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Old 01-01-2012, 01:10 PM   #1
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Driving the central California coast

We would like to explore the Central California coast, from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz. We will be coming from Desert Hot Springs and will be driving a 30' Class C with a toad, heading north back to WA state during the last two weeks of February, 2012.

We are new to long distance RV driving and a bit nervous. Have heard that some parts of route 1 are pretty hard to drive and we should stick to the 101.

Would appreciate any comments, suggestions, etc. both on the best route for inexperienced drivers, as well as best places to camp, places to see, etc.

Thank you.
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Old 01-01-2012, 01:36 PM   #2
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I drove 1 from San Diego all the way to Seattle, with the same size rig it got tough at times white knuckle ish, but, the scenery was AMAZING. I would do it again but if I had a bigger rig I don't think I would be able too. A lot of blind corners and hairpin turns If I remember correctly their was a 40 ft limit to length don't quote me on that tho
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:37 PM   #3
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Lived in Monterey for three years. My wife commuted to in her job Big Sur, and would complain about the novice RVers (rental RV's). Tips:

-If you have more than five cars in behind you, pull off, let them pass.
-Speed limit varies, but with the windy road between San Simeon and Monterey, expect no more than 35mph around turns.
-If memory serves correct there are two National Forest CG right on the coast, and at least one CA SP in Big Sur has a CG. This would be a great stop over between SB and SC.

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Old 01-16-2012, 08:00 PM   #4
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I'm a San Francisco native and wouldn't even consider that stretch of road in my 40DP. We love that stretch of coast but either stay in Santa Barbara area or Carmel and explore in our toad.

If you do decide to take your rig, at least you'll be headed north which puts you on the hill side of the road... instead of having DW hanging out over the edge with the Pacific hundreds of feet below.

Monterey to Santa Cruz isn't bad but Monterey to Santa Barbara..... well.

Best of luck...

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 01-16-2012, 08:16 PM   #5
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I have gone from Monterey to Morro bay with a 34 foot class A with a toad and it wasn't bad ... Yes there were some sharp turns but we went slow and easy through them and no problem at all.... I did travel that section on a Monday so there wasn't any traffic only had to pull over once for cars to pass other than that we never had traffic behind us... It is a beautiful drive when weather is clear
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:30 PM   #6
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Ya... I would do it. Not all that bad. Just stay calm and watch the speed an cars behind you. AN do not get in a hurry...its is not a fast route...period.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:08 PM   #7
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Hope i can help... Im a 3rd generation local from the central coast and i know the area pretty well. I can help with the Big Sur area.

You will be fine in a 30ft class C towing. I have towed large construction equipment all up and down that stretch and sat shotgun with my dad as a kid when he did as well. Sure we have lots of scary stories, but im still here to tell them! Just drive SLOWLY around the blind turns and pull over as much as possible when it safe to let the cars behind you pass.

My tips...
1. Get fuel (and food) in Morro Bay or Cambria the latest. Fuel in Ragged point and Gorda are expensive. Gorda is the last fuel stop for a long time in case you need it.
2. From Morro Bay to Carmel is about 4-5 hrs non stop in a slow rig. Plan accordingly if your taking stops.
3. Take this stretch in the early day time. Late afternoon sun will make it worse as it sets on the pacific.
4. Stop when you see a good (safe) spot to pull over and enjoy the ride. You might not do it again for a long time. Take some photos too.

Points of interest..
Not sure how you plan to break up your drive (coming from Palm Springs)... I would suggest shooting for Pismo Beach, Morro Bay (dunes not bay) or even San Simeon just north of Cambria. You could get to any of these from the desert in an easy days drive. This will leave you fresh and early for the "tough" section.

Just about 4 miles north of Ragged Point is a nice hidden waterfall. I say hidden cuz you can only see it for a split second coming southbound. Its in a switchback crossing Salmon Creek and there is a little pull over spot and an even smaller sign. take the hiking trail about 200yds and there is really nice waterfall (especially in feburary). Its easy to miss, but try google maps zoomed in real close and you will see.

Campgrounds i suggest would: (from the south up...)
Plaskett Creek - Nice walk to the beach from this spot
Kirk Creek - If your really adventurous, you could take your towd vehicle and drive up Nacimiento furgeson road up into the mountains for a spectacular view. I believe the paved this road all the way through and its usually open year round. (things were different when i was a kid which made it more fun) Make sure you have a full tank and a lunch and are up for some adventure.
Julia Pfiefer Burns - This is a tucked away wooded area thats really cool with the big red woods. it has a little restaurant and store which is nice. (and expensive) This is the most norther spot i would recomend and is only about south of Carmel.

Also... If you want to go to Hearst Castle, expect to spend about 4hrs on the tours and checking it out.

I have tons more info like where the best places to eat and stay in towns from santa barbara to Cambria, but just realized i have been typing for 15min and thought you might be getting overload by now. Just ask specifically and i am glad to help out. Hope this helps and wasnt too lengthy!
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:53 PM   #8
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Kirk Creek was the CG I was thinking of in my earlier post. It's been 10 years since I last stayed there. I second the idea of a side trip up Naciemento Rd., the peak just off the road is said to be the tallest peak on the Pacific Coast between Canada and Chile.

Enjoy your ride.
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Old 01-18-2012, 06:41 PM   #9
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I love that trip. Just take your time. Came over to the coast from Reno / Tahoe then went south on 1 in a 30' Clas C. Lots of Campgrounds on the way.
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Old 01-18-2012, 06:49 PM   #10
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