Riding the PCH: Los Angeles to San Francisco and back on the 101

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to ride California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Yep, it’s a bucket list adventure. Motorcycle adventure touring has always been a passion for me. When I was 12, with my parents in the Rocky Mountains, I saw this motorcycle pull in next to our Volkswagon bus camper with this huge backpack on it. I imagined all the great curves, the magnificent views and the adventure of it all. That’s when I told myself I wanted to do that. So that’s what I do. Fortunately, my wife, Michelle likes it, too.

First of all, California has some of the prettiest country I’ve seen. It seems to have many different climates along the coast from arid, to forest, to meadows, and mountains. The 600 mile ride takes you through so many different areas it seems like you’re in a whole different country after every change. I was surprised by how green everything is. Being from Texas I’m used to seeing a lot of short trees and scrub brush. Texas does have some beautiful areas too but not like here. Flowers grow everywhere. The Pacific Ocean is a giant air conditioner. It seems like it cools everything within about 5 miles of it. When we left Lake Elsinore it was 80 plus degrees and we packed 1 long sleeve shirt and 1 pair of long johns just in case, along with our tee shirts and shorts. Thank goodness for our friends washer and dryer in San Francisco. 

We decided to go on Sunday, believing we would miss the workweek traffic rush. California’s coast is probably the biggest single attraction of anywhere. We might have been better off going on a weekday following the coast through town. I think everybody decided to go to the beach! We had to abandon that plan and head for the freeway to cross Los Angeles. Once we got out of LA area and up to to Ventura things weren’t so congested. The Pacific Coast Highway follows the coast for parts of the journey and goes inland as well. The coastal portions are dramatic views and a lot of curvy roads. The inland areas are beautiful mountains and emense farm fields. There are quite a few towns and coastal neighborhoods along the highway. We did the trip up the coast in three days. We had good weather for most of the way but were happy we brought our long johns. The wind can also be challenging.

The return trip timing was dictated by the weather. A big cold front was coming and rain was threatening so we decided to head back down US Hwy 101 while it was still sunny. (It’s funny here as everyone calls highways by the number but preface it with “the”, like “the 101 or the 405 for Interstate 405”.) US 101 runs parallel to the PCH but is more inland. It is an amazingly beautiful highway as well. While part of it overlaps the PCH most of it runs slightly inland and offered a little warmer climate. We took 2 days and really enjoyed the ride.

So, the question is, how was it? It was a fabulous ride, really enjoyable! I loved the variety of scenery and the amazing views. It definitely is a challenging technical ride in parts. In poor weather, it could be dangerous. Traffic can be frustrating if you’re on a schedule but, all-in-all, I loved it!


Malibu surf
Pismo Beach
Morro Bay sunset
Flowers everwhere!
Overlooking Big Sur


I guess that’s one way to divert rock slides!
Lighthouse near Half Moon Bay
Kite surfers and kite fliers, too!

Grapevines as far as the eye can see in some areas on the 101



3 thoughts on “Riding the PCH: Los Angeles to San Francisco and back on the 101

  1. Love the wild pink boganvillas on the side of the road. The light house is so pretty. Love the bolder blocker also.
    Have a great time.
    Marsha and Wendell


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