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San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip in early November

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Aug 29th, 2010, 01:42 PM
  #1
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San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip in early November

Hi. We are planning a road trip from San Francisco to Seattle in the first week of November. It will be a 6-day trip for us (to and from). I was wondering if those who've traveled this route around this time frame could give us some pointers:

(1) We will be driving in a Honda Civic. Car is in good condition and I plan to take it in for a check-up the week before the trip.
(2) I was told that there might be some snow in the mountains around OR and WA by that time, and it could be scary. Is there really snow by that time of year? (We live in NorCal and driving in the snow is foreign to us.)
(3) We are avid photographers and would like some suggestions for places to stop and take photographs.
(4) Any other best practices in terms of routes to take/avoid, what to bring, places not to miss, etc. would be most appreciated!
Thanks in advance and I look forward to all your tips and suggestions!
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Aug 29th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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I am interested in hearing responses to this...we're considering the same trip at the same time...but going from Seattle to Sonoma.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 04:50 PM
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if you take the coastal route, there's a lot less chance of having snow plus imo it's much nicer than going up i-5. but you'd want to spend at least 3 days/2 nights each way doing that route in each direction since it's slower so it may not work for you. is the 6 days including the time in seattle or just for the drive both ways?

that said, the only place there's really a likelihood of snow on i-5 is in the mountains near the or/ca border. the rest of the route on i-5, snow would be rare.

lots of recent posts about doing the coastal route; suggest doing a search and reading through some to get ideas then ask more specific questions.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 05:07 PM
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I have driven my Honda on this route many times over the years. No problem.

I find the road conditions (by calling 511) and if chains are required, I drive on 101. If there is snow and ice, it is usually around Mt. Shasta and just south of Ashland, OR.

If you drive 101 you will have great opportunities for photographs of redwoods in northern California and of the beautiful Oregon Coast--especially from Brookings to Port Orford and from Florence to Lincoln City.

HTTY



Enjoy.

HTTY
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Aug 29th, 2010, 09:59 PM
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Do I understand correctly that your six days is for the whole trip up and back? "It will be a 6-day trip for us (to and from)"

If so, you really won't have time for much in the way of detours/scenic diversions. Where are you starting from?

But say you are near San Jose -- there to Seattle via hwy 1/101 maybe mid way up the Oregon coast to Seattle is at least 18 hours driving. In Nov I'd want 3 days to do it -- meaning 3 days up and about the same coming back (14-15 hours driving down I-5 assuming decent-ish weather)
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Aug 30th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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If you decide to come up the interstate, there is a fabulous site named "The Crags" just outside of Castella in northern CA. Best seen in the morning hours when the sun hits them just right.

Don't understand your statement that you live in Northern California and are not used to snow...ever hear of Weed, or Yreka? Get north of Redding and you will certainly see snow when the season hits.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 09:56 AM
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"Don't understand your statement that you live in Northern California and are not used to snow...ever hear of Weed, or Yreka? Get north of Redding and you will certainly see snow when the season hits."

I had to laugh at that bit too. But refrained from commenting since they have enough problems w/ just the trip (if they really mean 6 days)

Unfortunately - MANY Californians haven't heard of Weed or Yreka - those are often confused w/ smokes and Eureka

But every Californian would surely have heard of Lake Tahoe or the Sierra -- like 30 feet of snow! And a lot closer than Siskiyou county.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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Actually, she said she's not "driving in the snow is foreign to us". I don't find that peculiar at all. Unless you ski, most San Franciscans would find driving in the snow "foreign".
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Aug 30th, 2010, 10:30 AM
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Oh -- I totally understand not having driven in snow. It was the "because we're in northern California" qualifier that was 'confusing'.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 10:57 AM
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With only 6 days, my advice is to fly if at all possible. That is a really long haul, as others have mentioned. If you are going to have any time at all in Seattle, then you won't much time for sightseeing along the way, which IMO, defeats the purpose of a road trip. Plus there is the possibility of winter weather. It just doesn't sound like an enjoyable trip to me.

On the otherhand, you can get a flight and be in Seattle in half a day.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 01:10 PM
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November is the absolute worst time for weather in the NW. It's consistantly rainy, cold, and dark. November is the month when we get serious rain and wind storms, and when rural areas may have flooding. We are already in a La Nina weather pattern which means the weather will be even colder and wetter than usual. Since you don't have much time anyway I'd suggest exploring coastal No CA and southern (and maybe central) OR, and not driving all the way up to Seattle.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 01:53 PM
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When our goal is to travel between Seattle and San Francisco as quickly as possible, we make the drive spending one night on the road: Ashland, when we drive south, or Roseburg when we drive north. (Ashland is a more interesting town than Roseburg.)

Making time on 101, we drive from San Francisco to Brookings, OR, the first day and stay at Best Western Beachfront Inn, with a great ocean view.

The second day we drive to Newport or Yachats (two favorite towns), and on the third day we drive to Seattle.

There is plenty to occupy you for several days on the Oregon Coast, but it can also be traveled in much less time.

Driving between 101 and I-5 in Oregon, Highway 38 is the most scenic--it follows the Umpqua River.

Portland, OR, is a pleasing place to spend a night.

Enjoy, HTTY
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Aug 30th, 2010, 10:20 PM
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Thanks, everyone for your feedback. All considered for our travel plans.

And yes, "Northern California" DOES include The SF Bay Area, which does not get a whole lot of snow (thanks sf7307), thereby making driving in it "foreign."
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Aug 31st, 2010, 08:51 AM
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That's a very short amount of time for the round-trip drive you propose. If you're committed to doing this I suggest:
go over & take the coastal route in Oregon on the way up (3-4 nights). Seattle (1-2 nights). And then just do the I-5 freeway drive south at the end (can be done in one LONG day, or with 1 overnight stop if you want to break it up).
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Aug 31st, 2010, 09:53 AM
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First of all --do a Search on this site for"San Francisco to Seattle"--lots of info
We have made this trip 20 times in last 25 years...
My favorite is drive I-5 to Roseberg (even Eugene),Then next day to Seattle
Spend the rest of time driving down Oregon coast--starting in Astoria OR.
In our younger days we drove to Seattle in a 14hr-15 hrs.but found we were to tired to enjoy the next day.The Oregon coast is awesome even in winter...
PS Born and raised in California-Sacramento Valley I have driven in the snow only ONE time in Tahoe--My husband refuses to go anywhere if it might possibly snow..One of our Oregon trips in Nov. Ashland and Shasta areas were predicted for heavy storms...We drove home along coast to Eureka..It rained but no snow..
Hope you have a wonder trip
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Aug 31st, 2010, 05:35 PM
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I've been driving this route since before there was an I-5 at the Oregon-Cal border. As someone has mentioned, that's the stretch where you'll most likely encounter snow. One year, pre-I5, we were caught in a snowstorm and had to spend 8 hours in a tiny diner. You'll not ever encounter that kind of condition up there today.

With the I-5 going all the way up to Seattle, I've done Seattle to the Bay Area in about 14 hours and you said "we", so, with two drivers, you could possibly do the entire drive in one long day.

You've gotten some good suggestions - go up along the coast and take three days doing that. Plan your stops at places like Crescent City and Yachats (one of my favorite stops too). Try and fit in an extended visit to the redwood national parks. In Oregon there's the Devil's Churn and Cape Perpetua.

Return via the inland route and if you have the time and weather allowing, visit Crater Lake. Ashland is a great little city, but the hotels in Medford (10 miles north) are newer and better.

Have a great trip and stay safe!
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Aug 31st, 2010, 11:53 PM
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In view of maybe 50+ round trips between California and Oregon/Washington over the years, I don't recall ever encountering snow in early November. (Of course with 50+ RTs my memory might not be all that sharp )

Still not clear - if it's 6 days total then one way really should be via I-5. We also use Ashland/Medford/Grants Pass for our overnights between SF and Seattle.

Remember too that daylight will be getting short by then, so try to arrange early morning departures to make the most of the daylight, especially on the coast.
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Sep 17th, 2013, 07:31 PM
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Hello everyone. I'm doing basically the same one-way trip late October-early November, 9 days from Seattle to SF. Is there anything I should be concerned about other than rain? Snow, fog, etc? I am taking a day or two to visit Seattle, and the real focus is Redwood NP.

I´m leaning towards driving on the 101 and perhaps shoot the interstate when we need to make good time, does that make sense?

Thanks for the tips, I made a search on the site and I think we're going to have a nice winter drive !
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Oct 4th, 2013, 02:01 PM
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I've done the drive many times. Usually, it has been a mid October departure from SF, with an early November return. Snow has only been a slight problem, with flurries over the Siskiyou Pass.

(HOWEVER) Today, Friday, Oct. 4, I heard that 17" of snow fell on Mt. Hood yesterday. CHECK WITH CHP/OREGON STATE POLICE. This already sounds like it could be a heavy year.

Assuming snow isn't a problem:

-I-5 is fast, especially if you take the 503 cutoff, at Vacaville, and join up with 5 at Winters, bypassing all of Sacto.

-SF to Redding, on I-5, is 4 of the most boring hours that you will ever spend. Coming OUT of Redding, begins some spectacular scenery through the mountains. Up over the Siskiyou, down into Ashland/Medford, then climbing again, coming out at Eugene, at the southern end of the Willamette Valley.

-If you have to take 101, due to snow, plan for more time. It's stunningly beautiful, but so slow. Note, that the scenery along much of the Oregon coast is for the enjoyment of the passengers ... not the driver. Curvy!

-From 101, you can cut east to Eugene, and continue up the Willamette Valley. Snow shouldn't be a problem there.

Enjoy!
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Oct 4th, 2013, 03:34 PM
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But every Californian would surely have heard of Lake Tahoe or the Sierra

Yes but my 70 year old SF neighbor, born and raised in SF, had never seen snow except in pictures, much less driven in it.
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