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HWY 1 - San Francisco to Vegas

Travel Forums North America HWY 1 - San Francisco to Vegas

1. Posted by liveandexplore (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!


I am looking for some help about the coast drive from SF to LA via Hwy 1. I have read some of the topics on this forum, however my trip is different as I dont need/want to go into LA, and my final destination is Vegas.

I can do the trip over either two days (with one night in a hotel on the trip) or via 3 days (and two nights), depending on your recommendations. Any help you can provide would be great, including where to leave Hwy 1 to divert into Vegas. Is it best to still go via LA, or miss LA (that would mean missing Santa Monica - is it worth checking it out)?

Sorry if the questions are very basic - im from Australia so I dont know the California coast at all.

Thanks for your help.

2. Posted by liveandexplore (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Also, has the stretch of Hwy that was damaged in March this at Rocky Point been reopened?


3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

To get the latest on road conditions for the entire state of California, go to this website:

and then put in the highway you are interested in (in this case, SR1--state road 1 or just 1)

If you do, you'll see that as of this date (May 30, 2011), the road is still closed approximately 3.2 miles south of the city of Gorda. You'll also see that the road is open only to 1-way traffic south of Big Sur. (meaning they let some traffic through one-way, then change the light and let some go the other way, then change the light again, etc. This is likely to be this way until at least late July--since this has been the worst year ever in terms of rain--and it rained this weekend and is expected to rain next weekend also (meaning no new construction).

So if you plan to go this way, you'll have to either divert off this road (State Hwy 1) onto US Hwy 101 at either Monterey (via state highway 68, to Blanco Road) or at Carmel at Carmel Valley Road (not suggested since you wind around too much--and it will be easy to get lost) or at Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to Mission Road to County Highway G14 to Jolon Road to County Highway G18. This last road allows you to see most of Highway 1, but will not allow you to get to Hearst Castle or Cambria easily, and the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is super-winding for about 15 miles--and likely to be somewhat crowded, and this route will take you at least 1 1/2 hours longer than the other route. However, since you are coming all the way from Australia, if you really want to see Hwy 1's vistas in the area near Big Sur, then this is the route to take--despite the extra time and rough roads. If, however, winding roads bother you--or you want to spend more time at Hearst Castle or at wineries or visiting more spots along the way, then I suggest you go south as far as Carmel--then double the 6 miles back to Monterey and take Hwy 68 east to US (a much faster route). Your choice.

Having said all that about options, here's my own suggestion that is completely different.

Day 1--Instead of driving the freeways (I-280 or US 101) to San Jose and then getting on Hwy 1--get on Hwy 1 way up near San Francisco (via Pacifica) and take this route all the way to Santa Cruz. The views you get will be similar to what you will see south of Carmel, but this route is not closed--and you can drive it much quicker and really experience no traffic at all. Once you get to Santa Cruz, you'll be on Mission Blvd. Take this to Bay Avenue and turn right and in a short while you'll be down by the wharf area and next to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. From here go on to Monterey and visit Cannery Row, then south to Carmel and drive the 17 mile drive. Now drive Hwy 68 east to Blanco Road, turn right and go to Hwy 101. Take this south to Paso Robles, then get on Hwy 46 west and if it's not too late in the day, go to a winery or two. Spend the night here in the Paso Robles area.

Day 2--The next morning, go on Hwy 46 west to Hwy 1. Turn right and go 4 miles north to Cambria. At the north end of town, turn left and get on Moonstone Drive. Drive this on north and have breakfast (before Hearst Castle) or lunch (after touring Hearst Castle) nearby. Go another 4 miles or so north and take the tour of Hearst Castle (get your tickets on ticketmaster before leaving Australia). From here head south to Morro Bay, then onto San Luis Obispo, then on down to the Solvang area. Visit the bakeries and delis (and possibly a winery) here and then drive on to Santa Barbara. In Santa Barbara, hang out on State Street and down by the wharf or marina near the water. Ride some bikes or take a swim or do some deep sea fishing. Spend the night at a nightclub here and enjoy.

Day 3--This is the the day to go all the way to Las Vegas. Drive south to Ventura, then take 101 towards LA. When you get to Thousand Oaks, get on Hwy 23 (Moorpark Freeway) towards Simi Valley. This will become 118 (Ronald Reagan Freeway). Take this to I-405 and then head north on this towards Sylmar and Bakersfield. After about 15 minutes drive on I-405, exit on Hwy 14 and take this to the desert and Hwy 138 east. Take Hwy 138 east to Victorville, where you get on I-15 and then take I-15 all the way to Las Vegas. This drive is about 6 hours--so leave Santa Barbara by noon and you'll still get to Vegas in time to check into your room and still make an 8 PM dinner show.

[ Edit: Edited on 30-May-2011, at 13:35 by Calcruzer ]

4. Posted by paulmacpaul (Full Member 107 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I think the previous comment gave you much more information. Yes you could check out that website. Just my two-cents though; I think it'd be better to pass by LA. Although it would take you an extra day but seeing LA would be worth it.