When making up your road trip itinerary from Salt Lake City to Fresno, consider the countryside through which you are traveling. Your course takes you from the Great Salt Lake, which is already sandwiched within the arms of the Rocky Mountains, across high mountain passes to the deserts of Nevada. After miles of desert, you again cross mountains, this time the Sierra Nevada Range, into California and the fertile San Juaquin Valley with all its rivers, lakes, and impressive cities. Along the way, you can stop at an incredible number of national and state parks that preserve the original environments as early explorers discovered them. It is an extraordinary voyage through the wonderful countryside with many stories to tell. So, plan well because your time is the only currency you cannot change; spend it wisely.
Zion National Park
Before leaving Salt Lake City, consider traveling about 300 miles south to Zion National Park, the first area designated as a national park in Utah. The park consists of a 15-mile-long canyon carved 2,640 feet deep through the soft Navajo sandstone floor of the high Utah desert by the North Fork of the Virgin River. Its lowest elevation is 3,666 feet in Coal Pits Wash, and its highest elevation is 8,726 feet on the summit of Horse Ranch Mountain. People come to Zion National Park for its stunning scenery and hiking and biking trails and to climb the rocks. There is an amazing hike called "the wading walk" where visitors hike in water through a tight location called "The Narrows," which is considered an iconic experience by many.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
After arriving in California, consider extending your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park. When you reach Sacramento, turn north and drive 160 miles to Redding, CA, the gateway to the park. In Lassen, you find steaming fumaroles, bubbling mud pits, geysers, and many volcanoes. The horizon is rich with jagged peaks under which crystal blue lakes sit awaiting the eager angler. In the spring, the mountainsides are alive with a rainbow of wildflowers. In the winter, those same slopes provide fantastic ski and snowboard runs.
Yosemite National Park
One of the most recognizable national treasures is Yosemite National Park. The nearly 1,200-square-mile park is visited by millions of people each year. With high cliffs, incredible rocky outcroppings, majestic waterfalls, and tall sequoias, this park stands alone as an iconic symbol of the west. Here, you can raft the rivers, hike the trails, climb the cliffs, or sit back and enjoy the natural wonders surrounding you.
Sequoia National Park
When you reach Fresno, travel another 70 miles south on your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno to see Sequoia National Park. The park hosts some of the largest trees in the world atop the peaks of the Sierra Nevada foothills. While the mountainous terrain reveals an incredible number of majestic views, the trees are the central focus of the park. Some of these magnificent giants are 1,000 years old. Every year, some mammoth trees are lost to nature when strong winds catch the massive limbs and take a tree down. Don't wait for another year; use this journey to see these natural wonders while they still stand.
Antelope Island State Park
Begin your Salt Lake City to Fresno RV road trip with a quick visit to Antelope Island State Park. The park covers the entirety of Antelope Island, an island in the Great Salt Lake. You discover a varied terrain on its land — sandy shoreline beaches, a grass-covered prairie, and a mountain. The flat prairie area is covered with nutritious scrub grass that makes a perfect diet for antelope, bison, or deer. There are no permanent structures on the island, and visitors are limited in time spent. Stop and enjoy the magnificent views of the lake, millions of birds, and the wildlife surrounding you.
Castle Crags State Park
Castle Crags State Park, near Redding, CA, is over 700 miles into your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno. Stopping at this state park while visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park gives you a wonderful spot to camp and explore both of the parks' natural wonders. Fishing is allowed in the Sacramento River, which runs through the park, but the regulations call for anglers to practice catch-and-release techniques. The hiking trails and vertical cliffs available for climbing draw visitors from far and wide to the park.
Malakoff Diggins State Park
Add a 70-mile detour to your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno to visit Malakoff Diggins State Park. Located near Sacramento, this park takes you back to the heady days and rousing nights of the California Gold Rush. When you reach the park's campground, you are in the center of a valley created by hydraulic gold mining. Looking up, you see the stark remains of the cliffs tortured by this method of mining. Hiking trails take you through the legendary chaparral country where the backwoods still hold sway.
Northeastern Nevada Museum
During the initial stretch of your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno, there is not much to see other than the incredible views of mountains, desert, and the Great Salt Lake. After 230 miles of traveling, stop in Elko, NV, to see the Northeastern Nevada Museum. This museum holds interesting artifacts, including a 2-million-year-old mastodon and an antique bar first used in 1916.
Nevada Museum of Art
Before you cross the border from Nevada to California, your route travels through Reno, NV. There are many reasons to stop and explore Reno besides the glitzy casinos. The Nevada Museum of Art sits in the center of town. Its focus is on the interaction between humans and the environment. The museum houses exhibits that include works of art centered on the preservation of natural settings.
You can still live through the Gold Rush by visiting Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. The site is a working museum with artifacts from the first and last days of the California Gold Rush. You can take virtual and actual tours that explain the advancing technologies that the Gold Rush created at this site. From gold panning to hydraulic mining, you can learn how destructive and mindless the attraction of possible riches made those humans who crossed the country seeking wealth.
About 250 miles into your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno, you run across two towns with much to offer — Wells and Elko, NV. These two towns lie only 50 miles apart, making them neighbors in an austere land. Their location along the roads made them an attractive spot to rest on arduous trips before I-80 made travel easier from Salt Lake City to the coast. The tale is the same today for weary travelers seeking a place to rest and recuperate from desert travel. Wells is home to a number of dump stations while Elko supports numerous campgrounds.
Astride your road trip from Salt Lake City to Fresno route sits Reno, the largest city in northwest Nevada. The casinos, museums, and shows draw millions of visitors to this town each year. Many come in RVs to stay a while and enjoy the area. Reno offers many dump stations to support the surrounding campgrounds that always seem to be full throughout the year.
When you reach Sacramento, you are nearing the end of your Salt Lake City to Fresno RV road trip. The city is the political center of California with rich architectural constructions that have withstood the test of time. Sacramento is a trade and business haven. Attractions bring many RV travelers who use the dump stations the city provides while staying at the campgrounds located a short distance outside the town.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Salt Lake City to Fresno, 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 Salt Lake City or Fresno.