If you want to see the part of America that's between the Windy City and the City of Angels, then a Chicago to Los Angeles road trip may be in the cards for you. You'll pass through parts of multiple states, travel more than 2,000 miles, and visit some of the country's loveliest national and state parks. Some big cities with major attractions are also on this route, and there are plenty of fabulous RV campsites that will welcome you and your trailer.
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most spectacular national parks close to your route on this road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles is Rocky Mountain National Park. It's two hours northwest of the Denver area, and it is between the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests. More than 300 miles of trails open up this portion of the Rocky Mountains for visitors. Moose, black bears, and a peak that's over 14,000 feet are all on display at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is off a stretch of Interstate 70 that passes close to three national parks. The name of "Canyonlands" is descriptive of all three to a degree as they all feature canyons and rock formations that abound in this region. Canyonlands is the largest of Utah's national parks; it features four separate sections and different ecosystems visitors can explore. You could easily spend several days exploring Canyonlands.
Zion National Park
Interstate 15 passes close by to Zion National Park, which has those sweeping, awe-inspiring vistas that remind people over and over again that they're in a national park. Numerous visitors each year enjoy wading through the gorge known as The Narrows. Hiking, biking, and canyoneering are all possible in Zion.
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park needs no introduction and is often seen as America’s most impressive national park. If you're building a road trip itinerary from Chicago to Los Angeles, you're probably going to visit the Grand Canyon along the way. Every year, millions of visitors converge on over a million acres to tour this gigantic canyon carved out of the earth over millions of years. Hiking, biking, backpacking, and rafting are all great ways to experience Grand Canyon National Park.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is hot, harsh, inhospitable, and sometimes as deadly as its name implies. It's also immensely compelling to the numerous visitors who brave its extreme environs every year. Many other parks have desert environments that are more benign and beautiful, but Death Valley National Park will truly give you the unique desert experience of a lifetime.
Mississippi Palisades State Park
Mississippi Palisades State Park is on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River roughly an hour north of the route. You can explore rock formations, caves, sinkholes, and other geographical formations here. Popular features include Indian Head and Twin Sisters. Fishing, boating, and rock climbing are big here.
Elk Rock State Park
Elk Rock State Park is located on Lake Red Rock, which is Iowa's largest body of water. This park is over 50,000 acres large, so there's plenty of room for swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, and horseback riding. Mountain biking and picnicking are also fun pastimes to do here.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is just to the west of Denver almost right off your route. The park's nearly 12,000 acres hold nearly 60 combined miles of trails suitable for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, elk, moose, and other forest animals call this park home.
Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is located off that stretch of Interstate 70 that has three national parks. If you're exploring them, you should make time to visit this state park as well. The park itself is only 4 square miles, but you'll be able to view the goblin-shaped hoodoos that have drawn people here for years.
Valley of Fire State Park
After exploring the Grand Canyon, but before hitting Vegas, you may want to stop by the stunning Valley of Fire State Park. Brilliant red Aztec sandstone formations, ancient petroglyphs, and a variety of desert flora and fauna make this park a must-see. The park is nearly 46,000 acres large, so there's plenty of room for the coyotes, snakes, skunks, and jackrabbits that call it home.
On your Chicago to Los Angeles RV road trip, you'll cross the Mississippi River close to the Quad Cities area on the border between Illinois and Iowa. Your point of crossing will be the Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge. Old Man River is 2,320 miles long; humans have inhabited its banks and nearby locations for millennia.
This combined amusement park and water park is a great attraction to visit in Des Moines. Whether you want to ride coasters like the Monster and Tornado or water slides like Typhoon or the Bermuda Quadrangle, you'll have plenty of great rides to keep you busy all day long at Adventureland Park.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
This great zoo in Omaha is right off Interstate 80 and close to the banks of the Missouri River. More than 30,000 animals live at this zoo, so you'll be able to see many different types of exotic wildlife on this stop of your Chicago to Los Angeles road trip. Zoo areas like Glacier Bay Landing, Stingray Beach, and Alaskan Adventure give visitors a variety of environments to explore.
Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens has 24 acres of exhibits displaying a variety of plants from all over the world. You can explore themed gardens dedicated to local foliage, international plants, water plants, ornamental styles, and more. Fun and educational areas of the gardens include the Science Pyramid and the Mordechai Children's Garden.
Las Vegas Strip
Part of your route runs parallel to the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. This term refers to a portion of South Las Vegas Boulevard that is packed with some of the best casinos and resorts in Sin City. Many of the casinos on the Strip are desirable destinations themselves, but the Strip itself is considered an iconic tourist attraction in its own right. You'll have no trouble finding something fun to do on the Las Vegas Strip.
In spite of its name, Quad Cities actually comprises five cities straddling the Iowa/Illinois border along the Mississippi River: Davenport, Moline, East Moline, Bettendorf, and Rock Island. Naturally, a grouping of cities that large will have plenty of quality campgrounds to offer visitors.
Des Moines is the capital of Iowa and the site of the famous Iowa caucuses that kick off the national presidential election primaries. While you're here, you can visit attractions like the Des Moines Art Center, Living History Farms, and the Iowa State Capital. There are many quality dump stations and campgrounds in the Des Moines area for your convenience.
Omaha straddles the Iowa/Nebraska border across the Missouri River. It’s Nebraska’s largest city, so you won’t have any problems finding a variety of dump stations and campgrounds in the area. Both the American Discovery Trail and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail pass through Omaha.
Denver is the capital of Colorado and the state's most populous city. Five professional sports franchises call Denver home: the Broncos of the NFL, the Nuggets of the NBA, the Colorado Rockies of MLB, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, and the Colorado Rapids of MLS. Whether you’re watching sports or visiting numerous other popular area attractions, you’ll be able to use multiple dump stations and campgrounds.
Las Vegas is a city that truly has something to offer everyone. While it's known for its gambling and nightlife, it's also home to a wide variety of entertainment acts, sports and concert venues, and fine dining. Since it’s such a popular tourist destination, it has plenty of dump stations and campgrounds for the convenience of its visitors.