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BGC
I am planning to drive the Pacific Coast Highway this year. I will be flying in from the UK. I want to drive from South to North starting somewhere around San Diego and end up in Vancouver. Being retired now I intend to spend at least one month to do this trip, maybe longer. I want to visit the major cities, the Wine Region, National Parks etc. I have started doing my research and have a few questions. It would be great if anyone reading this post could take the time to give me their views. The first question is when would be good time to do this trip? I'm thinking of April / May. Secondly, is the trip do-able in an RV? I've been told that the PCH can get a bit narrow in places. I was thinking of doing the trip in a 32ft. RV. Thirdly, can anyone recommend a good guidebook? Many thanks for taking the time to read this. Hopefully someone can respond.
FosterImposters
Hello BGC and welcome to this site!
There are several folks here from the western persuasion, that I'm sure will join in with some feedback. Forgive the delay in responding: between Super Bowl (professional football championship game) and some pre-presidential voting frenzy...some of us (sigh) have been preoccupied! rolleyes.gif

Your questions:
1. April is a great starting month. With the winter rains this year, you'll probably catch some unusual desert blooms in southern California deserts. Anza Borrego State Park is couple hours outside San Diego.
Note: Campground crowding doesn't begin in earnest until schools are closed for the summer. Memorial Day weekend (end of May) is generally the kick-off of the season.

2. You can probably drive a 32-foot RV anywhere there is pavement! Only things that have stopped us are high winds, and winter (ice, snow). The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) can suffer from mudslides some years (so far so good...but the rains are in full cycle now.) AND it can be mind-numbing to drive those winding curves: cannot be watching the outstanding view and drive at the same time!
Note: by June PCH is FILLED with all sizes of RV's crawling up and down the coast.

3. Any guidebook would be helpful if you've never been to California, Oregon, Washington or Vancouver before. Also good maps. We're members, so AAA maps of each state are stuffed in the RV. Good Sam's Club has great directories. We've used TRAILER LIFE for decades (before joining the electronic age). It's sorted by state, then city and is a handy guide (especially if your out of WI-FI range) for RV parks, etc.

Research the State and Federal Parks you would like to stay: some have RV length restrictions. Will you be pulling a small car behind your RV? If so, it will give you some flexibility to park the RV for couple days and just enjoy the journey.

This is ridiculously brief...let us know other questions you may have: ok? cool.gif
Cheers!



DXSMac
I can speak for the WA State part. An RV can get through, but it's a bit wind-y (as in, lots of twists and turns). Beautiful drive!

However, if you are on the Olympic Peninsula (that thing shaped kind of like an "arm" part of Western WA), and you intend to take the ferry out of Port Townsend to Keystone, then take HW 20 to hook up to Interstate 5, well, can't do that currently. The Port Townsend/Keystone Ferry was taken out of service due to hull problems and currently there is a "passenger only" ferry on that route. We don't know how long this will go on. I took this ferry last November and it was shut down a day or two after I went on it.

So, I would suggest that if you still want to drive HW 101 all around the Olympic Peninsula (and it would be a great drive!!!), that when you are up near Port Angeles (a good deep sea fishing spot, or so I've heard, I'm not into deep sea fishing....), keep on going, but instead of heading to Port Townsend, turn south and go to Bremerton. Then get on the Kingston Ferry and get off at Edmonds. Then, follow the signs to get to I-5 and you can go north from there (if that's what you want....)

Be careful if your trip takes you up near Long Beach, WA on HW 101 in August. Third week in August is the kite festival, and you can't get an RV spot then. Long Beach is just over the WA/OR border.

Also, when driving around the Olympic Peninsula, you will go through the Olympic National Forest, and one of it's features is the Hoh Rain Forest, which is, from what I heard, BEAUTIFUL. You may have trouble getting RV spots there ANY time of the year.

JJ
Beastdriver
BGC: I have decided, after a long and exciting life, there are four things in life I will not do again:
1. Try to ski the most difficult slope at Vail (a broken leg).
2. Try to land an airplane on a ball field with the engine out (took down one of the goal posts).
3. Never tell a guy twice as big as I am to shut up. (Really, the pain wasn't all that bad and the scars are hardly noticeable)
4. Never drive the Pacific Coast Highway in a motorhome of any size.

Seriously, I would re-think driving that Highway in a motorhome. You would enjoy the trip far more if you drove Highway 101 which parallels the coast in many areas and affords you fantastic views but without the heart-stopping winds, dropoffs, hairpin curves, and adrenalin overdoses.
Big Ben
Welcome to the forum. I have driven it both directions 4 different times. It is certainly not the easiest road to drive. What would concern me is that coming from Europe you are probably not used to driving bigger vehicals. That aside if you take your time and height dosn't bother you too much there is no reason not to do it.
The part that people generally have trouble with is from San Luis Obispo north to about a hundred miles north of San Francisco. The rest is a piece of cake.
Be sure to check out Monterey, Ca. If you enjoy wild life stop at Moss Landing Ca and paddle back it to Elkhorn Slough. They rent Kayaks and canoes there. You can paddle with in a meter of sea otters and seals. Also a couple good seafood resterants in the area.
Next stop on my to do list is Hearst Castle. They have differnt tours there and I recommend the first two.
There are several places to enjoy the redwoods. They are awsome.
San Francisco is my absolute favorate city. Got to walk the golden Gate. I always get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I do that. Fisherman Wharf is worth a day of any one time.
Washington and Or. both are an easy drive. Lots of places to stop and enjoy your surroundings.
You will have to make up your own mind on weather you want to drive it or not. There are many thousand of RV of all sizes drive it every year, without misshap. It truly is a wonderful experience.
I have also done 101 and it is no comparison. April or May would be a good time and might affored you some whale watching. You might also want to check on the Good Sam forum. They get a lot more folks that travel the west.
gwbischoff
AND...

Do your homework and check the reviews on this website!

April/May should be a great time to travel.
Joe-n-Doe
PCH (HWY 1) doesn’t really start in San Diego, rather it begins in Dana Point. Driving the coast from San Diego to Dana Point consists of navigating the Silver Strand from Imperial Beach thru Coronado. Spend an afternoon and evening in Coronado then head North on I-5. Visit La Jolla on your way North. A 32’ MH will have no problem with this stretch of road.

From Dana Point to Santa Monica PCH is a working road that connects Southern California coastal cities. Traffic on the weekends, especially if the weather is nice, will be very heavy and slow moving. A 32’ MH will have no problem with this stretch of road.

PCH from Santa Monica to Oxnard is beautiful and can easily be navigated with a 32’ MH. Once again, if it is a weekend and the weather is nice, traffic will be heavy.

At Oxnard you converge onto HWY 101 which you remain on until San Luis Obispo. At SLO you pick up PCH again. PCH from SLO to San Simeon is easily navigated with a 32’ MH. Morro Bay, Cambria, and the other beach front towns on this stretch are interesting. At San Simeon visit the Hearst Castle.

From San Simeon North into Monterey County PCH is a regulation sized 2-lane U.S. highway that twists along the coast. Driving the road will require your full attention. There are turn-outs and places to stop along the way. If you take it, you will get a taste of what to expect when you pick it up again North of San Francisco.

We too are planning a similar road trip during mid-May, but will focus only on PCH North from San Francisco to the Oregon State line. I will be towing a 36’ 5th wheel. After leaving the wine country, I have decided to take HWY 101 to Willits and from Willits take HWY 20 to Fort Bragg. I will either stage the 5er out of Willits or Fort Bragg and spend 2 days to using our tow vehicle to drive the Southern (Fort Bragg to Olema) and Northern (Fort Bragg to Leggett) portions of PCH. Yes we can probably navigate the road with our rig, but it would be stressful and distract from the beauty of the trip.

It is my understanding that HWY 101 North from Leggett to the State Line is very doable. As others have pointed out, if there has been any rain anticipate slide related road closures.

Are you planning on towing a TOAD? If not, you will have problems driving and parking in some of the cities and towns you will be passing thru and wanting to visit. If you are not going to tow a TOAD consider staging your MH at key RV parks and renting a car to do your sight seeing.

Not knowing what your interests and plans are, it would be presumptuous of me to tell say you need so many days here or there. However, consider spending several days in San Francisco, 2-3 days in the wine country, a few days in the greater LA area, etc. Unless you are flying into San Diego plan on a day to drive there from LA. Don’t expect to drive down and back in one day in a 32’ MH.

If time permits, and you are returning to the UK from LAX or SFO, consider returning South on I-5 and spending several days in Yosemite and Kings Canyon.
BGC
Apologies for the late reply. And many thanks for all your comments. We have booked our flights and we arrive in LAX on Wednesday 23rd.April 2008, at about 7pm. Because of the late arrival time we're thinking of staying overnight in the LAX area. Any suggestions/recommendations for accommodation? In fact we may stay in the area for a couple of nights just to get over our jet-lag before picking up a hire car and setting off, probably south initially. Provisionally we are booked to fly out of Vancouver on 4th. June. This will give us 6 weeks to meander up the PCH and across the border into BC. We are still undecided about using an RV for the whole trip but judging by some of your comments we are now wondering whether to maybe just do some of the trip in an RV and do the rest by car. Clearly some further homework / research is required. I'll be checking out the Good Sam forum as suggested. If I think of any further questions I will post again. Once again, many thanks for your comments.
jannie5
QUOTE(BGC @ Feb 7 2008, 03:59 AM) *

Apologies for the late reply. And many thanks for all your comments. We have booked our flights and we arrive in LAX on Wednesday 23rd.April 2008, at about 7pm. Because of the late arrival time we're thinking of staying overnight in the LAX area. Any suggestions/recommendations for accommodation? In fact we may stay in the area for a couple of nights just to get over our jet-lag before picking up a hire car and setting off, probably south initially. Provisionally we are booked to fly out of Vancouver on 4th. June. This will give us 6 weeks to meander up the PCH and across the border into BC. We are still undecided about using an RV for the whole trip but judging by some of your comments we are now wondering whether to maybe just do some of the trip in an RV and do the rest by car. Clearly some further homework / research is required. I'll be checking out the Good Sam forum as suggested. If I think of any further questions I will post again. Once again, many thanks for your comments.


Look into staying at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey. It's just around the corner from LAX. Yes you can hear the planes, it's the only RV area near the airport. Stayed there at Xmas since my family lives at the beach nearby. We are fulltiming so it's hard to find a place to stay in some parts of the city. It's a zoo anywhere in the Los Angeles area. Wish you were flying into SFO instead. Beautiful north of there and not as crowded. Hope I was able to help. Have fun and drive safely.

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