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Highway 395

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London, United...
posts: 4
reviews: 32
Highway 395

Hello, we are planning a trip to California in October. We'd like to go across from Highway 1 at san Simeon across to Highway 395 and then up north to Yosemite. What is the best route from San Simeon - and would anyone recommend route 178 from Bakerfield as part of the route? Also, is it fairly easy to find motels en route once on the 395?

(Jenny from England).

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 13,167
reviews: 3
1. Re: Highway 395

H Jenny

From San Simeon, you would drive south on Highway 1 about 10 miles to Highway 46 (AKA: Green Valley Road), turn left and continue approx. 25-30 miles to Highway 101 N 4 miles to Highway 46 East toward Fresno/Bakersfield, connect with Highway 99 south to the Highway 58W/178E off-ramp and turn left at the light. You'll drive through part of Bakersfield, which can be slow with all the traffic in the downtown area.

Highway 178 eventually narrows to a 2 lane highway and goes through a narrow canyon with the Kern River flowing to the left. The road is narrow and winding and is prone to rock slides. My suggestion would be to continue a few miles from the 58W/178E off-ramp to the 58E off-ramp and go through Tehachapi, which is multi lane and a faster drive.

Can't help you with the hotel question, but should find suitable lodgings in Lone Pine and/or Bishop.

You would really be taking the long way to Yosemite via 395 and there is the possibility, though remote, that Tioga Pass may be closed at the time of your October visit.

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
posts: 4,681
reviews: 22
2. Re: Highway 395

We always drive Hwy 178. It's more scenic and I believe quicker than 58. The narrow section is less than 20 miles and then it becomes four lanes through the rest of the canyon. Every year, the road is in better shape.

There's plenty of lodging options in Ridgecrest, Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth, June Lakes, and Lee Vining. There's also the town of Kernville just north of Lake Isabella that is a neat place to spend the night if you don't want to drive too far after leaving Bakersfield. None of these places will be busy in October so advance reservations are not needed if you want to remain flexible with your itinerary.

Of course, 395 is the long way to get to Yosemite. Hwy 41 is a much more direct route from the Central Valley. Also, if this is late October, there's always the possibility of an early winter storm closing Tioga Pass (maybe only temporarily).

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 44,988
reviews: 43
3. Re: Highway 395

I also would recommend 178. Beautiful drive with the Joshua Trees towards 395. Last year we spent 4 days along the eastern sierras in october (after previous visits) and with the fall colors, also between Lee Vining and the Yosemite entrance it will take your breath away. We stayed in Bishop (Best Western Creekside Inn) but as Supercilious has said, ample lodging and we came without a reservation. No need for that. In october Bishop will be warmer than Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining.

Don't forget to pay a visit to Mono Lake, and if you can find the time, also to Bodie Ghosttown. Many more places for a visit along the Eastern Sierras.

We had Tioga Pass closed one day and next day it was open last week of october but it can close earlier than that. You'll never forget the drive up Tioga Road with the fall colors and the snow on the mountains.

Coming from San Simeon I hope you'll drive hw1 between Monterey and San Simeon first because that's a stretch you would not want to miss.

Btw, we stayed in Ridgecrest and Lone Pine also that time of year with no problems.

Tet

San Diego...
posts: 7,369
reviews: 28
4. Re: Highway 395

Here's a guide to where to find the fall colors in October: www.monocounty.org/docs/FallColorGuide.pdf

Palmdale, California
Destination Expert
for California Desert
posts: 1,196
reviews: 44
5. Re: Highway 395

Hello, Jenny and welcome to Trip Advisor and the forums.

You may take California State Route 178 from Bakersfield east through Kernville and Lake Isabella if you prefer scenic beauty. If not, California State Route 58 from Bakersfield east to Tehachapi and Mojave is very pretty too, but four lane divided road and faster speeds. Your choice. Both will connect you in due time with US Route 395.

When in October are you traveling? October 7, 8, and 9 will be the Lone Pine Film Festival. If you like western movies, this is a real treat! http://www.lonepinefilmfestival.org/

The Dow Villa in Lone Pine is recommended. I've stayed in the old original part, where you share bathrooms and costs less than the more modern rooms.

Yes, it's easy to find rooms in the towns along US Route 395. Ridgecrest, Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth Lake, June Lake, and Lee Vining should all have available lodging this time of year.

Would you like to go to see and explore a real California mining ghost town? Bodie, California is your ticket! Directly off of US 395 before Bridgeport. Thirteen mile long gravel road, but very driveable in a rental car.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

As for Tioga Pass closures (California State Route 120) on the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, here's your fact table. Looks very good for October, but check first: www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

Palmdale, California
Destination Expert
for California Desert
posts: 1,196
reviews: 44
6. Re: Highway 395

Small correction on Bodie courtesy of a friendly TA contributor: California State Route 270/Bodie Road, the thirteen mile long road to Bodie, is first 10 miles pavement, then 3 miles of dirt road, according to the California State Parks site I previously gave a link to. My "gravel" remark came from my childhood memory. My bad.

You'll find if you search the TripAdvisor site that other people have traveled this road of late in rental cars and have done just fine. Taking it slow for the last 3 miles is a good thing for you and the car's suspension.

London, United...
posts: 4
reviews: 32
7. Re: Highway 395

Thank you so much, really useful advice and much appreciated. Jenny

London, United...
posts: 4
reviews: 32
8. Re: Highway 395

PS - yes we will be driving from Monterey to San Simeon first. We'll be travelling early October so hopefully no snow problems on the Tioga pass (but maybe fall colours will be less good at that time). We will keep an eye out for weather bulletins just to be on the safe side.

PS - to Underdog - yes looks like we might be coming through Lone Pine for the film festival, which is great. Will accomodation be more difficult as a result? (we like the idea of being flexible and not booking ahead....).

You are all stars, thanks so much for everyone's advice and tips. It's the first time I've used a tripadvisor forum, truly impressed! Jenny

Encinitas...
Destination Expert
for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
posts: 11,578
reviews: 7
9. Re: Highway 395

I was in Bodie on Friday.The first ten miles of the road was just re-paved ,and they just finished striping it I believe Friday morning.The paint truck was coming out as I was going in.

The last 3 miles are still dirt, but its very easy to drive on.

San Diego...
posts: 7,369
reviews: 28
10. Re: Highway 395

Lone Pine is a very small town. When you stop there, you can drive 5 minutes west on Whitney Portal Road to the picturesque Alabama Hills, where many movies and TV shows have been filmed. As one example, Gunga Din (1939) which you might want to watch before your trip. There is a museum in Lone Pine about the movies and TV shows filmed there. While there you will also have a great view of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the United States except Alaska. My neighbors got food at the Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine and said they liked it a lot.

Early October is in the season for fall colors, depending on weather it might be a bit too early, but you still may see some. I would drive the June Lake Loop, a short detour off the 395, a few extra miles to drive but worth it. You may see scenes like this: …sacbee.com/smedia/2010/10/21/00/2010-10-21.…