California Highway 154:
San Marcos Pass Scenic Highway
In the unlikely event that you've grown tired of driving along the California coastline, there's a scenic alternative to consider, west of Santa Barbara. California Highway 154, also known as San Marcos Pass Road, quickly gains altitude as it twists and turns into the mountains.
I found this road by mistake, thanks to my GPS. To a computer, I suppose it looks like a shorter route to head over the mountains, rather than following Highway 101 west (along the coast), then north. The Pacific Coast Highway is almost definitely a quicker route, even if it is longer. Route 154 is two lanes, full of curves and steep grades, while 101 is a 4-lane highway.
I started into the mountains just after sunset, and just before a downpour of rain arrived, so I didn't get to see everything that this stretch of highway offers. But, you can watch the first few minutes of the drive on this Drivelapse video.
|Ventura to Santa Barbara, California, on US 101, then San Marcos Pass Hwy.|
San Marco Pass Road skirts the edge of Lake Cachuma, a manmade lake formed by the Bradbury Dam. You should catch some occasional glimpses of the lake as you drive by on Route 154.
Keep following Highway 154 -- it will eventually run into US 101, and you can continue on to the Pismo Beach area.
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