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Hwy 101 through WA, OR & N CA


gg923

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Hello,

We are making our first trip out to Pacific Northwest and looking very forward to it. We will spend 2 to 3 years traveling from SW to NW with the seasons. I have read on a few blogs & forums that Hwy 101 can be quite challenging with larger rigs. I assume that this is true for certain stretches but not sure it is true for the entire highway.

 

I would very much appreciate any input, from those with larger rigs, about stretches to avoid and which areas are easily traveled. We are willing to travel parts without the trailer but looking at the map it appears that there is limited points of entry as you come over from more inland.

 

Also, if there are any "not so well known" hidden gems (must see's) out that way we would certainly welcome any of those as well.

 

Thank you all for your advice!

Gene

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We spent Christmas 2013 at Lake Tahoe then moved to Redding, CA for the first 4 months of 2014. That was great. Redding is not normally a destination but the weather was great and it gave us a good jumping off point. We have a 1999 King of the road 40' 21,000# 5th wheel. We pull it with a 2000 Volvo HDT. We are 67.5' long hooked up.

 

In April 2014, we left Redding via 16 and drove to Arcata, / Eureaka, CA on the coast. Although this road was a lot of curves it was not a problem but just a little tiring with all of the turning. From Arcata, we stayed on 101 all the way to Sequim, Wa, where we are, now.

 

Again, no real problems but there are some places along the coastal highway where it is a little rough due to slippage and repairs in Ca, Oregon and Washington. Again, no problems, though. Just remember that there is no such thing as too slow. Lots of passing lanes and pullouts so don't let the traffic behind you push you into a compromising situation.

 

In 1999, we had a borrowed Jeep that we took from Santa Rosa, CA west over to the Coast and then up CA 1 all the way to Arcata/Eureaka. CA 1 is not a road for a big rig or even big motorhome but 101 is fine. It is spectacular, though but the Oregon coast is much more enjoyable and interesting.

 

Crescent City is not much to look at but the Jedediah Smith State and National Redwood Park is a must see. it is about 5 miles east of Crescent city and Hiouchi Hamlet on the eastern edge of it is the most impressive of all of the redwoods groves anywhere. Hiouchi RV park is great. Level spots, good wifi and almost walking distance to the entrance of Jedediah Smith RSNP.

 

US Highway 199 from Crescent City to Hiouchi is a challenge in a few spots due to its being built through the redwoods. A half dozen hairpin turns but dooable.. A little easier but longer route is to go on up north about 6 miles up 101 then turn east onto CA 197.

 

Beyond that, you should have no problems. The one common feature/challenge that all the coast roads have is that they "tip" a lot. Between the shifting and drifting earth that they are built on, there are a number of places where curves are not banked or have a negative bank on them so speed can make them more challenging than they really are.

 

The experience is definitely worth taking the time to fully engage the pacific coast highway.

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As Bill Joyce stated, sometimes 101 gets confused with Hwy 1 in California. For the most part, Hwy 1 shouldn't be driven with a long RV. We've driven 101 many times and it's definitely o.k. for big rigs. We especially love the area from San Francisco northward. Have a great trip.

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101 has a lot of what I call "burst grades" - they aren't long but they can be somewhat steep - 6-7% for a half mile then you immediately give it back only to do it again. Getting over to 101 from the Sacramento area will take you up and over bigger stuff than you'll experience on 101 itself. It's a great drive - redwoods in California and wonderful ocean scenery in Oregon. Didn't travel much of WA but the Long Beach area was very nice. We plan to do it all again in a few years.

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A real gem of a place to visit is the Southern OR coast, from Brookings to Gold Beach. Park your RV in Brookings or Gold Beach and explore the area. Especially if you like to hike a little. Great views of the ocean and the haystack rocks, and short hikes down to secluded beaches. Several pullouts to park at to take a short walk down (100-200 yards) to tidal pools at low tide.

 

If you like to boondock there is a great gravel bar on the Rogue River about 6 miles inland from Gold beach. Hard packed gravel, peaceful and quiet. Also watching the jet boats coming up and down the river in daytime.

 

IMG_0176CampEMedium_zps479befec.jpg

 

IMG_0172CampEMedium_zps24bf48ba.jpg

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Much of US-101 in Washington runs inland and, because of that, has no ocean views.

 

Same thing in California - CA 1 is the coastal route and is NOT recommended for large vehicles, especially north of San Francisco.

 

You can get a taste by taking CA 1 from San Francisco to Monterey, but south of there it turns windy and slow again, OK for a day trip in the toad but not for a large motorhome.

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The biggest problem for CA 1 north is the curves are so sharp and deep and there is often no shoulder at all, just the ditch. Long wheelbase vehicles have to tow from the wrong side of the road around blind curves just to keep the trailer out of the ditch. No way to make it through there without a pilot car and radios. Even Motorhomes have it bad because of how sharp many of the curves are. A motorhome just cant turn that sharp even using the whole width of the roadway.

 

We did it in a Jeep Grand Cherokee and places were very tight.

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I used to live in OR and have traveled 101 many times in CA-WA and you will have no problems. Just like others are saying, there are a lot of curves in places but nothing that will pose a problem. 18 wheelers drive it all of the time, so you will be OK. CA 1 is even doable with your rig but you will certainly have many, many tight curves where you will be doing 5 or 10 mph and will, at times, be needing both lanes to execute a curve.

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Thank You All for the info. I think I have confused the two as you suggest but the info is still very helpful.

Good advice here. Do take US101 as it is mostly scenic and while most of us get some sweaty palms at times on the first trip over it, the views are spectacular. It is true that 101 doesn't always follow the coast line but even when inland the majority of it is scenic. We have traveled it pretty much all of the way from LA to Olympia, including around the Olympic Peninsula and it is a tour well worth the time and trouble!

 

Save CA 1 for travel by car, leaving the RV behind. While we have known people who have traveled it with fairly large RVs, we have also known people who never wear a seat belt or travel with extremely overloaded RVs and get lucky doing that also. But some of them who do this make the news when their luck runs out. :(

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We're ridden 1 &101 from Canada to Mexico twice on our motorcycle and enjoyed it immensely.

For a large rig you probably want to avoid the section of CA 1 from San Francisco to the Oregon State line. You might consider basing yourself in the Anderson Valley area and using that to explore the coast in the toad or truck as it is well worth seeing.

The section of 101/1 from Santa Monica south is also difficult due to all the traffic and stop lights but there are some spectacular sights along the way.

We are based in San Diego and did the southern part one and two days at a time due to the traffic.

Our favorite is the Washington/Oregon coast and we intend to really explore that as soon as we get free of the S&B.

BnB

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I drove 101 and US 1 in Washington and Oregon last fall and had no problems whatsoever. It is wide, with good shoulders, and appropriate for big rigs or even truckers. It is a beautiful drive along the coast with some wonderful state parks.

 

However, as others have pointed out, US 1 is very different in California, especially north of Bodega Bay (north of San Francisco). It is not only very narrow, winding, and hilly, but I was scared out of my wits several times with huge logging trucks speeding downhill empty, and around sharp curves! No shoulders at all! I have driven a lot of mountain roads and that one is terrifying. It cuts inland to Fort Bragg, and I still chide my son for taking me over that route, which is the worst I have ever driven.

 

101 in California is fine, however, and I would not hesitate to take it.

 

LaPush Indian Reservation campground near Forks, WA, is pretty basic but the scenery is exceptional! Don't be put off by reports of wandering dogs. The only one I saw was a big one and doing his best to make friends with beach walkers. All he did was walk along next to people, wagging his tail, as if he belonged to them. If they refused to pet him, he would choose another couple and trot along next to them for a while. There is an enormous tree stump on the beach you can climb on that is worth more than a few photos. At the top, you are maybe 20' above the beach!

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  • 1 month later...

We spent Christmas 2013 at Lake Tahoe then moved to Redding, CA for the first 4 months of 2014. That was great. Redding is not normally a destination but the weather was great and it gave us a good jumping off point. We have a 1999 King of the road 40' 21,000# 5th wheel. We pull it with a 2000 Volvo HDT. We are 67.5' long hooked up.

 

In April 2014, we left Redding via 16 and drove to Arcata, / Eureaka, CA on the coast. Although this road was a lot of curves it was not a problem but just a little tiring with all of the turning. From Arcata, we stayed on 101 all the way to Sequim, Wa, where we are, now.

 

Again, no real problems but there are some places along the coastal highway where it is a little rough due to slippage and repairs in Ca, Oregon and Washington. Again, no problems, though. Just remember that there is no such thing as too slow. Lots of passing lanes and pullouts so don't let the traffic behind you push you into a compromising situation.

 

In 1999, we had a borrowed Jeep that we took from Santa Rosa, CA west over to the Coast and then up CA 1 all the way to Arcata/Eureaka. CA 1 is not a road for a big rig or even big motorhome but 101 is fine. It is spectacular, though but the Oregon coast is much more enjoyable and interesting.

 

Crescent City is not much to look at but the Jedediah Smith State and National Redwood Park is a must see. it is about 5 miles east of Crescent city and Hiouchi Hamlet on the eastern edge of it is the most impressive of all of the redwoods groves anywhere. Hiouchi RV park is great. Level spots, good wifi and almost walking distance to the entrance of Jedediah Smith RSNP.

 

US Highway 199 from Crescent City to Hiouchi is a challenge in a few spots due to its being built through the redwoods. A half dozen hairpin turns but dooable.. A little easier but longer route is to go on up north about 6 miles up 101 then turn east onto CA 197.

 

Beyond that, you should have no problems. The one common feature/challenge that all the coast roads have is that they "tip" a lot. Between the shifting and drifting earth that they are built on, there are a number of places where curves are not banked or have a negative bank on them so speed can make them more challenging than they really are.

 

The experience is definitely worth taking the time to fully engage the pacific coast highway.

 

 

Hello Bud,

Thank you for that information, was wondering about the drive up HWY 1 in a big rig.. ( big sur)

 

By The Way, I love your smart car deck!!

Who built it, and what did it cost??

 

thank you,

 

The Few

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Upper California was populated by the Spanish and bits of US101 from LA northwards passes relatively close to missions established by Fr. Junipero Serra in the 16th Century. Some are state parks and some are still used as active places of worship. The missions actually start in Baja, California (Mexico) but there is a long trail of them in southern and central California.

 

Lots of information on these missions is available on the Internet and if you travel between LA and SFO on US101 you will be within striking distance of several of the less famous missions; which are still interesting.

 

I keep trying to plan a trip in that section focused on visiting the missions. I've seen most of the ones in the south (including the missions in Baja) but have never had time to stop along 101. Many RV parks, too.

 

WDR

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