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Author Topic: I-5 vs 99  (Read 5749 times)

wagonmaster12

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I-5 vs 99
« on: February 03, 2012, 02:35:22 PM »
Leaving soon to travel from Victoria to Palm Springs.  Was wondering if it is better to stay on I-5 going south from Stockton area or use 99.  Doesn't look like there are many towns or RV parks on I-5.  On the other hand if one is not planning to stop between Stockton and Bakersfield, perhaps I-5 is faster??  Any other tips on our Victoria to Palm Springs route would be much appreciated.  Thank you.

Tom and Margi

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2012, 02:46:38 PM »
We prefer I-5.  There are plenty of services along the way.  Many, however, prefer 99.  Both highways are subject to tule fog this time of year.
 
Margi
 

Tom

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2012, 03:03:25 PM »
We also prefer I-5, unless we have a need to go to/through Bakersfield.

Harris Ranch makes a good stop near the intersection with CA198. Nice restaurant and store, or just park in their outer lot for lunch (you can also boondock there).
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ArdraF

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2012, 03:32:16 PM »
We generally use I-5 to go north/south, but cut across to Bakersfield on CA 46 (Wasco Road) if we need diesel because there's a Flying J at Famoso on CA-99.  However, going from B.C. to Palm Springs I would stay on I-5 to I-210 that stays at the north end of the LA area and goes to San Bernardino.  The problem is that you have to find a way around the Angeles National Forest.  The I-5/I-210 route is freeway all the way, whereas CA-99 is mostly freeway but more heavily traveled by trucks and has a lot of cities along the way with their attendant traffic.  Actually you don't need to go to Bakersfield unless you want to go there for some reason such as the Buck Owens' Crystal Palace.  You can stay on I-5 all the way from Canada to the I-210 cutoff.  It really depends on whether this is a straight-through trip or if you want to sightsee along the way.

The first time we used I-5 from the Bay Area to LA it was brand new (1960s?) and there were only one or two places to stop for services.  Now there are quite a few at reasonable intervals.  You won't have any trouble finding services, however they can be pretty busy at times like holiday weekends.  None of the RV parks are especially memorable, but they serve the purpose of providing overnight facilities.  We've often stopped at Kettleman City and Lost Hills.  This entire stretch of road was desert at one time but it is now farming land, thanks to the California Irrigation Project.  You'll see lots of orchards growing crops like almonds and vineyards, for example.  There's also a viewpoint at one section where you can look down on the irrigation canals.

Margie mentioned tule fogs.  The fog can be treacherous and they have huge accidents involving dozens of vehicles because people don't slow down.  If you encounter fog and it's possible, take the next exit and get off the road.  Be sure to check the weather along I-5, not only in Oregon for the Siskiyou Pass, but also California for the Grapevine and Castiac areas.

Have a good and safe trip!
ArdraF
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 03:35:05 PM by ArdraF »
ArdraF
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Tom and Margi

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2012, 03:58:16 PM »
Be sure to check weather forecasts for the possibility of tule fog.  When weather conditions (lack of wind, high relative humidity, cooling temperature) reach a critical point, the fog forms suddenly.  You may have excellent visibility one minute and be down to visibility of an eighth of a mile or less almost instantly.
 
Margi
 
 

Bill Adams

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2012, 06:44:31 PM »
I-5 unless there is some reason to visit a stop on the 99.  I have taken both as our travels have required but I prefer I-5 since you have no stops to deal with.

bucks2

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2012, 08:45:55 PM »
Be sure to check weather forecasts for the possibility of tule fog.  When weather conditions (lack of wind, high relative humidity, cooling temperature) reach a critical point, the fog forms suddenly.  You may have excellent visibility one minute and be down to visibility of an eighth of a mile or less almost instantly.
 
Margi

Another good reason to always have the radar on and tuned. When the fog hits you're ready. Oh, wait, wrong forum. Nevermind. ;-)

Ken
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RoyM

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2012, 10:57:47 PM »
Next time we go I would like to try 99 just for something different. I-5 south of Sacramento is the fast track but is miles and miles of... well, miles and miles. It gets pretty monotonous.
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seilerbird

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2012, 01:01:53 AM »
I take I-5 if time is important. I take 99 if I want to destroy my suspension.

Lou Schneider

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2012, 01:19:51 AM »
99 is old freeway - it was originally US 99 before the advent of the Interstate system.   It has frequent on and off ramps, many with very short deceleration and merging lanes.  Some of it is not up to full freeway status.

It's also heavily used by local traffic, so there will be lots of traffic getting on and off along it's length.

I-5 is miles and miles, but it's mostly through traffic, so the overall flow will be easier than 99.

One note, though - I-5 traffic tends to travel in packs - clusters of cars and trucks fighting for position, with relatively empty stretches of road between them.  On my last trip south I found myself in a particularly nasty pack of about a dozen trucks and maybe two dozen cars piling up behind one truck trying to pass another.

I exited the freeway at the next off-ramp, stopped at the stop sign and proceeded back onto the freeway.  This was enough of a delay to let the rest of the pack go by, and I spent the next hour driving on almost deserted freeway as the pack fought it out a mile or so ahead.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 01:22:32 AM by Lou Schneider »

Mexray

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2012, 02:40:18 AM »
We prefer using Hwy-99, it's all freeway these days with no 'stops'...

It's true if you travel through the few larger cities during normal morning or evening commute times, you'll see additional traffic, but nothing like what you'll find in the Los Angeles basin!

Towing a trailer, and moving right around the 55 MPH speed limit in Calif (with trailers), we find Hwy-99 a more enjoyable route - many more places to refuel both us and the Excursion!

Interestingly, as I ran the mileages (Streets & Trips) from our home just north of Stockton, it's within one mile of being the same, using either Hwy-99 or I-5 to down south of Bakersfield where the two routes join up...so towing either route would be no advantage - however if you're in non-towing situation, you would be able to hit 70 mph on I-5 for a faster passage...

Also, it's within one mile of being the same distance if traveling from Stockton, via Hwy-99 - Bakersfield - Hwy-58 East, then South at Kramer Junction-Hwy-395, I-15, I-215 to San Bernardino and I-10, on to Palm Springs...

OR...using I-5 south all the way south, then East on I-210 to Riverside and on to Palm Springs...same distance...

Depending on the time of day, the I-210 route could cause some delays due to the crowed traffic conditions down there...

I far prefer the former route through Bakersfield, East to the desert, etc., when towing, we're not in any big hurry anyway...yes, there are trucks on the road, but that's everywhere here in California on the major highways...

Hwy-99 does have some roadway sections that are on the 'rough' side, but hey, you're in California and many of our roads have gone to crap in recent years!!!!  The State takes in BILLIONS each year in vehicle and fuel tax fees, but likes to spend much that money elsewhere instead of improving our much used roadways - but that's a story for another time... :-[   

Ray & Pat near Lodi, CA...

Jeannine

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2012, 06:34:15 PM »
We traveled I 5 & 99 yesterday and today.  I 5 from 210 in LA to the junction with 99 is in terrible shape with many potholes and cracks in the pavement.  99 was in much better shape, at least as far as Sacramento. 


Jeannine
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Water Dog

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2012, 09:12:22 PM »
I take I-5 if time is important. I take 99 if I want to destroy my suspension.

Amen to that...! We just used 99 both directions between Sacramento and Bakersfield. I would estimate that 60 to 70% is terrible. I haven't been south down I-5 for awhile, but do know that a lot of I-5 north of Sacramento has been repaved. Sometimes it's hard to understand why the state with some of the highest dmv fees have the worst roads....but that's another topic. ::)
Dennis

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Lou Schneider

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2012, 11:33:32 PM »
Most of I-5 has been repaved.  There's only one stretch in the vicinity of Buttonwillow if I remember right that has rough spots, and that's only for a relatively short distance.

wagonmaster12

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2012, 11:38:09 AM »
Many thanks everyone.  What is the best way to get up to date reports on tule fog (never heard of it before)?  I gather it can occur from Redding all the way down to Bakersfield.

Tom

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012, 11:54:20 AM »
Here's a Wiki on tule fog.

Having lived in the San Joaquin valley for over 10 years, and visited for 20 years prior to that, I'm not sure how well it can be forecasted. Our situation is exacerbated by the fact that we live along the water; We can have zero visibility at the rear (water side) of the house, and pretty good visibility in the street out front. While afloat, we can have good visibility turn to zero in short order, and that sudden change is what helps cause a lot of accidents on the roads.

Here's an article on forecasting radiation fog (aka tule fog), and another explaining how any such forecast can get "busted".
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 11:57:16 AM by Tom »
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Carl L

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2012, 05:43:14 PM »
Let me amplify the warnings on tule fogs.   When Tom says zero visibility,  that zero is ZERO!    You will just be able to see about a few feet ahead, maybe a car length.  Only the infamous ice fogs of interior Alaska are worse.   

Myself, after a few terrifying experiences, I opt to take US101 instead of the San Joaquin I-5 and CA-99 routes when possible tules are in the forecast.   101 is slower and longer but less white-knuckling. 
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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4ducksrus

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2012, 05:56:29 PM »
I traveled up and down I-5 and 99 for over 13 years for work and I much prefer I-5.  99 always seems to have some type of construction and then there's always the cross traffic to be aware of.    Tule Fog is another thing all together!  There were times when I could only drive 5 MPH and then it probably wasn't safe!    The one thing is though, tule fog is generally in the AM or PM and lifts in the middle of the day.  So, if Tule Fog is in the forecast I would travel late in the AM and stop around 3:00.  JMO  Safe Travels, Mikie
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Bob Buchanan

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2012, 08:59:51 PM »
Also, it's within one mile of being the same distance if traveling from Stockton, via Hwy-99 - Bakersfield - Hwy-58 East, then South at Kramer Junction-Hwy-395, I-15, I-215 to San Bernardino and I-10, on to Palm Springs...

Rather than pulling the Tehachapi Grade and driving all the way to Kramer Junction, I prefer continuing on the 5 to Gorman, then 138 to the 15, then the 215 and picking up 210 to the 10 off the 215 vs. continuing on the 215 to the 10.

This completely eliminates the 5 from Gorman on to the 210 and the 210 over to the 10 - other than the short stretch that eliminates the traffic at the intersection of the 215.

As the 5 vs. 99 - I much prefer the 5. You don't have any merging traffic from the many towns and cities that the old 99 went thru, and as mentioned, there are plenty of stops and RV parks along the 5.
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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Tom

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2012, 09:10:29 PM »
I'm a convert, ever since Bob first gave me a heads up to the route via 138. Furthermore, there's a great campground at the Antelope Valley fairgrounds in Lancaster, just off the 138. Makes a great overnight stop for us. No need to go over the Tehachepis or fight the LA traffic.
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Mexray

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2012, 10:52:57 PM »
Bob, perhaps another alternative, if using Hwy-99 to Bakersfield...

Going East on Hwy-58 from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Pass (elev.3793) to Mohave, then South on Hwy-14 to join up with Hwy-138 in Lancaster...The mileage is similar to going South on I-5, up the Tejon Pass (elev 4160) then East on Hwy-138 to Lancaster...

It's really almost a 'push' as to the amount of elevation rise to get over either pass, but I believe the Tehachapi pass grade on the highway is a bit easier, when compared with the rapid rise of I-5 on the North side of Tejon pass...

It's interesting that these three routes are almost the same mileage...(from Streets & Trips)
1.Bksfld E on 58 over Tehachapi Pass to Kramer's Corners, S on 395 to Jct of I-15 and on to the Jct with 138 = 148 miles

2.Bksfld E on 58 over Tehachapi Pass to Mojave, S on 14 to join 138 and on to Jct with I-15 = 143 miles

3.Bksfld S on 99/join I-5 over Tejon Pass, E on 138 to Jct with I-15 = 145 miles
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 11:00:42 PM by Mexray »
Ray & Pat near Lodi, CA...

Tom

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2012, 10:58:35 PM »
Ray, the problem is the Tehachepis in bad weather; Either rain or high winds make it a rough trip.
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Bob Buchanan

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Re: I-5 vs 99
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2012, 10:25:44 AM »
Bob, perhaps another alternative, if using Hwy-99 to Bakersfield...

Going East on Hwy-58 from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Pass (elev.3793) to Mohave, then South on Hwy-14 to join up with Hwy-138 in Lancaster...The mileage is similar to going South on I-5, up the Tejon Pass (elev 4160) then East on Hwy-138 to Lancaster...

Notice the general opinion on this thread is a preference for the 5 vs. 99. Certainly the case with me. I would much prefer the open 5 freeway around the Buttonwillow area on down to the grapevine than dealing with driving the 99 through Bakersfield, or any of the cities going down 99.

And as Tom points out, the weather over the Tehachapis can be really bad at times. I have sat on an off ramp many times at the summit going West either waiting for the fog, rain, or snow to clear - or just going back to Mojave and down the 14 to the 138 and over to Gorman -- and down the Tejon grade instead.

The other consideration for me is that though the summit elevations are less over Tehachapi, it is a "long" pull, whereas the higher grade to the Tejon pass is steeper but shorter.
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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