Palm Desert, CA to Sisters, OR

windmill in Palm Springs

Another Journey!

This time we’re headed out from the Southern California desert to the Cascade mountains of Central Oregon: summer to winter in a jiffy. The weather reports told of storms all over California and Oregon which worried us. Hopefully, we’d get there without too much trouble and on time. 

We would have to spend some more time on Interstate 5 which made us worry for our sanity. How many times can you drive the Mighty Five before you need a commercial license, or professional help? We didn’t want to find out.

California desert with mountains in the background

The consensus decision was to hit some back roads on the way and catch the interstate  further up north – maybe that would help. We took Hwy 62 out of the Palm Desert area heading north hoping to avoid all Los Angeles traffic, which we did. After that, we got on Highway (247) north and to the east of the San Bernardino Mountains and Big Bear.

It was quite a barren landscape and didn’t have many towns, certainly no large ones. Then again, we’ve never seen this side of the San Bernardino mountains and did enjoy all those hills off in the distance.

California desert with mountains in the background

New Roads, New Vistas

After arriving in Barstow from the south, we traveled west on Hwy 58 towards Bakersfield. Here’s a photo of the road heading into the mountains near the town of Mojave. Somewhere up there it looked like we’d hit snowy weather. “Hey – that’s not supposed to happen ‘til we get to Mt. Shasta.” We’ll see about that.

road leading to snow-covered mountains

Lunch was a lovely stop in a drug store parking lot in Tehachapi before climbing up and over the pass still on Hwy 58. Snow on the mountain tops with some rain on that part of the journey as well, typical California winter weather.

grass-covered rolling hills

The hills or mountains between Tehachapi and Bakersfield are beautiful. You leave the desert and see nothing but these green hills, a few farms, and on this day, some fog.

grass-covered rolling hills

Eventually, we did drive on Interstate 5 up towards Sacramento. As evening approached, I saw the sky and snapped this photo. Once again we ended a travel day with an overnight in Sacramento.

clouds in late afternoon

A winter trip through Northern California always risks a snow delay, either a slow drive after putting on chains or waiting out a big storm as crews clear the roads. There wasn’t any snow around Redding, or Lake Shasta, so we thought we were fine. The road looked clear ahead.

highway in the mountains

And it was – all the way through the pass. That was a lucky break. We had chains but preferred to leave them in the trunk – where they belong.

As we approached the town of Mt Shasta, I took this short video of the snow on the exit sign, just a bit of fun.

Then It Started!

Suddenly, the snow was everywhere and quite deep. It was exciting for us, so we stopped in Weed to get a better sense and a short rest. We couldn’t believe our eyes! Look at that snow; I had never seen that in my entire adult life. 

snow piled up on the side of the road

The roads were clear but the snow piled up everywhere was five-feet deep! As we turned a corner, I saw some icicles and had to get out of the car for a photo. 

icicles hanging off a roof

See that footprint below? That was from me as I got closer to those icicles. I sunk a foot down into the soft powder. Wow! At least I didn’t fall over!

deep footprint in the snow

This area is up pretty high in the mountains and caught a lot of snow: wintery looking in every direction. It’s gorgeous, right?

snow-covered valley and mountains

Goodbye Weed! Hopefully, the roads ahead will be clear as we have a long journey ahead and more mountains to cross.

Mt Shasta covered in snow

As soon as we got north of Weed, and away from Mt. Shasta, the snow all but disappeared. Maybe we would get there on time. That would be good. It would be even better if we never had to put the chains on the car!

light snow cover along highway

Once we hit Klamath Falls, the snow picked up a bit, but not on the road.

snow-covered mountains behind a lake

Klamath Lake looked frozen, that’s a big lake. Is it possible it’s frozen? Difficult to tell from the highway.

a large frozen lake

The Last Leg

A couple of hours before reaching our destination, we pulled into a rest stop and couldn’t believe our eyes. The snow was three feet deep, and I think that’s when it sunk in – we were going to be in the snow for the next two weeks. 

red Camry and white snow

How in the world do you get a drink of water from here! Just kidding, I only added this photo for effect. These photos do not serve any real purpose to our story other than to emphasize the amount of snow we encountered.

drinking fountains covered in snow

As we continued northward, the snow along the highway dissipated. However, at times, the actual road conditions deteriorated as you can see in the photo below – a four lane highway but only two lanes without ice. Passing slow trucks was fun, moving into the center lane in that sliding around maybe this is our last trip kind of way.

road partially covered in ice

We arrived in Sisters, Oregon late in the afternoon and began our ascent up a two-mile driveway in deep slush and ice. Our poor Camry was bouncing and sliding all the way. It was great to see a welcome sign, literally this time, after several changes in climate. And on time which was no sure thing.

welcome sign in the snow

What’s Next – It’s snow time!

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