Category Archives: travel

Helpful Routes

Southern California Short Cuts

Must head North out of LA? Skirting the backside of Los Angeles is always a possibility on a FRIDAY night. Taking 15N, 10W, 210W will put you in the opposite direction of most of the bad traffic flow.

Merge back up with I-5 North of San Fernando Valley. If you must get West to the coast, the Simi Valley 118, or the 126 through Fillmore, is the best option.

camp in routeRvs camping in route

Plenty of jump off spots for overnight camping on the Grapevine, inside Angeles National Forest & Los Padres National Forest.

food

#1 – Avoid Los Angeles area, if possible. This will add 1-4 extra hours on to your road trip depending on the ‘hellish & hectic’ reasons this area normally experiences. If you must venture through, try doing so at night after dark. Gas up and eat a meal before you reach this area, to avoid needing to stop in L.A.

gasoline

Watch out for frequent Cal-Trans freeway closures starting
in the midnight hours.

Inland Crawl: The Interstate 91 & Interstate 10 Eastbound are both bad situations during winter months due to Palm Springs weekenders & if snow is decent, the Big Bear ski crowds.

Angeles Forest Hikes Los Padres National Forest Maps San Berdardino mountains

desert roads

california

Lets face it, Vegas traffic back to Cali sucks.

The Interstate 15 is the main corridor that gets backed up on Friday nights Northbound at the I-10 & the I- 215 junction.

 

 

Southbound on Sundays is awful from Barstow to San Bernardino. An alternate route is historic Route 66 & avoid the bumper to bumper in the high desert Mojave region.

OLD ROUTE 66, anyone?

 

 

Driving from Southern California

Headed to the Eastern Sierra or Death Valley – Make sure to take Interstate 15 straight up to US Highway 395N. The turn off is just south of Victorville. On the Road – gas up & quick food stop on US 395 available in Adelanto & in a region known as ‘Four Corners’ @ Highway 58 junction.

Be warned: It can get a little congested on Friday nights. An alternate is Interstate 15N to Interstate 215N to avoid most of the traffic from the west.

Typical afternoon rush hour problem spots in San Diego.

A small detour, if traffic is bad on Hwy. 78 in North County San Diego & you are headed Interstate 15 North. Twin Oaks Valley Road leads right up to Deer Springs Road & the Avocado Highway known as 15.

Population in SoCal has increased in the past 30 years and surely the traffic problems are worse than my memories. When you get sick of it, head to North, to any part of rural California. Where traffic lights are few and space is plenty.

State Atlas Maps

Regional Maps

camptruck

dangerous

NOTE: I am keeping the old screen shot maps from MapQuest on this page to prove my age and experience on such topics. And I thank you for using my independent California site. DanaMite

Areas to Avoid

Areas to Avoid if at all possible

traffic hell L.A.
Los Angeles is Traffic Hell, at any time of day

Charts below are from DanaMite’s  experience of living and driving in Southern California from 1990-2009.  Some of these areas may have become better or worse, depending on local circumstances and populations.

Traffic Jam Freeways:

San Diego

SD (4-6 pm)
Northbound 805/5 merge
Northbound 15/163 merge
Northbound 15 to Hwy.78
Eastbound 8 thru Mission Valley

Los Angeles

LA / Orange County (4-8 pm)
Northbound 405 LAX to San Fernando Valley.
Southbound 5 – Orange Co.
Eastbound 91
Eastbound 10

fleeing from SoCal –

  • Leave from work before 3 pm , if not
  • Don’t rush, take your time, leave after 6 pm
    (make sure you let the innkeeper know that you’ll be arriving late, and they’ll get quite upset after midnight)
  • Save yourself cash & stay only one night – Saturday Night (altho some places, esp B&Bs usually require a 2 night minimum stay)
returning to SoCal –

Sundays 3 pm – 9 pm – almost all major arteries coming into a city can get backed up.
Grapevine/ Tejon Pass from Bakersfield, I-5
US Hwy 101 South, from Santa Barbara can get bad
I-15 Westbound coming from Las Vegas
I-10 Westbound coming from Palm Springs
Hwy. 91 Westbound coming from the East

hwy highway

 

I80traffic

your escape route outta town
preplan for freeway gridlock – before you get stuck in it.

Region – San Diego
freeway days times problem areas 
5 N weekdays 4-7pm 805 merge to Encinitas
15 N weekdays 3-6pm Mira Mar to Escondido
8 E weekdays 4-6pm Mission Valley
to LaMesa
5 weekends 11am-4pm summer months
– beach traffic
5 near Del Mar all week 11am-7pm Horse Races
JUNE – SEPT
Region – Los Angeles
freeway days times problem areas 
5 N weekdays 4-7pm Orange County to LA
5 S weekdays 4-7pm LA to Orange County
405 N all the time 1-9 pm LAX airport to San Fernando Valley
405 S weekdays 4-7pm LAX airport to Long Beach / Orange County
405 weekends 10am+ summer months – beach traffic
10 E weekdays 3-7pm jct of Interstate 605 to Interstate 15
91 E weekdays 4-7pm winter months: Big Bear ski traffic can be heavy until 11pm

freewaybackup

metro / metropolis

Term used to differentiate a single city from a grouping of cities. Large urban centers draw in the good and bad – crowds, businesses, services, criminals and the homeless. The city centers will have hospitals, grocery, fast food, restaurants and big box chain stores.

califrepublic

Illegal raves and outdoor parties, with unruly young people can also be found in rural or forested areas. If you come across an abundance of cars and vehicles, parked along the roadside in a remote area, you will find a large event nearby – if you follow the blasting electronic music. Drive many miles away (to another spot) if you are seeking a quiet camping experience.

star

After Dark: World Gone Crazy

Civil Unrest in Cities:

2020 UPDATE – In this time of uncertainty, we feel it necessary to let you know about real-life threats and cautions you should consider while traveling. Lockdowns, curfews and criminals are now bigger concerns, along with the growing police state. Recently released inmates: Criminals will more likely prey on people and property at night, when less people are out and less light will protect their identity.

FREAKS COME OUT AT NIGHT. Protestors that plan their marches during the day are safer, and are way different than the restless ones who choose hit the streets after dark. The thugs, hoodlums, and kids (who seek the thrill of danger) are more likely to be out and about at night. Looting, arson and violence escalates after the sun goes down.

  • DO NOT travel or drive at night inside a large city or metropolis.
  • DO NOT visit an unfamiliar city or metropolis, at night.
  • DO NOT dine out in a city or metropolis, at night. If you need to shop, do so in daylight hours.
  • DO NOT park on the street overnight; find a parking lot, or a private driveway – to leave your vehicle while you sleep.
  • GIVE your timeframe and itinerary to someone you trust, and stay in contact throughout your travels.
  • NEVER leave anything inside your car, as these unknown items are just a reason for the possibility of a break-in. Always lock your  vehicle and set the alarm.
  • REFUELING/RECHARGING your vehicle in a city is often necessary while traveling; Choose a freeway exit outside of the city center and use a well lit gas station or recharging station. Lock your vehicle if you need to go inside.
  • BE CAUTIOUS of strangers that approach you out in public with questions or small talk. Thieves often use this strategy to catch you off-guard. Couples walking around with a gas can, asking for spare change, can also be a set-up to take advantage of you. Tweekers and drug addicts will use a wide variety of tactics, so be aware of their behaviors when you see them.

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Seasons of California

spring summer autumn winter

All Four Seasons in California

californiaWhile some may think there are only 2 seasons in California

WINTER (the wet season) and SUMMER (the dry, hot season) which may also be known as Fire Season (as in wildfires).

There are indeed 4 Seasons in California:

However – Spring and Autumn are much shorter, as rapid swings in rain and drought (weather related events) often dominate the West Coast region.

And by the way, Earthquake Season is any time of year.

june lake loop
June Lake Loop is a popular spot for Autumn Colors

campCamping Season can be all year long in California, where we often have mild winters, sometimes without much precipitation.

Southern California has camping and hiking all the time, in every area. Deserts are a favorite camp destination in the winter months, usually December thru March. Find more info on Desert Camping. See also, a page on Winter Camping.

The Central Coast and Central Valley regions often have campgrounds available and open year-round. Northern California and the Sierra Nevada mountains get most of the real wet weather, between November and April, so campgrounds usually close (for half the year) depending on weather conditions.

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High Country Sierra Nevada mountains

Often the higher elevations of California (5000’+) can only be accessed by vehicle during summer months. Deep snowpack means paved roads are usually closed for the majority of the year (Nov-May) and sometimes, during a ‘good’ winter, the main Sierra highway routes do not open up to public access until June or July. Read more on Sierra Road Conditions.

potrerocabin

California Road Conditions

snow conditions

June Gloom in California

june gloom

seasonal weather patterns

Late spring in California is a wondrous time of year for getting out and exploring. Thousands of prime hiking trails and camp spots, coupled with relatively mild weather throughout the state, should insure that your ‘gotta see’ list is long. Total Escape is stuffed full of weekend ideas and your excuses for not leaving the house could be vanishing with the warm weather.wildflower

However, for those dwelling in the coastal regions of our great state, spring isn’t all it is cracked up to be. I’m talking about the dreaded marine layer fog, more affectionately referred to as ‘June Gloom’ or ‘May Gray’. This weather pattern can even last into July and August!

The hotter it is inland, the more likely the beach will be cloudy. Advection fog occurs when warm, land air moves out over cool, ocean water. The cold, California Current and upwelling produce cool, moist marine layers that blanket the entire coastline up and down the state. San Francisco is notorious for its dense fog.

birdsandfog

Many tourists and newcomers in California expect warm summers with plenty of sunshine, only to be disappointed by dreaded cloudy days. Otherwise known as overcast!

April was warm, but May is gray. It can be annoying, but why wait it out at the beach? … just head east to catch some rays.

califrepublicIf you’re like most folks who prefer the bright, warm sunshine to the gray, cold mist of a heavy marine layer, you might want to head inland. In most places throughout the state it is warm & the sun is shining and very warm inland by June. It only takes only a few miles of eastward travel to lose the gloom and be basking in the warmth of yet another classic California day.

Although, triple digit heat can also begin around June 1st in parts of the southwest. Regions like Death Valley, Vegas, Arizona, and the Central Valley of California often see temperatures creeping past 100 degrees, in the month of June. Consider that tidbit in your road trip planning. Check the forecast.

You may need winter jackets for the campsite at 5000′ elevation – but air conditioning on the drive there. A wide swing in day time temperatures can be expected in Cali.

Coastal Fog California

marinelayer

campCamping season is warming up and the crowds are often sparse at the start of the season. Campgrounds are most crowded when “school is out for summer break”, so if you want a quiet camp, choose to explore the back roads.

Travel season is non-stop in California, all year long; and now, so is Wild Fire season.

campfireJULY 1st typically marks the start of the seasonal NO-BURN DAYS: no more open burning, no residential brush burns, no campfires outside of developed campgrounds.

Check with the local rangers for specific conditions. Cal Fire, USFS, BLM, County Fire Agencies

snowSNOW MELTS – June is also the month that many of the snow covered mountain passes finally open up for the summer season. These are the main paved routes that go over the highest points in NorCal and the Sierra range, making Wilderness Areas and alpine lakes accessible. Wildflowers will bloom May-July in the Sierra Nevada!

weathersnowmap
California Road Conditions (click map to see more info)

(California State Routes, Interstate & US Highways)

drumtribes
Summer Solstice Campout – JUNE 20-22