypass (google map) to avoid the 152 BS on the route to the Valley.
posted by yort at 9:42 AM on July 28, 2008

I would like to take the scenic route but don't want to set myself up for a hellishly long drive.

Define "like to take the scenic route" vs. "hellishly long." The 101 is way, way, WAY more scenic than the 5. It's not even a fair comparison. The 101 winds gracefully through some of the best areas of California. The 5 goes straight through some of the worst.

That said, a trip down the 101 will be several hours longer. But if you value scenic more than time, it's the 101 by a longshot.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:55 AM on July 28, 2008

i've always preferred driving north on the 101, since it puts me further from the edge of the cliffs. :-)
posted by rmd1023 at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2008

It might be worth considering going North to Dublin, then the 580 out to 5. High speed, all the way, barring a lot of traffic.

I have no idea whether this would be faster than Pacheco Pass. But it might.
posted by Danf at 3:23 PM on July 28, 2008

The 101 is longer (by 1.5-2 hours), but to my mind, the scenery and the extra places to stop balance out. Going down the 5, you've got a few rest stops until you get up the Grapevine, and that's about it. Books on Tape or an iPod full of podcasts is the only way to stay sane. (If you cross at 152, there's Casa de Fruita, which is a decent stop for provisions if you aren't stock up already.)

Out the the Pacheco pass might be O.K. (if there are no accidents). You'd be going against traffic in the morning. But it means more of the 5, which is boring.

I've never tried crossing at Paso Robles, and am putting that on the list for next trip South.
posted by dws at 9:19 PM on July 28, 2008

Thanks everyone! We took the 101 and got in 2 hours after my brother who took the I5 - but it was gorgeous!! The only slow down was in Santa Barbara for 10 minutes.

We even saw some sea lions.
posted by Toto_tot at 10:00 PM on July 28, 2008

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