Joshua Tree to Seattle Road Trip Guide


For families looking to enjoy the ultimate seven day RV road trip, there are tons of great things to discover en route from Joshua Tree, California to Seattle, Washington.

Joshua Tree, a town located in San Bernardino County, California, is home to many exciting things for families to do. Though Joshua Tree is located in sunny California, it does experience all four seasons, with chilly winters and hot humid summers as two of the area's most beloved times of the year.

The landscape is rugged yet incredibly beautiful and is characterized by rich rocky terrain and immense expanses of desert. The area takes its name from the much-beloved Joshua tree and is home to a national park that bears the same name. Joshua Tree National Park sees millions of visitors year-round. It is nestled between the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert and offers some of the best hiking and camping in the state.

But Joshua Tree is more than just a haven for those that enjoy outdoor recreation. The city is home to some of the finest southwest cuisine, including the incredible tacos proudly served at the local Mexican grocery store known as Kasa Carniceria y Taqueria. Grab a few tacos and an authentic Mexican beverage to wash them down with before heading off for the next stop along the way.

For those who enjoy a trip down memory lane, a visit to the town's Smith's Ranch Drive-In will not disappoint. Reasonably priced and full of nostalgia, this drive-in theater allows families to enjoy a blast from the past in the heart of the desert.

Before hitting the open road en route to Seattle on this epic RV road trip, families can enjoy doing some camping right at Joshua Tree National Park or at the nearby camping facility known as Belle Campground.

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Max RV length
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Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Pike Place Market

Historic Pike Place Market is one of the most popular places to visit upon arrival in Seattle, Washington. The journey from Fort Vancouver National Historic Site to Pike Place Market is 166 miles. A cultural experience no family should miss, Pike Place Market is a treasure trove of opportunity just waiting to be explored.

Essentially a giant farmers market with a cosmopolitan flair, Pike Place Market has been in operation for over a century. Visitors travel from across the country to spend a day perusing this iconic marketplace's wares with great delight.

Among the biggest attractions at Pike Place Market are its lush floral bouquets, fresh farm-produced fruits and vegetables, boutique shops, cutting edge restaurants, and much more.

First opened in 1907, the original Pike Place Market grew from just a few men selling fruits and vegetables to over 76 small stalls. Over time, the market grew to encompass 11 entire buildings comprising nine acres of waterfront property in total.

Today, Pike Place Market houses over 500 shops.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Just over ten miles from Portland Japanese Garden is Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This unique property once served as an important command center for the Hudson Bay Company during its fur trading days.

In its heyday, the fort became a focal point for many different factions along the Pacific Northwest. Many activities were held on the grounds including those that were political, cultural, and commercial in nature. During the 19th century when immigrants traveled to the region, Fort Vancouver was quick to offer them the necessary items they would need to establish new homes within the area.

In the late 20th century, a property of 366 acres was developed and named the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. Its purpose was to provide protection for areas of cultural or historical significance. Among the attractions found on the premises are the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, the Vancouver Barracks, Officers' Row, Pearson Field, the Water Resources Education Center, and sections of the Columbia River coastal regions.

Need a place to say before tackling the final leg of the journey to Seattle? There are several private campgrounds within the region that offer accommodations suitable for RVs by reservation.

Portland Japanese Garden

At 420 miles from Waterworks Park, it's a long haul to Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon, but for the tranquility found upon arrival, it is definitely worth the trek. Portland Japanese Garden is nestled within the West Hills section of Portland near to the popular Washington Park and the International Rose Test Garden.

The gardens here have been carefully cultivated in the classical Japanese tradition. Immensely beautiful and uniquely precise, the blooms contained on the grounds are breathtaking to behold. The property consists of nearly five and a half acres of gardens and is considered to be an excellent representation of the Japanese style of gardening.

Also found on the grounds for families to enjoy are such features as a Japanese tea house, gently rippling streams, picturesque walking paths, and stunning views of nearby Mount Hood.

Portland Japanese Garden was developed in 1963. Its purpose was to serve as an important reminder for healing between the opposing countries in World War II.

Guided tours of the grounds are available. For more information about scheduled tours, families should consult the garden's website.

Waterworks Park

Ready to beat the heat on the next RV stop? Just 166 miles from Sacramento is Waterworks Park. Found in the city of Redding, California, Waterworks Park has something fun to offer every member of the family.

Waterworks Park is home to four immense waterslides. The property is also equipped with an activity pool big enough to accommodate games of volleyball as well as several sections that are well-shaded where families can beat the heat under the fronds of a California palm tree. Lifeguard service is provided daily to ensure the safety of everyone swimming or playing in the water.

Also found on the grounds are a popular coffee shop and a gift store. Lockers are provided where families can store their personal items. Tubes can be rented, allowing families to enjoy rides down the lazy river or through some of the more adventurous tube runs as The Avalanche, the Bucking Bronco, or the Corkscrew.

Tired from a day of fun in the sun and need a place to park the RV for an overnight stay? Consider spending the night at the beautiful Mariners Point Campground.

Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

While in Sacramento, why not stop by to spend some time exploring Sutter's Fort State Historic Park? Just three and a half miles from Sacramento Zoo, this beautiful recreational facility offers lots of parking for RV campers looking for a place to park their rig and head out for some outdoor adventure.

This public park is named for an immigrant from Switzerland whose name was Mr. John Sutter. Mr. Sutter was the recipient of a property grant from Mexico. He made use of the premises to develop a farming community which he called New Helvetia, a name which translates to New Switzerland.

During the California gold rush, the park fell into the hands of miners working in the area. Today, the only building still standing of the original construction is Sutter's Fort.

Found on the premises for those wishing to purchase souvenirs is a gift shop called the Friends of Sutter's Fort Museum Store.

Since weather conditions can be unpredictable here, layered clothing is recommended. Families should come prepared to hike the grounds.

For those wishing to extend their time in Sacramento to include an overnight stay, there are several area RV parks that offer accommodations by reservation.

Sacramento Zoo

For families that count themselves as true animal lovers, the 289 miles to Sacramento Zoo will just fly by. The zoo was founded in 1927 and has long been one of the most popular destinations in the city. Sacramento Zoo receives over 500,000 visitors to its animal sanctuary yearly.
A zoo that is home to over 500 different animals, the property also boasts a wide array of interesting plant life and some unique gardens. Zookeepers offer informational tours where families can learn more about the different animals and their care.
Behind the Scenes Tours can be arranged which permit private access to some of the animals, including opportunities to feed the giraffes. With so much to see and do at Sacramento Zoo, it would be easy to spend an entire day just learning about the animals and their unique heritage. Bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds or purchase snacks at the on-site concession stand.

Lake Ming

If a day at the beach seems like a good plan, a stop at Lake Ming is in order. At just 12.6 miles from the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science, fun in the sun is just a short drive away.

Lake Ming is a manmade body of water that was created when the Kern River County Park Dam was built. Created in 1959, this popular lake and recreational area takes its name from the county's supervisor at the time, a Mr. Floyd Ming.

Lake Ming offers many amenities for families to enjoy during their day of sand and surf. These include picnic areas, bathrooms, fountains with potable drinking water, and ample parking for both cars and RVs.

A playground is installed on the premises for children to enjoy. If an overnight stay sounds like a slice of paradise, the property is home to a campground with 50 campsites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Though swimming is not permitted in Lake Ming, fishing, waterskiing, and boating are all popular activities here.

Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science

Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science is located 234 miles from Coachella Valley Preserve-Thousand Palms Oasis in the city of Bakersfield, California. The museum was founded in 1995. At that time, the facility was little more than a small grouping of artifacts located in the California Living Museum.
Each year, the museum's collection has experienced growth. To accommodate the vast array of exhibits, the museum has since expanded to a facility that offers 20.000 square feet of space.
Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science includes a wide variety of fossil remains considered to be the most substantial representation of prehistoric artifacts from the Miocene period. The county, which is home to the museum, is renowned as an area rich in fossils from this time. Most of the fossils on display at the museum were discovered at nearby Sharktooth Hill. The exhibits found at Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science are unlike any other, making a trip here well worth the effort.
Need a place for a good night's rest before heading out on the next leg of the Joshua Tree to Seattle trip? Why not stop for the night at Kerns River Campground or Evans Flat Campground?

Coachella Valley Preserve--Thousand Palms Oasis

Just 48.7 miles from Joshua Tree, California, Coachella Valley Preserve--Thousand Palms Oasis offers families the perfect place to enjoy some outdoor recreation before hitting the open road on their RV vacation.

The preserve is free for the public to explore; however, donations are gratefully accepted and applied to maintaining the property's on-site amenities. This property is home to over 30 miles of naturally landscaped trails that are the perfect locale for doing some hiking. Guided tours of several of the trails are available by reservation.

There are many picnic areas found throughout the grounds that feature picnic tables where families can enjoy a packed lunch from home. Other popular activities at Coachella Valley Preserve--Thousand Palms Oasis include photography and the viewing of wildlife.

There is a Visitors' Center found on the premises which provides useful information about the property and the surrounding areas. This building is called the Palm House and was built in the mid 20th century out of logs.

There is ample RV parking available at the entrance to this public facility. For families looking for a place to hunker down for the night before hitting the next spot en route to Seattle, Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA is well worth an overnight stay.


After seven wonderful days on the road exploring the nooks and crannies found en route from Joshua Tree, families will be excited to find themselves at their final destination: Seattle, Washington. Seattle is a cosmopolitan city with a quirkiness all its own.

During a visit to Seattle, there are many great attractions for families to visit. From the popular Seattle Center, a property that was home to the 1962 World's Fair, to the Space Needle, and more, there is no shortage of iconic places to explore during an RV stay in Seattle.

A city with much to offer culturally and its own unique hipster feel to it, families looking to enjoy the amenities of big city life can plan a visit to the Seattle Art Museum or purchase tickets to enjoy a concert played by the Seattle Symphony.

No RV trip to Seattle would be complete without picking up some produce and local delicacies at Pike Place Market to enjoy back at the campground. Seattle offers many places that are perfect for RV stays. One of the most popular is the Seattle/Tacoma KOA Campground.

For a seven day RV adventure that'll leave you longing to return again and again, consider a road trip from Joshua Tree, California to Seattle, Washington. You'll have an amazing time!

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