A road trip from Provo to Big Bear Lake takes you through a range of scenery. You'll start in the beautiful mountains of Provo and travel through the Utah desert to national parks, where you'll be surrounded by rich red rocks. After that, you'll drive through the cacti and palm trees of Southern Nevada and Death Valley, which gets some of the hottest temperatures in the country. When you reach your destination, you'll be in a mountain lake retreat surrounded by lush forests.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park surrounds the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline, or wrinkle in the earth. This wrinkle extends 100 miles and contains canyons, cliffs, natural bridges, and domes. Be sure to visit the Chimney Rock pillar, Hickman Bridge arch, and the Capitol Reef white sandstone domes. For a variation from the red rock surroundings, visit the orchards in the Fruita section and pick some fruit if it's in season.
Bryce Canyon National Park
What is a hoodoo? You’ll see a lot of them in Bryce Canyon National Park, which has the largest collection of these natural formations in the world. A hoodoo is a pinnacle of rock with a cap at the top, somewhat similar in shape to a mushroom. These dark red geologic wonders can be seen by driving through the 20-mile-long park. Along your drive is the large Bryce Amphitheater, which is a depression filled with hoodoos.
Zion National Park
With 2,000-foot-high red cliff walls, Zion National Park is a rock climber’s and hiker’s paradise. Several forest trails along the Virgin River are worthwhile stops, as is the Emerald Pools with its hanging garden and waterfalls. Another popular hike is the Narrows, where you’ll actually be wading through the Virgin River for part of the way. If you’re an advanced hiker and want a challenge, Angel’s Landing is considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is the driest and hottest spot in the United States. It gets less than 2 inches of rainfall a year, has a record high temperature of 134 degrees, and is the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below sea level. It has more to offer than just a death-defying climate, though. Titus Canyon has colorful rocks and a ghost town. During your Provo to Big Bear Lake road trip, you can drive to Devil’s Golf Course to see the spiky salt formations covering the ground or hike Telescope Peak Trail past pine trees. Watch the temperatures before you go hiking, though; as the name implies, Death Valley National Park can be dangerous.
Joshua Tree National Park
The Joshua tree is actually not a tree; it’s in the agave family. Legend has it that the Joshua tree was so named by Mormon settlers who thought the tree looked like Joshua in the Bible story reaching up to the heavens in prayer. Hike the Skull Rock or White Tank Campground trails to get a better look at the spiky trees, as well as some interesting rock formations. The two-mile hike to the Lost Horse Mine will give you a glimpse of the area’s gold mining past. If you enjoy rock climbing, the park is a great place to indulge in your hobby. There are more than 8,000 rock climbs there.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
The red sandstone throughout southwestern Utah contributes to the pinkish-orange sands of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Take a walk through the warm sand or ride around on the 2,000 acres of sand available for OHVs. The Sand Highway and the South Boundary Trail are popular spots for all-terrain vehicles. While you’re in the park, look for the Coral Pink tiger beetle. This is the only place in the world you can see the colorful little bug.
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
A popular hike in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is the Escalante Natural Bridge, which crosses the river five times on the way to the natural bridge. If you like the challenge of a narrow slot canyon, try Peek-a-Boo and Spooky canyons, which are very tight. A long but worthwhile hike is the six-mile trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls, a 130-foot waterfall. After hiking, taking a paddleboat or kayak out on the lake is a pleasant way to relax.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park in Nevada has a rich history. For pioneers traveling west on the Spanish Trail, it was a welcome oasis with a plentiful water supply. After the pioneer days, the land became a working ranch and luxury retreat for several rich and famous owners, including actress Vera Krupp and eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes. You’ll see some of the oldest buildings in Nevada there, including the cabin of the founding family and an 1860s blacksmith shop.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is named after its 40,000 acres of bright red sandstone rock formations. Along with the interesting rocky scenery, you can see petrified trees and petroglyphs there. If you climb the staircase to Atlatl Rock, you can see the best display of petroglyphs in the park.
Mona, Utah, Lavender Farm
Thirty miles south of Provo is a 1,400-acre lavender farm. The expanse of purple flowers set against the backdrop of the mountains is gorgeous. For a few dollars, you can pick your own flowers, but be sure to come in June and July when the lavendar is in bloom. You can also take a hayride tour of the Young Living Lavender Farm or ride a paddleboat around a small reservoir.
Cove Fort Historical Site
If you’re interested in Utah’s history, a stop at Cove Fort should be added to your Provo to Big Bear Lake RV road trip. There, you’ll learn about the Mormon pioneers who originally settled the land. Cove Fort was founded at the request of Brigham Young to provide a way station for travelers and telegraph lines. It was a much-visited stop from 1867 to 1880. You can have a guided tour of the buildings from that era; they have been restored and are complete with authentic furnishings and artifacts.
Pinball Hall of Fame
The Pinball Hall of Fame is a museum for pinball machines. You don’t just walk through pinball exhibits, though; you play the machines. Rows and rows of pinball machines from every era, some of them quite valuable, are located in an unassuming building in Paradise, Nevada.
The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel. The concrete arch-gravity dam was built during the Great Depression, and it was a dangerous job for the workers who built it. In the five years it took to build the dam, 112 workers lost their lives. You can walk across the top of the dam to see amazing views and appreciate how truly massive it is.
Calico Ghost Town
Calico was a silver mining town founded in 1881. Today, it's a popular tourist spot where you can see buildings from the 19th century, pan for gold, or ride a narrow-gauge train. Stop at Maggie Mine, the general store, and the old schoolhouse to get an idea of what life was like for residents of the town in the 1880s.
St. George, Utah
St. George is Utah's southernmost city. It's usually at least 10 degrees warmer than the northern parts of the state, so it sees a lot of Utah visitors during the colder months. There are quite a few campgrounds and dump stations for your RV.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps. The neon lights are always glowing on the Strip as you visit one luxurious casino after another. Las Vegas has much more to offer besides gambling, though, and you might want to stay a few days to see all the sights. There are plenty of campgrounds and dump stations to be found in the area.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Provo to Big Bear Lake, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Provo or Big Bear Lake.