On your Portland to Salt Lake City road trip, you can visit several national and state parks as well as explore cities in three states. You could take I-84 to get to your destination quickly, or you could travel on I-5 south to hit up Lake Tahoe and several national and state parks along the way. This more scenic route will take more time, but the lakes and the hot springs that you encounter along the way are well worth the detour.
On your Portland to Salt Lake City RV road trip, you will have the opportunity to visit many iconic national parks. While you are journeying through Oregon, Nevada, and Utah, be sure to check out some of the parks below.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in the state of Oregon. Crater Lake was formed by a volcano, Mount Mazama, that collapsed more than 7,700 years ago. In the park, there are lakes and caves to explore as well as over 90 miles of trails that you can hike. There are boat and bike tours and scuba diving options in the park as well.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a national wonder where you can see 1,000-year-old sequoia trees, Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. The park sees millions of visitors each year and offers plenty of trails to explore. The views are spectacular, and you can easily raft down one of the rivers if you would like to explore the park more thoroughly.
Zion National Park
In Southwest Utah, you will find Zion National Park, which is home to a 15-mile-deep canyon that will look great in photos. The highest peak in the park is Horse Range Mountain, which has an elevation of 8,726 feet. There are plenty of trails and cliffs to explore, and the National Park service here offers educational programs and nature talks that you can enjoy during your visit.
Bryce Canyon National Park
If you are interested in seeing stunning rock formations during your road trip from Portland to Salt Lake City, then Bryce Canyon National Park is another location to check out. Throughout the park, there are miles of hiking trails and scenic places to take a picture. If you would like to stay overnight, there are sky viewing parties when the sun goes down. This is one of the best places to stargaze because the area is free of light pollution. There are also activities to enjoy in the winter, like skiing.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is another must-see stop on your Portland to Salt Lake City road trip itinerary. There are more than 2,000 national sandstone arches in the park, and the erosion and the geological activity in the area make for very scenic pictures. You can also go hiking, rock climbing and horseback riding in the park during your visit.
Since you will be traveling through Oregon, California, and Utah during your Portland to Salt Lake City road trip, you will have many opportunities to explore state parks along the way. These are some of the best.
Silver Falls State Park
Before you head into the desert, make sure to stop at Silver Falls State Park to see the waterfalls. There are 35 miles of trails that you can hike, bike, or ride a horse on. If you want to bring your horse on your trip, there are even camping facilities that you can make use of in the park to keep your horse safe.
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park is dotted with several hiking trails. At this California state park, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the crystal-clear waters. You can kayak, go diving, or simply swim in the shallows. There are boat tours to enjoy, but don’t forget to check out Cascade Falls, which is a 200-foot waterfall that you can hike to and explore.
Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park is located in Utah, and the trails are surrounded by red and white Navajo sandstone that looks impeccable. You will be able to see lava flows and lava tubes among the sand dunes. There are also 14 RV sites in the park where you can stay if you decide to extend your trip and spend the night here.
Toketee Falls is located in Umpqua National Forest in Douglas County in Oregon. There is a 0.8-mile hike along the river that will take you to the falls. The waterfall is 113 feet high, and it has two tiers that make a beautiful picture. The first tier is a 28-foot drop that goes into a deep alcove. Then, the pool drops another 85 feet into a larger pool. The trek is not too difficult, so people of all ages can easily partake in the hike.
Lava Beds National Monument
The Lava Beds National Monument, which can be found in Tulelake, CA, is another stop that you will want to make during your road trip from Portland to Salt Lake City as there are a lot of geological formations that mark the area. These include cones, lava fields, lava flows, and lava tubes. There are caves and trails that you can explore here as well. In total, there are more than 700 caves and rock sites to check out.
Inyo National Forest
Inyo National Forest comprises over 2 million acres that span both California and Nevada. Here, you can find Mono Lake, Mount Whitney, Mammoth Lakes and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest contains the oldest living tree in the entire world. Once you are done hiking, there are hot water springs in the Mammoth Lakes to enjoy. There is even a trail that is used for skiing and snowboarding during the winter months.
One of the first cities that you will come across during your road trip itinerary from Portland to Salt Lake City is Eugene, Oregon. The city is located along the Willamette River, and it’s the second-largest city in the state. While you are here, you can visit the Willamette Valley Winery to get a taste of the local flavors. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art has historic pieces from China, Japan and Korea.
There are plenty of Eugene campgrounds if you decide to stay in this city overnight. Dexter Shores RV Park is a great option that offers plenty of hiking and fishing opportunities. Black Canyon Campground is another no-frills campground that has trails and swimming that you can enjoy. Make sure you know where the dump stations in this part of Oregon are located.
Reno, known as the “biggest little city in the world,” is the perfect location to spend the night, gamble, and enjoy the blue waters of Lake Tahoe before heading out again in the morning. If you do decide to stay the night in Reno, then consider staying at a Reno campground nearby that has activities for you and your family to enjoy. Shamrock RV Park and Victorian RV Park are great options to consider. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the locations of the dump stations in Reno.
Toward the end of your trip, you will come across a city called Provo in Northern Utah. It is close to Salt Lake City, and it’s located on the banks of Utah Lake. Make sure to check out Bridal Veil Falls and Provo Canyon for an afternoon of hiking and enjoying nature. There are also plenty of museums in the city to explore.
Provo campgrounds are plentiful, so if you want to stay and extend the trip for another day, you can easily find something nearby. The Lakeside RV Campground is ideal for boating and fishing before heading to Salt Lake City. Once you get to your destination, you will find that there are several dump stations in Salt Lake City.
As you can see from the itinerary for this Portland to Salt Lake City road trip, there are countless things to check out along the way. While several national and state parks have been detailed, there are much more than could fit in this list. RVing is a great way to get around, especially when you are taking a road trip from Portland to Salt Lake City. If you don’t have an RV that can make the trip, you can always check RVshare to see what rental options that are available in Portland. You can also check Salt Lake City for rental options if you would like to take the trip in reverse.