During our trip to Mendocino County we got to drive along a section of Highway 1 that we haven’t driven before, which leaves few parts of it that we haven’t seen. There are many factors that go into a drive down Highway 1, especially if you plan to make a decent trip out of it. As a partnership with Lexus and the 2015 RX450 Hybrid that we drove during our trip to Mendocino County, I’ve highlighted a few of my best tips for driving Highway 1 below:
Time of Year
The best time of year to drive Highway 1 is during the off season. Anytime between October and February should be less busy, though the weather may not be as favorable. There are whales and other marine life visible year-round, but Whales are more easily spotted in the spring. The key to spotting them is to watch for their spout first, then the rest will follow.
Know Your Route
There are a lot of parts of Highway 1 worth the drive, there are others that are not so much. We ended up driving after dark on Highway 1 over Mt. Tamalpais and it was not fun. Know which route you plan to use and what you’d like to see along the way. The most popular section of Highway 1 runs between Carmel, California and Cambria, California. This section is known as the Central Coast, or Big Sur. You won’t always have cell coverage, so if you’re looking for off-the-path gems, a GPS unit is very helpful. Driving North to South is more favorable because you’ll be on the Pacific ocean side of the highway and it is easier to make quick stops along the way.
Some parts of the highway take longer to drive because there are more curves and elevation changes in the road. For quick reference, it took me 8 hours to drive from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara with quite a few quick stops along the way. From Mendocino County to San Francisco it took almost 10 hours with only a few stops. I usually map out my route, then multiply it by time and a half, or even twice the amount of time it takes so I can include significant stops along the way. And please, if you are driving slow or enjoying the view, pull over when you can for faster moving vehicles.
Check the Weather
Though the weather may vary in different parts of the highway, you don’t want to drive it in a major storm. I caught the tail end of one on my way to Field Trip and between the wind, rain and landslides, it made for a scary experience. There are parts of Highway 1 that only have fog in the morning and evening, while other parts usually remain foggy all day.
When you get a chance to stop to get gas, use the restroom, grab a snack, do it. Sometimes the distance between two places seems closer than it really is and you don’t want to be stuck along the highway or uncomfortable on the road. If you know you get motion sickness, I’d suggest taking a non-drowsy medicine to help you with the ride.
I hope these tips help you plan your journey along Highway 1. Feel free to share yours in the comments below!
This post, and the RX450 Hybrid featured here, are a result of a partnership with Lexus. To learn more about the 2015 RX450 Hybrid, please visit their website, www.lexus.com. All opinions, photos, and text are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make life here at Team Wiking a little sweeter.