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Interstate 5 From Los Angeles to San Fran.

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Hey guys, I need your help.  Im from south Louisiana and plan on driving to San Francisco between Christmas and New Year's.  Generally speaking, how are the road conditions on Interstate 5 between LA and San Francisco?  Is snow/ice common and how difficult is it to travel if so?  Never been to California before, but if I understand correctly, the only places where there is winter weather is in the very high elevations.  Thanks for the input.

I haven't driven that stretch in winter, personally, so this is conjecture...I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm off base:

I-5 in California is fairly distant from the Sierra Nevada mountains, and is actually quite flat in many locations.  That said, I'd imagine there's not much to worry about regarding snow or ice.  Since it's also fairly distant from the ocean, I wouldn't imagine that fog would be a factor either.

Most likely, you won't have problems. I would check road conditions and weather reports before you go, just to be sure.

there is snow on occasion in the grapevine (the mountain pass just north of Los Angeles) - otherwise it is a completely uneventful drive.  And I mean *completely*.

At some point, to get to San Francisco, you will have to get off the 5.  580 takes you to the east bay and, across the Bay Bridge on the 80, to the city proper.  152 is an often-used alternate to get to the south bay, but it can get slow.  Take 101 after 152.  198 is very scenic; it's likely the best mountain crossing scenery-wise between the Central Valley and the 101.

Fog isn't completely uncommon during the winter time, occasionally it will come down thick and there will be a 30 car pileup.

But as agentsteel said, generally the drive is quite uneventful. If you're planning on driving on a weekend or holiday, traffic will be very heavy the whole way.

Thanks for being so informative guys.  My girlfriend and I have been wanting to go to the bay area for a while now, but really wanted to drive instead of fly.  Your posts have made me more comfortable with driving there as opposed to flying.  Hopefully the trip will be as uneventful as you guys said it would.  If you have the time feel free to offer suggestions on what to do while we are there.  Also, we plan on stopping in L.A. for at least a few hours so if you have any suggestions for that area that would be great as well.  Thanks again.   


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