Ortega Highway, a dangerous road in California.

Ortega Highway route
Ortega Highway

Ortega Highway is a well-known touristic road in southern California. Its crossing of mountain passes renders it a perilous road and earns it the unfortunate moniker of a road of many deaths.

Where is the Ortega Highway in California?

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

It is a 46 kilometers (28 miles) long double line road. It is an asphalted road in overall good condition.

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:

Ortega Highway is a two lane road that is a 46 kilometers (28 miles) section of US route 74.

The road is known for its dangerous and deadly nature, earning it a reputation as one of the most perilous 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 highly 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 (90 km/h) but many drivers and bikers don’t respect the speed limitation, as a result, there are 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 forest fires, so always check up for the 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 State Route 74 and drive the Ortega Highway.

You can check 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 closed 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 road 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 of your driving but also of other drivers. Indeed, you don’t want to be on a local journal topic with the title another accident.

Picture credit: Ken Lund on Flickr.

Discover other roads in the US and around the world: click here