Location: California, USA
Length: 33,5 miles (53,6 km)
Duration: 46 min
Width:2 lanes, 5 m
Surface quality (out of 10): 7
Highest point: 1,015.9 m
Operating times: all year round
Name: California State Route 74
Route: from Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano
The California Highway 74 Road Description
Highway 74 is one of the most scenic drives in California. It spans San Juan Canyon, and it’s a major east-west state highway. This route connects San Juan Capistrano to Palm Springs. On its way, it passes through the southern Inland Empire and Idyllwild. The route we want to present to you today is the one starting at Lake Elsinore and ends at Juan Capistrano or the other way around.
If you start the drive at Juan Capistrano, the California State Route 74 begins at Interstate 5 and continues over the Ortega Highway 74, passing through the Santa Ana mountains. It then continues through Lake Elsinore. At Perris, it goes east, in the San Jacinto Valley and proceeds into the San Bernardino National Forest and the San Jacinto Mountains. Soon after, it will take you through the Palm Desert and the city limits, ending at California 111.
Driving on Highway 74 is a great opportunity to enjoy the high-quality of an American highway. The road asphalted, it’s wide enough, and it also features hairpin turns. The drive will be a scenic one and a real pleasure for those that love driving.
Drivers here have to be careful because there are many accidents happening each year. The Ortega Highway has the reputation of being one of Orange County’s most dangerous roads, especially for motorcyclists. It has hairpin turns, beautiful scenery, open stretches and watering holes. So, it’s an attraction for all kinds of drivers.
The landscape is beautiful here, and there’s even a spectacular 1929 arch bridge. It’s located over San Juan Creek east of San Juan Capistrano. Graffiti artists have used it to spray over their slogans and logos all along it.
As a fun fact, there is a segment of this route named “Seven Level Hill”, south of Palm Desert. It’s popular because it appears in the It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World movie, made in 1963. In the opening of the movie, the main characters meet here, following a car accident.
Highway 74 is a great road to drive on, especially if you enjoy driving on a US scenic highway. It’s known as one of the best in the Orange County, so it definitely is worth a drive.
Photo sources: https://www.palmspringslife.com/highway-74-revisited/, https://www.roadrunner.travel/blog/2016/08/01/classic-roads-carving-californias-highway-74/, https://harleyridingexperiences.com/scenic-highway-74-into-palm-desert/, https://www.aaroads.com/california/ca-074wa.html
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