The road trip from San Jose to Redding takes less than four hours if you're looking to get there quickly. Why take just four hours, though, when you could have so much fun exploring the area? There's so much to see along your route that a 4-hour trip could end up taking you days depending on where your travels take you. Here are a few ideas for stops along the way.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park was the first land protected by the government. In 1864, after the gold rush had brought thousands of settlers to the area, Abraham Lincoln declared the land a public trust to prevent it from being exploited. It became a national park in 1890. It's also considered one of the most beautiful national parks, with iconic scenery made famous by Ansel Adams’ hundreds of black-and-white photographs of the area. Yosemite’s 1,200 square miles of wilderness thrills over 4 million visitors yearly with one of the world’s tallest waterfalls, impressive rock formations, El Capitan, the largest monolith in the nation, and three groves of giant sequoias. Yosemite National Park is not exactly on your route — it’s a two-hour drive to the east — but it’s well worth the detour.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
With its myriad of boats and ships lining the bay, San Francisco is one of the most picturesque seaport cities in the U.S. For a closer look at San Francisco's maritime lore, stop at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. You can board one of the vessels of the historic fleet at Hyde Street Pier, or you may consider taking a boatbuilding workshop. The park also offers a maritime museum and a research facility.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Once you arrive in Redding and settle in, plan to stay awhile so that you can head northeast to Lassen Volcanic National Park. With its geothermal and volcanic activity, it’s California’s mini version of Yellowstone National Park. The park is named after Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world. Surrounding Lassen Peak are bubbling mud pots, steaming sulfur vents, and hot springs. Lassen Peak last blew in a series of eruptions from 1914 to 1917, and although it's considered an active volcano, no one knows when or if Lassen Peak will erupt again. You can see many of the park’s hydrothermal features at Sulphur Works or Bumpass Hell. You can even hike to the summit of Lassen Peak to look down into the crater. Lassen Volcanic National Park also boasts some of the prettiest redwood groves in California.
Angel Island State Park
Angel Island is the largest island in the San Francisco Bay. A ferry takes you across the water, and once you’ve arrived, you'll have amazing views of the San Francisco skyline. Once on the island, you can rent a Segway or a bike to explore the area. Visit the beautiful beaches and sunbathe, but take care if considering a swim as there are no lifeguards and the currents are very strong. Known as the Ellis Island of the West, Angel Island has been the immigration portal for millions of immigrants coming across the Pacific Ocean.
Mount Diablo State Park
During your San Jose to Redding road trip, hike or drive to the summit of Mount Diablo to see the visitor’s center with ancient marine fossils embedded in the walls. At the top of the visitor’s center is an observation deck where you can see unparalleled views of the surrounding Bay Area. Another favorite stop at Mount Diablo State Park is Rock City, which features geological attractions like Elephant Rock, Sentinel Rock, Fossil Ridge and the Wind Caves.
South Yuba River State Park
If you like whitewater rafting, South Yuba River State Park is another side trip worth your while. Before rafting, you can take in the stunning waterfalls and several 19th-century bridges along the way. You can also pan for gold here or swim in one of the natural swimming holes.
Bodie Ghost Town
If you decide to take the two-hour drive to Yosemite National Park during your San Jose to Redding RV road trip, stop at Bodie Ghost Town before you head back to your route. Bodie Historic State Park provides a slice of history for those wanting to experience the gold rush that changed the West. From 1877 to 1882, Bodie was a bustling town that produced more than $35 million in gold and silver. With the gold rush a distant memory, the abandoned town’s 100+ buildings give a snapshot of what it was like for its residents. Bodie is slightly northeast of Yosemite National Park, so it’s a quick drive and a worthwhile stop before you head back on your route.
From Lands End park, you can see amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and shipwrecks of old. Walk along the trail to discover a hidden beach and cliffside labyrinth. You can also see the ruins of Sutro Baths, a huge swimming area developed in 1894. It fell into disuse during the Great Depression and was later demolished and destroyed by fire. The concrete ruins at Lands End are a reminder of a different era.
The Mystery Spot
Just outside of Santa Cruz is a gravity hill and “crazy house.” In a circular 150-foot area, things behave as if the normal laws of gravity and physics don’t exist. Balls roll uphill, and people lean farther than seems possible. Scientists explain that it’s all a visual illusion caused by the tilt of the crazy house, but the spot still baffles the senses.
Sonoma Wine Country/Napa Valley
Just east of Sacramento, you’ll be in Napa Valley, California’s wine country. There are a variety of tasting tours you can peruse, and you can even take a 36-mile train ride to explore the area. The train tour has several stops at wineries along the way.
Lake Shasta Caverns
Over 200 million years ago, water formed the Lake Shasta Caverns, which is a network of limestone caves. You can see a variety of formations, including stalagmites, stalactites, columns, soda straws, and flowstone. The only access to the caves is by catamaran, so your trip to the caverns will include a ride across the water. From there, a bus takes a scenic route up a steep incline to deposit you at the mouth of the caves.
Your drive from San Jose to Redding includes stops in San Francisco and Berkeley, with many campgrounds available for your RV. Before you go, take a look at dump stations along your route to keep your trip hygienic and comfortable.
San Francisco can be explored for days. Among its many attractions is Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can see the sea lions at Pier 39. At the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, you can take in an up-close view of the engineering marvel that still leaves an indelible impression. Visit the Haight-Ashbury district, where you can wax nostalgic about the hippie culture of the '60s, or take the ferry to Alcatraz, where you can tour the famous island prison. If you want to stay overnight in San Francisco, there are a variety of campgrounds for your RV as well as dump stations to get rid of waste
Berkeley is home to the oldest college campus in the University of California System, the University of California, Berkeley. During the '60s, it became a focal point for the hippie counterculture movement and liberal activism. While there, be sure to visit historic Telegraph Avenue, a center of campus and community life. The Berkeley area also has plenty of campgrounds if you decide to stay in the area for a while. In nearby Sacramento, you can find several dump stations.
Once you get to Redding, be sure to visit the famous Sundial Bridge, which spans 710 feet of the Sacramento River. The structure has one of the world's largest working sundials. From there, you can visit Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum or Turtle Bay's McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Redding offers many campgrounds and dump stations for your convenience.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from San Jose to Redding, 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 San Jose or Redding.