Explore the beautiful highways of San Diego and its hidden treasures as you venture to fabulous Las Vegas, "the Entertainment Capital of the World." The drive features some must-see sights and interesting stopping points, such as Joshua Tree National Park, Seven Magic Mountains, and the March Field Air Museum. Enjoy an additional respite in Palm Springs, the perfect place to refresh, rest, and take in some of the Colorado Desert scenery.
If you love soaking up the natural beauty of the country's national parks, you'll only need to travel slightly off the path of your road trip itinerary from San Diego to Las Vegas, but it will definitely be worth it. California is home to some of the largest preservation of land in the U.S.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a definite highlight for any road trip. As one of the most popular U.S. parks, it has over 800,000 acres of stunning terrain and is the meeting point where the Colorado and Mojave desert landscapes collide. Some of the main things to see are Keys Ranch, Skull Rock, Ryan Mountain, and the gold mining ruins at Lost Horse Mine. The park is also known for its incredible sunrises and sunsets and is one of the best places in the country for stargazing.
Death Valley National Park
Located on the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley National Park is the largest, driest, and hottest park to include on your San Diego to Las Vegas RV road trip. Famous for its extremes in weather, Death Valley holds the world record for hottest temperature ever recorded of 134 degrees in July of 1936. For the adventurer, this park features a 1.5-mile hike around the rim of Ubehebe Crater, a 600-foot deep volcanic crater, as well as hikes to Dante's View where panoramic scenes of the valley unfold from above. More serene excursions include checking out Artists Palette and viewing the golden yellow flowers in the badlands at Zabriskie Point.
California's state parks are perfect if more solitude is what you want on your San Diego to Las Vegas RV road trip. Beautiful views with plenty of hiking and camping are what's in store at each park.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Mount San Jacinto State Park is the first state park on your road trip. Located off Highway 243, this park features two drive-in campgrounds near the small town of Idyllwild, an excellent place to spend the day backpacking and the night stargazing. In the morning, grab some snacks and drinks in Idyllwild before heading out of town. Sheer granite peaks, colorful mountain foliage, and pine forests are what you can expect to see and explore.
Salton Sea State Recreation Area
Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a short one-hour drive south from Palm Springs. Stop at the Bombay Beach Ruins on the west end of Bombay Beach; you can get a sense of the area's history here. Perfect for a day trip, you can also check out the Salton Sea's history at the visitors center in Mecca. You can also bird-watch, fish, and marvel at the unique geology that surrounds the area. Temperatures in summer can rise to 115 degrees, so be prepared to wear a hat and sunscreen.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is 44 miles south of the Salton Sea in the Colorado Desert. Stop by Borrego Springs on your way to the park. There, you'll see 130 huge metal sculptures of prehistoric and mythical creatures created by Ricardo Breceda. Take a drive on Pictograph Trail in Little Blair Valley where 2,000-year-old petroglyphs and pictographs can be seen on boulders and cliffs. This is the largest state park in California, and you'll see desert terrain that includes arid badlands, slot canyons, palm oases, and geological wonders formed from seismic activity and flash flooding. This park has also been designated as an International Dark Sky Park.
March Field Air Museum
The March Field Air Museum houses a variety of fascinating fighter plane exhibits and was initially called the March Air Force Base Museum when it was founded in 1979. Since then, it has twice changed locations and become a nonprofit organization that is open to the public offering private and tram-driven tours with narration as well as "ghost walks." One of the most popular exhibits is a fabric-covered biplane from World War I. Other exhibits include current fighter jets, military helicopters, and unmanned aerial aircraft.
Oasis of Murals and Public Art
As you enter the city of Twentynine Palms, you'll notice the array of murals painted on the sides of businesses throughout the community. The Oasis of Murals consists of 26 locally commissioned works of art that sparked a renaissance for the small city, attracting new art venues and events. The murals depict the history of Twentynine Palms as well as the beauty of the surrounding wildlife and desert foliage.
Seven Magic Mountains
On the last leg of your drive into Las Vegas, you'll see Seven Magic Mountains just off I-15. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the 30-foot tall, multicolored totems have been open to the public since 2016. They were only scheduled for viewing for two years; however, because of the popularity of the seven towers, an extension plan was granted for the continued interest in the bright rock formations. Over 1 million people have visited the Seven Magic Mountains exhibition, which is set to close at the end of 2021.
Palm Springs sits at the edge of the Colorado Desert in the Coachella Valley. Year-round sunshine and warm temperatures draw tourists interested in the resort city's famous art deco-style architecture and penchant for hosting popular events. The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival hosts some of the most popular musicians over three days in April.
Happy Traveler RV Park has a campground and dump station just 20 minutes away from downtown Palm Springs. The campground offers access to the town's world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment as well as plenty of RV park amenities, including Wi-Fi, showers, and free laundry.
Twentynine Palms is an oasis surrounded by the Mojave Desert, sitting just above Joshua Tree National Park. The high desert locale is great for hiking, camping, stargazing, and enjoying local events in a historical setting. Entry to the Mojave Trails National Monument is nearby with plenty to explore. You can also mingle with the locals while shopping in some of the town's boutiques.
Oasis Palms RV Park is located 1 hour and 40 minutes south of Twentynine Palms in the Coachella Valley. This park has a campground and a dump station. Local farms surround the park, and there are a variety of fruit trees on the property if you like your produce extra-fresh. Nightly bonfires and weekly potlucks are open to all campers.
Primm is a fantastic stop to make on your San Diego to Las Vegas road trip. Sitting only 40 miles south of Las Vegas, Primm has one of the tallest roller coasters in the U.S. at 225 feet, and the city is famously known for its huge outlet mall with over 100 stores. Two notable casinos, Whisky Pete's and Buffalo Bill's, mark the skyline of the small city where you can relax and enjoy a preview of what Vegas has to offer.
Furnace Creek Campground has a dump station and campground with fire pits and picnic tables. The park, located in Death Valley, is an excellent place for photography, viewing wildlife, and hiking. Reservations are required at this campground, so be sure to book online prior to setting off on your trip.
For travel that allows you to relax and get the most out of your road trip from San Diego to Las Vegas, consider booking a recreational vehicle. Cruising the highway in an RV rental allows you to see the sights at your leisure, and the convenience of never having to search for lodgings cannot be understated. RV rentals on RVshare are perfect for making your road trip the most memorable one ever.