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Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

Pismo Beach...
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Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

I'm planning a roadtrip up the California coast on PCH 1 (as much as possible) for late July. I'm especially concerned about a planned leg from Monterey CA to Ft Bragg CA.

According to my map program, this leg should take about 6 hours at an average speed of around 49 MPG. But I'm wondering it might actually be much slower, especially in the peak summer season. I wouldn't mind diverting over to the 101 for part of the trip if that made more sense. I usually don't like to spend more time driving than around 6 hours per day, so this leg is already at the limit. :-)

Any local advice or experience would be appreciated. Thanks! :-)

Marina, California
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1. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

Is it possible to add another day? For Monterey to Fort Bragg, I would want at least two days, if not 3-4. You're also skipping through San Francisco, which is one of the main highlights of the drive.

Per your question, construction and traffic are the only things that will slow it down, for the most part. CA 1 out of Monterey can get very crowded in the afternoon, but the road north of Santa Cruz to Pacifica is actually rarely busy. You should watch out for the commuter traffic in SF though. When I've just driven through before, en route between the Golden Gate and Santa Cruz, I've taken Skyline Boulevard north to the Great Highway, which follows the coast (though it's rarely in view because of dunes) and does not get the heavy traffic that the streets more inside the city do.

The bridge itself can also be quite busy, but midday should be okay and the northbound side is at least not tolled. The section just across the bridge, going up to Muir Woods, does also get very busy in the summer, but not to the point that you might hit gridlock.

6 hours is the straight drive time though, without stopping. If you're not planning on stopping at all, even for viewpoints, why even drive it? Why not just take I-5?

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

I agree, if you want to blaze though some amazing cities - then you should just take the 5 or 101.

They will be much faster from point A to point B.

Pismo Beach...
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3. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

Thanks for the replies. Perhaps I should note, I'm NOT asking for the fastest route through central California. Rather, I am simply asking if the predicted 6 hour drive time for the route in question seemed reasonable. My experience in driving the coastal highways in Washington and northern Oregon is that such roads are often far slower than the map programs or GPS units indicate.

This is one day of a planned five day trip, but it is definitely the longest leg. Once I get the legs set, I can figure out how much time is available for sightseeing or goofing off along the way.

Thanks again for the replies.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

Your estimate seems accurate to me.

Washington State
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5. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

The folks on the California state forum are familiar with possible slow downs (especially in summer) along that route. In your new post, let them know the date you're traveling on Hwy 1. (Note that it's really only called Pacific Coast Highway much further south.) You'll also want to know about electronic tolling on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

Gah I tried to edit.

It didn't work though, I was trying to explain I think you should actually budget 7 hours.

The 1 north of the golden gate is slow moving until you get back to the beach.

Pismo Beach...
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7. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

Thanks to all for the additional replies. It sounds like this leg could easily result in a longer travel day than I would like, so I'm going back to the drawing board in terms of laying out my days and destinations. :-)

8. Re: Roadtrip up CA coast on PCH 1

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