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Ask the experts: Where shall I go on my Californian road trip

Our experts guide you on where to go on a Californian road trip

Published 30 Aug 2018, 16:00 BST, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 09:53 BST
Big Sur Pacific Coastline, California

Big Sur Pacific Coastline, California

Photograph by Getty

Q What routes would you suggest for a Californian road trip? Do you have any driving tips?

Temerity Vinson, Hertz: California's wonderfully diverse landscapes — including an 840-mile coastline — are perfect for exploring by car. The state's roads are generally well maintained and clearly signposted, although it pays to be aware of certain lesser-known road rules and regulations. For example, if the road is clear, you're allowed to make a right turn at a red traffic light, unless otherwise indicated; and if you're travelling with two or more occupants in the vehicle, you may use the High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, also known as the carpool or diamond lane — usually located on the inside (left) lane, identified by signs and white diamond symbols painted on the road.

Standard Hertz rental usually includes a Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection, however you're still liable for excess charges in case of damages or theft of the car. A soft-top is the classic choice of car (and my favourite) for road trips in the Golden State. A convertible Chevrolet Camaro starts from £812 for one week's hire, collecting from Los Angeles International Airport (basic family car from £288). Feeling the wind in your hair as you live the Californian road trip dream makes that extra cost worthwhile.

Sarah Barrell, National Geographic Traveller (UK): The Shasta Cascade region, tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, bordering Oregon, covers approximately 20% of the state, yet most people (even in California) haven't heard of it, let alone visited it.

This is a wilderness of active volcanoes, snow-capped peaks, lakes, rivers and forest. Fly in to San Francisco, and drive north east on Highway 80 to the state capital, Sacramento, then head north west to the Pacific Ocean at Mendocino to explore the surrounding redwood forests, before returning to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway.

This two-week, 800-mile trip is defined by two-lane roads that snake steeply through forests and mountains and along lakeshores. The roads aren't busy and you can expect your few fellow motorists to be courteous and considerate. Road closures in the remoter areas can involve big detours or delays (notably due to summer repairs and winter snowfall). Look out for roadside notifications diverting you to new highways and always keep the car well fuelled.

Follow @NatGeoTravelUK

Published in the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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