If you are planning a San Diego to Portland RV road trip, you are in for plenty of fun. The origin and destination cities are interesting in themselves, but you will also find plenty of fun in between. You will have a grand tour of two states, Oregon, and California. Here are some highlights for a San Diego to Portland road trip, headed north up Interstate 5.
Channel Islands National Park
Just off the coast of Ventura, California, you will find the Channels Islands. This is a wonderful place for a break from the freeway. The islands offer the perfect getaway from city life. There are five to explore, so you should plan your visit to enjoy your favorite activities. The islands are protected natural areas for native plants and animals, so there are no amenities such as grocery stores or hotels. You must rely on the supplies you bring with you. This is a refreshing spot to spend the day as you make your way north.
Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park was created by volcanic actions. This park is a wonderful spot to observe nature and enjoy some hiking. You get to explore oak woodlands, rock formations, and caves. Hike up toward the rock spires, and catch sight of golden eagles, peregrine falcons, or condors. One highlight is at the Bear Gulch Reservoir where they must work to bring back the California red-legged frogs that were once close to extinction thanks to an invasive species of catfish. This is also a release and management site for the California condor. It is such an important place for the animals and a treasured area to enjoy nature.
Crater Lake National Park
Once you get to southern Oregon, you will want to venture off the freeway for a day or two to see Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is an awe-inspiring sight. The breathtaking scenery is surrounded by miles of hiking trails. Enjoy a boat tour out to Wizard Island, or hang out near the village and watch a variety of birds and squirrels. On the way out to Crater Lake, you will pass Lost Creek Lake, a beautiful man-made lake that offers fishing and swimming. Once you pass the tiny town of Prospect, stop by the Natural Bridge. It is a natural phenomenon where the entire river disappears into an underground lava tube and reappears 250 feet away. There are gorgeous examples of nature all along this route.
Angel Island State Park
Angel Island State Park is the largest natural island in the bay near San Francisco, California. This area is steeped in history from the local native tribes to Spanish explorers to the processing of immigrants. It was also once a military base. You can access the island by ferry and spend the day exploring and hiking, enjoying a stunning view of the surrounding area like the San Francisco skyline.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a preserve for two groves of giant sequoia trees. They offer trails of beautiful scenery with rivers, volcanic formations, and quiet meadows. The visitor center provides a gift shop, two wildlife videos, and a small museum. This park includes picnic areas and campsites. The rangers provide evening talks and many other educational programs. These giant sequoias are a bucket-list item. They live for up to 3,000 years, and they are the largest living thing on earth.
Bowers Rock State Park
Bowers Rock State Park is a hidden gem located near Albany, Oregon. This is an underdeveloped park where you can hike the nature trails and enjoy some quiet wilderness. You will find access to the Willamette River with some great fishing where not a lot of people go. This remote area is public-owned and still in the process of becoming more accessible. You can enjoy ponds, hiking, and fishing away from the noisy urban world.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a theme park a little west of Sacramento. This is a fun little spot where you can take a break from driving and see some animals. They also have a collection of rides if you are the thrill-seeker type of person. Family rides and kiddie rides are offered as well. Enjoy interacting with animals and the unique close-up encounters they offer. You can feed sea lions or giraffes. Caregivers give talks at the Alligator Isle, Cain’s Lion Club Island, and Harbor Stage. They have a variety of animals including sea lions, tigers, anteaters, and bats. This park will be a welcome break from the drive.
After Six Flags, you can wander farther into San Francisco and visit Alcatraz Island. This island used to be a military prison, a fort, and a federal penitentiary. This island has a rich history and has been the scene of a few movies. Check out a behind-the-scenes tour of the penitentiary. You can access the island from Pier 33 where you get tickets. Once you get to the island, there is a short orientation. From there, you go to the Cell House for an interesting tour. A lot of the pathways to explore are quite steep, so you will want to wear comfortable shoes.
Oregon Caves National Monument
As you are going up Interstate 5 on your road trip from San Diego to Portland, you may want to take another side venture in Josephine County, heading west at Grants Pass. When you get to Cave Junction, head out to the little-known treasure called the Oregon Caves. Rangers offer guided tours of the caves where you will twist and stoop, exploring underground rooms down as far as 220 feet. There are stunning examples of stalactites and stalagmites. The tour is moderately strenuous, but even if you do not want to go through the tour, you can enjoy the hiking trails, gift shop, food, and lodging at the caves.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles has a multitude of activities and attractions, most of them well-known like Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, or Universal Studios. Los Angeles also has cultural heritage attractions including the Space Shuttle Heritage, the Getty Center, and a number of art galleries. Check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are also miles of coastline and hiking trails. You can also enjoy lots of shopping.
For dump stations, you may have better luck finding what you need north in Bakersfield. There are quite a few of them, including at the A Country RV Park and most of the other RV parks in the area. There are quite a few RV parks available in the area, too, if you want to spend the night, including Hollywood RV Park in downtown Hollywood.
Redding is a fun place to stop and explore along your journey to Portland. It claims to have over 300 sunny days a year. This city is at the edge of Shasta Lake and offers hiking, boating, and excellent fishing opportunities. There are dozens of waterfalls to explore in the area, including McArthur-Burney Falls that drops an impressive 129 feet to the pool below. You can enjoy whitewater rafting on the Sacramento River that runs right through Redding. There is also rafting on the Trinity River. Whiskeytown Lake offers some excellent boating opportunities. Northern California is also known for some of the best fly-fishing in the country. Also, be sure to check out Turtle Bay Exploration Park.
If you need a free dump station in the Redding area, you can find one at the Elks Lodge 2. You can enjoy lots of camping in the RV parks around Redding. The Sacramento River RV Park is right on the water, so you have easy access to fishing and boating.
Ashland is 16 miles north of the California-Oregon border and is best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The theater was founded in 1935 and features 800-850 performances of classic and contemporary plays every season. Mount Ashland, at the edge of town, offers skiing and snowboarding fun in the winter and enjoyable hiking in the summer. Lithia Park near downtown Ashland is 93 acres of beautiful greenery with Ashland Creek running through it, including 42 acres that are on the National Register of Historic Places. It includes grass areas and ponds, playgrounds, tennis courts, a bandshell, and a Japanese garden. While you are in Ashland, you can also visit Emigrant Lake, Hyatt Lake, and Howard Prairie Lake.
Since Ashland is a little more remote, dump stations are found at most of the campgrounds and RV parks. You can also use the one at the Valero gas station. Southern Oregon offers a wide variety of campgrounds. There is also a campground up toward Crater Lake.
Your road trip itinerary from San Diego to Portland will include a scenic ride as well as many fun activities and attractions along the way. Enjoy exploring across the states of California and Oregon, stopping along the way as you go. Taking this trip by RV is a fantastic choice because you have the freedom to stop and camp as you see fit. If you do not own an RV of your own, RVshare.com can help you find the perfect rental. Then, you can focus on enjoying the journey.