Drive from Disneyland to Seqouia NP - what time to leave to avoid rush hour?

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by elaine amj, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    We are planning our California trip for the summer. I've heard traffic can be brutal from Disneyland heading up north. We plan to leave for Seqouia National Park on Tues, July 2nd or Wed, July 3rd (still trying to decide if we need a 5th day at DLR LOL!). We don't mind leaving early in the morning if need be. My current plan is to leave at 7am, getting to Hume Lake in about 6 hours, so around 1ish or so. Is that realistic? Google Maps shows it at about a 5 hour drive. I know sitting in rush hour traffic will drive us bananas - so is going earlier/later better?

    Ideally we get there by 3pm - but if getting there later means avoiding rush hour, that could well be worth it.

    On a flip note, what about the drive back? We are headed back on Saturday morning and want to be at LAX by 12pm (for a 2pm flight). Will there be a lot of traffic headed to LAX from the north at around 11am?

    I've been Google searching like crazy - but struggling to find detailed info - everyone just says to avoid rush hour. I'm just not sure which roads will be jammed during rush hour.

    Thanks!!
     
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  3. eyeheartgoofy

    eyeheartgoofy DIS Veteran

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    We drove from Anaheim to Sequoia on a Friday afternoon in July and I DON'T recommend that at all! I'm wondering if July 3rd will have similar traffic patterns since it's the day before a holiday??? I don't know ... maybe a local can chime in with some help.

    Anyway, I'll share our story as a cautionary tale! We spent Friday morning in the parks and left at a leisurely pace ... I want to say we were in our car by around 12:00-12:30pm. Traffic pushed back our planned arrival time a solid 2.5-3 hours. One minute our GPS said we were on target, the next it jumped ahead nearly 3 hours. :eek: DH and I both thought the darn thing was wrong, but it wasn't!!!

    We departed on Sunday morning and didn't encounter much traffic at all - we made it to San Diego in about the time mapquest predicted.
     
  4. danaesacto

    danaesacto DIS Veteran

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    If you could handle it I would leave between 6 and 6:30- that would get you pretty far before a lot of the commute traffic really picks up- the kids could go back to sleep :rotfl: and you can always take a nap later under the big trees :thumbsup2
     
  5. OhioStateBuckeye

    OhioStateBuckeye DIS Veteran

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    I am also planning this trip! Except we'll leave from LAX to head to the Sequoia park. Were there any interesting stops you had planned along the way?

    I was thinking maybe a stop in Solvang, it is supposed to be a neat little town that has a miniature pony farm (I love mini ponies).
     
  6. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Would you say 7:30 - 9am are the craziest times for rush hour? Especially on a working day?

    Thanks for the cautionary tale! I'll definitely make sure we don't hit the afternoon traffic. 3 extra hours would be brutal. I don't do so well sitting in traffic jams.

    Leaving at 6/6:30 sounds awfully early though :( Still, if it's what we have to do....
     
  7. danaesacto

    danaesacto DIS Veteran

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    Solvang is not on the way- it is only a good option if you want to add 3 hours of twisty coastal driving. From LAX to Sequoia aren't you going up the 405 to 5 to 99 to 65 and across? Solvang is the opposite way.... it is a cute town though :thumbsup2
     
  8. danaesacto

    danaesacto DIS Veteran

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    I would say traffic will start being busy by 7. The good news is during that week it will be a lighter commute because a lot of people will be on vacation. The worse traffic you will hit will be that first 90 minutes getting out of the LA area and then again when you get on the windy mountain road to Hume Lake.
     
  9. Mary Jo

    Mary Jo Techarita Moderator

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    I definitely recommend leaving earlier. I live about 15 minutes south of the LAX airport, and when I go to Sequoia (just about every year), I leave at 5am or earlier. If you leave at 6am it's much better than 7am.

    Are you going to go to the 198 (Visalia) to get up to Sequoia or are you going to go to the 180 (Fresno). The turnoff to Hume Lake is closer to the 180 than to the 198, but the drive through the 198 (turns in to the Generals Hwy) is beautiful.

    I would recommend driving to Bakersfield then get a bite to eat. It's two hours from LA. Visalia is one more hour past Bakersfield, and Fresno two hours from Bakersfield (roughly speaking).

    If you want to miss rush hour, then leave around 9am/10am. That will get you there around 3pm'ish.

    Coming back you will basically be okay, but when you hit Valencia (Magic Mountain area) you will start to hit traffic. At least, that has been my experience in the past. Again, I'd recommend leaving around 6am.
     
  10. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    I hadn't planned on any stops because we just have a few days in Seqouia and it will be pretty packed. Plus, there's activities at Hume Lake where we are staying as well.

    I expect we'll stop somewhere to pick up a quick lunch.

    Thanks ...this is so helpful :)

    Not sure which road yet. I likr the sound of the prettier rd. I think we'll make up our mind that day depending how the driving and our timing is going. Thanks for pointing it out....I would never even have thought about it.

    So our options are to leave at 6am or 9am. Hmmmm. We can do early mornings, but my family likes it a lot better with less pressure in the mornings. I think we're better off leaving at 9am.

    Alternatively, maybe we should drive the 90 mins out of La the night before, possibly skipping Disney's night entertainment (if we do Disney for 5 nights)

    Which town would be a suitable stop to get us out of the traffic zone area? I'm sure we'll be able to save a little bit of $$ too since Fairfield is costingbus $150 a night for that week.
     
  11. GrandBob

    GrandBob <font color=blue>Grand events should not go unnoti

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    I'm not a local (i.e., listen to Mary Jo and the others, rather than me). But I'd say that if you get to the area of 6 Flags, around Santa Clarita/Valencia/Castaic, you'll be past any AM traffic problems. And there are a lot of hotels and motels catering to visitors to 6 Flags.

    If you wanted to go further than that, you'd likely find yourself going all the way to Bakersfield.

    -Bob
     
  12. danaesacto

    danaesacto DIS Veteran

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    I agree with GrandBob- there is a nice La Quinta in Santa Clarita that includes a decent breakfast and a very basic Days Inn in Castaic as some ideas...
     
  13. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    This is very helpful...thank you SO much!
     
  14. Mary Jo

    Mary Jo Techarita Moderator

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    I agree with them. Six Flags Magic Mountain is in Valencia, and maybe about 60 miles or so from Disneyland. If you go there & spend the night they have a few pretty decent places to stay.

    You'll then be an hour away from Bakersfield, and two from Visalia.

    If you decide to take route 198 to Sequoia, you are going to pass a few produce stands. We always stop here for fresh fruit, nuts, olives, etc. I always ask which ones are locally produced.

    You'll also pass the south visitors center - this is worth a stop/potty break - before heading up the mountain.

    On the way up you will have great views of Moro Rock, you will pass Crystal Cave, you will go through the famous "sequoia gate" which is four huge Sequoia trees that you drive between (I always take pics of us under those trees). You will go through the Giant Forest, past Lodegpole campground (has a market there and another Visitors Center), go through Sequoia National Forest, go through the Sequoia Lost Grove (more big trees), and then more scenic views until you get to the turn-off for Hume Lake. I think it's called 10-mile road or something like that. The turn-off is on the right side of the road, not too far past the look out over Kings Canyon.
     
  15. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    You guys rock - thank you!!

    Hopefully this helps other folks also planning similar trips. I know I learn so much from reading answers to other people's questions.
     
  16. Purrkins

    Purrkins Mouseketeer

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    Also worth mentioning that from the south gate to Sequoia Park to the Ave. of the Giants can sometimes take 2+ hours especially if they are working on the roads.

    But it's a stunning drive. One of my favorite places in the world.
     
  17. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Good to know. I am still not sure which road to best access the park. Right now I am thinking of not using the south entrance, especially since my destination is Hume Lake. I will likely enter near Grant's Grove. Mostly to skip the slow winding drive.

    Great to hear u love the place so much. I am enthralled with the idea of giant trees.

    Yet a part of me is still regretful I can't work Yosemite in. I actually conceived an elaborate plan that had us flying LA to Sacramento, then driving into Yosemite. But DH choked when I told him it would cost $150 per night for a tent cabin in Curry Village. For that price he wants a bathroom LOL. Oh well, since he refuses to rough it for this trip, Seqouia and the relative luxury of a motel room in Hume Lake is what I'll get!
     
  18. Purrkins

    Purrkins Mouseketeer

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    I love Yosemite. However, I took my wife there and she said "it looks like a larger version of Lodgepole campground (main campground in Sequoia NP) with 100X more people." Ha!

    So we prefer Sequoia over Yosemite since you can take some hikes and not see anyone for 8+ hours. Sometimes Yosemite seems like Disneyland with the crowds.

    If you're up for it, the Trail Of The Sequoias is one of our favorite hikes. It's 9 mile loop but once you hike in about .5 miles in odds are you'll see nobody for the rest of the hike until your last .5 miles. Some stunning trees and meadows, wildlife everywhere. Starts at General Sherman and branches off from the Congress trail and is well marked with tree markers.

    Bear Hill is a short 4 mile out and back hike and properly named. Saw four or five last summer in a 20 minute stretch.

    Kings Canyon is one of the most overlooked National Parks in the nation. About a 2 hour drive from Hume Lake to the end of the road (WORTH IT). Last summer we had a 300+ campground to ourselves for an entire week. Zumwalt meadow is a nice 2 mile loop with some stunning canyon views and a nice walk along a river.

    Have fun and be safe!
     
  19. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    It's not that overlooked. I've been to Lassen in the summer, and the crowds there were even smaller.

    However, I've also been to Yosemite and barely saw anyone for 8+ hours and had one of the greatest views on the planet. Most of Yosemite is not Yosemite Valley.
     
  20. Purrkins

    Purrkins Mouseketeer

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    Shhh. Keep it a secret about Lassen NP (I agree nobody ever goes there for some reason. Hard to get to?).

    True about Yosemite - but most people who have never been hit the valley and it's insanely crowded there. We're doing the High Sierra Trail for the first time this year. Insanely excited.
     
  21. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Getting to Lassen is easy. It takes about 3.5-4 hours to get there from different parts of the Bay Area, or bit more than it takes to get to Yosemite Valley. I remember being there at an overlook and talking to members of a family who stayed there every summer. They said they wouldn't go to Yosemite, and that Lassen was a lot easier to deal with.

    The other deal is that they're barely open in the winter and have a lot of snow that doesn't clear until the middle of summer. The star attraction is Bumpass Hell, and it's only open for about 3-4 months out of the year (starting about July 1) because of snow.

    Redding isn't bad although it's really hot during the summer. I want to take my kid to the Sundial Bridge. I managed to drive from home in the morning to Lassen Volcanic NP, hiked Bumpass Hell, drove to Manzanita Lake and walked around the lake, drove to Redding, had my hair cut with dinner there, saw the Sundial Bridge at night, and finally got home in the Bay Area at about midnight.

    Other parts of Yosemite aren't terribly crowded. Even built-up areas like Wawona and the High Country are actually quite sane even during the peak season.
     

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