Those looking to see some of the best destinations in the great state of California can easily do so by using Interstate 5 as a springboard. The stretch of Interstate 5 between LA and Sacramento passes within a few hours of five national parks and even more state parks. You'll also go through unique cities like Bakersfield and head near attractions like Six Flags Magic Mountain. If you’re planning a Los Angeles to Sacramento road trip, you may want to allocate a few days for the journey so you can fully enjoy all the route has to offer.
Given California’s vastness and diversity, it's not surprising that the state has multiple different types of national parks. Aquatic, desert, and forest environments are all proudly on display at some of California’s greatest national parks.
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park is off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The five Channel Islands are home to multiple unique plants and animals as well as evidence of prehistoric human habitation. If you’re into backcountry camping, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking, you can do all of those things and more here. One thing you cannot do, however, is to drive to the islands, so you’ll have to go by boat or plane.
Death Valley National Park
If you want to visit a national park that’s as opposite from the Channel Islands as possible, then Death Valley National Park definitely fits the bill. Hot, dry, and inhospitable, Death Valley provides its visitors with extreme weather and stunning desert vistas. Whether you want to stroll around the Badwater Basin salt flats or take an all-day trek on the Telescope Peak Trail, you’ll be able to experience the wonders of this harsh yet incredible environment. It’s only three-and-a-half hours from LA, so it will make a solid addition to your road trip itinerary from Los Angeles to Sacramento.
Sequoia National Park
There are several parks that feature California’s legendary sequoia trees, but the logical place to see them is at Sequoia National Park. Getting to the entrance to Sequoia adds a couple of hours onto your road trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento. However, the beautiful scenery is worth it. In addition to being home to some of the world’s largest trees, Sequoia National Park also encompasses part of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Whether you’re into hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, or simply taking in gorgeous mountain views, you’ll have plenty to do at this park.
Kings Canyon National Park
The beauty of Kings Canyon National Park is that it’s right next to Sequoia National Park. You can easily visit both parks in one day for double the fun—and, of course, double the sequoias. Just like its next-door neighbor, Kings Canyon also has impressive groves of sequoias and part of the Sierra Nevadas. Backpackers, hikers, riders, and rock climbers all enjoy exploring this national park.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park brings in millions of travelers every year because of its outdoorsy landmarks that appeal to a variety of people. You don’t have to be a hardcore mountain climber who wants to tackle Half Dome in order to enjoy spending time at Yosemite. You can walk on beginner-level trails that take you close to attractions like Lower Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Rock, Glacier Point, and even Half Dome itself. It’s only about two hours and 40 minutes from Sacramento, so it’s an excellent national park to visit near the end of your road trip.
In addition to all those great national parks, California is home to some excellent state parks. If you're embarking on a Los Angeles to Sacramento RV road trip, you should consider stopping by these state parks.
Point Mugu State Park
Point Mugu State Park is within an hour of Los Angeles. Here, you'll find more than 70 miles of trails that meander through beaches, river canyons, and valleys in the Santa Monica Mountains. A couple of RV campgrounds within the park itself give visitors great places to park their trailers.
Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
Castaic Lake State Recreation Area is about 40 minutes up Interstate 5 from Los Angeles. The lake itself is broken down into two parts—Upper Lake and Lower Lake. Upper Lake is the place to go powerboating, jet skiing, and sailing. Lower Lake is more suitable for non-power boating, swimming, and canoeing.
Henry W. Coe State Park
Henry W. Coe State Park is only two-and-a-half hours away from Sacramento. Its entrance is only 35 miles from Interstate 5. Since it’s the largest state park in California, you won’t have to worry about finding fun activities to do. Backpacking, hiking, photography, biking, riding, and fishing are all popular things to do here.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
If you’re willing to travel two hours from Interstate 5 to the California coast, you can visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. This thousand-acre state park has earned the moniker of “Mini Yosemite” thanks to its mountain views and variety of fauna. While beach access is not available, you can still go swimming in the lovely Big Sur River.
Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Diablo State Park is roughly an hour and a half from Sacramento. It’s also fairly close to the San Francisco area if you wish to visit there. Even if you don’t go to San Francisco, you can still see some fabulous views of the Bay Area from Mount Diablo. Hiking is the most popular activity here thanks to trails centering around the summit of Mount Diablo and Mitchell Canyon.
We could fill up this entire list with notable attractions just in LA. However, there are also many fun places to visit outside of the City of Angels. Consider stopping at the following points of interest once you get out of your starting city.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
This theme park in Santa Clarita is part of the popular Six Flags franchise. Whether you’re into roller coasters, live music, or kiddie rides, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from at this park. Some popular rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain include Batman the Ride, Goliath, Roaring Rapids, Scream, and Tatsu.
Vaquero Beach at Pyramid Lake
This wide, sandy beach at Pyramid Lake is ideal for fishing and swimming. It’s about an hour outside of Los Angeles close to Interstate 5. Some popular activities here include boating, water skiing, and picnicking.
Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
Whether you’re into ATV, bike, or 4x4 recreation, you can drive your off-road vehicle of choice at Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area. It’s located in Gorman close to Fort Tejon State Historic Park. Trails for beginners and experts are available, so you can enjoy your time here whether it’s your first ride or your hundredth.
Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is a popular tourist destination in San Jose. This sprawling architectural marvel was built by the eccentric heiress of part of the Winchester fortune. Whether you’re interested in the paranormal, architecture, or the overall mystery of the place, you’ll enjoy your time here. It’s only an hour off your Interstate 5 route, so travel time is short.
San Francisco Bay
Given how close the San Francisco Bay is to this Los Angeles to Sacramento road trip, you may want to stop at this famous part of California. It’s less than an hour from Interstate 5, and it’s home to many great attractions. The Golden Gate Bridge itself is only an hour and fifteen minutes from Interstate 5, so a variety of attractions await.
Santa Clarita is only about half an hour outside of Los Angeles. It’s home to Six Flags Magic Mountain as well as Placerita Canyon State Park. If you're looking for a nearby campground before you leave Los Angeles County, there are several that will welcome your trailer here. Valencia Travel Village is conveniently close to Six Flags.
Bakersfield is about an hour and 45 minutes away from Los Angeles. If you need to clean out your camper, there are several dump stations in the area. For example, the dumping station at Bakersfield River Run RV Park is available to guests and non-guests for a fee. There’s also no shortage of quality campgrounds from which to choose.
While Modesto isn’t right on the Interstate 5 route, it’s very close by. There are multiple great campgrounds in the Modesto area that you can visit since you’re only an hour and 15 minutes from Sacramento.
Stockton is less than an hour from Sacramento, so you’ll pass through it near the end of your road trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento. As is the case in the other cities, you’ll have no problem finding quality campgrounds at which to park your trailer. Check out Sugar Barge Resort & Marina if you want to see nearby Bethel Island.