Central Valley Through Bakersfield

Revised May 2011 - please send updates to the webmaster

home See Driving Directions > Southern Sierra for context and how to get here.
north Western Sierra Trailheads and Central Valley Highways
info GPS waypoints: download GPX file
This file describes getting to Bakersfield from the west, either from Hwy 99 or Interstate 5.
Waypoints approaching Bakersfield from the west are plotted in several images to clarify the text below.

If you're headed south down I-5, and going as far as Bakersfield, you can cross on Hwy 46 through Wasco instead of using Hwy 58 directly into Bakersfield. Hwy 46 tends to be more rural, with far less stoplights, and connects (via Hwy 99) to either Walker Pass (Hwy 178) or Tehachapi Pass (Hwy 58). Don't miss the Hwy 204 bypass option!

There are several roads that connect Hwy 99 with Interstate 5, with San Francisco people usually preferring to stay on Hwy 152 through Los Banos after crossing Pacheco Pass. If you drive fast, staying on I-5 as long as possible can save time and you might want to take Hwy 198 from Harris Ranch through Lemoore to Visalia. Others, who left the Bay Area on I-508/I-205, may prefer to take Hwy 120 from I-5 to Hwy 99... but I've seen stop-and-go traffic on Hwy 99 during rush hour, so I tend to stay on I-5 as much as possible. If you are going as far south as Bakersfield, I-5 to Hwy 46 (through Wasco) seems to be the fastest crossover (since Hwy 58 has more stoplights).

As shown on the area map above (and contained in the GPS route BAKERSFIELD 46), you can leave I-5 at waypoint 005046 to take Hwy 46 through Wasco, then go south on Hwy 99 at waypoint 099046. This brings you into Bakersfield on Hwy 99 which you can stay on until waypoint 099058 if you want to leave on Hwy 58 eastbound.

Also shown on the map above (GPS route BAKERSFIELD 58) is the option to leave I-5 on Hwy 58 near Buttonwillow (waypoint 005058), and travel through Calders Corner (waypoints CALDRN and CALDRS are at turns you must make), intersecting Hwy 99 at waypoint 099178. If you go straight across Hwy 99, you will wind up on Hwy 178 (since Hwy 58 joins 99 for a jog to the south).

Here is a closer look at the waypoints near the city center:

If you want to take Hwy 178 over Walker Pass, you should use the new hwy 204 bypass (so new it's not on most 2001 maps) from waypoint 204099 to waypoint 204178. This is radically faster than staying on Hwy 99 all the way to waypoint 099178 and using surface streets through the city. Hwy 204 bypasses both intersections of Hwy 99 and Hwy 58, taking you to Hwy 178 much quicker and entirely on freeway.

If you prefer to stay on Hwy 58 all the way from I-5, you have a choice at waypoint 099178 - you can connect to Tehachapi by turning south and staying on Hwy 58, or you can go to Walker by going straight and picking up Hwy 178 (which leads you to waypoint 204178, where you merge with the Hwy 46 route).

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