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Ortega Highway, a dangerous ride in California.

Ortega Highway route
Ortega Highway

The Ortega Highway is a well-known touristic road in southern California. In crosses mountain passes. Thereby, it makes this road very dangerous and it is also sadly known as a road of many deaths.

Where is the Ortega Highway California ?

The Ortega Highway is situated in California between Los Angeles and San Diego.

It is a 46 kilometers (28 miles) long double line way, in addition, we can say that it is an asphalted road in good conditions.

The road, also known as Highway 74 or State Route 75 is part of the Pines to Palms Scenic Byway scenic route.

It links the cities of San Juan Capistrano in the west to Lake Elsinore Valley in the east.


Enlarge the map

Facts about the Ortega Highway:

The road is a two lines route that is a 46 kilometers (28 miles) section of the US route 74.

This road has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous and deathly roads in California.

The road crosses the Cleveland National Forest. It has a lot of combinations of sweeping turns. You will have some cool landscapes here, for example, mountains and forests.

It was built in 1933 and become immediately a high frequented touristic road. It was named Route 74 since the establishment of state routes in Californian in 1934.

The speed limit is normally 55 miles per hour (90km/h) but many drivers and bikers don’t respect the speed limitation, as a result, there is a lot of accidents. Local news sometimes starts with another Ortega Highway accident.

You can also stop at a dinner, highly frequented by bikers, on the road to feel the spirit of the road. And once you arrive at Lake Elsinore you can find lots of accommodations like hotels and campgrounds and activities. Indeed, Ortega Highway Camping is a quite popular topic among travelers.

The area is also very risky for forests fires so always check-up for Ortega Highway fire before going there.

How to get to the 74 State Route?

If you are coming from the east (from the Pacific Coast) you have to drive from Los Angeles or San Diego to San Juan Capistrano on Highway 5 and then take Highway 74 in the east direction.

On the other way if you are coming from the west you should drive to Lake Elsinore using Highways 15 or 215 and then turn to the State Route 74 and drive the Ortega Highway.

You can situate the itinerary on this map:

A video of the journey:

You can have a preview of that drive. You just have to watch this YouTube video as it shows a part of the road:

Is Ortega Highway open?

The Ortega Highway is open all year round.

It can be close from time to time for roadworks or because of accidents. Indeed, as we have already written, this road is very dangerous, especially for motorbikes. Some people don’t respect the speed limits and lose control of their vehicles and it ended in terrible crashes.

If you want to limit the risk of driving this dope road, we suggest you, avoid the weekends and holidays and drive the road in the morning in order to avoid the traffic.

You can always check the official Californian roads information website to see the Ortega Highway traffic.

The Ortega Highway is definitely a road you should drive if you are in California. But you should remember that this is a dangerous road and be very watchful on your driving but also on other drivers. Indeed, you don’t want to be on a local journal topic with the title another Ortega Highway accident today.

Picture credit: Ken Lund on Flickr.


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