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Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

Wine Coast Country...
Level Contributor
2 posts
32 reviews
Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

Hi All

I would really appreciate your advice about driving from San Francisco to Bend around 30th December and back on Jan 5th. We are planning on driving up as a group with 2 cars; Honda Pilot and Jeep Wrangler both with 4WD, and taking I-5 and 97 through Klamath Falls. I just happened on some other threads on the forum saying driving at that time of year might be a big NO. Granted the OP was asking to do the drive with no experience in a Mustang, but you guys seemed really concerned about the sanity of attempting that drive. On the East Coast, we would drive 10 hours through Vermont to Canada or across New Hampshire to Maine to ski. Winter weather is of course always unpredictable but I would really appreciate if you could let me know if you would be concerned about attempting this with our vehicles/experience?

Would love to visit your beautiful town and ski but at the point we have to pay to fly there it gets uneconomical for our family. Thank you very much, Su

5 replies to this topic
Corvallis, Oregon
Level Contributor
1,261 posts
89 reviews
1. Re: Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

Welcome to the Oregon TA forum, Su.

As I recall, that previous poster with the Mustang was also completely inexperienced in mountain and/or winter driving and was starting out quite fearful. Bad combo all the way around.

You sound much more experienced, and your vehicles would certainly be more suitable for winter driving. That time of year, ODOT will likely say "chains or traction devices required" so as long as you have good snow tires and/or chains, all will be well on that score. Lots of people travel those roads in winter. Just carry emergency supplies, know that cell service will be spotty or non-existent, and don't take any Google-inspired short cuts. It will be dark by 5 PM, so mountain driving is risky after dusk/dark due to wildlife on the roads in addition to the possibility of snow and ice.

The ODOT website is www.tripcheck.com for updates on road conditions, alerts, etc 24/7.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33,195 posts
6,438 reviews
2. Re: Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

As said above you will want to check weather and road conditions.

Central Valley can have fog - it generally lifts after the sun starts to rise (I-5 corridor)

You will want to check on how foggy the conditions the day of your drive.

If you can, I would plan not to leave San Francisco before 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. or a bit later.

The snow areas will be between Redding and Ashland. Just before you get to Ashland, Mt, Shasta and mountain passes are high altitude. This is where snowy conditions and icy conditions are particularly an issue.

As long as they say highway 5 is clear to travel you should be fine.

If you left San Francisco at 7:00 or so with an hour for lunch, you'd be in Ashland as long as no weather or car accident issues, around 2:00

That would still give you about 3 hours to get to Bend -which means most of your travel except for the last hour or so would be in "light" hours versus dark.

As you know, its impossible to forecast the weather, but I would look 5 days or so before your drive to see what the weather looks like.

If all good - no issues.

If not and you have questions - ask again.

Good advise above but did want to give you some perspective since we've driven it from San Francisco north a few times.

Camp Sherman, Oregon
Level Contributor
1,834 posts
3. Re: Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

As #1 said.

You wouldn't be going through Ashland as you stated you would be going NE from Weed on 97 which is the best route.

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
44,571 posts
1,111 reviews
4. Re: Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

Yes, you're letting us know that you are experienced driving in snow, and you have 4WD vehicles. I'm assuming the other driver is also experienced?

Heed the third paragraph in post 1 - particularly the part about some dead zones and not following stupid GPS instructions - and you'll be just fine. This route is by no means the outback of the northwest and they'll be lots of other vehicles on the road with you. It's even all paved ;-)

Wine Coast Country...
Level Contributor
2 posts
32 reviews
5. Re: Driving to Bend from San Francisco at New Years

Wow, super fast responses, excellent information, question totally answered, you guys rock!

Thank you so much for your help

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