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Old 11-16-2019, 11:35 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,816 posts, read 28,655,054 times
Reputation: 38270

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I moved back to Silicon Valley from Crescent City a couple years ago. It's on the coast just south of the Oregon border. What others haven't mentioned yet about the coast in January, is that there are frequent really intense storms that blow in off the ocean. I'm talking 65 mile per hour winds and high surf, and sideways rain. Waves can blow over Hwy 101 along some stretches, trees get blown down across the highway, there are landslides and the highway can be closed or if you're lucky, there's one lane open and you wait for a pilot car for your turn to use the one lane left after the last landslide. Hwy 101 between Eureka and Crescent City is almost constantly under repair because of landslides. If it gets too dangerous, they just close the highway.

But, those storms are no joke. Really scary while driving hairpin turns on a cliff over an angry ocean. I'd rather drive on I-5 in a snowstorm any day over driving on the coast during a crazy storm that comes off the ocean.

The apartment building I lived in was the first building that the wind could hit off the ocean - just a grassy park strip next to the beach, then our apartment building. My apartment was on the ocean side on the first floor. The wind would sometimes bow in my window - you could see the glass bending inward.

I love a good storm, as long as I'm safe and dry inside and can watch it from a safe place. But, drive in it? No way, Jose.

Now, if you knew the weather was going to be perfect, it might be a nice drive - but it wouldn't be efficient and you had asked for efficient.

Interstate 5 has way more resources to keep it plowed and safe.

Oh, and another consideration is cell phone coverage. Unless you have Verizon, you won't get much coverage at all along Hwy 101 once you're north of Santa Rosa. That's a lonely stretch of mountain roads in the boonies. Even with Verizon you won't have much cell phone coverage. So, you may not have the ability to call for help, and there isn't much traffic like on I-5. I-5 has way better cell phone coverage, and lots of truck drivers who can call for help for you, if they see you're in troublt.

I'd save a trip along the beautiful coast for summer when it's hot everywhere else, and you can enjoy the cool coast when the weather won't be insane.

An inexpensive place to stay in Redding is the Thunderbird Lodge downtown. It's where I stay when I stop there. I used to live in Redding, too.

I also lived in the Columbia River Gorge area in the mountains and am familiar with the Portland area, too. The Gorge can get crazy icy in January.

Take some chains and blankets and other emergency stuff like space blankets and some food and water and lights. Practice putting the chains off and on. I personally think the plastic chains work fine and they're way easier to put on and off.

Put a small shovel and a bag of kitty litter or sand in the trunk and some lights or flares so people can see you if you have to pull to the side of the road. Maybe pick up a charger/power bank/jump starter like this:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Schumach...B&gclsrc=aw.ds

Have a great road trip.
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:51 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
28,257 posts, read 38,737,281 times
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Going up I-5 is your only good option. The coast road is a gorgeous drive, but very slow. Unlikely to have any snow (not impossible) but there is the possibility of winter storms.


Up I-5, there is only one possibly bad spot at the Siskiyou Pass and that is almost never closed. Before you leave home, buy a good set of snow chains and carry them with you. If you don't use them, return them for a refund when you get back home.


If it turns out you need them, much better to have them than to try to buy a set right at the point where they are required.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
10,923 posts, read 18,921,309 times
Reputation: 7972
In the past, my DH has demanded we drive from Portland to the Bay Area even in the dead of winter. Today I tell him he can do that alone, I am flying. He hasn't tested my resolve, we fly.

We still drive in the spring and summer taking to opportunity to visit relatives en route.
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Old 11-18-2019, 09:37 PM
 
1,517 posts, read 757,048 times
Reputation: 3002
Quote:
I-5 is your best route and just gear up for winter snow driving in the Siskyou mountains. All the other possible highways are going to be longer and more remote in winter. You should carry tire chains and have winter gear. And pay attention to local conditions on the OR and CA highway web sites. There are a bazillion web sites on winter driving and the equipment you should have.
Quote:
The big question is: how many hours a day are you willing to spend in the car? You are looking at 900+ miles for the most direct route. Depending on where you pick up the coast route, you add between 100 and 300 miles to the trip and much of it is slow-going. You might average 80 on I-5 through the Central Valley but most of the coastal drive is 55 and below through towns.
Quote:
The coastal route is longer and slower, but much more scenic. The hazard there is flooding. Heavy rains can wash out 101, causing detours and delays. Getting across the Coast Range to access Portland can also be a mess if there is flooding and mud slides.
^ That. Buy a set of tire chains and just take I-5 the whole way up/down if you can. Not as scenic but faster and considerably safer.

Quote:
Also, driving in Portland is a nightmare. I second flying and just Uber everywhere.
OP's coming from southern California so he's already WELL used to it.
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Old 11-21-2019, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,293 posts, read 15,680,484 times
Reputation: 25094
Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
Going up I-5 is your only good option. The coast road is a gorgeous drive, but very slow. Unlikely to have any snow (not impossible) but there is the possibility of winter storms.


Up I-5, there is only one possibly bad spot at the Siskiyou Pass and that is almost never closed. Before you leave home, buy a good set of snow chains and carry them with you. If you don't use them, return them for a refund when you get back home.


If it turns out you need them, much better to have them than to try to buy a set right at the point where they are required.
It's a personal choice. I only take a freeway if there is no other practical route. Freeways are great for getting you from here to there, but the only way you can get off of one is an offramp, and all offramps are depressingly uniform - gas station/convenience stores and burger joints.

Alternate routes are slower, but nowhere near as boring.
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Old 11-21-2019, 08:37 PM
509
 
4,689 posts, read 5,366,513 times
Reputation: 6584
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nell Plotts View Post
Take a plane, take a train. Drive if you must but be sure your SO is ready for an 'adventure'.
I drive south every year in January from eastern Washington. Towing a trailer. So snow is NOT an option.

Over the past ten years I have spent three years waiting out the weather in either Eugene or Medford so I could get over Siskiyou Summit while towing. It is much less of an issue if your not towing.

IF your uncomfortable with snow....watch the weather and drive over to 101 around Redding. With todays internet info available on line it is pretty easy to make the call on which way to go.

I assume you have seen this internet site:

One Stop Shop for Traveler Information

Your tax dollars paid for it....use it.
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Old 11-22-2019, 04:13 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
29,194 posts, read 48,642,461 times
Reputation: 35471
I-5 is usually best. On a rare occasion you may have to wait out a day (unlikely, but possible).

When I have been re-routed to the coast (~6 hrs longer on a good day...) In winter I have encountered freezing fog on coast (as well as fog in summer). I would rather head east and use 97 or 395. (if no worse than I-5), but will cause extra time.

I often drive it solo in a day (a long day).

A friend drives LA>PDX 3x / week for Swift using I-5 exclusively (Home Depot & Toyota deliveries). (driving as a team at the moment) Pre-holiday volumes.

If towing... bring 'drag chains' for the trailer.
I prefer cable chains for vehicle on interstate routes (Cleared but potentially icy)

Can also get the road reports dialing 511.
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Old 11-22-2019, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Oregon Coast
10,690 posts, read 5,023,320 times
Reputation: 14882
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
I-5 is usually best. On a rare occasion you may have to wait out a day (unlikely, but possible).

When I have been re-routed to the coast (~6 hrs longer on a good day...) In winter I have encountered freezing fog on coast (as well as fog in summer). I would rather head east and use 97 or 395. (if no worse than I-5), but will cause extra time.

I often drive it solo in a day (a long day).

A friend drives LA>PDX 3x / week for Swift using I-5 exclusively (Home Depot & Toyota deliveries). (driving as a team at the moment) Pre-holiday volumes.

If towing... bring 'drag chains' for the trailer.
I prefer cable chains for vehicle on interstate routes (Cleared but potentially icy)

Can also get the road reports dialing 511.
It doesn't sound like you have done that often. I don't know what freezing fog is, but the temperature doesn't generally get below freezing on the coast. Fog is sometimes a problem, but generally it's in the early morning, and mostly very near to water. Fog is extremely rare on the coast in the summer, even near the water. If you saw that, then you saw a very rare occurrence. The worst fog I have seen in Oregon is in the valley, along I-5. One time coming from Eugene, I missed my exit for Drain, because the fog was so thick I couldn't see the sign. When I finally realized my mistake, and got off the interstate somewhere near Roseburg, I had to literally stop my car and get out and walk up to the highway signs to read them and figure out where I was. I have never seen fog that thick anywhere along the coast.

US-97 and US-395 sounds like a terrible idea to me. But to each their own.
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Old 11-22-2019, 10:42 PM
 
Location: Portland Metro
2,307 posts, read 4,271,001 times
Reputation: 2743
US-97 is a good, straight drive. Much less curvy than I-5. But it is higher in elevation with significant stretches over 4000’.

Hwy 299 between Arcata and Redding is not really all that winter friendly.
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Old 11-22-2019, 11:33 PM
 
Location: Idaho
102 posts, read 71,975 times
Reputation: 93
I appreciate all the advice and discussion but I would like to update that it's looking like we're just going to fly out of Burbank.
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