BajaNomad

Which route from Canada to Baja is best?

mrioux - 5-14-2018 at 10:42 AM

Looking to drive from British Columbia to Baja in mid February towing a 5th wheel (24 ft.) trailer.

Google maps suggest 2 routes, one is via I5 thru Washington,Oregon and California and the other is via Washington, Idaho and Nevada.

For those of you who have driven from B.C. to Baja what would you suggest.?

Thanks for your responses.

[Edited on 5-14-2018 by mrioux]

StuckSucks - 5-14-2018 at 12:50 PM

I have not made the drive from BC to BC, but I know that I-5 will dump you at the border crossing at San Ysidro/Tijuana. Easy.

bajagrouper - 5-14-2018 at 01:08 PM

Most Canadian friends I know do the Washington - Idaho - Nevada-Arizona route because of California gas prices being so high.

Might also depend on you destination in Baja, Mexicali crossing would be good if going to San Filipe or down Highway5---Tecate crossing if going down to Valle Guadalupe or driving down the West Coast via Highway1


BajaMama - 5-14-2018 at 01:37 PM

i-5 is a 4 lane fast interstate, pretty straight through most of California. Probably not as straight through WA & OR. The other route will be two lane at slower speeds. I know the Nevada route will have significantly less traffic, and would be my choice.

Good luck and have fun.

RnR - 5-14-2018 at 02:26 PM

We live in Carson City, NV and have taken US 395 south to Baja every year for more than twenty years.

We have also towed a 24 ft travel trailer for most of those trips. The drive is very scenic and the roads are good.

We have also taken US 395 north to British Columbia and the roads are equally scenic and in good condition.

Your trip is in mid-February. The US 395 parallels the Sierra mountains and is subject to winter snowstorms. The roads are generally clear within a day or two after the storm ends but, you DO NOT want to travel this hwy during a snow storm.

So, from BC to Bishop, Ca, you will probably need a three day weather window to get south of the snow zone. Check the forecasts carefully. There are several passes on US 395 that approach 8,000 ft in elevation.

US 95 from BC through Idaho and Nevada to Bishop, Ca. is similiar but farther from the Sierras and isn't affected as much by winter storms. But, it can still snow on US 95. Here, the passes range up to about 7,000 ft.

I-5 in Oregon and south to about Redding/Mt Shasta area can also be affected by winter storms. South of Redding, Ca it is a flat, boring, valley bottom, 4 to 6 lane Interstate hwy.

In California, vehicles towing trailers are limited to 55 mph and the right hand truck lanes. You will be surrounded by semis on I-5 and just need to get in line and join the parade. CHP does enforce the speed and the lane requirements, at times. (Ask me how I know .....?)

Nevada's speed limits are up to 75 mph and it is very easy to tow at 65 -70 mph. The road surfaces are very good.

Your driving preferences and the weather forecast will dictate your route.

One other thought about your trailer and your mid-February trip. It will be cold in Idaho and Nevada. Expect below freezing temperatures every night. Plug in and run the furnace at night or leave the anti-freeze in the water system until you are south of Bishop, Ca.

Good luck and enjoy the journey.

AKgringo - 5-14-2018 at 02:27 PM

I-5 is the most efficient route, and pulling a fifth wheel, that counts for something. Having said that, I still prefer driving down through Nevada.




vandenberg - 5-14-2018 at 02:55 PM

I5 is the most direct route. When you get to Bakersfield take 52 east to 395 south t0 I 15 to avoid the horrendous LA traffic. Than to Tecate border on 94.

[Edited on 5-14-2018 by vandenberg]

Three2tango - 5-14-2018 at 04:04 PM

Quote: Originally posted by vandenberg  
I5 is the most direct route. When you get to Bakersfield take 52 east to 395 south t0 I 15 to avoid the horrendous LA traffic. Than to Tecate border on 94.

[Edited on 5-14-2018 by vandenberg]


That's good advice to avoid LA. We have also taken Highway 99 to 58 down instead of I-5 in our RV from Stockton and it was a little less frenetic.

motoged - 5-14-2018 at 04:11 PM

As a fellow BC'er, I have taken a variety of routes to and from Baja. 395 is good and fewer freeway tie-ups (Seattle, Portland, LA/south Cal).

I-5 may be a bit more direct....

It is at least a three day drive to the Mexican border ....take your time and carry state maps....don't rely on a GPS...they take you to nightmare "shortcuts" :light:

rts551 - 5-14-2018 at 05:27 PM

What? No map?

thebajarunner - 5-14-2018 at 05:30 PM

If you want scenery, take 395. Eastern Cal around Bishop is as pretty as your Canadian Rockies.
If you want straight and direct, then take I-5.
As to 55 mph speed limit..... if you decide to mind that limit make sure you have big bumpers on the back of your rig, cuz everyone else will run right up your back. 65 will be very comfy and safe. Anything under 80 without a tow is safe these days.
Beware of our wonderful California freeways, they are really rough in the right lane, thanks no doubt to Gov. Brown devoting all of our outrageous road taxes to their rightful destination. (NOT!!!)
And the money you save on gas taking the Eastern route might just be enough to buy dinner for everyone at In N Out.
OOOPS no In N Out on that route.
LA basin traffic.... just grit your teeth and ride it out.
And know why many of us live up here in Central Cal where the traffic is not so gnarly (Except on weekends coming out of Yosemite)

UnoMas - 5-14-2018 at 05:44 PM

The last time I drove through L.A. It was the last time I will ever drive through L.A..... ever!Total nightmare no matter what time you pass through. They will not let you merge if you need to exit. It is like they try to make you miss your exit especially if towing.

bajaguy - 5-14-2018 at 05:53 PM

Actually, there are In-N-Out's along US 395 in Reno, Carson City and near where 395 meets the I-15 in Hesperia, then plenty along I-15 south to the border.

Quote: Originally posted by thebajarunner  
If you want scenery, take 395. Eastern Cal around Bishop is as pretty as your Canadian Rockies.
If you want straight and direct, then take I-5.
As to 55 mph speed limit..... if you decide to mind that limit make sure you have big bumpers on the back of your rig, cuz everyone else will run right up your back. 65 will be very comfy and safe. Anything under 80 without a tow is safe these days.
Beware of our wonderful California freeways, they are really rough in the right lane, thanks no doubt to Gov. Brown devoting all of our outrageous road taxes to their rightful destination. (NOT!!!)
And the money you save on gas taking the Eastern route might just be enough to buy dinner for everyone at In N Out.
OOOPS no In N Out on that route.
LA basin traffic.... just grit your teeth and ride it out.
And know why many of us live up here in Central Cal where the traffic is not so gnarly (Except on weekends coming out of Yosemite)

TMW - 5-14-2018 at 07:24 PM

You don't want to hit the I-15 during rush hour. Mid day or late evening OK.

bajaguy - 5-14-2018 at 07:32 PM

Also don't want to be on US 395 south of Mammoth Ski Area on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Crazy drivers headed north on Friday and Saturday wanting to be first on the lift, and everybody headed south on Sunday

Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
You don't want to hit the I-15 during rush hour. Mid day or late evening OK.

bajabuddha - 5-14-2018 at 07:56 PM

I live by a simple rule: never drive the same road twice. Do 'em all, enjoy the ride, don't push your luck and keep the black side down. :cool:

Timo1 - 5-15-2018 at 05:37 AM

We live in Armstrong BC and have driven to Baja every which way cept sideways.Hands down the only way we will go is thru Twin Falls ID then down thru Ely NV, Vegas, Yuma and over to Tecate to cross.

Which part of BC are you from ??
Perhaps we could get together and I could give you a list of stops with hotels or campgrounds for your trip south.

BajaMama - 5-15-2018 at 09:20 AM

Well, now that I see you are traveling in February I would recommend staying on I-5, the other routes can be rough with weather. I-5 will have the most crews keeping clear of snow. I have been on all those routes and 395 is pretty, but if you hit weather, yikes. Especially towing. Yes, LA traffic sucks but surprisingly is not bad at 4:30 AM. (one of the few hours I will drive through...).

motoged - 5-15-2018 at 10:11 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Timo1  
We live in Armstrong BC and have driven to Baja every which way cept sideways.....


Tim,
Looking forward to your trip report after you and Barb do the trip sideways....I haven't tried that route yet...:biggrin:

Bu when I look at a map looking southwards to Baja....I see that the drive to Armstrong takes me sideways...

daveB - 5-15-2018 at 10:39 AM

Many of our friends who live in the Interior of B.C. travel through eastern Washington, then through Idaho, Oregon and Nevada; if you are near the coast as we are, we drive I-5, but always traverse Seattle on a Sunday. If you are on Vancouver Island, and take an American ferry to the mainland, you can miss most of Seattle. Our best trip through Seattle was on a Monday Holiday, think it was Veterans Day/November 11th. Nobody almost, on the Seattle roads but of course that is a quirk of the Calendar. I-5 of course has the distinction of having seven mountain passes from southern Oregon into northern California. Check the passes via the cameras setup when weather is colder. If traveling through Oregon, check the cameras leaving Pendelton in the winter. We always traveled to the main;and, but even so, traveling east through Baskersfield and doing the Pass and following Vandenberg"s route gets you past Los Angeles if you think that might bother you. Go through Yuma west, for Tecate or try Mex Hwy 5 to San Felipe if the newest piece of roadway would be okay.

tobianogreg - 5-15-2018 at 04:16 PM

Thanks for this discussion. We’re driving from Kamloops to San Jose mid October. First time driving for us. Prefer to avoid the high traffic areas as much as possible.


daveB - 5-15-2018 at 08:52 PM

Incidently, driving through Seattle is the hardest driving we used to do, from British Columbia to the area around Malaque, Jalisco. And I-5 in wet weather for us sometimes meant an extra day on the road: crowding in with a parade of semis, all shooting up spray, cut down on what I could endure as a driver. I just would not stay out there in those conditions, you cannot see what is going on with any clarity.

motoged - 5-16-2018 at 09:23 AM

Quote: Originally posted by tobianogreg  
Thanks for this discussion. We’re driving from Kamloops to San Jose mid October. First time driving for us. Prefer to avoid the high traffic areas as much as possible.



Tobiano used to be a good hayfield....great views....:coolup:

tobianogreg - 5-16-2018 at 09:45 AM

Still have both. :)

bajabum - 6-7-2018 at 03:49 PM

none of the roads are good...there are enough canucks with 5th wheels littering the beaches and special spots in Baja. Stay away and quit contributing to the Canadian invasion.

motoged - 6-8-2018 at 08:43 AM

Quote: Originally posted by bajabum  
none of the roads are good...there are enough canucks with 5th wheels littering the beaches and special spots in Baja. Stay away and quit contributing to the Canadian invasion.


I assume that is your attempt at humour ...:?:

daveB - 6-8-2018 at 10:15 AM

Just another thought regarding I-5 travel. When the passes look closed, or winter conditions prevail, go west to get on to 101, and drive the coast until far enough south to avoid mountains and passes. This is much slower, but can allow you to see the redwoods, the coastal beauty of Oregon and the journey itself. It will add time to your drive, but can get you out of dangerous driving conditions, something that will be impossible if you get caught driving the two lane interior roads that have you wondering where, oh where, is there a place to pull over safely? The answerr too often is 10 or 20 miles away, and as the snow builds up from the roads' edge, the oncoming semis begin their creep to the middle of the road, leaving you....what? just a broken mirror if you"re lucky. The coast route can be wet and windy, but safer.

May I change directions?

AKgringo - 6-8-2018 at 01:14 PM

Since the OP has not chimed in since the original post, I assume they have their answer. For more than a couple of years now, my Baja trips have started by flying from Anchorage to Northern California, then driving south from there.

I am in California now, and plan on driving north in the next couple of weeks, and was wondering if the Cassiar or the Alaska highway is the better route at this time?

I have driven both before, and prefer the Cassiar, but either ongoing or deferred road construction can change the nature of the drive.

So, what do my southern neighbors say about the road between Prince George and Whitehorse? (Yes, Anchorage is north of Whitehorse)

Timo1 - 6-9-2018 at 05:16 AM

check out drivebc.com for construction and road conditions.
That link might be wrong so google drive BC
Hope this helps Gary

windgrrl - 6-9-2018 at 06:18 AM

Have towed multiple times on 1-5 and I-15 in winter conditions in Feb. and it can be dangerous towing, especially through the mountain passes. if your dates are flexible, plan to leave during a "weather window" before or after a storm passes.

Another option if you don't need your RV is to find an RV storage place in south California, drive down in good weather and store your RV until you need it. Storage facilities are often found near larger recreational areas, e.g. Glamis. There is a new one with covered storage north of LA at the Love's truck stop. The freedom of not towing is great, but it can be nice to have the RV comforts. We store our RV in Baja because driving safer, exploring Baja is easier and there is less wear & tear on the truck without it. The cost of lodging is offset by the reduction in fuel cost.


Alm - 6-9-2018 at 07:32 PM

Except for those who need to visit Nevada or Arizona, everybody takes I5, straight to San Ysidro. Seattle and LA are inevitable evil, heavy traffic. You could avoid Seattle by crossing in Osoyos to East WA, not familiar with this route, and Feb is still winter.

WA gas is cheaper than BC.
Ore-gun ;) is cheaper yet.
Don't miss the last gas station before crossing into Ca, because Ca gas is expensive. You'll have to fill up in Ca more than once.

General rule - the bigger the exit, the least expensive is gas, because there are several stations and a good chance to find Arco or another discount guy. Hotels, though, will cost slightly more in such a place, if this matters to you.

Plan at least 3 nights to SY. One day to get to OR, one day to cross into North CA, one day to Bakersfield-ish, one day to cross SY and make it to Ensenada.

Ditto on crossing I5 to Ca: check the weather conditions on Siskyou pass the evening before. https://www.tripcheck.com/Pages/NOAA-Forecasts?curRegion=7 - click on Ashland or the next zone to South. Links to Web cameras - at the bottom of the page. Snow (if there is any) is only on the Oregon side and sometimes extending a few miles South of that pass.

Driving to Cabo with trailer... Oh, my... South of La Paz there aren't many places to camp on or near beach.

[Edited on 6-10-2018 by Alm]

mrioux - 6-12-2018 at 11:01 AM

Thanks to all that responded. Looks like I may move up by travel date to Baja from Feb.2019 to mid Nov.2018 (earlier retirement date) so weather may not be such a big concern as I'm considering the Idaho, Nevada, Yuma route from BC.