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Roadtrip with RVshare San Francisco to Denver

A San Francisco to Denver RV road trip is a fascinating journey through all kinds of different surroundings. You will travel up through the mountains into evergreen forests. Then, you will drive down the mountains and through the desert, even passing salt flats on the way. From there, you go back up into higher elevations again. Once in Denver, you’ll get to check out the 16th Street Mall and the Denver Art Museum, among other attractions.

San Francisco to Denver Road Trip Itinerary

  • Trip Length: The San Francisco to Denver road trip driving time is 19 hours and 30 minutes, so you could make the trip in three days, but stopping to see all the attractions along the way will definitely lengthen the trip.
  • Mileage: It is 1,247 miles from San Francisco to Denver.
  • Fun Fact: The elevation of San Francisco is 52 feet while the elevation of Denver is 5,280 feet or a mile above sea level.

Nearby National Parks

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is the best resource for maritime history on the Pacific Coast. It also provides a great way to start your road trip from San Francisco to Denver. This historical park carries an extensive library and large collection artifacts for research. Be sure to visit the maritime museum and the historic ships that are on-site. There is an 1886 square-rigger called the Balclutha as well as a schooner, steam ferry boat, and scow schooner from the 1800s. You can also enjoy the steel paddleboat tug that was built in 1914. You will even find a group of other boats from the early 1900s.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is the largest of its kind in the state of Utah. The huge area is divided into four different regions, so you will probably only have a chance to visit one of them. Some of the top points of interest include Island in the Sky, which is a mesa with a flat top, the Needles, which are tall rock spires, the Maze, a system of canyons and crevasses, and the Orange Cliffs. There are also Native American paintings inside Horseshoe Canyon. You can explore the area on horseback or foot or go by water on one of the two intersecting rivers. The park also offers a variety of ranger-led activities. While Canyonlands is a bit of a side trip on your journey, it is more than worth the visit. 

Nearby State Parks

Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park

Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park is made up of a group of manageable units. Sand Harbor is named for the large sandy beach where you can enjoy picnics, a boat launch, and nature trail. Cave Rock is the perfect area to enjoy boating; it has a double ramp and plenty of trailer parking. There is also a small beach area where you can swim, snorkel, or sunbathe. A steep shoreline is a great place for fishing. It is also the home of the Spooner Backcountry, a beautiful and natural oasis. The park features 50 miles of trails where you can hike, backpack, or ride horseback. This is definitely a great place to enjoy outdoor activities. 

Bonneville State Park

Bonneville State Park is the home to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The salt flats are 5 miles wide and 12 miles long. The area is quite well known because of the automobile-endurance and land-speed racing events that have been held there. The flats are used during the year for other sporting events, including endurance runs, motorcycle relays, and archery competitions. You cannot drive on them when they are wet or flooded. You should also know that the salt flats do not have facilities or improvements past the end of the paved road. If you drive on it, you should also wash the salt residue off your vehicle as it can be corrosive. 

St. Vrain State Park

St. Vrain State Park offers year-round camping in Colorado. It is the perfect peaceful area for a little break after a long drive. They have the largest rookery of blue heron and many other bird species, so it is especially popular for bird-watchers from all over the country. You can also enjoy camping, fishing, and photography in the area. 

Along the Way

Humboldt State Wildlife Management Center

The Humboldt State Wildlife Management Center is located in Lovelock, Nevada. In the 1850s, emigrants following the California Trail would stop at Toy Railroad Siding to refill their freshwater before they headed across the Forty Mile Desert. 

National Automobile Museum

The National Automobile Museum is located in Reno, Nevada. The museum has a collection of over 200 cars spread over four galleries. Each gallery holds cars from a different time period. Many of the cars were once owned by celebrities. 

Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake is located outside Salt Lake City. This lake is one of those places you need to have on your bucket list. This is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. Water comes into the lake from three different rivers but has no outflow other than evaporation. The water is a lot saltier than seawater even. The salt content makes the water very dense, so when you try to swim in it, you will float. Be sure you give it a try on your way by. 

Main Cities You Will Pass Through

Reno

Reno, Nevada, is known as "The Biggest Little City in the World." Reno is famous for its casinos, and it offers lots of entertainment in a much smaller venue than cities like Las Vegas. You can also enjoy concerts, museums, and breweries. The city is also surrounded by mountains, so you can enjoy many outdoor activities as well. The Truckee River is near Reno and will tempt you with the Truckee River Whitewater Park. If you enjoy exploring, you may want to take a mini-detour over to Virginia City, one of the world's most notorious mining and ghost towns. There is a cemetery there with headstones from as early as the 1860s. 

The rest area at Fernley is a few miles east of Reno, and it's a good place to use the dump station. It has picnic tables and potable water that are free to use. Sparks Marina RV Park is a great place to camp if you are ready to stop for the night. It is located in Sparks, so you can access it without having to travel through downtown Reno. 

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is Utah's state capital, and it offers a wide variety of things to see and do during your visit. You can enjoy arts and museums, nightlife, or getting outside and exploring nature’s playground. There are places to bike, hike, and take a scenic drive. If you have time, be sure to head south of the city to visit the great outdoor areas of Southern Utah, home to Canyonlands, and other national parks. 

An accessible dump station near Salt Lake City would be the Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza. They are located in Snowville and provide a great place to fuel up and get a snack as well. Pony Express RV Resort is a scenic spot to turn in for the night. 

Fort Collins

Fort Collins, Colorado, is north of Denver. There is a historic district with a vintage trolley and houses from the 1800s. You can visit the Museum of Discovery that features interactive exhibits. Outside of the city, there are trails to explore. 

You can find dump stations at most of the campgrounds in Colorado. There is also one in Aurora, just east of Denver, at the Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Golden, which is just west of Denver, has some stellar campgrounds, including the Clear Creek RV Park. It is located right next to a beautiful little creek and is still within walking distance of downtown Golden. 

Find Adventure from San Francisco to Denver

Rent an RV

Once you get to Denver, you have reached the Mile High City. You can enjoy the culture and craft breweries and still be right next to nature. There are numerous beautiful gardens and parks, and you are not too far from ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains. When you have a well-planned road trip itinerary from San Francisco to Denver, you will enjoy adventures and experiences in many different environments. Going on this road trip with your RV makes the trip much more convenient since you do not have to worry about a place to stay. If you do not have one, we have rentals available on RVshare. You'll find a range of RV rentals in both San Francisco and Denver. Renting an RV for the road trip means that you can explore as you go and stop when you need the rest. It will be an adventure you will not soon forget.

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