View Full Version : Driving to DL from Washington/Oregon

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01-24-2004, 04:54 PM
For our next trip to DL we are considering driving since we have extra travel time available during the Christmas holidays. I would love input from those of you who have made the trip! Thanks!

01-24-2004, 05:44 PM
All i know is that it takes from 15 to 17 hours. We might do just that, leave from Rochester WA. I'd imagine you'd know where that is, you go through there down I5.

What we were planning to do was to leave 5 or 5:30 pm and then get there around ten, driving through the night with maybe one break. Have a cooler in the back of a van with drinks and some food. We were planning this for an April trip.

01-24-2004, 05:52 PM
we drive from canada every year down I-15. good drive except through idaho because they do not clean the highways well.

01-24-2004, 07:54 PM
When I was a kid, we would take two days to make the trip. Leaving the Eugene area and driving to Sacramento, (8 hrs or so) then day two on in to the Magic (another 8 hrs or so) If you have kids that is what I recommend!!! That way you are not totally spent your first full day there. I-5 all the way.

01-24-2004, 09:53 PM
We drove from Spokane in July 2002. We took the I5 route because it was quicker; we'd planned on going back via 101 but it was closed because of the fires. We took it kind of slow and stayed overnight in Portland and Redding, then drove straight through to Anaheim. (We did the same on the way back). It was a long drive, but you see some interesting country. If we do it again I want to take 101; it's slower but has much more interesting scenery, etc.

01-24-2004, 10:26 PM
Back when I was a kid, we drove from Roseburg (little over an hour south of Eugene) to Anaheim pretty much every year.
There were two ways we went about doing this.
I-5 all the way on both, of course.
About half the time we would drive straight down, stop around halfway through (somewhere in central california, ususally) and go all the way the next day. Takes a little longer, but it's a little easier.
Or, if you have the stamina, and the passengers have something to keep themselves occupied for a long time, you could go for the all day driving trip. You get bored alot easier, it takes all day, and you want to get an early start (we left Roseburg at about 6 or 7 in the morning, if you're in Washington I don't even know if a one day trip is possible) A one day trip requires alot more stamina to acheive, but it allows more time in Disneyland, too (you could squeeze out two extra days, by doing a one-dayer on the to and from trips)

01-24-2004, 10:26 PM
I appreciate the comments. We have never driven into California still being new to the West Coast from the South, but thought it would be fun to see some things along the way. We can make it to Portland in about 3 hours so we will probably stop over in Redding (guessing). Thanks again for the help. I definitely don't think the boys (6 yr. old twins) could sit still long enough for a one-shot drive.

01-25-2004, 04:48 PM
We used to make that drive up and down the West Coast when I was a kid all the time. I-5 is the best way if you just need to get there, and I would give yourself at least two days with kids. Maybe three.

The 101 route along the ocean is something entirely different. That is a vacation in itself, and we used to often take a week and just drive 101 and stop and visit every amazing vista and unique little town and tourist spot. It's really a great thing to do at least once, but it's really your entire vacation, unless you have more than 10 days.

If you are driving from Washington on I-5, allow yourself time on the first and second days to stop and do things along the way. From Seattle to Redding is really a very scenic drive, and there is lots to see and do along the way. But once you get past Redding, the scenery becomes far less dramatic and it's really just a long series of roadside Denny's, McDonalds, cheap motels and service stations. Sacramento, with the capital and a fun Railroad Museum to see, is about the only decent diversion between Redding and LA on I-5. Pea Soup Anderson's in Santa Nella or Buelton comes in second.

But with kids, consider not doing the marathon session until you get to Redding. There's plenty to keep everyone engaged in the experience from Seattle to Redding, both watching from the car and exploring during travel stops. Then once your at Redding just keep right on driving until you finally get to Anaheim.

And you absolutely HAVE TO go to the AAA office and get a Triptik and plenty of maps and guidebooks! Especially if you've never driven that route before.

01-25-2004, 05:05 PM
We're planning a long drive this summer up I-15 from LA to Montana. FWIW, here's our plan, it may give you an idea:

We're going to leave in the evening - like 10:00 pm and drive through the night to Salt Lake City. In our situation, that will be the less scenic part of the drive anyway, plus it gets us through the desert at night, not in the heat of the day. We're hoping that our three kids (2 months old! - Family wedding, we don't have a choice about this trip- 3 years old, and 5-years old) will sleep on that leg of the journey- about 12 hours.

We'll arrive in SLC around 10 am, bum around, swim at our hotel, nap, and then do the second leg, another 10 - 12 hours, the next day.

Coming home, we'll leave SLC in the afternoon and be arriving from that leg after the kids are already asleep. Most of that trip they'll be asleep as well. We're hoping that if we do half of each direction when they're asleep, they'll be happier with only one day awake, and it won't add any motel costs to the journey.

Of course, our mini-van also has a built-in DVD player and our older two, being Doc's kids, will be GLUED to that thing, so that's going to help us A LOT!

Just a thought! Feel free to use it or not.


01-25-2004, 08:53 PM
not a lot more to add except this: either going to, or coming from (more likely coming back from) do take the old highway that runs through the redwoods, not only is the scenery utterly fantastic, but some of the oldest still surviving roadside entertainment stops are on this route. The famous drive thru tree, the hollow log thing that is a souvineer place now (its this whole little building inside a still standing lightening struck redwood tree), Hobbiton (based on Jrr Tolkiens hobbit, this cute little walk along trail with figures of the characters) and I am sure more I cant recall. But there are several side stops with redwood trees fallen on their sides that you can crawl on (if careful) and are primo picture taking spots. And close to the border is trees of mystery... a really neat place if you have never been. (all prices have gotten much more considerable then when I was a kid so be forewarned).

01-26-2004, 07:14 AM
I actually prefer driving. I live in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada which is about 1 hour North of the Montana boarder on I-15. I drove down last February and will do the same in a few weeks. My boys are 8 & 9 and do pretty good in the vehicle. Last year we left home at 6:30am and made it to Salt Lake City by around 6:30pm our first day. On our second day we left Salt Lake City at 8:30am and made it to Anaheim by 7:00pm. Our kids found it cool to be able to see the changes in scenery. We leave our city with snow on the ground and the next day we are surrounded by palm trees and green grass. This coming year we are planning on driving to Salt Lake City the first day then spend the night in Las Vegas on our second day and then to Disneyland. I bring my laptop so the kids can watch DVDs and we have a Nintendo Gamecube with a little add on LCD screen on top so the kids can play video games. Of course they can read when all else fails. Can't wait!

01-26-2004, 09:20 AM
My hubby, 2 year old and I (was 6 months prego) drove from Portland to Disneyland in May 2003. We drove straight thru, leaving around 6 or 7 pm so that our son would sleep most of the way there (which he did). Hubby and I took 4 hour turns driving down I-5 and we got there about 11am the next morning just in time for check-in and to take a bit of a nap.

The trip back was done in daylight and we almost ended up stopping overnight for a hotel room, but we pushed on and made it home about 4am (we left Anahiem at around 9 am I think but stopped off at places along the way home.

01-26-2004, 06:47 PM
Originally posted by Tigertail777
not a lot more to add except this: either going to, or coming from (more likely coming back from) do take the old highway that runs through the redwoods, not only is the scenery utterly fantastic, but some of the oldest still surviving roadside entertainment stops are on this route. The famous drive thru tree, the hollow log thing that is a souvineer place now (its this whole little building inside a still standing lightening struck redwood tree), Hobbiton (based on Jrr Tolkiens hobbit, this cute little walk along trail with figures of the characters) and I am sure more I cant recall. But there are several side stops with redwood trees fallen on their sides that you can crawl on (if careful) and are primo picture taking spots. And close to the border is trees of mystery... a really neat place if you have never been. (all prices have gotten much more considerable then when I was a kid so be forewarned).

This route sounds really cool! I will be driving down from Oregon next month. Which highways do you take, and where is Hobbiton? Thanks!

01-27-2004, 12:10 PM
I dug out my brochure from the trip:

chimney tree and hobbiton USA

both are at the same place...the chimney tree is a redwood you can walk into that was struck by lightening and hollowed out, but still continues to grow. Admission is free for this.

Hobbiton: walk/see/hear the story of the hobbit as you stroll through the woods. (its a little cheesy in some parts, but cute and a neat experience). I cant remember the cost, but I think it was around $7.00 a person If you are a tolkien fan, despite some of the cheesiness its neat to see, and as I understand it, they actually got permission from Tolkien while he was alive to do this. Its been one of the nice venerable little roadside stops in the avenue in the Giants for years, one of the classics along with trees of mystery.

location: south entrance to the avenue of the giants--phillipsville exit 30 miles/ w exits to freeway about every 6 miles.

According to the map it looks to be right off highway 101 (the old highway) on the Avenue of the Giants which is where most of the stuff I talked about is located.
Its 200 miles north of San Francisco 60 miles south of Eureka

Any further questions, here is the phone number on the brochure: (707) 923-2265 ... Tell 'em Tigertail sent ya LOL!!!

(edited to add) I am absolututin freakin pathetic! LOL I just found my postcards from the trip... I keep everything ... ok some of the other sites on Avenue of the giants:
The world famous "tree house" as featured in Ripleys beleive it or not... built in a large redwood tree, the room is 21X27 ft inside and 50 ft high... tree is approximately 4000 years old... this is located on highway 101 6 miles north of Leggett on the redwood
The immortal tree: a 950 year old anciant redwood tree that has survived fire, flood, lightening and loggers. located 2 miles south of pepperwood on the avenue of the giants.

And in Oregon: on Oregon coast highway 101 Prehistoric gardens.. another venerable old roadside stop.. a walk thru the rain forest filled with life size replicas of dinasours.

All these places are great to see, and a little snapshot of bygone days of the automobile era when roadside stops were considered musts on every trip. Now few people really go to these places preferring to speed on by to their destinations on the newer highway. At one time, Highway 101 was the only main highway and you HAD to see the grandeur of the avenue of the giants, so many of these places have been around since the beginning of widespread automibile travel. SO please if you have time on your trip, keep these places alive and give them a little visit.

01-27-2004, 05:28 PM
Originally posted by Tigertail777
I dug out my brochure from the trip:

Thank You so much, I really appreciate your help!

Mod. note - excessive quote deleted.

01-27-2004, 10:00 PM
I'm jealous! My brother lives in Brookings, just north of the California border on the ocean. We had intended to take our time going back along 101, visiting all the areas being written of here, but were unable to because the whole area was on fire.

01-28-2004, 11:06 AM
We drove from Lynnwood, WA to DL in August. Our sons were with us (then ages 3 and 19 months). Two days is the way to go with small children for sure! We just stopped at the rest stops on the way down so the kids could get out and play a bit.

The main reason I wanted to post though is you mentioned staying in Redding. That's where we stayed both going down and heading back. My advice, find a hotel and book a reservation in advance!! We had NO IDEA how busy this place was. We got there and almost every hotel was booked solid.

01-28-2004, 11:16 AM
If you stay in Redding, be wary of the Red Lion; we stayed there on our way down and they ripped us off. We had requested a ground floor pool view room, for which we had to pay extra. When we got there, they put us in a second floor room overlooking the parking lot, and refused to refund the difference or move us to a better room. We had a ton of luggage, and there is no elevator. We stayed at the Oxford Suites on the way back, and it was clean, spacious and reasonably priced. (They also have laundry facilities).

01-28-2004, 03:10 PM
The drive down is kinda nice - how old are your children?

When we drove down a couple Thanksgivings ago, we left Eugene at about 4:00 (husband is a teacher). We had two sons, 3 & 1 at the time. We drove through to just north of Sacramento, getting there at about 11 or midnight (there was alot of snow on the pass that night, so it was slow going). We stopped and stayed the night at a Best Western, got up at about 6:30 the next day, and drove the rest of the way. On the way home, we left Anaheim at like, 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, and drove straight through, getting back at about 7:30 or 8:00 that night. We did I-5 both ways. It wasn't too bad at all, except that we were driving the second stretch on the way down the day before Thanksgiving, and the traffic was INSANE. But well worth it!

01-28-2004, 06:06 PM
Thanks again to everyone for their very informative posts!

Mrscoach, the twins are 6 1/2 and daughter #2 is almost 13. The boys have never been on a long car trip. We have always flown, except for driving down to Cannon Beach (4 hours for us).

We thought it would be nice to try driving and do other things along the way going/coming. And now, I have such great ideas and advice from everyone, I think it is a must. Not to mention we could save about $1500 in airfare!


01-29-2004, 08:36 AM
Has anyone driven from Colorado to DL?

01-29-2004, 04:44 PM
The drive from Washington to LA is brutal.

From our home in Kennewick, it is a full day's drive to Central CA (just past Sacremento) if the weather is good and traffic cooperates. It is another 7-8 hours to LA. In December, the Gorge Hiway (I-84) is slick and icy. Unless you hit Portland very early in the am, you can spend an hour inching through traffic. This Christmas, snows in Oregon closed I-5 for a day, and there was also backed up traffic, due to heavy snows for several days. The pass between Oregon and CA on I-5 is often treacherous in the winter. We have driven to CA in April and had the Grapevine pass (just north of LA) closed due to snow. I have driven down I-5 past Mount Shasta in northern CA in June and counted 2-3 accidents due to moron drivers (one lady rolled her car just in front of us.)

Once you get past Sacramento, it is an unbearably long, boring drive to LA. The alternative route, highway 101 along the ocean, although scenic, is two lane and you can count on only 50 mph along much of the way.

Having driven to LA and flown, I would never, never, never, repeat never drive again. Have you considered Amtrak?

01-29-2004, 07:23 PM
Thanks Tinksmom. We have flown previously. Have not thought of Amtrak. We simply have extra time for the trip and thought it would be fun to see some of California on the way. We live up around Snohomish.

Not sure I want to battle the snow and ice though. We love going to the park at Christmas. We had a wonderful time in 2002 and although we have our own list of "mistakes made, lessons learned", we can't wait to have a better trip this year.

Thanks so much for the input!

02-02-2004, 12:47 PM
I live in Portland and have flown, driven, and taken Amtrak to LA. I will never drive or take Amtrak again. I would rather pay the extra money and fly.

I rode Amtrak with my son, who was 7 at the time, 3 years ago. It was horrible. The rooms with beds are VERY expensive so we opted for the main car. My son slept fine, but I didn't sleep at all. The train ride to 33 hours because of multiple complications (we hit a car, we got stopped waiting for tons of rail traffic on the tracks - Amtrak seems to have to give way to the BN trains, we had some guy jump on the train - so they had to bring the police in to find him, someone had a medical emergency) yes, this was probably very unique for all those to happen on the same trip, but they did and it just made everything horrible!

I drove last November, it was long, the trip down we left at 4 am drove through to Stockton, which we arrived around 3pm. Stayed the night and left at 3 am and got to Anaheim around 11 am. The drive from Stockton was extremly boring and didn't helped that in Colinga we got pulled over for speeding (not that everyone else wasn't going as fast as us, but...) On the way home we got stuck in traffic in LA and it took us about 5 hours to get to Lost Hills where we just pulled off and stayed the night. Yes, it was Thanksgiving weekend, but the traffic in LA is so unpredictable. We drove from Lost Hills to Portland the next day and both of swore we would fly next time.

The gas is much more expensive in California than it was in Oregon but one thing we noticed is that the gas at the truck stops like Travel America, was cheaper then Chevron's, Texaco's ext.

With kids I'm not sure I would be able to do it for that long (the second trip was myself and my husband, we didn't actually go to Disneyland, just the Anahiem area)

Good luck on your drive and have a wonderful time.

02-02-2004, 09:35 PM
I should've posted in this thread a looong time ago, since I take the drive through California every summer with my parents, and we've gone as far as Mt. St. Helen's at one time or another.

As far as going through CA, everyone is right on target with saying there are basically two routes: the 101, and the 5. If you want to actually see what California's all about, then take the 101, but if you want to get there faster, take the 5. That's not to say there aren't some sights on the 5 in Northern CA, but it gets really, really boring for the last 10-12 hours or so. If you decide to take the 101, there is the option of taking Highway 1 as it branches off during several parts of the trip...however, the 1 is very curvy with only 1 lane on either side in many parts, and it will add on a lot of time to the journey (not to mention it can be a bear if your kids get carsick). Still, the 1 going through the Monterey/Big Sur area is beautiful, and further south from there is Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Down here, the 1 takes you through the Malibu area, but before that there are some nice beach areas.

The Avenue of the Giants (mentioned previously, off the 101 near Eureka) is spectacular, absolutely spectacular. There aren't any trees on earth as beautiful as the Humboldts.

Now, someone mentioned the Trees of Mystery. That is actually up in Klamath, which is on the 101, fairly close to the border of CA/Oregon. It is a great place to take the family, because it has a tour through lots of interesting redwood areas, plus narration along the way, and a "skyway" ride through the tops of the trees. It also has the massive Paul Bunyan and Babe statues out front, a gift shop, and a Native American museum.

However, since you are planning on doing this at Xmas time, be aware that you are in for a cold (and possibly wet) journey. No matter which route you take, the 101 or the 5, it can get very cold (and the aforementioned snow on the 5 can be a real bummer). Also, a lot of the state and national redwood parks have portions that are closed during the winter due to flooding and/or lack of tourism (this is mainly in the campground areas). I would probably pick a different time of year for seeing the redwoods because of the weather, but there is a certain beauty to the crispness of winter, so it's up to you.

Brookings...we go there every time! No sales tax, they pump your gas for you, there's a great A&W, and Fred Meyer! :D