Where do you get gas on the California coast?

Am I missing something?

I’ve been looking at the California coast on Route 1 and there seems to be a lack of gas stations and long stretches of road.

For example Elk, California, there are several buildings like restaurants and a visitors center, where is the gas station??

What happens if you’re driving along Route 1 and you need to fill up? You must have to plan ahead a lot especially if you’re driving an older car or truck that has poor mpg. Although there are smog tests right? So that would remove some older vehicles with low mpg from the roads, still there are classic cars that I’ve seen.

Much of Hwy 1 is pristine coastline. Development is highly regulated.

I travel that road quite a bit, and you can’t get gas every 10 miles, but I’d be hard pressed to think of going more than 50 miles with encountering a gas station. Elk os 22 miles south of Ft Bragg-- a place where you’d have no problem getting gas.


I live along SR1 in California. Unless you’re driving a top fuel dragster or funny car, you’ll be able to find fuel.

Your comment about ‘smog tests’ are accurate as California is the most stringent in the United States.

You may have to go inland a kilo or 2 from SR1, but you won’t be pressed for fuel from Santa Barbara to the Oregon border.

Yes, gas stations are often a mile or two inland along the coast.

Many years ago, we left our motel near Bragg for a drive, and got 50 miles up 1 before I noticed we were low on gas and had left my wallet in the room. Scrounged change and a station that took a $5 check for no good reason got us back. Total nightmare.

This concerns you? You want stretches of road without services, look no further than Central Nevada, where you can often go 50 or 60 miles without any services. Yeah, planning ahead does make sense at times. :eek:

Yes except the difference is that Route 1 is heavily traveled over central Nevada. A gas station could be built in Elk for example and be successful, that’s why it’s strange that there isn’t one. If there is a restaurant in Elk then why not a gas station as well? They are both businesses and take up just a single lot.

Planning ahead, what a concept!

There is also really crappy cell reception along much of the coast, so calling AAA is right out as well. Specifically to the OP, if you are driving through Elk you tank in Albion going south or Manchester going north. That’s a grand total of 22.4 miles without services.

That’s why they constructed hwy 101

Western Nevada is even worse … hundreds of miles without gas stations.

Before you tell me there is a gas station in Albion maybe you should check if there actually is one haha. The answer is that there isn’t.

You don’t have to plan ahead for gas where I live in Indiana so it’s a different concept to consider if I visit there in a rental car.

It closed? Bummer. There certainly used to be one there. Granted, that was 20 years ago… :smack:

There are some decent stretches between gas stations but nothing that any road-worthy car couldn’t bridge. I seem to recall one lengthy stretch (maybe 50 miles? It’s been a little while) with a tiny gas station in the middle where you’ll pay 3x the prices you’d pay inland.

Closest I ever came to panic was Bowman ND to Belle Fourche SD, 116 miles with no gas at night or on Sunday. The only station has a pump that operates with a slide card, 24 hours.
When I got there, there was a guy waiting who had no credit card, and he gave me cash to tank up his car on my card.

Canada used to have no gas on Sundays, but bigger cities would have one station open on a rotating schedule, you’d have to ask around in town to find the station that was open. As recently as 20 years ago, there was no gas station at night in Chapleau, Ontario, the only gas on the 300 miles from Sault Ste Marie to Timmins. There was an allnight roadhouse in Foleyet, but you couldn’t depend on it having gas.

A modern gas station costs a lot more to build and operate than a restaurant. The days when every local country store would have a gas pump are long gone - pretty much every one of them eventually developed a leak and contaminated the local groundwater. Gas stations with modern containment systems are fewer and farther between because they need a higher volume to break even; ma & pa stores couldn’t afford to upgrade and got out of the gasoline business.

Here is the obvious ex-gas station in Elk, with the pump island replaced with a trough of flowers. The Albion Grocery looks like it did upgrade its tanks, but I see that photo is dated 2007, so they may be gone by now.

ETA: I see the leaking tank cleanup at the Elk Garage is still in process.

A lot further south on CA SR-1, but the town of Gorda, about 35-40 miles south of Big Sur, is renowned for how expensive its gas is. I remember that the gas station at Lucia wasn’t all that cheap either.

Captive audience, but what a stage! Just an unbelievably beautiful part of the country. The part north of San Francisco that you guys are talking about was really gorgeous too.

Thanks for this info … we once had to get gas in Gorda and it was said at the time it was the most expensive gas in the county …

But if you look in Streetview, you will see that the Albion Grocery advertises “gas” on their sign next to the highway, and there are a couple gas pumps in front of the grocery.

That’s a good eye, I’ve never seen the pumps that close to a building before so I missed it. I wonder if they are normal pumps then.

Normal for gas in little places like that - you expect an actual gas station? Gas is a very low margin item, that requires volume to turn a profit as the primary business. Instead, somebody running a cafe, deli or grocery store sticks in a couple pumps as an adjunct to their main business. People will stop to eat lunch, then top off their tanks, too.

There’s about the same amount of traffic going from Bloomington, Indiana to Lake Monroe where I live as Route 1 (if not Route 1 having more), and there is a full gas station across from Paynetown entrance. So why not?