California Road Map

Major Highways in California


Major highways in California have a maximum speed of 65 mph (104 kmph). Heavy traffic in California should be a concern, which occurs in cities weekdays around the hours of 8am and 5pm. It's not too difficult to avoid traffic times when leaving a city, but incorrectly timing your entrance to a city after a long California road trip can cost you several additional hours in traffic.

EXAMPLE: When embarking on a California road trip from north to south, don't randomly decide a time of departure. Instead, consider what the L.A. traffic will be like at arrival and choose a time frame to avoid L.A. traffic times. This should determine your departure time. Failure to do so will result in additional hours of heavy L.A. traffic.


ROAD CONDITIONS

Google Maps offers a great California traffic map for all cities & highways.
CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC MAP

CalTrans Traffic and up-to-date road conditions can be checked for all roads and highways including California road closures and traffic conditions due to road work or traffic accidents.
(800) 427-7623 or (916) 445-7623
CALTRANS TRAFFIC

CalTrans Live Traffic Cameras can be found for most major highways in California.
TRAFFIC CAMERAS

California Highway Patrol (CHP) provides a live traffic report for road closures, traffic alerts, traffic accidents, SIG Alerts and other CHP related incidents.
CHP ROAD CONDITIONS

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides information on California traffic laws, California road signs, vehicle registration in California and more.
DMV WEBSITE
DMV HANDBOOK

U.S. Highways

U.S. Highway 50 runs east & west from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe and down through Carson City, Nevada. This is a major highway that travelers use to get from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe. Expect heavy traffic conditions during weekday morning and evening rush hours in Sacramento. Road closures are rare but can occur during the winter months. Check Lake Tahoe road conditions, carry chains and expect road closures during the winter between Placerville and Lake Tahoe. This is one of California's most beautiful major highways that follows the American River from Lake Tahoe through the heart of Gold Country. On summer weekends, the popular Gold Country town of Placerville can become congested with heavy traffic conditions where Highway 50 crosses Highway 49. Highway 50 is a good choice for a California road trip to Lake Tahoe.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Lincoln Highway


Highway 101

U.S. Highway 101 runs north & south along the coast from Los Angeles to beyond the Oregon border. This major California highway accesses most of the California coast. Highway 101 traffic slows through San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. L.A. traffic forces most drivers to use the 405 freeway instead. L.A. traffic is the worst in the nation and Highway 101 through downtown L.A. has the worst traffic conditions of any L.A. freeway. Major wine producing regions like Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo can be easily accessed using Highway 101. This was once known as 'The King's Highway' when the Spanish built their Missions along this route. The 'Pacific Coast Highway' (Hwy 1, PCH) mirrors the 101 to the west, is more picturesque but slower as it winds, climbs and dips along the coast. Highway 101 is a good choice for a California road trip to the California Redwoods, Wine Country, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Ventura Freeway - Hollywood Freeway - The King's Highway

SAN FRANCISCO TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 740 or FM 106.9
L.A. TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 980 or AM 1070


Highway 395

U.S. Highway 395 runs north & south connecting Southern California with the Northern Sierras and Oregon. Traffic conditions are heavier in winter with skiers heading to Mammoth Mountain, June Lake, and Lake Tahoe. The southernmost portion of highway from Hesperia to Ridgecrest is a dangerous stretch of two lane highway prone to traffic accidents. Many travelers prefer to avoid this section by taking Highway 14 through Mojave. The southern portion of Highway 395 spans the desert and can be very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water and make sure your tires are not overinflated. Check ahead for road conditions during flash flood season. Highway 395 parallels the Eastern Sierra Nevada through the high desert communities of Lone Pine and Bishop. Lone Pine resides at the base of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. Death Valley is the lowest point in U.S. and is accessible from Lone Pine. Ancient lava flows are evident in the southern regions of Highway 395. The stretch of highway between Bishop and Inyokern has impressive volcanic topography. To the north, Highway 395 enters the Sierras and passes Mammoth Mountain, June Lake, Mono Lake, Yosemite backcountry, Bodie ghost town and Bridgeport before dipping into Nevada on its way to Reno. Highway 395 re-enters the state above Lake Tahoe and traverses the remote, less traveled, northeast corner of the Shasta Cascade. Check Highway 395 road conditions ahead of your trip during winter since road closures are common between June Lake and the Nevada border. Weather conditions usually require that you carry chains between Bishop and Nevada during the winter. Several highways that cross the Sierras from Highway 395 close at the first snow storm and remain closed through winter - this includes Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) from Lee Vining to Yosemite. Check ahead for Yosemite road conditions and Lake Tahoe road conditions. Highway 395 is a good choice for a California road trip to Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, backcountry Yosemite National Park and Reno, Nevada.


California State Highways

U.S. Highway 1 runs north & south along the coast from Mendocino to Orange County. Highway 1 runs parallel to Highway 101 but Highway 1 offers coastal views its entire length whereas Highway 101 is more inland. Highway 1 connects, disconnects and reconnects with Highway 101 several times along its route. Highway 1 is a slower alternative to Highway 101 but offers much more spectacular scenery. Highway 1 passes through the major cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles but also includes the towns of Mendocino, Bodega Bay, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, San Simeon, Cambria, Morro Bay, Avila Beach, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Its northern terminus is at Leggett in the California Redwoods, and southern terminus at Dana Point Harbor in Orange County. Highway 1 is the best choice for a California road trip along the coast. L.A. traffic and San Francisco traffic can be heavy especially during rush hour. Check ahead for road conditions through Big Sur where landslides occasionally close the highway for extended periods of time.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Pacific Coast Highway - PCH - Cabrillo Highway - Shoreline Highway - Coast Highway

SAN FRANCISCO TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 740 or FM 106.9
L.A. TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 980 or AM 1070


State Highway 14 runs northeast from the I5 in Santa Clarita to Highway 395 in Inyokern. Highway 14 spans the desert and can be very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water and make sure your tires are not overinflated. Travelers from the south use this state highway as a safer alternative to connect with Highway 395. Although Highway 14 becomes two lanes after Mojave, it is still a safer stretch of road than the southern portion of the 395 into Adelanto. Vasquez Rocks are located just north of the 5 Freeway junction. Mojave is the home of Edwards Air Force Base where the NASA Space Shuttle used to make landings. Check ahead for road conditions during flash flood season. L.A. traffic can be heavy from the I5 through Palmdale & Lancaster.
NOTE: State Highway 14 passes through the high-crime areas of Palmdale & Lancaster. Be sure to have enough fuel to pass through these areas without stopping.


State Highway 99 runs north & south from Red Bluff to Bakerfield. State Highway 99 parallels Highway 5 and is a more stimulating drive. Use State Highway 99 to easily access Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park and Gold Country. State Highway 99 travels through the major cities of Fresno, Modesto and Sacramento. Highway 99 is prone to heavy traffic conditions with holiday travelers during Thanksgiving and Christmas (Nov-Dec). Highway 99 is a good choice for a California road trip to Sacramento, Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Golden State Highway


Interstate Highways

Interstate 5 in Central Valley

Interstate 5 runs north & south and is the main artery for California road trips. I5 is the only road that traverses the entire state from the Oregon border to Mexico and passes through major cities like Sacramento, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego. Stay abreast of the traffic report through these cities where road closures, traffic accidents and SIG alerts are common. The stretch of I5 between Redding and Bakersfield passes through the Central Valley and the rural farm belt of the state referred to as 'California Heartland'. The 5 Freeway through the Central Valley is prone to heavy traffic conditions with holiday travelers during Thanksgiving and Christmas (Nov-Dec). North of Redding, I5 climbs into the lush forest of the Shasta Cascade to the Oregon border. To the south, the entire stretch of the I5 freeway between Castaic and the Mexico border is urban sprawl. Watch for L.A. traffic alerts through this portion of highway where road closures, traffic accidents and SIG alerts are common. Check ahead for I5 road conditions in the Tejon Pass and Siskiyou Pass during winter when occasional storms can cause road closures. The 5 Freeway is a good choice for a California road trip to Mt. Shasta, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Golden State Freeway - San Diego Freeway - Santa Ana Freeway - West Side Highway
'Tejon Pass / The Grapevine' refers to the mountain pass between Bakersfield and Los Angeles.

L.A. TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 980 or AM 1070


Interstate 8 runs east & west from San Diego paralleling the Mexican border to Arizona. The eastern portion of Highway 8 spans the desert and can be very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water and make sure your tires are not overinflated. Check ahead for road conditions during flash flood season. From San Diego, Highway 8 climbs into the Cleveland National Forest, descends to El Centro in the desert and continues on through Yuma, Arizona. Off-roading is a popular activity in the desert sand dunes off Highway 8. San Diego traffic should be a concern within city limits where a traffic report should be followed.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Mission Valley Freeway - Kumeyaay Highway

SAN DIEGO TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 600 or AM 760


Interstate 10 in Palm Springs

Interstate 10 runs east & west connecting the beach city of Santa Monica with Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Palm Springs and the Colorado River at the Arizona border. The 10 Freeway is prone to heavy L.A. traffic especially during rush hours and holidays within Los Angeles and the Inland Empire - always follow a live traffic report. The eastern portion of I10 spans the desert and can be very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water and make sure your tires are not overinflated. Check ahead for road conditions during flash flood season. The popular mountain communities of Big Bear Lake and Idyllwild are also accessible from Highway 10. Highway 10 is a good choice for a California road trip to Palm Springs and Phoenix, Arizona.
ALSO KNOWN AS: San Bernardino Freeway - Santa Monica Freeway

L.A. TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 980 or AM 1070


Interstate 15 runs northeast from San Diego to Las Vegas, Nevada and passes through Temecula wine country, the Inland Empire and the high desert communities of Baker and Barstow. The northern portion of I15 spans the desert and can be very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water and make sure your tires are not overinflated. Check ahead for road conditions during flash flood season. Baker has the world's tallest thermometer...you can't miss it from the highway. Check ahead for Cajon Pass road conditions during inclement weather. Cajon pass traffic conditions should be checked on a live traffic report. Traffic conditions, road conditions, traffic accidents and weather conditions should be checked on the 15 Freeway to and from Las Vegas. I15 traffic builds northbound on Friday night into Saturday morning and southbound on Sundays. If you're planning a California road trip to Vegas, flights can be very inexpensive and a better alternative. See our airports page for possible options.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Corona Freeway - Barstow Freeway - Escondido Freeway
Cajon Pass is north of San Bernardino and the Highway 215 junction

SAN DIEGO TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 600 or AM 760


Interstate 40 runs east & west from Highway 15 in Barstow to Lake Havasu on the Arizona border. The 40 Freeway spans the desert and can be very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water and make sure your tires are not overinflated. Check ahead for road conditions during flash flood season. The Providence Mountains State Recreation Area is located off the 40 Freeway. People use I40 for road trips to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Needles Freeway


Interstate 80 in snow storm

Interstate 80 runs east & west from San Francisco to north Lake Tahoe and down through Reno, Nevada. I80 is a major highway that travelers use to commute between San Francisco, Sacramento and North Lake Tahoe. I80 traffic can be heavy through San Francisco and Sacramento especially during rush hour. The 80 Freeway is scenic from Sacramento to Reno. Check I80 road conditions, carry chains and expect road closures during the winter between Auburn and Lake Tahoe - although the 80 freeway is usually the last highway to close in the Tahoe region. The 80 Freeway passes through the Gold Country town of Auburn and the nearby towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City. I80 is a good choice for a California road trip to San Francisco, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Lincoln Highway - Eastshore Freeway - Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway

SAN FRANCISCO TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 740 or FM 106.9


Interstate 580 runs southeast from San Rafael in the North Bay to Highway 5 near Stockton. I580 is a major highway for travelers coming from central and southern California to San Francisco and the North Coast. A toll is required at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
ALSO KNOWN AS: MacArthur Freeway

SAN FRANCISCO TRAFFIC REPORT: AM 740 or FM 106.9



California by Region

Interstate 5 Interstate 8 Interstate 10 Highway 14 Interstate 15 Interstate 40 Highway 50 Interstate 80 Highway 99 Highway 101 Highway 395 Interstate 580 San Francisco Los Angeles Orange County San Diego Inland Empire Desert Central Coast Sierra Nevada North Coast Shasta Cascade Gold Country Central Valley