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HDT Camping on the Pacific coast highway through California?

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We were thinking of starting as San Diego and heading North through the whole thing.  Thought about leaving the trailer and taking just an HDT and towing a jeep etc.  No HDT restrictions along the route?  The person we talked to made it seem complicated.  This might be an entirely stupid question.

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There are certain sections of PCH that will be no problem, but there are other sections that (even with an HDT towing just a Jeep) will be very difficult to pass.  PCH is best explored in a car in my opinion (or better yet on a motorcycle).  There are lots of access points to PCH that you can do in an RV.  Stay at the coast and explore in a toad.  Then figure out if you want to continue on PCH in the whole rig (based on what you saw in the car) or go back inland to continue and then come back out to the coast at another point farther along.  It has been a long time since I have been along PCH in southern CA, but I can think of several places in Northern CA I wouldn't want to be in anything bigger than a passenger car/truck.  There are some hairpin 180 degree switchbacks along the coast that are nearly impossible to pass in anything bigger (unless you like driving in oncoming lanes around blind corners and still maybe not having enough room to negotiate the turn on the first try in a "large" rig).  Even Google maps isn't the best for "pre-driving" a route along PCH because it is difficult to see elevation changes and there are a lot of elevation changes on PCH.  In some areas you are literally driving on the sides of cliffs along the coastal ranges.  It is beautiful to see, but it is not meant for large vehicles (at least in some areas).

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PCH really starts in southern Orange County, through the central coast to Hearst Castle it is doable with an RV.    There are several segments that are city streets, they are passable but traffic can be a handful.     From above there you get into Big Sur and the slide area.     Many state campsites are not well suited to large trailers, some are but most are not.


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PCH is broken up and in So Cal restarts at Santa Monica at the end of I10 and continues through that city and Malibu to the end which is where Point Mugu is and then goes through Oxnard joining the 101N.  Dont remember when it allows access to PCH again in the northern areas, but I do know that the slide areas are still not passable.  Once past Santa Barbara, the 101 is quite nice and freeway.  I have taken that drive thru Santa Monica and Malibu with a work truck and trailer, and I didnt care for it with those, not sure about HDT and trailer.  I know lots of big rigs do it to deliver but those guys drive it every day.

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Although it's at least two lanes in both directions, PCH is narrow and very congested (think city streets) from I-10 until you get north of Malibu.  Then it opens up until it joins 101 in Ventura County.

Technically Hwy 1 exists in portions west of Ventura to Santa Barbara, but it is little more than a frontage road to the 101 freeway.  There are places you can dry camp along this part for a fee but they are usually full or close to it.

When 101 turns North and inland at Gaviota, Hwy 1 takes off again north of the tunnel, but it's nowhere near the coast until you get to Pismo Beach.

And, of course, the main section through Big Sur north of Hearst Castle is still severed for the forseeable future by the megaslide at Mud Creek.  There is access from the Monterey end now that the Pfieffer Canyon bridge has been reopened.


North of San Francisco Hwy 1 is not advised for big rigs due to narrow lanes and extremely sharp switchbacks.  It's essentially the same as when it was carved out of the cliffs in the 1930s.  Avoid Hwy 1 from the turnoff north of the Golden Gate Bridge to Olema and again from north of the Russian River to Manchester.  North of Ft. Bragg to Leggett isn't much fun for a large truck either.

Further north in Oregon and Washington, the coastal road is designated as US 101 and is up to full federal highway standards, so it's not a problem for any legal size vehicle.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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I took highway 101 from Lincoln City Oregon to Crescent City California, we traveled in and out of the Coastal Redwoods and then went to see the Redwood Forest Starwars Return of the Jedi was filmed with the Ewoks LOL. It was at the top of list for beautiful drives. I am a Ray Stevens fan, and we went through Coos Bay Oregon, a town mentioned in the "haircut" song.

Outside of having to slow down to 35 mph for a speed limit, it was a very enjoyable drive along the winding back roads and smaller U.S. highway systems. Mom and Pop gas stations and places to eat.

Happy Holidays,

Vegas Teacher   

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