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Old 01-05-2016, 06:29 PM   #1
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Northern Coast of California to Yosemite

So we're penciling in a trip out west this summer. I say "penciling" because the RV isn't roadworthy just yet. Hopefully we'll get there...

Anyways... as the penciled in itinerary stands right now, we will be rolling south on highway 101 in northern California somewhere towards the end of June. From there, we'd like to head through Yosemite, across death valley, and down to Tucson to visit a friend.

The only thing I think I know for sure is that I want to take 120 across Yosemite...

What I'm not sure of is which route to take to get from, say, Eureka in northern Cal to a campground somewhere on rt 120 before it goes across the mountains. Google maps will take us either right down 101 and through San Francisco, or down I5 through Sacramento. I'm leaning towards the I5 route, but something tells me the traffic congestion might be severe? Maybe it would be best to cut across to Yuba City on 20 and then take 49 south once you hit the mountains? Only drawback is 49 doesn't look to be a road you can make very good time on... of course neither is I5 if traffic is jammed up...

I'm not afraid of heavy traffic and 5 lanes... I just don't care for traffic jams all that much...

Any thoughts? Suggestions?

-cheers
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:40 PM   #2
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Trafficwise, both are about the same. Whether Sacramento or the Bay Area, you should be able to avoid the bulk of traffic if you steer clear of rush hour. To get to I5 from Eureka, you have to twist and turn through the Trinity Shasta National Forest on 299 or 36. We were surprised at how high the elevation was on 36 and that it is actually unpaved at the very top for a few miles. Once you get to I5, it's boring, boring, boring all the way down to 120 south of Stockton. 101 South through the City crosses the Golden Gate Bridge. Southbound is the toll direction, which sets us back $38 with three axles and a tow. You'll then be deposited onto surface streets, which are messy at most anytime, until you pick up 101 again. I suggest 101 to 580 in San Rafael (Marin County), cross the Richmond Bridge Southbound (free direction). From there, it's a straight shot across 580 to 205 which runs right into 120 at Manteca. Easy and great scenery. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:24 AM   #3
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I was born and raised in the bay area-and have moved to Sac Valley area- and I would prefer I5 in an RV over 101 any day.
The traffic on I-5 is only bad in the late afternoons- and even then....it is better than the bay area!
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Old 01-07-2016, 10:19 PM   #4
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I was born and raised in SF. It's always nice to meet another native. Sacramento is ostensibly part of the Bay Area now given how many people commute either way. I was a regional representative in my last job, and drove between both cities and as far north as Santa Rosa quite often. I've hit staus everywhere no matter what time of day. But the OP was about driving from Eureka, and getting to Yosemite from there is much easier on 101. Also, there is much less truck traffic on 101 which makes a huge difference.

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I was born and raised in the bay area-and have moved to Sac Valley area- and I would prefer I5 in an RV over 101 any day.
The traffic on I-5 is only bad in the late afternoons- and even then....it is better than the bay area!
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Old 01-08-2016, 02:52 AM   #5
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So what does anyone think about my I5 to R20 to R49 idea? I'm guessing it might be a slower but possibly more scenic drive? I don't know that... I've never been there... just guessing... Maybe it's too slow of a drive to make in 1 day...

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Old 01-08-2016, 05:20 AM   #6
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This question comes up frequently so I saved this. Just reverse the route when going West to east.

Take Highway 20 West out of Williams. 37.1 miles. Williams is at I5 and Highway 20.

Watch for Highway 53 as you drop down a hill after a fairly long climb. Easy climb and multiple lanes.
Turn what would be South onto 53. You will go about 8 miles. Look for the sign to Highway 29 which leads to Kelseyville. This is a nice road and will become freeway in a few miles. Eventually you are back to two lane for a short distance and will come to a stop sign. You are back to Highway 20 again. This leg is about 30 miles. Turn left and enjoy the beautiful drive right to 101

This route will bypass the two lane twisting and winding on the North side of Clear lake. If you want a good view of the lake go ahead and stay on 20 all the way to 101.

NO I would not go through Yuba City to 49. We lived in Yuba City some 40 yrs until recently. Once you get to I5 in Williams go through Sacramento and get on 99 South. Go to near Fresno. I can't remember the cutoff over to Yosemite but it is easy enough to find on a map. We stayed in a Koa in Coarsegold. Been there twice.

49 is beautiful but bumper to bumper often out of Yuba City. Not a route I would take in an RV to get to Yosemite
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Old 01-09-2016, 12:40 AM   #7
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49 is numbered 49 for a reason. It is very scenic, but, yes, probably too slow for 1 day. For full effect, you'd want to start in Nevada City and leisurely work your way south.

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So what does anyone think about my I5 to R20 to R49 idea? I'm guessing it might be a slower but possibly more scenic drive? I don't know that... I've never been there... just guessing... Maybe it's too slow of a drive to make in 1 day...

-cheers
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Old 01-09-2016, 12:43 AM   #8
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What traffic in Yuba City? 49 doesn't go out of Yuba City nor even near it.

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NO I would not go through Yuba City to 49. We lived in Yuba City some 40 yrs until recently. Once you get to I5 in Williams go through Sacramento and get on 99 South. Go to near Fresno. I can't remember the cutoff over to Yosemite but it is easy enough to find on a map. We stayed in a Koa in Coarsegold. Been there twice.

49 is beautiful but bumper to bumper often out of Yuba City. Not a route I would take in an RV to get to Yosemite
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Old 01-09-2016, 02:05 AM   #9
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While you could stay on hwy 20 out of Yuba City to pick up hwy 49 near Grass Valley that would be a mistake. 49 is an awful road in an RV. I would take 101 to 20 to I-5 to 99 and work your way to 120.


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Old 01-09-2016, 06:10 AM   #10
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While you could stay on hwy 20 out of Yuba City to pick up hwy 49 near Grass Valley that would be a mistake. 49 is an awful road in an RV. I would take 101 to 20 to I-5 to 99 and work your way to 120.


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What makes 49 awful in an rv?

If it's a wonderfully scenic drive... and not too packed with traffic... I would consider making this a two day trip.

-cheers
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:13 AM   #11
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What traffic in Yuba City? 49 doesn't go out of Yuba City nor even near it.
Sorry I wasn't clear. Traffic on 49 if you go through Yuba City and Marysville out 20 and join 49 in Grass Valley/Nevada City.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
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What makes 49 awful in an rv?

If it's a wonderfully scenic drive... and not too packed with traffic... I would consider making this a two day trip.

-cheers
Guess I don't like the bumper to bumper traffic in places. Yes it is scenic. And you just stated you would consider the trip in two days.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:58 AM   #13
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We've taken the 49 and wouldn't do it again. The road is narrow, windy and has untrimmed trees and bushes that sometimes grow far enough into the lane to brush up against the side of the RV when you can't move into the opposite lane to avoid them (pesky oncoming cars). At least that's been our experience.

The other thing you need to monitor is the road closures. In years with heavy snow in the Sierra's, 120 may still be closed in early June.
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Old 01-09-2016, 12:19 PM   #14
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49 is winding, curved, hilly, single lane, bumpy, nasty piece of CA highways for an RV. Traffic in the summer is a problem as well. Parts are really pretty and there are some great places to explore. If you want to take your time and visit the towns and experience the area then go for it. But if you want to get to Yosemite then there are better ways to do it.


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