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Interstate 5 (I-5) is the main Interstate Highway on the West Coast of the United States, paralleling the Pacific Oceanmarker from Canadamarker to Mexicomarker (Washingtonmarker to southernmost Californiamarker) and serving some of the largest cities of that part of the U.S., including Seattlemarker, Tacomamarker, Portlandmarker, Sacramentomarker, San Franciscomarker/Oaklandmarker, Los Angelesmarker, and San Diegomarker. It links the state capital cities of Washington, Oregon, and California. Its southern terminus is at the United States - Mexico border. Its northern terminus is at the Canada-United States border. Interstate 5 is the only Interstate Highway to touch both the Canadianmarker and Mexicanmarker borders. At its southern end, I-5 continues into Tijuanamarker, Mexico, as Mexico Federal Highway 1. On its northern end, I-5 continues into Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker, Canada, as British Columbia Highway 99.

This highway links to control cities in Californiamarker (San Diegomarker, Santa Anamarker, Los Angelesmarker, Oaklandmarker, San Franciscomarker, Sacramentomarker, Reddingmarker, Mount Shastamarker, Weedmarker, and Yrekamarker) Oregonmarker (Ashlandmarker, Medfordmarker, Grants Passmarker, Roseburgmarker, Eugenemarker, Salemmarker, and Portlandmarker), and Washingtonmarker (Tacomamarker, Seattlemarker, Everettmarker, Mount Vernonmarker, Bellinghammarker). Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker (signed as "Vancouver B.C." to avoid confusion with Vancouver, Washingtonmarker, which is in the opposite direction) is also a control city on Interstate 5 from the Seattle-Tacoma area to the northern terminus at the Canadian border.

Notably, a control city not directly linked by this highway is San Franciscomarker, which is about west of I-5. To the south, Interstate 580 splits from I-5 towards San Francisco, while, to the north, Interstate 505 cuts south to Interstate 80, which serves that city. That routing, via I-580, I-80 and I-505, was planned originally as Interstate 5W.

Route description


The most southerly point of Interstate 5 is at the United States-Mexico border at the San Ysidromarker border crossing, one of the busiest in the world.Beginning at the border in San Ysidro, which is part of the city of San Diegomarker, as the John J.Montgomery Freeway, I-5 goes through the suburbs of National Citymarker and Chula Vistamarker before reaching downtown San Diegomarker.It then parallels the Pacific coastline, going through the northern suburbs of San Diego, bisecting the University of California, San Diegomarker campus, and passing the I-805 merge, before passing through the 28 miles (45 km) of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendletonmarker in northern San Diego Countymarker.Here I-5 is also known as the San Diego Freeway.

At Dana Pointmarker, I-5 turns inland and heads due north through Mission Viejomarker to the El Toro Ymarker interchange in southeastern Irvinemarker.I-5 becomes the Santa Ana Freeway as it runs southeast to northwest, passing through major cities and suburbs in Orangemarker and Southern Los Angeles counties.Southern Californians refer to it as "the 5 Freeway" or as the Santa Ana Freeway in the Los Angeles area. From this point, the San Diego Freeway continues northward as I-405.

When the freeway reaches the East Los Angeles Interchangemarker one mile (1.6 km) east of downtown Los Angelesmarker, I-5 becomes the Golden State Freeway.The route continues through the San Fernando Valleymarker and then crosses the Newhall Passmarker through the Santa Susana Mountains into the Santa Clarita Valleymarker.For about a four-mile (6 km) stretch between Santa Clarita Valleymarker and the Pyramid Lakemarker, the northbound and southbound lanes separate and actually invert, with the southbound lanes being to the east of the northbound ones.Beginning at that point, the Golden State Freeway sharply rises to the north through the Grapevine to eventually reach the second-highest point of its entire length, the Tejon Passmarker (elevation ).through the Tehachapi Mountains. Path 26power linegenerally parallel the freeway along this stretch. The freeway then sharply descends for at Tejon Pass to around at Grapevine near the southernmost point of the San Joaquin Valleymarker, approximately south of Bakersfieldmarker and south from where State Route 99 splits away from it in Wheeler Ridgemarker.

From Highway 99 to south of Tracymarker, I-5 skirts along the far more remote western edge of the great Central Valleymarker, and thus here is removed from population centers such as Bakersfieldmarker and Fresnomarker with other state highways providing connections.Interstate 580 splits off from I-5 at a point south of Tracy, providing a loop-route connection to the San Francisco Bay Areamarker.After passing Tracy, I-5 heads north through Stocktonmarker and Sacramentomarker before turning west to Woodlandmarker.At Woodland, the interstate heads northwest again towards Dunniganmarker, where it converges with Interstate 505.

From Dunnigan, I-5 skirts north along the western edge of the Sacramento Valley to Red Bluffmarker.I-5 then enters the Shasta Cascade region, passing through Reddingmarker and Shasta Lakemarker before climbing up to near the foot of Mount Shastamarker.The interstate then travels to Weedmarker and Yrekamarker before reaching the Oregon border.


About north of the California border, the highway crosses Siskiyou Summitmarker, the highest point on I-5.Dropping down into Rogue River valley through Oregon's southern mountains and towns such as Ashlandmarker, Medfordmarker and Grants Passmarker.Turning north across three passes to the Umpqua Valley and through Roseburgmarker, the mountains tend to turn into hills, and as it reaches Cottage Grove, the road enters the Willamette River Valley.At Eugene the highway intersects with the short Interstate 105. The interstate then heads almost due north, skirting Albanymarker and Corvallismarker, passes through Salemmarker and crosses through Woodburnmarker.There were plans to build a spur, called Interstate 305, into Salem. I-5 covers in Oregon.

Just north of Salem, between mile marks 259 and 260, placed in the median is a sign where the 45th parallelcrosses I-5. It bears the words "45 Parallel half way between the Equator and the North Pole".

The highway then tracks a little to the northeast, Interstate 205 splits off south of the Portlandmarker metro area.From here it passes up through Tualatin and Tigard along former U.S.Route 99Wbefore hitting the southern terminus of I-405and the Marquam Bridge. Also planned was a spur in Portlandmarker off I-405, called Interstate 505, but it was never built and has been removed from city plans.A stub of I-505 exists as a long exit ramp to U.S.Route 30.

After crossing the Willamette River on the Marquam Bridge, I-5 has junctions at the western terminus of Interstate 84and the northern terminus of I-405. It then continues through the northern parts of the city of Portland, and crosses into Washington via the Interstate Bridgemarker.

Interstate 5 passing through downtown Seattle.


The highway begins in Washington over the Columbia River and drops down into the city of Vancouvermarker.About seven miles (11 km) into the state, it reaches the northern terminus of I-205, which is on the eastern edge of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. It then tracks north by northwest to Kelsomarker and Longviewmarker, at which point it ceases paralleling a large bend of the Columbia.Continuing north through the Willapa Hillsmarker, the freeway eventually reaches Olympiamarker, where it bends sharply east, after that it goes through Fort Lewismarker and by McChord AFBmarker, then finally Tacomamarker where it bends sharply north again to reach Seattlemarker.The Ship Canal Bridgemarker carries it over Portage Baymarker in Seattle.The freeway makes its way out of the Seattle/Tacoma/Everettmarker metro area, crosses the floodplains of three rivers, through the Skagit Valley and the Mount Vernon-Anacortes Metropolitan Area to the northern city of Bellinghammarker to arrive at the Peace Archmarker Canadian border crossing between Blaine, Washingtonmarker, and Surrey, British Columbiamarker.Highway 99 continues northwesterly from the border into Vancouver, B.C.markerI-5 covers in Washington.


An extensive section of this highway (over ), from approximately Stockton, Californiamarker, to Portland, Oregonmarker, follows very closely the track of the Siskiyou Trail.The Siskiyou Trail was based on an ancient network of Native American footpaths connecting the Pacific Northwest with California's Central Valleymarker.By the 1820s, trappers from the Hudson's Bay Companywere the first non-Native Americans to use the route of today's I-5 to move between today's Washington State and California. During the second half of the 19th century, mule trains, stagecoaches, and the Central Pacificrailroad also followed the route of the Siskiyou Trail. By the early 20th century, pioneering automobile roads were built along the path of the Siskiyou Trail, notably the Pacific Highway. The Pacific Highway ran from British Columbiamarker to San Diego, Californiamarker, and was the immediate predecessor of much of U.S.Route 99. The route of U.S. 99 was in turn used as a basis for much of the route of today's I-5.

Major intersections

Auxiliary routes

I-5 will have a complete set of auxiliary routes (105, 205, 305, 405, 505, 605, 705, 805, 905), with the completion of Interstate 905in San Diego. Currently, Interstate 80and Interstate 90are the only two interstates to have complete sets of auxiliary routes, by the numbers.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Busiest border crossing
  4. Museum of the Siskiyou Trail

CA 796.53 1281.89
OR 308.14 495.90
WA 276.62 445.18
Total 1381.29 2222.97

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