Going on a San Diego to Denver road trip will give you the opportunity to see some of America’s most beautiful country between the California coast and the Rocky Mountains. Along the way, you’ll encounter everything from Sin City itself to cities brimming with Mormon tabernacles. Deserts, mountains, ski slopes, canyons, petroglyphs, and more are just waiting for you to discover them. If you’ve packed your camper and you are ready to head out, then it’s time to get started on your San Diego to Denver RV road trip.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is only two and a half hours from San Diego, so it’s an early stop on your road trip itinerary from San Diego to Denver. This park is named for the distinctive trees that dot its desert landscape, but you can also find plenty of cacti, wildflowers, and other desert flora. Various desert animals like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and even bighorn sheep also call Joshua Tree National Park home.
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is only five hours away from Las Vegas, so you’ll be able to visit this iconic landmark after spending some time on the Vegas Strip. This gigantic canyon can be explored by hiking, biking, horseback riding, rafting, and more. You can take advantage of the knowledge of the rangers by participating in ranger-led hikes as well as lectures about wildlife and geology. Whether you want to stare over the rim’s edge in awe or take a rigorous hike down into the canyon itself, you can get your fill of desert beauty at Grand Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for the distinctive rock formations called hoodoos that fill this park. There is, of course, more to this spectacular national park than some strange geographic formations. At Bryce Canyon National Park, you can view bristlecone pine trees that are 1,800 years old. You can hike through slot canyons and view formations like China Wall and Tower Bridge. The stargazing is amazing because of Bryce Canyon’s remote location.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is at the end of a string of three national parks laid out in a row along Interstate 70. It may not be the largest of these three parks, but it’s packed with over 2,000 sandstone arches that have been delighting hikers, photographers, and the curious for many years. Multiple trails of varying levels of difficulty take you to various popular arches in the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is close to the end of your road trip from San Diego to Denver. Visitors flock here every year to explore the extreme terrain of the mountains. You can summit Longs Peak, which is over 14,000 feet. If you’re not up for such a strenuous hike, never fear: There are plenty of easy and moderate trails in the park that take you through Rocky Mountain majesties. Moose, elk, birds, and numerous evergreens are on display at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area is in the San Bernardino National Forest not far from Interstate 15. Silverwood Lake itself is nearly 1,000 acres large, so you’ll have plenty of room for boating, fishing, swimming, and more. You can hike and bike on 13 miles of trails within the park, and you can even walk on a piece of the lengthy Pacific Crest Trail.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is aptly named since it features nearly 46,000 acres of gorgeous painted desert formations. It’s close to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Las Vegas, so you’ll have plenty to do while you're in the area. You can view Native American petroglyphs, rugged canyons, and a variety of desert wildlife at Valley of Fire State Park.
Quail Creek State Park
Whether or not you see any quail at Quail Creek State Park, you’ll have no problem finding plenty of catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, and bluegill at the well-stocked lake here. This is also a great place for swimming and boating; you can even rent a small personal watercraft on-site. The park is near St. George, Utah, so you’re close to multiple other desirable attractions.
Fremont Indian State Park
Fremont Indian State Park is very close to Interstate 70 in Utah, so it’s right on the route of your San Diego to Denver road trip. If you want to learn more about the Fremont Indians and Mormon explorers who settled the area, then you’ll be fascinated with this state park. Many artifacts unearthed at this park are on display in the on-site museum; you can also see reconstructed buildings and authentic petroglyphs.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is close to Denver and Interstate 70, so it’s a great late stop on your road trip from San Diego to Denver. Since the park is nearly 12,000 acres large, you’ll have plenty of room to explore the trails and view the local wildlife. Once you’re done mingling with black bears, mountain lions, and the like, you can spend some time exploring the nearby Denver area.
UC Riverside Botanic Gardens
The UC Riverside Botanic Gardens are close to the University of California, Riverside, and Interstate 215. More than 4 miles of trails that are spread out over 40 acres of gardens take you on a tour of flora from around the world.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Most people associate Las Vegas with glitz, glamour, and gambling, but fewer people likely know that there’s a large national conservation area just outside of Sin City. Whether you want to cruise the 13-mile scenic drive at your leisure, hike, or bike on any number of trails, or even go rock climbing, you can do so at Red Rock Canyon.
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
There is no shortage of red rocks on this San Diego to Denver RV road trip; in fact, you can see plenty more of them here at Red Cliffs National Conservation Area right outside of St. George, Utah. More than 130 miles of trails take you through the unique habitats of the Upland Zone and the Lowland Zone.
Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument is located right outside of Grand Junction, Colorado. You can cruise along Historic Rim Rock Drive, hike on more than 40 miles of trails, and engage in some rock climbing.
Glenwood Canyons Adventure Park
Glenwood Canyons Adventure Park is right off Interstate 70 and is close to the Colorado River. Located in gorgeous Glenwood Springs, this amusement park is home to rides like the Giant Canyon Swing, the Alpine Coaster, and the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride.
San Bernardino, California
San Bernardino is located on the floor of the San Bernardino Valley and is close to the LA area. Given its proximity to the San Bernardino National Forest, there are plenty of nearby campgrounds. Local attractions include the Original McDonald’s Site and Museum and the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum.
Las Vegas, Nevada
This famous—or infamous, depending on your perspective—city is known for its glitz and vices, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have practical things like dump stations and campgrounds. In addition to partying on the Strip, you can visit the Mob Museum, the High Roller, and the Pinball Hall of Fame.
St. George, Utah
St. George is just across Utah’s border with Arizona; Zion National Park is also close by. Plenty of dump stations and campgrounds are conveniently located nearby. Local places to go include Red Hills Desert Garden, Pioneer Park, and St. George Temple.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction is aptly named since it’s a rail and travel hub for this part of Colorado. Unsurprisingly, there are ample dump stations and campgrounds in the area for your use. If you’re willing to travel an hour and 20 minutes south of Grand Junction, you can visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
If you’re looking for an alpine village set in the Rockies, then Vail is the place to go. There are multiple campgrounds in this region at which you can park your camper while exploring the area. Aside from engaging in winter sports activities, you can visit places like the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and Piney River Ranch.