To get to Murphys from downtown San Francisco is about two hours driving (if traffic isn’t too bad). Over the last 15 years, I’ve probably made the trip from the Bay Area nearly 100 times – usually in-and-out on the same day.
Perhaps all this driving sounds insane – but once you have done it you will understand that the drive to Murphys is half the fun!
The first hour, exiting the Bay Area, is boring as usual. Classic rock or NPR keeps me company. But the second hour… wow! Truly one of the best drives in the world.
Once you enter the massive central valley, the orchards are truly stunning. Walnuts, pistachios, and fruit trees of many varieties line the road:
It doesn’t take long before the orchards give way to infinite fields of grains and corn and cows. I could never believe so many shades of green truly existed:
Soon, you enter the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and the “old West” feeling begins to seep in:
The road into the mountains from Copperopolis to Murphys is truly one of the driving wonders of the world. Lucky you if you are able to take a convertible over these miles of winding road as I have many times. Tip: if there is traffic in front of you or pushing you from behind, pull over to the side and let it pass – you are better to have this amazing drive all to yourself!
After such an eye-popping ride, it’s almost disappointing to arrive at your destination – the rolling hills and mountains of Calaveras County:
From the Bay Area, you can always just set your GPS to Murphys to take the quickest route. But assuming you aren’t in a rush – and hopefully you are trying to reset to ‘Murphys time’ – then I recommend a few slightly less-direct routes:
Route 1: Set your GPS to Adela, before heading on to Murphys. This will take you through more orchards and will still take you by Copperopolis and the windy drive to Angel’s Camp.
Route 2: Set your GPS to Columbia. Take a few hours to walk through this authentic 1800’s gold-mining town before continuing on to Murphys. Although you will miss Copperopolis, you will cross over scenic New Melones Lake.
The coolest thing about these drives are that they are constantly changing throughout the year. Snow-capped mountains in the Winter, brilliants greens and incredible flower blooms in the Spring, deep yellows and browns in the Summer and Fall greet you on each trip, depending on the time of year. Makes every trip a new adventure.