US-199 between Grants Pass, OR and Crescent City, CA
* There's also a road that runs from O'Brien, OR on US-199 to Happy Camp, CA on CA-96 that is really quite nice.
Matolle Rd. from Ferndale, CA to Weott, CA on US-101 "The Lost Coast Road"
Even US-101 is nice through northern California, and you should try to take the parallel route called "The Avenue of the Giants", which runs through the redwood forest.
As you head south on US-101, absolutely you have to turn onto CA-1 at Leggett. This stretch down to Westport is better, longer and less travelled than "The Dragon" in North Carolina, IMHO.
CA-1 will take you all the way to SF, and it is gorgeous on a clear day, with great views of the rocky California coast, but it will take you all day to do so. If you want to cut over to US-101 and shave off some time, you will find that both CA-20 and CA-128 are great roads.
You will naturally be tempted to take I-80 from SF to Reno. If you have to make time, US-50 from Sacramento to Carson City, NV is nicer. Nicer still, but time consuming, is one of the smaller pass roads like CA-88 (Carson Pass) or CA-4 (Ebbetts Pass), that wind through the California gold country.
I live in Santa Cruz, about 80 miles south of SF. If you have time, perhaps we can get together.
I plan to arrive in Pacifica, CA on 5/23 and leave for Denver on 5/26. Wish I had more time for a visit but I appreciate the offer.
I hope that you'll take the opportunity to ride some of the local roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains while you're here. Pacifica is a perfect jumping-off point, if you take CA-1 to CA-35 south, which runs along the ridge line and has some really great views of the southern part of the bay off to the left, and views of the Pacific to the right. At CA-84 is the local biker hangout spot on the weekends, Alice's Restaurant (but not the one that Arlo sings about). During the week you'll just have to imagine the parking lot full of bikes. A good loop would be to continue south and turn right onto CA-9, then in Felton, west on Felton-Empire Grade Rd. which name changes to Ice Cream Grade, and left onto Pine Flat Rd. which will also name change to Bonny Doon Rd. This will take you back to CA-1, and you can ride back to Pacifica.