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Old 03-01-2015, 12:39 AM   #1
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Fort Bragg to Bodega bay?

Hey there. We're headed south down the west coast toward an eventual switch to go east on I-10. Good friends of ours suggested that we should be sure to tour from Fort Bragg to Bodega bay on our way south. Those of you with experience in this area - any thoughts on the wisdom of towing our Airstream trailer along that stretch of Route 1? Any good places to camp along the way?

If we do this, what's the best way around San Francisco and Silicon Valley that dodges the worst traffic messes?

Thanks so much.
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Old 03-01-2015, 02:53 AM   #2
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You need to camp at doran regional park what a great campground.


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Old 03-01-2015, 08:03 AM   #3
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We did a north going coastal cruise last summer from Morro Bay on highway one, through Big Sur. Stayed on 1 thru S.F. Over the Golden Gate and on along the coast as far as Bodega Bay.
Great trip , wonderful scenery , a bit narrow in spots ( have some scratches in the clear coat from branches hanging in the roadside. It's a slow way to go compared to the inland routes but oh so worth it.

Hardest part of your plan for me would be the freeway traffic in SoCal getting to I 10. I'd start heading inland around Santa Barbara to avoid that mess.

A beautiful day just north of S.F.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:00 AM   #4
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Wrights Beach at the Sonoma Coast State Beach is one of our favorites. Manchester Beach State Park and Salt Point are nice as well as the aforementioned Doran regional. We also like Gualala regional park nestled in the redwoods and bay trees along the Gualala river. There's a 1 mile trail to the beach that's nice. No hook ups at Wrights or Gualala though. We live in Petaluma and when I head south of here towards LA I either take the 101/580/880/101 path or 101/GG bridge 19th st/280/101 path. Tolls are one way, south on the GG and north on the 580/San Rafael Bridge. The SF route requires city stop and go driving but I just stay in the center lane on 19th st. You just have to be careful not to block any intersections, don't cross unless you'll fit on the other side. If you want freeway all the way take the 101/580/880 path. Expect delays in Oakland and towards San Jose. The 1 south of fort bragg is windey but doable. There are some good sized grades so watch the speed and brakes. I met a logging truck one time on the hairpins on 1 coming from the 128 intersection. I pulled right and stopped and he worked his way around me without incident. It caused quite a ruckus in our truck though! Hope your trip is fun. It's a beautiful run on route one. Just take your time.


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Old 03-01-2015, 10:18 AM   #5
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Hwy 1 from Leggett to Ft Bragg is narrow and curvy, but manageable. It was a blast on my motorcycle. From Ft Bragg to Bodega Bay, the road is pretty easy but there are two spots for concern. The first is a sharp steep switchback between Mendocino and Point Arena. Expect the tail on your AS to drag, or switch to the outside lane if there is no oncoming traffic. The other spot is the Jenner grade. This is a long steep downgrade with several switchbacks as you approach the Russian River. Just take it easy and you'll have no problem.

There's a nice private RV park on the south side of Ft. Bragg (Pomo RV Park). And, there are several state parks along the way, Salt Point, Wrights Beach, and Bodega Dunes. Doran Beach on the outer sand spit of Bodega Bay was also recommended previously. We're frequent visitors at Wright's Beach between Jenner and Bodega Bay (stay here and you can use the dump station at Bodega Dunes State Park about 5 miles to the south). Make reservations on ReserveAmerica. You'll have the best chance of getting a spot if you try for mid-week. There's also an overflow area along the entry drive that's just a short walk to the beach (it's a beautiful beach!).

From Bodega Bay, head to Petaluma. Take Lakeville Hwy to eastbound Hwy 37 around the north bay. Then, take eastbound I-80 to southbound 680. This will take you around the worst of the traffic in the Bay Area (plan your trip on this section for mid-day to miss most of the traffic). 680 will take you to 101 in San Jose and south from there. Cut over to Hwy 1 again on 156 and stay on Hwy 1 through the Big Sur coast. Fill your gas tank before leaving Carmel. It's a long drive down the Big Sur coast and there are only a few very small high-cost gas stations along the way.
We like to stay at Pfiefer Big Sur State Park. But again, you'll need to make reservations through ReserveAmerica. Avoid weekends for the best shot at getting a spot. At the south end of the Big Sur coast is San Simeon State Park which is also a nice place to stay (visit Hearst Castle if you can while you're in that area).

Take your time and enjoy the trip. It's one of the most scenic areas of coastline in the United States. We're lucky enough to live close enough to visit the area regularly.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:50 AM   #6
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On your way South the coast hwy-1 before you get to Ft. Bragg is Mac Kerricher State Park. We have stayed there and like it very much.
South of Ft. Bragg on (1) there are some very cool spots also. Van Damme, Manchester, Gualala, Salt Point and Ft Ross state Historic Park. Are state Parks. There are some private campgrounds also. Like Woodside and Gerstle Cove campggrouns near Salt PT. Wrights Beach and Pomo Canyon near Jenner and Bodega Dunes near Bodega Bay.


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Old 03-01-2015, 11:56 AM   #7
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Not a whole lot to add to the previous comments but to say " we envy you the trip". We did it in November 2014, and had a blast...incredibly beautiful. I have to agree with "Nomad" MacKerrcher (pronounced Ma Kerrker) is a great campground, particularly the ocean front section. Nomad also said the road from Leggett to Fort Bragg is curvy but doable...an understatement, it is doable, but the"sweatiest palm drive" I have experienced in my limited time towing, but the reward of seeing the great Pacific when you hit the coast and the feeling of accomplishment are more than worth it. We towed our 27ft FB with our Cayenne through this section playing leap frog with a few other cars on the road. When we hit the coast these cars had pulled off to check out the ocean. As we passed, the occupants were standing out side their vehicle and both car loads waved, awarding us "two thumbs up" (ah, Airstreaming!) - actually our Avitar was photographed on this trip and very close to the Leggett/Highway 1 turn off. In my recollection, Highway 1 south of Fort Bragg, although curvy, was nothing like the Leggett to Fort Bragg segment.
If you are coming from western Washington a stop at Jedediah Smith State Park in Redwood National Park is a must...
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Old 03-01-2015, 12:50 PM   #8
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Wow, thanks so much for all these thoughtful and very complete recommendations! Over the dinette tonight we'll make our plans for CA. We'll still be on OR tonight, most likely south of the dunes.
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Old 03-01-2015, 12:51 PM   #9
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BEWARE! Legget-Fort Bragg

I see that some others have more or less covered what I'm also saying here, but I wrote it before reading those other posts so here goes:
While the towns and scenery along CA 1 are definitely worth traveling for, be aware that the way to the coast on CA 1 from 101 is a brutal trek. This drive was made by us and our rig in September and will forever be in our memories. The stretch from Legget over the mountains to the coast is steep, extremely winding with many slow curves. Several curves with speeds posted at 10 mph. And be sure your trailer brakes are adjusted and operating optimally because TV and trailer brakes can get quite hot on the downhill run. We had to stop for 30 minutes or so to let brakes cool. Road is quite narrow too. Longer rigs will be harder to keep in lanes than our 25' one.
We didn't venture south past Albion - and only did this with the TV as we were camped in Fort Bragg at Pomo. There is some slow going that way too as I recall. Somewhere south of Spendocino - a clever play on the Mendocino name we saw on a signpost, maybe in Albion, is a little roadside grocery and deli that had just been purchased by a young couple of former schoolteachers. A great little stop to make.
We drove CA 20 from just south of Fort Bragg to Willits on our way out. A better road but by no means freeway speeds.
I'm not saying don't go, just know what you are in for.

Some places we stayed and recommend along the California coastal areas:

Azalea RV Park in Trinidad - very nicely maintained and landscaped some sites with decks over the beautiful pond.

Pomo in Fort Bragg - Clean, large sites, convenient.

Morro Bay SP - often booked up but a great place with no hook-ups. Stay away from sites under the big trees - big p00ps coming down.

Carpinteria SP - similar to Morro Bay SP. No hook-ups most (or all) sites I think.
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:07 PM   #10
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Back in 1984, I spent about 10 months in San Jose, CA. I remember that one of my favorite drives was between Saratoga and Santa Cruz on Hwy 9. Ben Lomond and Felton come to mind. Giant redwoods in that area, too. That would be a great area to visit.

Does anyone know of campgrounds in that area? If so, they would be a short trek north off of Hwy 1 at Santa Cruz before you see Hwy 17. I'd stay off of Hwy 17..... I used to call that the "white-knuckle drive" to Santa Cruz from San Jose. Quite an experience.
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:38 PM   #11
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There are sites with hook-ups in Morro Bay SP, the lower numbered sites.
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Old 03-01-2015, 02:31 PM   #12
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I envy you your trip. My only thought is 100 miles per day is all I would try for. This is a "take your time" road, but so worth it. Also must add old San Diego is so worth it.
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