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Best route from Bishop to SF March

Original Post
Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

On our move from Colorado to Seattle we are stopping in Bishop 2nd week of March. Looking for opinions on getting to SF from Bishop. Ill be in a van towing a Uhaul trailer so im concerned about mountain passes and snow.

Thanks for any info and recommendations.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 521

Imo, the easiest way to drive would be to go south on 395 to 58. Go past Tehachapi, then either 5 or 99. I used to live in Sf and drive my Rv with towcar over those passes, and you do not want to do it in einter. Even 395 north of Lee Vining gets windy and difficult with a tow.

Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 10,146

I concur - especially with the awesome winter the Sierra is getting.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

Awesome thanks for the advice.

Greg Barnes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,763

Definitely follow phylp's advice!

Another (minor) option if you happen to head to the SF area on 580 is to bypass the Altamont Pass by taking the old Altamont Pass road (just north of the freeway, first exit immediately after joining 205). My cousins have used that option for years when hauling a trailer with a somewhat underpowered vehicle.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 430

Yea, going around the south end through Bakersfield is the only way. Could be epic snow at any time on 395 North of Bishop in March, let alone over 88/50/80.

North is also the longer way, IIRC.

SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5

395 south to hwy 14 (shortcut, but likely implied by phyl) to 58 west to 99 north of Bakersfield about 5 miles. Take 7th Standard road west to I-5 north. 580 west is reverse commute in the afternoon but any Bay Area hwys should be avoided during commute hours. The mentioned alternative altomont pass rd can be a good choice but is also packed with cars these days. It's only 2 lanes.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 521

Thanks SRB25, I was pretty terse. (Was boarding a plane).
Depending on what's going on on I-5 , I sometimes would stay on 99 a little farther, like to Lerdo hwy thru Shafter. But 99 in general is harder than 5 when towing because the lanes are narrow and there is so much short onramp merging.

Also, it should be said that depending on where in San Francisco you are going, you might want to exit I-5 at 152 and go over Pacheco Pass to 101, then use 85 north at San Jose to cut over to 280 and take that north.

That route avoids the horrendous bridges.
But it really depends on your final destination.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

Thanks for all the info. We aren't on a tight schedule and I think after heading south from Bishop we are going to head straight west to the coast and then North to SF.

SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5

Phyl, I agree. I use 152 99% of the time as I live on the peninsula.

Dan, in that case may I suggest heading through soda lake on soda lake road and camping in carrizo plains national monument. The super bloom will be happening and the area is a part of California few people really know about. Fairly remote but worth the miles. Then in the way further west stop and hang out on the central coast and San Luis obispo for lunch or a another night....from here I'll pass the torch onto Frank PS.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Yes, we will plan your trip for you. :)

SLO is a nice college town with some decent cragging at Bishop Peak (which is nowhere near the town of Bishop)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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