San Francisco to Denver Road Trip Guide


Known as the home of Full House, unique architecture, and one of the most famous prisons in the world, San Francisco is a beautiful city in California. You’ll get used to plenty of sunshine and ocean breezes when you’re in San Francisco. Because it’s one of the most expensive places to live in the country, renting a campervan isn’t a bad idea.

You’ll still be able to easily cross the Golden Gate Bridge as you venture off on a romantic road trip with your spouse to the Mile High City of Denver. Starting in the City by the Bay, you’ll be able to drive through California to reach Lake Tahoe. After that, cross over into Nevada and spend some time in the great outdoors (or at a casino).

Taking a roadtrip to Denver will bring you through Utah as well. All of these states are stunning and well worth the short weekend trip to Colorado. You’ll get to drive through the Rocky Mountains and save money on lodging by taking a campervan for the duration of the trip.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: van
audience: couple

Point of Interest

Breckenridge Ski Resort

You’re so close at this point, you can almost taste it! Your last stop before making it to Denver has got to be Breckenridge Ski Resort. As the name suggests, this is the perfect place to rent a pair of skis and hit the slopes. There are also sledding and snowboarding options as well. If you and your partner aren’t into skiing, there is a restaurant and bar to enjoy while you stay toasty indoors.

Watching the sunset over the mountains here is one of the most romantic things to experience! The sunset usually paints the mountains shades of pink and purple as it slowly hides behind the peaks. It may be tempting to stay in one of the suites or cabins, but parking your van at one of the nearby campgrounds is much more cozy and cost-efficient. Not too far away is Peak One Campground! A great place to catch some Zs before making it to your destination.

Ashley National Forest

After a long day at the zoo, it’s time to immerse yourself in nature. You’re nearly to Breckenridge, but first, let’s make a pit stop at Ashley National Forest. Located in Vernal, Utah, Ashley National Forest is a beautiful place to see. This is especially true if you’re planning to have your road trip during autumn. There are dense and lush forests filled with yellow, green, orange, and red leaves.

You’ll also be able to stretch your legs on one of the many hiking and biking trails in the area. There are rivers, lakes, and canyons to explore as well. You could even cast a line and catch some fresh dinner! If you need to get a few hours of sleep before making your way to Colorado, feel free to park the van at Ashley National Forest. There may not be any special amenities, but it sure makes for a great place to nap!

Hogle Zoo

Congratulations! You’re over half-way done with your trip and you’ve made it to the beautiful state of Utah! After spending enough time outdoors, it’s time to spend a few hours looking at the creatures that call it home. The Hogle Zoo is located in Salt Lake City. It consists of 42-acres of diverse ecosystems. There you will find a plethora of different animals including polar bears, lions, elephants, and more. There are a variety of exhibits including the African Savanna, Rocky Shores, and the Asian Highlands.

When you need a break from looking at the cute baby tigers, there is dining available throughout the area. You can also buy something to remember your trip at the gift shop. After a fun afternoon watching wild animals, it’ll be time to kick back and relax. For something away from crowds, park at Spruces Campground. If you want something a little more accomodating, Salt Lake City KOA Holiday will be perfect for you.

Hole in the Peak Mountain

As you continue on your journey, you’ll eventually make your way through Nevada. After you have stopped in Reno to enjoy a few hours of gambling, there is another place that’s off-the-beaten path that couples will love. The Hole in the Peak Mountain is the perfect place to get off of technology and spend some much needed time in nature. The highest point is over 11,100 feet in elevation. A great way to stretch your legs after hours on the road is to park the van and get climbing!

While no one expects you to summit this mountain, there are plenty of trails in the area that will burn off those road trip snacks. There aren’t a ton of places to kick back and sleep for the night. One of the closest campgrounds to the Hole in the Peak Mountain is Angel Creek Campground. There are parking spots for your van, fire rings, and picnic tables to use.

Humboldt Museum

In the small town of Winnemucca, Nevada lies Humboldt Museum. This is a perfect mid-point between Reno and your next point of interest. The Humboldt Museum will teach you all about the local history of Winnemucca, which is rich and entertaining. You’ll be able to stop at the museum and learn about all of the buildings downtown. There are stories about how the ice age affects Winnemucca over 13,000 years ago, tales of how wagons forged along the Humboldt River to make their way to California, and more.

It’s always interesting to learn about small towns and the people who call them home. If you build up an appetite, don’t forget to stop at The Griddle. It’s a local diner that offers great food with a touch of amazing hospitality. This is a great point of interest if you need something to do for an hour or two between stops.

Reno, Nevada

A short drive away from Lake Tahoe is Reno, Nevada. Since you’ll be passing through this city anyway, it’s worth stopping in. Easily the most popular thing to do while you’re in Reno is to gamble. Think of it as a smaller version of the Las Vegas Strip. There are 20 different casinos to choose from. If you are traveling with kids, they’ll enjoy all of the bright lights and entertaining street performers along the way.

If you are traveling with just adults, stopping at one of the casinos or clubs is a must! There are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area as well. While it may be tempting to stay in one of the several hotels in Reno, that will cost you quite a bit of money. It’s a good idea to park the van at one of the local RV parks for the night. The Keystone RV Park is in the heart of Reno and has plenty of space for several visitors.

Lake Tahoe

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway during your trip or you just want to immerse yourself in nature, Lake Tahoe is a must-stop destination during your trip to Denver. For starters, the lake itself is absolutely stunning. With an ombre of blue shades, this lake is a great reason to make the stop. It’s clear enough to see the array of different rocks at the bottom and wildlife calling the lake home. There you will be able to swim, canoe, fish, along with other water activities.

All around the lake you will find stunning landscapes. Whether you enjoy mountains, forests, or valleys, Lake Tahoe has it all. There are hiking trails and a plethora of places that make for perfect photo opportunities. You can park the van within the park to sleep next to these stunning views. The stars in the area shine brightly if the sky is clear. Grab a warm blanket, a thermos full of hot toddies, and have a romantic evening under the stars.

Alcatraz Island

Before you head out on your 1,300 mile road trip, you have to see one of the most iconic spots that San Francisco has to offer. Alcatraz Island is famous for a lot of things, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions. You can take a short ferry ride right to the island and it shouldn’t cost you too much either. The majority of people spend about two hours exploring this old building that’s filled with stories of the past.

At one point it was a military prison and later on it was a federal prison. There are guided tours that can teach all about the rich history of this place. While you can stay at Alcatraz Island, there are plenty of van-friendly RV parks where you can park before heading off to your big adventure. Buena Vista Park and Ocean beach are both great places that allow vans to stay for a night or two.


With the beautiful Rocky Mountains painting the background behind the Denver skyline, you’ll know that you’ve made it to your final spot! The trip from San Francisco straight to Denver is a 20-hour drive. By adding in a handful of amazing pit stops along the way, your trip may have been longer, but it was also a lot more memorable.

Once you’ve reached Denver, it’s time to stop at one of the many breweries that the Mile High City has to offer. You can spend time smelling all of the beautiful flowers in the Denver Botanic Gardens or see one of your favorite musicians at the Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre. Whatever you find yourself doing once you reach Denver, it’s good to know that there are plenty of places to sleep as well. Just a short drive to Aurora will give you easy access to Cherry Creek State Park.

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