I've reviewed movies, gadgets, laptops, smartphones, golf courses, golf equipment, golf balls, but I've never reviewed a highway before, until now. CA-168, from Big Pine to junction CA-266, what an amazing driving road. The best part, we stumbled on 168 by (GPS) chance.
Kate and I ended up in Bishop after a gentle cruise through Yosemite National Park via CA-120 and 395. Route 120 is also a very nice drive; the scenery is incredible (see extended footage). After a quick pitstop in Bishop for a shower and dinner we continued on CA-395 for about 15 miles to Big Pine. At Big Pine we made a left, heading east, onto California State Route 168. It was probably 10 pm, completely dark with no cars or buildings in sight. The sign read,
GOLDFIELD 97 MILES
BEATTY 133 MILES
I almost headed back to Bishop, not wanting to get stranded in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. But something pushed me to continue, so off we went with half a tank of gas. Nothing really stood out at first, except maybe the emptiness. Then I see a large yellow sign,
STEEP GRADES SHARP CURVES
Whatever, I've seen these "warnings" before. I'm on the gas, windows down, sunroof open, engine screaming behind. The farther we drove east on 168 the better it got. CA-168 is turning out to be a really nice, windy driving road!
Some good bends, some sharp corners. And undulation! Yes, undulation, something you don't get on most roads. My GoPro died so I have no footage but here is a screen capture from a YouTube video that shows the undulation. I'm loving this road!
Then I see this "DIP" sign. WTF, why is there a dip in the middle of a highway. Fortunately, I slowed down, otherwise I would have been airborne and Kate might be repair shop. There were probably 2 or 3 dips like this, where you need to be careful.
It's hard to describe how good a road CA-168 is, for those of us who like to drive spiritedly. There are straight stretches you can go flat out. Then there are nice, smooth sweepers, followed by sharp corners that look up to mountain sides. Left, right, right, left, for miles and miles. Throw in the elevation change (climbing a mountain) and the undulation and it's just awesome. I really think the guys who built CA-168 were petroheads or bikers.
In the dead of the night I saw one car coming the opposite direction. With highbeams on the visibility was very good. Pavement was good for the most part. Some areas were a little sandy so if you really push it it might affect grip.
When I set out to drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas through Yosemite I thought after Yosemite it would be a bore. Little did I know about CA-168. Highly recommend a spirited drive through 168 in a high performance car or motorcycle.
A final note, make sure you have enough gas and some water (in case you get stranged and need to chill for a while waiting for help). There really is no service for 100 miles and absolutely no one around. At Big Pine Kate's range was 230 mile range. But with the mountain climb and the spirited driving it dropped to 120 immediately. I really thought she might run out of gas. Luckily the 2nd half is a descent so MPG improved.
Drive safe. And of course, observe all posted speed limits ;-)