Interstate 5

This article is an itinerary.

Interstate 5 (I-5) is a United States interstate highway that starts at the border with Mexico in San Ysidro, CA and runs 1381 miles (1223 km) north through the states of California, Oregon and Washington to the border with Canada in Blaine, WA. It serves as an important north-south transportation corridor along the U.S west coast connecting the major cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle; the three state capitals of Sacramento, Salem and Olympia; and two additional major cities in neighboring countries (Tijuana & Vancouver).

Understand

Interstate 5 (I-5) replaces the former US Route 99, a north-south route along the west coast. The original U.S. Highway 99 ran 1600mi (2600 km) south from Cache Creek BC through Vancouver, through Washington state, Oregon and California, then became Mexico Federal Highway 5 in Calexico. Today I-5 ends at the U.S./Mexican border in San Ysidro where it continues another 1,063 mi (1,711 km) from Tijuana through the Baja California peninsula to Cabo San Lucas as Mexico Federal Highway 1/1D. Today segments of the old Hwy 99 have been re-numbered as State or Provincial Route 99 (SR-99) in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. Other segments in Washington state have also have been renumbered as SR-11, SR-529 and SR-530; as SR-99E & SR-99W between north Portland and Junction City in Oregon; and SR-111 between Calexico and Palm Desert in California. Some segments of the old Hwy 99 have also been decommissioned altogether as federal and state highways (not numbered) but are still represented by being named "Old Hwy 99" while others take on different street names.

There are currently no toll segments on the "Freeway".

Get in

Interstate 5 continues north as BC-Hwy 99 to Cache Creek through Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Whistler from the Canadian/U.S. border in Blaine, WA and south to Cabo San Lucas through Tijuana and Ensenada in the Baja California Peninsula as Mexico Federal Hwy 1 from the U.S./Mexican border in San Ysidro, CA. I-5 intersects other major US interstate highways diverging to/from different directions such as I-15 and I-8 in San Diego; I-10 in Los Angeles; I-80 in Sacramento; I-84 in Portland; I-90 in Seattle and various three digit interstates (serving as local auxiliary highways), state and U.S highways in the three states it passes through.

Drive

Mile markers are statewide mileposts, starting with "0" at the south border of each state which increases as you go north and then starts over at "0" when crossing the state line into the next state. So going south the numbers on the mileposts will decrease and then start over at the highest number when crossing a state line. The exit numbers correspond with the mileposts so some numbers may be skipped if the exits are further apart from one to the next. Other exits that are one next to the other or "2 in 1" may have the same exit number followed by an "A", "B" or even a "C" such as "Exit #100A" to get on A St and "Exit #100B" to get on B St.

California

San Diego area

Orange County and Los Angeles

Past the Camp Pendleton Marine Base the interstate enters the large conurbation of cities in OC and LA counties. This section is multi-lane (3 to 5) in both directions and is busy with traffic at nearly all times of the day. If at all possible avoid driving at peak commuter times. Some drivers may be tempted to take Interstate 405 as an alternate route, but check traffic conditions before doing so as it is often even worse for traffic congestion.

Tehachapi Mountains

The road climbs out of the San Fernando Valley,which although multi-lane will have slow-moving traffic before entering the Santa Clarita Valley. Oddly, at one point the north and south bound carriageways cross and run for a number of miles separate from one another.

Central Valley

Most of this section is two-lane carriageway in both directions, running straight with only small rises though sparsely populated areas.

Shasta Cascades Region

Oregon

Interstate travelers in Oregon should be aware that it is illegal to pump your own gas in the state. When you arrive at a filling station wait for an attendant to come to your car rather than attempting to get out and fill up your car on your own.

Washington

Seattle Metropolitan Area in The Puget Sound Region

North of Olympia the interstate enters the large conurbation of cities in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. This section is multi-lane (3 to 5) in both directions and is busy with traffic at nearly all times of the day. If at all possible avoid driving at peak commuter times. Some drivers may be tempted to take Interstate 405 through Bellevue as an alternate route, but check traffic conditions before doing so as it is often even worse for traffic congestion than Interstate 5.

North Cascades

Alternative routes

Alternatives for traveling north/south through California include U.S. Route 101, El Camino Real and the Pacific Coast Highway in the west, or US-395 along the Eastern Sierra. All of these are more scenic and interesting routes but are much longer and slower and are more of a journey to experience than just for getting from A to B.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, April 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.