Northcoast to Southwest U.S.

On the Road AU18-783

In the middle of November I took a trip to Arizona and Utah. The trip involved driving from the northcoast of California all the way to Gold Canyon, Arizona, then heading north to Panguich, Utah. The trip concluded by trekking from Panguich all the way back to the northcoast of California. The trip is about 2,640 miles. Here’s a map:

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It’s about a seventeen or eighteen hour drive to Gold Canyon from far northern California, so for most people, that’s at least a two day trip. I used Lost Hills as the halfway point.

What I dread most going on these long trips is driving through cities. I’m allergic to traffic, and do whatever I can to avoid it. The quickest route, mileage-wise, to go from Eureka to Lost Hills is to drive through the Bay Area. But since I did not want to drive through Oakland during rush hour, I took 101 to Route 20 and tried my luck through Sacramento. I did run into some traffic around the airport, but nothing too horrendous.

The quickest route, mileage-wise, from Lost Hills to the Phoenix area is to drive through the LA basin. That’s something I will always try to avoid, no matter the day or the time, so I took a slightly longer route that leads through Needles and then takes two lane roads south and east to the 10 freeway. This would be my recommended way of getting from NorCal to the Phoenix area (although if you’re not in a hurry, an even better way is to go through Joshua Tree National Park). I did run into some afternoon traffic driving across Phoenix, but miraculously survived the ordeal.

From Gold Canyon it’s about a seven hour drive to Panguich. I decided to stay in Panguich because it’s the least expensive place to stay in the area, and it’s only a 23 mile drive to Bryce Canyon.

From Panguich I headed back to Lost Hills. I drove on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That’s not a good day for driving on freeways anywhere in the west. In my experience, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is worse than the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I ran into some pretty hideous traffic east of Las Vegas, where traffic stopped up for miles just east of the California border, where the 15 freeway loses a lane. Even worse was Route 58, which has a very serious bottleneck at the Route 395 four-way light. That light was backed up at least eight miles and required 50 minutes to get through it. I drove through that area on the Friday before President’s Weekend back in 2016 and did not run into that level of traffic.

The next day, Sunday, I left Lost Hills for the northcoast. The roads were not nearly as choked with traffic as they had been the day before. I took a chance on driving through the Bay Area and ran into hardly any serious traffic. Once past Santa Rosa, the traffic began to thin out even more.

I took very few photos while driving this route, because I was in a hurry, but I did get a few snaps. First, some images of sunrise over the Tehachapi Mountains:

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Some snaps of the Mojave desert:

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And to conclude, a couple of snaps from an overlook along Interstate 5 in the Central Valley:

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