If you’re traveling between Northern and Southern California, the dreaded Grapevine can present a daunting challenge.
It’s often crowded with traffic and its steep grades can be intimidating for some drivers, especially if you’re driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer. Fortunately, there are several alternate routes you can take to avoid this section of the I-5.
What Exactly Is The Grapevine?
The Grapevine is the section of Interstate 5 that runs between Castaic Lake, near Santa Clarita, and Wheeler Ridge, near Bakersfield.
It includes the notorious Tejon Pass and stretches for nearly 40 miles. What makes it so challenging are its steep grades and sharp turnoffs which can be particularly difficult for drivers pulling trailers or motorhomes.
Why Avoid The Grapevine?
The Grapevine can be an intimidating stretch of highway to drive on. Its steep grades, sharp turnoffs, and unpredictable weather often lead to traffic backups and delays.
It’s also a popular spot for truckers who are hauling heavy loads, which can make it difficult for other drivers to pass them.
Additionally, the area is known for its strong winds which can make it difficult to keep your vehicle in your lane.
Best Alternate Routes To Avoid The Grapevine
If you’re traveling between Northern and Southern California, there are several routes that you can take to avoid the Grapevine section of I-5.
The following routes will provide you with a more scenic and less stressful journey:
1. The Highway 126
This alternate route will take you on a leisurely drive along the Santa Clara River Valley to Ventura County, bypassing the Grapevine altogether. It’s an ideal route for those who want to take in some of California’s beautiful scenery.
The benefit of using this route is that it’s much less congested than the I-5. There are also several small towns along the way where you can stop for a bite to eat or some shopping.
However, you may not want to go this way if you’re in a hurry as it can take two hours longer than the I-5.
2. The Highway 14
The Highway 14 is another alternate route you can take to avoid the Grapevine. This route will take you along the Mojave Desert, through small towns like Lancaster and Victorville before heading into San Bernardino and Riverside.
The benefit to using this route is that you’ll avoid the steep grades of the Grapevine and won’t have to worry about traffic backups.
Additionally, there are several attractions along the way such as museums, wineries, and casinos which you can enjoy while taking this scenic drive.
3. The Angeles Crest Highway
This alternate route takes you through the rugged San Gabriel Mountains and offers some stunning views along the way.
It’s a great option for those who are looking for a more adventurous drive, but can be treacherous during inclement weather.
The benefit of using this route is that it’s much less traveled than the I-5, so you won’t have to worry about traffic or delays.
Additionally, there are several hiking and camping opportunities along the way which makes this route ideal for those looking for a more nature-filled journey.
4. The Golden State Highway (Hwy 99)
This is one of the most popular alternate routes for avoiding the Grapevine. It traverses through some of California’s most beautiful landscapes and cities, including Fresno, Bakersfield, and Lodi.
It’s a great option if you’re looking for a more relaxed drive and want to explore some of California’s best attractions.
4. The Highway 58
This alternate route takes you through the Mojave Desert and runs from Tehachapi to Bakersfield, offering a unique and somewhat otherworldly experience.
It crosses I-5 at Kettleman City, so it’s an ideal option. It can be a bit tedious at times due to the lack of scenery, but it’s a great option for those who just want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
5. The 101
The 101 is another popular alternate route for avoiding the Grapevine. This highway runs along California’s western coast, offering some stunning ocean views and plenty of stops to explore.
It takes a bit longer than taking I-5 through the Grapevine, but it’s definitely worth it if you want to take in some beautiful scenery.
The 101 is a great option for those who want to explore some of California’s coastal towns and cities along the way, such as Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
Additionally, there are plenty of stops for food, shopping, and sightseeing, giving you plenty of opportunities to break up your journey.
Is The Grapevine Ever Closed?
The California Highway Patrol prioritizes safety above all else and will close the Grapevine in the event of inclement weather such as heavy snow, winds, or fog.
Additionally, they may also close it due to other safety concerns such as road construction or accidents. If you’re planning on traveling through this area, make sure to check local traffic reports for any closures before setting out.
Recently the CHP posted a map of alternate routes that can be taken around the Grapevine in the event of a closure.
It’s a great tool for those who want to plan ahead and avoid any major delays. Additionally, you may also want to equip your vehicle with winter tires as they are better suited for driving in slippery or icy conditions.
What Is The Best Time To Drive Through LA To Avoid Traffic?
The best time to avoid traffic on the I-5 through the Grapevine is during non-peak hours, such as very early in the morning or late at night.
Additionally, you should also plan your route ahead of time and make sure to factor in any possible delays due to weather closures or other issues.
It can be tough to navigate all parts of Los Angeles, but if you plan ahead and choose the right route, you can make your journey a whole lot smoother.
With so many alternate routes available, you’re sure to find one that works for you. So don’t let the Grapevine slow down your trip – take an alternate route and enjoy the beautiful California scenery!
Can I Make It Through The Grapevine?
Because of its steep inclines, the Grapevine is a tough journey for any car, especially one with a low ground clearance or inadequate tires.
It’s important to make sure your car is equipped and up-to-date before attempting the Grapevine, as you may have difficulty navigating the steep inclines and sharp curves if it isn’t prepared.
It’s also important to pay attention to posted speed limits, as they are there for a reason. The Grapevine is a dangerous stretch of road, and speeding only increases the likelihood of an accident. Make sure to drive safely and give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going.
While people do it, tackling the Grapevine in an RV or motorhome can be a challenge. If you want to make this journey, prep your rig in advance and be prepared to take it slow.
Other Alternate routes;
No matter which route you choose, avoiding the dreaded Grapevine is always an appealing option. With these alternate routes, you can enjoy your drive while avoiding the traffic and other hassles that come with traveling on I-5.
So, the next time you’re planning a drive between Northern and Southern California, consider one of these alternate routes to make your journey more enjoyable.