California is an RVers dream location. Along its nearly 400,000 miles of roads, you traverse deserts, mountains, coastlines, and prehistoric forests. You can visit some of these regions in one day. To narrow down your selection, here are seven of the best places in California for your next RV trip.
1. American River
The American River is one of California’s finest recreational areas. It spans 30 miles from Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east of Sacramento. Its three forks offer locations for canoe, kayak, and rafting options.
The river has historical significance in the California Gold Rush. The shoreline town of Coloma is the location for Sutter’s Mill. It’s here that James Marshall discovered gold in 1848. Thus, it’s a site for RVers to go back in history to the state’s origins.
Those interested in water sports won’t be disappointed with the American River’s opportunities. The waterway’s three forks, North, Middle, and South, reflect different personalities. The North Fork is the harshest of the trio due in part to Category 5 rapids created during the spring’s snow runoff. In the summer, the area is known for its hiking trails.
The South Fork American River rafting is worth looking into to do some fun family-friendly. Snow melt in April and May allows for whitewater rafting for all ages. Additionally, this stretch of the river offers full-day and overnight trips. There are several RV camping sites along the American River so be sure to have essentials such as food, toiletries, and a sofa bed mattress that fits in your RV for your overnight stay.
2. Death Valley National Park
Despite its ominous name, Death Valley is a region of diversity. Most of the area is desert. Yet, its peaks receive snow in the winter. On top of this, RVers drive through lush oases and wildflower fields.
Located in Southeastern California, Death Valley overflows into Nevada. It’s known for valleys, sand dunes, salt flats, and springs seemingly emanating from nowhere. Among the items to see are Titus Canyon, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and a large salt pan called the Devil’s Golf Course.
Although Death Valley is a perfect destination for RVers, it’s dangerous if you don’t plan. Since it’s below sea level, summers get up to 114 degrees during the day, followed by significant temperature drops at night. In the winter, daytime is in the 60s and 70s, and nights fall into the teens and low 20s.
For these reasons, don’t enter Death Valley until you ensure your RV is ready. Have a technician check the engine, coolant, belts, and HVAC unit for leaks or other problems. Also, pack your RV with extra blankets and water for camping and emergencies.
There are several camping sites throughout Death Valley with RV hookups. Locations like Furnace Creek Campground and Stovepipe Wells Village are attractions themselves. These sites remain busy throughout the year. So, book well ahead of your trip to guarantee a spot.
3. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a unique ecosystem between Los Angeles and San Diego. It’s where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts meet. As a result, it features a unique mix of plants and animals.
RVers visit Joshua Tree for its stark yet beautiful scenery. In addition to the yucca trees that give the park its name, the area is known for its rock climbing and hiking & mountain biking trails. There are five campsites within the park; however, not all have RV hookups.
4. Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), also known as Highway 1, is a prime destination for RVers. Beginning north of Monterey, it hugs the cliffs and provides astounding coastal views as it winds its way to San Diego. On top of being the ultimate road trip, the PCH offers plenty of places to stop and admire the Pacific Ocean.
Expect to spend more than the five hours it takes to travel the PCH’s expanse. Make sure to plan stops at the parks and misty shorelines of Big Sur. Spend some time at the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. Also, don’t forget to indulge in the treats of California’s coastal towns like Santa Barbara and Santa Monica.
There are plenty of RV parks with hookups along the PCH. They are regularly busy throughout the year thanks to the mild temperatures of Central and Southern California. Make sure you book ahead of time.
5. Lake Tahoe
RVing across California can be hot and dry. To cool off, head east of the state capital Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. Not only are you met with lower temperatures but also spectacular views.
Temperatures hover in the 70s during the summer, which allows for some low-key sightseeing, hiking, or boating around the lake. If you want excitement, cross over to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and visit the casinos of Carson City. Or, simply lounge about at one of the RV campsites that dot the lake’s shoreline.
6. San Diego
Although they’re situated in Southern California, San Diego and Los Angeles have different vibes. Where LA feels crowded and hectic, its partner to the south is more laid back. Hence, the reason why it’s the absolute destination for RVers.
Take a sunset or whale-watching cruise for an overall view of San Diego and its waters. Visit the famous San Diego Zoo or the underwater marine park La Jolla Cove. Stroll through San Diego’s Old Town district or Balboa Park to view the magnificent early-20th century Spanish architecture.
There are numerous camping sites available with RV hookups. A few of them sit directly on San Diego’s Mission Bay. The city is a popular tourist attraction, so book your stay ahead of time.
7. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm
An RV trip to California isn’t complete without a visit to the state’s two most famous amusement parks. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Only 10 minutes from each other, both parks have a long history in Orange County. The one you decide to visit depends on your wants.
Disneyland and its companion park, California Adventure, are exciting and busy areas filled with unique and high-themed attractions for all ages. Conversely, Knotts is more relaxed and feels like a family-owned amusement park.
Needless to say, you can visit both parks within a few days. Go in the summer if you want to be amid crowds of tourists. On the other hand, visit in the mid-fall or mid-winter if you like it quiet. These are times when the parks are filled with locals over international tourists.
RV parks are numerous in both areas. The ones near Disneyland are within walking distance of the park entrance. What they gain in convenience, they lose in the scenery. Most are in urban areas. Knott’s Berry Farm is 10 minutes away from these locations.
As you see, there are plenty of places to visit in California for your next RV trip. Make sure you carefully plan according to the time of year and when attractions are open.