Start a cross country road trip in Colorado, across Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and through California, for wilderness areas, RV camping, and fun activities. Take a tow trailer you can unhook at campgrounds so you can visit sites and engage in activities in urban centers along the way.
Start out in Fort Collins, Colorado and head west and south to San Jose, California, along 1220 miles of highway appropriate for RV travel. Take Highway 287 north to Interstate 80, then take Interstate 80 to exit 40 west of Fairfield, California, then head south on Interstate 680 to San Jose. While in Fort Collins, enjoy RV camping with lots of amenities at Fort Collins Lakeside KOA or natural wilderness settings at Arapaho National Forest campgrounds nearby.
Fort Collins is known for offering spectacular outdoor recreational opportunities. Enjoy hiking, cycling, fishing, horseback riding, and boating, with nearby mountains, streams, reservoirs, and wilderness areas. The city is situated on the Cache La Poudre River which is lined with beautiful parks, and you can also enjoy shopping and dining opportunities in the heart of the city. Stroll the Fort Collins Museum which houses cultural and historical artifacts, view works at the Center for Fine Art Photography or the Fort Collins Museum of Art, or take in the 18 acre botanical garden, The Gardens on Spring Creek, during your visit.
Family fun is waiting for you at Fort Fun in Fort Collins, Colorado. This family amusement park has attractions, games, and an on-site restaurant. There are two miniature golf courses, laser tag, go-karts, bumper boats, a video arcade, shooting gallery, escape rooms, giant slide, and batting cages.
The amusement park is open year-round, with warm weather being the norm in the spring, summer, and fall. The go-kart track is a quarter-mile long, and you can zoom around and race your family and friends. Cool off on a hot summer day by participating in a massive balloon water fight, or take a trip around the surface of Blue Heron Lake on swan-shaped paddle boats. Spin, splash, and get soaked on the bumper boats, a water-based slant on bumper cars!
If you are participating in water activities it is recommended that you bring a towel and change of clothes as you are more than likely to get wet. Fort Fun provides a plethora of family activities so come prepared for frolicking and fun.
As you approach Salt Lake City, Utah, on Interstate 80, take Interstate 215 south and Route 190 east to the Spruces Campground on Big Cottonwood Creek. The campground is within easy driving distance of attractions and sites in Salt Lake City and is a great place for an overnight RV stay. Situated in the scenic Big Cottonwood Canyon, with views of the mountains near the campground, it is open from May to September.
There are 90 RV sites that can accommodate units from 20 to 45 feet. Sites have picnic tables and fire rings and there are flush toilets and drinking water supplies available at the campground. Bring some sporting equipment with you to play on the baseball field, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. The campground is situated in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest where you can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. You can even go on a cave exploration at the Timpanogos Cave National Monument located near the campground and discover the three limestone caves at the monument site.
Passing through Salt Lake City on your way to sunny California in June, take in the Utah Blues Festival. This festival attracts some of the Nation's best blues artists, who take to the stage at the Gallivan Center, which becomes a wash of activity associated with the musical extravaganza. You will get to hear world-class blues talents from the grassy seating area in the outdoor venue.
The festival takes place over two days, with multiple performances, workshops, and food vendors providing tasty treats. Parking in the central city area is limited for tow-vehicles and large RVs, which can be left at RV parks such as Salt Lake City KOA Holiday in the city, or nearby campsites at recreation areas an easy drive out of town. The climate in Salt Lake City is semi-arid, and June is hot for the Utah Blues Festival. Wear light clothing, bring sunscreen, and don't forget a jacket for cooler evenings and blankets to sit on the grassy viewing area.
Heading west though Nevada, and looking for something original and eclectic to take in? Visit the Thunder Mountain Monument on the shoulder of Interstate 80 as you pass through, for folk art and “architectural oddities”.
The Thunder Mountain Monument was started in 1969 by World War II veteran, Frank Van Zant, who set up a series of outsider art sculptures and structures on a five-acre site that stretches for 100 feet along the south side of the interstate. Today there are three stone and concrete buildings on-site and over 200 concrete structures that depict Native American culture, spiritual beliefs, and events. Quirky objects like car hoods, doll heads, typewriters, and gas pumps, have been incorporated into the sculptures and structures, such as a third-floor wall made from antique bottles creating a stained glass window effect. Or windows in buildings made from antique car windshields. The site is now maintained by the State of Nevada Historic Site Restoration Project and the founders' grown children.
Continuing on Interstate 80, RV roadtrippers just crossing the border into California at the Big Bend/Rainbow exit will find excellent RV camping in Tahoe National Forest. Hampshire Rocks is the closest campground to your intended route, although several other campgrounds are also available in the park.
Hampshire Rocks campground is a reservable campground with 30 campsites and is situated on the banks of the South Yuba River. Sites accommodate RVs up to 35 feet in length on parking pads and have picnic tables and fire rings. Amenities include potable water supply and vault toilets. The river is great for swimming, boating, and fishing and there are hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling trails in the national forest including trails taking you to historic sites like Donner Camp Trail, Kentucky Mine, and the Boca Townsite Trail. The National Forest contains 850,000 acres with canyons, rivers, streams, waterfalls , and forested with large majestic trees. The park attracts about six million visitors annually.
As you continue south to San Jose, pass through the historic city of Sacramento, California, and see the city in a unique way, from the underground spaces beneath the streetscape. Arrange a Sacramento Underground Tours through the Sacramento History Museum, and take a ¾ mile trek that includes 200 yards of underground space that was created in response to floods in the 1850s and 1860s by “jacking-up” the city in the 1860s and 70s. This process created hollow sidewalks, sloped alleyways, and spooky underground spaces, all of which are on the tour.
Tour guides provide fascinating stories and information on the city's history and the efforts to mitigate flooding, and there is even an after-hours tour for “adults-only” that delves into some of the steamier and seedier tales of the city's history. The tour lasts about one hour and departs from the Sacramento History Museum. Please note that the tour is ADA compliant; however, there are some uneven surfaces and low ceilings to navigate, and much of the tour is outside and visitors should be prepared. Closed-toe shoes are recommended. Parking is sparse in downtown Sacramento, so park your rig at Placerville KOA or other RV parks in the city, or head out to a local state, municipal, or county-run RV campground in the Sacramento area.
Continuing south, through California, on Interstate 680, exit from Interstate 680 onto Diablo Road east, at Danville, California, and take the Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard to the park and campgrounds. Mount Diablo State Park is located east of the San Francisco Bay Region and comprises 20,000 acres of scenic wilderness and panoramic views from the top of 3849 foot Mount Diablo. In fact, you can view 40 of California's 54 counties from the mountain summit.
Mount Diablo plays a fascinating role in native mythology and is considered a spiritual place by local Native American tribes. While exploring the park, be sure to check out “Rock City”, another interesting park area with unique rock formations and caves. Enjoy rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in the park. RV campers will find 64 RV friendly campsites in two campgrounds at this state park. RVers should be aware that the park roads have tight turns, blind curves, and steep inclines, and the drive up the Mount Diablo Scenic Highway to the top of the mountain is only appropriate for vehicles 20 feet or less and not for tow vehicles. The Live Oak Campground is the closest campground to your route, located one mile north of the South Gate Entrance Station. Live Oak has 22 sites and can accommodate RVs up to 20 feet in length. The campground has no hookups. However, there are flush toilets and showers.
Animal lovers and families with critter crazy kids in tow, should not miss a visit to the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo when they arrive in San Jose, California. This zoo not only houses an array of animals, but has rides, an interactive education center, petting zoo, and puppet theater. Visit the Zoo on the Hill section where visitors can ride a unique carousel, get up close and personal with wildlife at daily meet and greets, and interact with domesticated animals. The zoo on the hill features giant anteaters, red ruffed lemurs, chickens, and goats to name a few. The Zoo in the Hollow section can be accessed on a crooked bamboo path to the “Hollow” home to exciting creatures such as a jaguar, meerkat, and American alligator. The zoo is involved in conservation programs and strives to educate park goers not only on their own animal inhabitants but on the needs of species in the wild, and what we can do to ensure their future. Be prepared for plenty of fun at this family-friendly zoo, and some learning opportunities!
Your San Jose, California destination has plenty of interesting sites and attractions, with shopping and dining opportunities, and is within easy driving distance of San Francisco and the Bay region. Visit one of a kind attractions like the Winchester Mystery House, Rosicrucian Museum of Art, and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Just west of the city, enjoy fabulous wilderness parks and the Pacific Ocean coastline and beaches. RV campers can camp west of the city at the Portola Redwoods State Park Campground and other national, state, and county parks west of San Jose where numerous outdoor recreational opportunities abound.