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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 ?

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 combination 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 as Route 74 since the establishment of state routes in Californian in 1934.

The speed limit is normally 55 miles per hours (90km/h) but many drivers and bikers don’t respect the speed limition, in results there is a lot of accidents.

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 as hotels and campgrouds and activites.

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 the Highway 74 in the east direction.

On the other way if you are coming from the west you should drive to Lake Elsinore using the 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 the Ortega Highway open?

The Ortega Highways is open all year around.

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

If you want to limit the risk of driving this dope road, we suggest you to avoid the week ends 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 road conditions.

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 another drivers.

Picture credit: Ken Lund on Flickr.


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