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April 3, 2011

What's Your Favorite SoCal-to-Vegas Route?

Posted by Hunter

A couple of friends were traveling from Southern California to Las Vegas recently and their route made me start to wonder how others like to make their way across the Mojave.

What freeways and highways are you using? What are your 'must-stops'? How long does it usually take you?

For me in Santa Barbara, my route goes like this:

1. 101 to the 126 in Ventura
2. 126 to the 5 in Valencia
3. 5 to the 14 near Santa Clarita
4. 14 to the 138 (Pearblossom Highway) in Palmdale
5. 138 turns into the 18 which dumps onto the 15 in Victorville, where you head north to Vegas

Here's a link to the Google Maps version.

The drive is about 350 miles and generally takes about five hours (my best time is 4 hours, 28 minutes - there are a few places you can seriously haul-ass if you want to).

I really like my route - lots of beautiful desert, mostly smaller roads with less traffic - but it's not the path that Google suggests.

If I followed their advice, I'd skirt around Simi Valley and over to the 210, then up the 15. I generally don't like getting that close to Los Angeles traffic unless I'm visiting someone down there. I've used that route and it's not awful but if I can avoid the Cajon Pass, I feel like I'm in better shape.

Like many, I often stop in Barstow (Lenwood) and sometimes Baker, for gas, food and the occasional vomiting (sorry McDonald's).

What's your route? Travel tips? Secret stops?

I'm especially interested in drives from LA proper, Orange County or even San Diego.