The Bloody Ortega Highway: California's Deadly Road with a Haunted Past

Spanning Riverside and Orange counties in the US state of California, the twisting two-lane Ortega Highway is said to be one of California’s deadliest drives.

Ortega Highway

Why is Ortega Highway so dangerous?

This scenic highway has a killer reputation, especially for motorcyclists, and has been rated as one of the deadliest roads in the U.S. If you're involved in a serious car accident on Ortega Highway, contact a car accident lawyer in Orange County. With sections of it carrying nicknames such as Dead Man's Curve, Ricochet Alley, and Blood Alley, California 74 is, by some measures, the most dangerous road in the state. If you’re not careful, you could end up losing control of your vehicle and end up in the hospital — or worse — the morgue. Parts of the road are so dangerous that at times they claim several lives per year, usually those of motorcyclists who have the bad luck to be caught on one of these turns by a car or who skid out of control and are thrown from their bikes. As a matter of fact, this highway has claimed its fair share of lives due to automobile accidents. Many people are killed on this road.

How long is Ortega Highway?

Part of State Route 74 (SR 74), the road is 45.38 km (28.2 miles) long, running west-east from San Juan Capistrano (in Orange County along the Orange Coast) to Lake Elsinore (in western Riverside County).

Why is Ortega Highway famous for?

Running through mountains, pine forests, and pastoral valleys, the road is not bad if you don't speed... but some people are always in a hurry to get to work or home. With hairpin turns, open stretches, beautiful mountain scenery, and famous watering holes, the highway is an attraction for motorcyclists with deadly results. Highway 74 is definitely a spot you can hit up if you want an adrenaline rush or if you've got a penchant for unexpected airbag deployments.

Why is it called Ortega Highway?

Tucked away within the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park, the road is named after Sgt. José Francisco Ortega, a Spanish explorer.

How old is the Ortega Highway?

The road is mostly two lanes and totally paved. It was built in stages, mostly in the 1920s and 1930s.

Is the Ortega Highway haunted?

Located in the southern part of California, some people say the road is haunted. The road meanders along an old Indian trail, passing dark green oaks and golden grasslands where mountain lions roam, and red-tailed hawks circle. The road was made famous for being a dumping ground for serial killers. It has had three different serial killers hide victims along it. Randy Kraft, Patrick Kearney aka the Trash Bag Killer, and William Bonin aka the Freeway Killer have all left victims hidden along the Ortega Highway's curves. Bonin supposedly left four victims hidden here. Some less famous murderers have also gotten in on the stashing bodies on the road act, including two brothers who left the headless, handless corpse of their mother along the road at mile post 14. She now haunts the road, of course. In addition to her ghost, a ghostly terrifying clown stands on the side of the road only to disappear as you get to him, crazed gnomes have been reported, some strange skeletal thing climbs poles and watches cars go by, and even the Grim Reaper himself, standing nine feet tall, has been witnessed on the road.