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Interstate 8

Interstate 8

Total length: 349 miles (562 km)
Western terminus: San Diego, CA, at Nimitz Blvd.
Eastern terminus: Casa Grande, AZ, at JCT I-10

States traversed & length in each:

  • California — 172 miles (277 km)
  • Arizona — 177 miles (285 km)

Major cities along route:

  • San Diego, CA
  • El Centro, CA
  • Yuma, AZ

Junctions with non-related Interstates:

Related loops and spurs:


Length I’ve traveled: From CA Exit 2 (I-5) to CA Exit 24 (Los Coches Rd., El Cajon)

Time zones:
Pacific — Western terminus to California/Arizona border
Mountain — California/Arizona border to eastern terminus
NOTE: Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time. All of Interstate 8 in Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time (UTC–7:00) year round.

Counties traversed:
California — San Diego, Imperial, (re-enters San Diego), (re-enters Imperial)

Arizona — Yuma, Maricopa, Pinal

A quick hypertext drive: I have been on so little of Interstate 8 (and it has been 15 years since I was there), so if somebody can offer a better description, please go here to e-mail me.

I-8 does have one notable feature: at its crossing of the New River just south of Seeley, CA, it reaches the lowest elevation on land (–52 ft./–16 m) in the entire Interstate system. (A few Interstates reach greater depths, but only in underwater tunnels.) In fact, a fair bit of I-8 in the Imperial Valley runs below sea level.

Carl Rogers, a regular contributor to the USENET newsgroup misc.transport.road, traveled on I-8 through the Yuma, AZ area in November 2004, and has sent me a description of the segment through and just east of Yuma. He mentioned that the stretch through Yuma itself is very flat, and similar in appearance to the Imperial Valley section in California. He also pointed out a second interesting feature of I-8: as it ascends a steep grade into the mountains to the east of Yuma, the two directions of the freeway swap sides — that is to say, the eastbound lanes and the westbound lanes cross each other and traffic flows on the left side of the median for a few miles. Just beyond the top of the grade, the sides cross each other again and resume right-side travel. According to Carl, the high desert area just beyond this mountain range is well-known for the production of desert fruits such as dates and avocados.

I have also received an e-mail from a Southern California resident named Candace with some additional information about I-8 in California. She pointed out that at the Mountain Springs grade, which sits along and just east of the San Diego/Imperial county line, the two carriageways of I-8 pass around opposite sides of a mountain and are separated by about a mile. (This is very similar to what Interstate 24 does some 2,000 miles to the east at Monteagle Mountain, TN.) She also pointed out that nearly half of America’s avocado crop is grown near I-8 in the hills that dominate the eastern two-thirds of San Diego County, and that the Imperial Valley produces large quantities of various fruits, vegetables, and grasses year-round.

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