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8/20/2007 at sunset

Pacheco Pass (el. 1,300 ft. / 396 m.) is a mountain pass located in the Diablo Range in southern Santa Clara County, California. It is the main road over the hills separating Silicon Valley and the Central Valley.

As with most passes in the California Coast Ranges, it is not very high. The road that traverses Pacheco Pass is California State Route 152, which runs for 40 miles between Gilroy and Interstate 5. Pacheco Pass Road, the western section between Gilroy and the pass itself (a distance of approximately 14 miles), is single-lane state highway in each direction and is the site of many accidents. Congestion over Pacheco Pass often forces traffic to take the longer route via the Altamont Pass.

There are no major communities between Gilroy and Los Banos in the Central Valley. Where Pacheco Pass Road switches to the two-lane highway of the pass itself lies Casa de Fruta, an extensive trading post. Originally a site devoted to selling locally produced fruit and nuts to travellers, Casa has expanded to include a delicatessen, truckstop, RV park, and other facilities. A rural locale named Bell Station is along the route.

On the eastern slope of the pass lies the San Luis Reservoir, which stores water for the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project. Also, the San Luis Reservoir and Gianelli Forebay operate as a pumped storage hydroelectric plant. The entrances to the San Luis Reservoir state recreational area are very dangerous because there are no stop signs or traffic lights and two lanes of heavy traffic in each direction.

There is a windfarm located at the top of the pass. It supplies energy to the power grid, but is likely run for research purposes. The turbines can be seen from Dinosaur Point Road, which is used for street luge. It is a very small windfarm compared to the ones located at Altamont, San Gorgonio and Tehachapi Passes.

Pacheco Pass was on the Butterfield Stage route which connected the American midwest with San Francisco from 1858 until completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The pass was named for Francisco Perez Pacheco. In the 1850s, an informal variant name for the pass was Robber's Pass attributed to the frequent hold-ups experienced by travelers using the route.

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Uploaded on September 8, 2007