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The Best RV Travel Guide – California

California is the best place for RV’ing – without a doubt. This state’s geography encompasses the foggy hills of San Francisco and golden beaches of San Diego as well as amazing features all along the coast. The Golden State of California is packed with great attractions. Whether you rent an RV in California or hit the road in your own, the best way to see them all is in a home-away-from-home on wheels on an RV road trip.


Here is a list of some of the best places to visit on a California road trip. Head into spectacular Yosemite National Park, drive through the baking desert of Death Valley, visit Los Padres Forest outside Santa Barbara, or soak up the breathtaking scenery along Big Sur.



1) Yosemite National Park


A stop at one of the country’s most popular national parks on your California RV trip is a must! Easily accessible from San Francisco, Yosemite boasts over 1,200 square miles to explore with a wealth of things to see and do. Best known for its amazing waterfalls and giant sequoia trees, this park preserve in California also features geologic wonders like the rock-climbing mecca, El Capitan, and the famous Half Dome.


With so much to see and do, you’ll want to base your RV at one of the 13 campgrounds dotted around the park, which offer many amenities and breathtaking views. Most of the campsites provide full-hookup sites and potable water and have gorgeous views.


Open year-round, Upper Pines Campground is located in the heart of Yosemite Valley and is a great base for exploring all the park’s top attractions. Yosemite Lakes Public RV Camping has over 250 RV sites and a wealth of facilities, including a clubhouse, sports courts, and a game room. Yosemite Westlake Campground and RV Park is 24 miles from the west entrance to the park and offers a wealth of fun things to do from fishing on three lakes and river rafting to hiking and horseback riding.


2)  Pacific Coast Highway


Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for some spectacular scenery along this world-famous route. If you are traveling between San Francisco and San Diego in California, you should take a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to soak up and experience incredible coastal views.


Also known as Highway 1, this winding, cliff-hugging byway along the central California coast begins in Monterey and passes through some beautiful coastal towns in California. It takes about five hours to complete it at a leisurely pace, but there are so many amazing places spots to stop and explore, it might take you longer. Visit the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, take in the stunning views of Big Sur, and soak up some sun in the beach-chic town of Santa Barbara.


There are plenty of RV campgrounds along the California coastal route where you can stop and spend a few days exploring. The Manchester Beach KOA on California’s Mendocino Coast is a good place to enjoy abalone diving, good fishing, and fantastic local wineries. Other RV campgrounds worth mentioning are the Ocean Mesa Campground at El Capitan in Santa Barbara and San Diego’s Chula Vista RV Resort.


3) Joshua Tree National Park


If you love the outdoors and enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking, then Joshua Tree National Park is a must stop on your California RV road trip. You can reach the park from Los Angeles or San Diego on a relaxing drive on well-paved roads. The Park is home to over 4,500 established rock-climbing routes and natural springs for swimming.


Nicknamed ‘J-Tree’ by locals, Joshua Tree is a weirdly wonderful place in the heart of California where the high Mojave Desert meets the low Colorado Desert. Filled with amazing flora, including the odd yucca trees, after which the region in California is named, you’ll want to spend a few hours discovering the delights of this landscape. Known as the park namesake, the Joshua tree, or Yucca brevifolia, is actually a member of the Agave family. 


Be sure to visit the landlocked Salton Sea for some sweeping views and great photographs. Head to Jumbo Rocks Campground when you are ready to park and relax. With over 124 sites, it’s the largest in the park but can get busy in the summer, so be sure to book ahead. A quieter option is Hidden Valley Campground in the middle of the park, with sites tucked between the rocks or the pretty Belle Campground with peaceful spaces.


4) Death Valley National Park


Another Park that features the California desert, Death Valley National Park is the largest of all the parks in the contiguous U.S. It also holds the distinction of being the hottest and most dry spot on the continent. You can find plenty of barren beauty to keep your occupied including hiking trails, canyons, and sand dunes to explore.


Straddling the border between eastern California and Nevada, Death Valley is a land of extremes but shouldn’t be missed on your RV trip around California. Death Valley National Park is one of the most significant U.S. National Parks in the country and, despite its rather macabre name, is home to a diversity of amazing landscapes.


This can be a tough terrain, so before heading through the desert, make sure your RV is in good condition. From barren salt flats to spring-fed oases teeming with wildlife, there is plenty to see in the park, including famous attractions like Titus Canyon, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and the Devil’s Golf Course.


If you decide to spend a few days in this remarkable region, there are many campgrounds with excellent amenities from which to choose. Furnace Creek Campground, with hookup sites and designated group sites, is a popular choice for California road-trippers. It’s the only reservable campground in the park and gets busy, so book ahead.


Overnight at the Stovepipe Wells Village RV Park, where you feel like you are in the middle of a moonscape. Don’t miss the out-of-this-world sunrise every morning!


5) Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park


Kings Canyon is another one of California’s superb national parks that deserves a stopover on your trip. Home to the deepest canyon in the United States, distinctive rock outcroppings, and towering trees, this National Park is well worth a visit. Known as the land of giants, this dramatic landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity—huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees. The parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada east of the San Joaquin Valley. Weather varies a lot by season and elevation, which ranges from 1,370' to 14,494'.


Visit the General Grant tree in Grant Grove, also known as “the Nation’s Christmas Tree,” and check out the largest remaining grove of sequoia trees in the world in the Redwood Canyon for which California is famous.


This dramatic glaciated valley is also great for outdoor activities, and you can hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride to your heart’s content. Most of the park’s RV campgrounds are surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and you will want to spend a few days exploring.


In Sequoia / Kings Canyon National Park, there are fourteen campgrounds, including three that are open year-round. Campgrounds require reservations in advance, and sites are usually full. Reservations can be made in advance at Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and a metal food-storage box and can hold up to six people. 


You can camp amongst the giant sequoias a short way from the famous General Grant Tree at the Azalea Campground, which is the most beautiful campground in the park. Sites are well-spaced and secluded, and it’s a perfect base for exploring the towering forest. Riverbend RV Park is situated on Kings River and has lovely grassy sites overlooking the river. This is a great spot for fishing and relaxing by the river.


6) Lake Tahoe


The spectacular natural beauty and cobalt blue alpine lake of Lake Tahoe in California make this a perfect place to explore on your RV road trip. Dotted with small lakeside towns and offering plenty of outdoor adventures, including low-key sightseeing, hiking, camping, and boating on the lake, Lake Tahoe has something for everyone. You can even hit the slot machines at one of the casinos on the Nevada side of the lake.


You’ll have a great choice of RV campgrounds in and around Lake Tahoe on the California side, but I recommend staying at one close to the lake so you can enjoy both land and water activities. Campground By the Lake is a super-convenient park in South Lake Tahoe that has wooded sites, easy access to the lake, and allows dogs.


Tahoe Valley RV Resort is surrounded by towering pines and majestic mountain vistas and has lots of great amenities. Jump in the heated pool in the summer if you aren’t brave enough to swim in the lake, enjoy a game of tennis, or cast a fishing line and try your luck. Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina has lakefront sites, a full-service marina, and a huge cross-country ski resort.


You’ll have the chance to sleep surrounded by these giants at one of the 146 campsites in the state park. Blooms Creek and Sempervirens Campgrounds are your best bet for experiencing the towering redwoods in their glory with sites nestled amongst the trees.


Travel Tip #1: Buy a National Parks Pass


You probably already love visiting national parks. If you’re planning on stopping by a few during your California RV trip, we recommend getting a National Parks Pass. The America the Beautiful pass covers entrance fees to all national parks, wildlife refuges and forests and is good for a full year after the date of purchase. And after one or two visits, you’ll find that it pays for itself. For seniors, there are great deals on these Passes, so visit their website and check what you qualify for.


Travel Tip #2: Check in with your El Monte RV Dealer:


As a reminder, when you are getting ready to hit the road and enjoy the RV life for a short trip or long-term, first check with your nearest El Monte RV dealer, who can help you with any questions you may have. Please also check out our one-way special offers at El Monte RV.


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«December 2023»


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