Take a road trip from Provo, Utah, to San Francisco, California via San Diego for an excellent multi-day road trip, with plenty of RV camping and awesome wilderness areas en route. The trip to Southern California, and then up the coast is 1215 miles and takes you through a desert landscape, mountains, forests, and along the fantastic Pacific coast.
Start out from Provo which is the third-largest city in Utah, and is known for its surrounding wilderness areas, with Utah Lake on the west side, and magnificent mountain ranges to the east. Visit the Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Bridal Falls, or Provo Canyon for wonderful sightseeing and hiking opportunities. Cool off in the summer at the Lake or at the Seven Peaks Water Park or glide down the slopes at nearby ski resorts in the winter. The Brigham Young University attracts visitors to Provo with many cultural and sports events throughout the year.
Your journey will take you south from Provo, Utah, on Interstate 15, through Las Vegas and down to San Diego. From San Diego head north up the California coast, on Interstate 5 to San Francisco. RVers will find many national and state parks in the region to camp at, or you can stay right in town at the Springfield-Provo KOA.
A trip to Fisherman's Wharf, once you reach your San Francisco destination, will really cap off your adventure. Fisherman’s Wharf is the world-famous waterfront area from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 35. San Francisco streetcars service the area and make an iconic way to visit the site. You can camp nearby at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area or The Rob Hill Campground just west of the Fisherman’s Wharf site, and use public transportation to reach the wharf area.
Fisherman's Wharf has many attractions including various eateries and shopping, Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, a wax museum, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. No trip to the “wharf” would be complete without noshing on some of the seafood that the region is known for. Choose from chain restaurants or independent dining establishments with fresh seafood, including delicious Dungeness Crab, and clam chowder. Stroll down the Hyde Street Pier which is part of the Maritime Museum to view a decommissioned World War II ship, submarine, and a 19th-century cargo ship.
At Pier 39, discover the local sea lion colony. Here, the sea lions sun themselves on the old wooden docks. Depending on the time of your trip, you can take in an amazing fireworks display on the Fourth of July, or an air show featuring the Blue Angels from the wharf.
As you drive up Interstate 5, you pass though the vast Los Padres National Forest which stretches from the Pacific Ocean the interstate. With elevations ranging up to 9000 feet above sea level, this park has diverse ecosystems, with mountains, forests, and coastal regions, that harbor a wide variety of wildlife. You can wade at the beach, fish in the streams, climb to the summit of Mount Pino, and hike on abundant trails while visiting this beautiful park.
There are over 60 campgrounds in and around the park, so there is no shortage of RV camping opportunities to choose from. Stay at Mt Pinos Campground which has 19 secluded sites. The campground has no hookups or drinking water, but plenty of shade and privacy. McGill Camron has 73 sites and Figueroa Campground has 35 sites, that accommodate small to moderately sized RVs.
In the summer, enjoy the water and swim from the Santa Barbara beaches. In the winter, enjoy cross country skiing areas at higher elevations, such as the Chula Vista Trail. Keep your eyes out for rare California Condors, golden eagles, and northern goshawks from scenic outlooks in the park. Spotting these majestic birds is a real treat during your visit.
Heading north from San Diego, you will pass along the glorious California Pacific Coast. It would be a shame not to stop for some beachy fun along the way. Long Beach offers a long stretch of sand, and great amenities like restaurants and shops, making it an ideal family stopping point. The historic Queen Mary Ocean Liner is permanently docked across from the sunny beach, and visitors can tour the ship and even enjoy a beverage at the ship’s Observation Bar.
On the north end of the beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific is the largest aquarium in Southern California, and home to playful penguins and sea otters, as well as a 350,000 gallon, tropical reef habitat. There is a vibrant shopping distance, the Pike Outlets area, within walking distance of the beach, which boasts unique shops and vintage boutiques for one of a kind finds.
Long Beach itself has 11 miles of sandy shoreline for sunbathing, sandcastle building, wading, and swimming. Enjoy stand up paddle boarding or kayaking, boards and watercraft are available for rent, or arrange for a whale watching tour at the marina. Crystal Cove State Park is just a short distance south of Long Beach, and visitors to the area will find RV camping here at the Moro Campground.
When you reach San Diego, California, you are ready to start your journey north to San Francisco, but don't be in too big a hurry. Camp in the San Diego urban area at the San Diego Metro KOA and visit Balboa Park for a plethora of family-friendly fun. Balboa Park contains museums, gardens, theatres, attractions, restaurants, shops, and other assorted venues. This 1200 acre urban cultural park is one of the oldest urban parks in the U.S. and is a designated National Historic Place. The most popular attraction at the park is the world-famous San Diego Zoo with 3700 animals and amazing exhibits waiting for your family to discover.
There is also a multitude of museums, featuring everything from art to space and science, automotives, railroads, and natural history exhibits. Stroll through cactus and desert gardens, Australian and Japanese gardens, and lily ponds gardens. Ride the Balboa Park carousel, or visit the Old Globe Theatre. You can spend days exploring the amazing Balboa Park!
Families on their epic RV camping journey will want to stop in Riverside, California as they pass through for a visit to Castle Park. This 25-acre amusement park comes complete with a medieval castle theme, 27 amusement park rides, and a miniature golf course. The amusement rides include three roller coasters, the “Merlin's Revenge”, a smaller roller coaster for more cautious riders, the “Screamin Demon”, a spinning roller coaster, and the “Little Dipper”, a children's roller coaster. The main castle building houses an interactive indoor dark ride, “Ghost Blasters”, and a vast, two-level arcade. Depending on the time of your visit you may be able to catch one of their special events like “Castle Dark” their Halloween event. There are dining options, midway games, shopping, and a water play area for more family fun. Check out their website at Castle Park for details, hours, and prices. Riverside, California is surrounded by parks with great RV camping sites to choose from.
As you continue south down Interstate 15, turn east at Crystal, Nevada, on the Valley of Fire Highway to access the Valley of Fire State Park. It may be a bit far to reach the Grand Canyon off Interstate 15, but the fascinating colorful geological formations at the Valley of Fire State Park are well within reach. This park is known for its brightly colored geological features and sand dunes which appear to be “on fire” especially at sunrise and sundown when the angle of light really highlights these features.
The formations here are believed to be the result of shifting sand dunes, eroding sandstone in the region. Besides the fantastic scenery, be sure to track down the 2000-year-old petroglyphs situated in this 46000-acre park
If you choose to stay here overnight you will find conveniently located camping at Arch Rock Campground. This campground is small and only appropriate for vans or small RVs. Larger RV camping is available at the Atlatl Campground which has 44 sites, with some water and electric hookups, and can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40 feet in length.
As you travel south of Provo on Interstate 15 you will pass just west of Fishlake National Forest a beautiful rustic Utah Wilderness. This 1.5 million acre forest contains the Pashvant and Tushar Mountain Ranges, sagebrush grasslands, and heavily forested areas. But the park contains something else you won't see anywhere else, the Trembling Giant, or Pando Tree, which is a huge, male, quaking aspen colony, that is actually a single living organism with a single underground root system.
The Pando is located at the west edge of the Colorado Plateau, one mile south of Fish Lake. The “tree” occupies 106 acres and weighs 6600 tons, which makes it the heaviest known living organism, and at 80,000 years old, is one of the oldest known living organisms. While visiting the Trembling Giant, be sure to enjoy Fish Lake which is perfect for fishing, boating, swimming, and scuba diving.
You can camp at one of several campgrounds in the national forest near the lake. Singletree Campground, Mackinaw Campground, and Doctor Creek Campground offer RV camping in the area. There are no RV hookups but they accommodate larger RVs, and there are restrooms, dump stations, and showers available at these campgrounds.
Lake Utah is the largest freshwater lake in the state with 148 square miles of water surface and tons of recreational opportunities. During your stay at the lake, you can enjoy watersports like water skiing, jet skiing, and wakeboarding, or swimming at the swim beach. There are two marinas and watercraft are available for rent, so you can get out on the lake and enjoy.
Located right on Lake Utah, the Utah Lake State Park and Campground is a prime place for RVers to stay while enjoying Provo, Utah. The Lake Utah State Park is a small but beautiful park with a great lakefront RV campground. And it's just five miles from Provo’s city center. The park is open all year, but the campground is only open seasonally and has reservable sites. RV campsites have 20 and 30 amp electric and water hookups. There are no sewer hookups but there is an RV dump station. RVs up to 50 feet in length can be accommodated, but large sites are limited and book up fast so reserve early. Sites have covered picnic tables, fire pits and grills, and pets are welcome. Generators are permitted but can not be operated between 10 PM and 7 AM which is quiet time.
Your road trip ends at “The City by the Bay ''. San Francisco, California, is known for its bays and bridges, parks and gardens, iconic cable cars, vibrant Chinatown district, steep hills, and historic architecture. Simply wandering around the city provides amazing discoveries and sightseeing opportunities. Shop, dine, and take in the ambience of this beautiful city.
Don't forget to pack a camera, because you will want to capture the moment and the famous backdrops in breathtaking San Francisco. Camp at private RV parks in the city, on the northside, at the Golden Gate Recreation Area, or further north at Muir Woods National Monument campgrounds.