You'll find some of the best scenery in the Pacific Northwest on your Seattle to Sacramento RV road trip. Starting out, you can make side trips to visit Olympic National Forest and National Park or Mount Rainier National Park. The city of Portland, which is also known as the City of Roses, Rip City, and Stumptown, offers a wealth of activities as well as entertainment and recreational opportunities. Cruising through Oregon, you pass state and national parks that beckon the outdoor enthusiast. As you cross into California, you'll witness the majestic Mount Shasta and have numerous opportunities to visit more national forests as you make your way south.
You won't have to deviate very far off of your route if you want to visit national parks on your road trip between Seattle and Sacramento. This part of the country is home to old-growth forests that house some of the largest trees in the country. From high peaks to the deepest lake, nature's beauty is on full display.
Olympic National Park
Whether you want to walk beside the ocean, stand on a glacier-topped peak, or hike through dense, old-growth forest, Olympic National Park has something for you. The park covers nearly 1 million acres and encompasses a variety of distinct ecosystems. While the park is open year-round, it's most popular in the summer when travelers like to escape the heat of the cities.
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier dominates the area around Seattle. Despite being the most glaciated peak in the continental U.S., Mount Rainier is an active volcano. With the peak topping 14,000 feet, Mount Rainier National Park offers a variety of outdoor recreation year-round. In the warmer months, you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and strolling through wildflower-strewn meadows, or you can participate in ranger-led programs. During winter, you can take advantage of ranger-led snowshoeing adventures as well as go snowboarding, sledding, and skiing.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is less than two hours from the I-5 corridor and could be an unexpected jewel along your Seattle to Sacramento RV road trip. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and arguably the most pristine. The lake was formed 7,700 years ago when the volcano known as Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed. Visitors can marvel at the incredibly clear, blue water and stunning landscape. Swimming is allowed, but even in the height of summer, the lake's surface temperature rarely goes above 60 degrees. Kids can participate in the junior ranger program, and all ages can enjoy hiking, fishing, and bicycling in the park. In addition to basking in the scenic beauty, winter activities include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
If you want a chance to stretch your legs on your Seattle to Sacramento road trip, Lassen Volcanic National Park has over 150 miles of hiking trails. The area in and around the park has experienced volcanic activity for about 3 million years. Check out the visitor's center to learn about the park, which has all four types of volcanoes: shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome. Lassen Volcanic National Park has a variety of hydrothermal features, including steam and gas vents, thumping and boiling mud pots, boiling pools, and steaming ground. While the hydrothermal features are not safe for bathing, you can enjoy fishing, non-motorized boating, and swimming at the many lakes within the park's boundaries. Other dramatic features include the Painted Dunes, Fantastic Lava Beds, and Terminal Geyser.
Yosemite National Park
The land within Yosemite National Park has been protected since 1864 and encompasses nearly 1,200 square miles. Famed for its waterfalls and world-class climbing, the park is also known for its abundance of wildlife and theatrical displays of nature. You can walk through groves of giant sequoias or explore over 750 miles of hiking trails. The park also offers tours along with ranger-led and interpretive programs. You can join the long list of artists who have captured Yosemite's landscape in a variety of art forms, or you could choose to participate in biking, birding, fishing, horseback riding, or stargazing.
As you cruise along I-5 on your road trip from Seattle to Sacramento, you'll pass by loads of state parks. Here are a few that are worthy of a short detour along the way.
Silver Falls State Park
If you've always wondered what it's like to walk behind a waterfall, then be sure to include Silver Falls State Park in your road trip itinerary from Seattle to Sacramento. Among the numerous waterfalls, the park boasts four waterfalls that have a natural path going behind the cascading water. The most famous is South Falls, a 177-foot curtain waterfall. You'll find it along the 7.2-mile Trail of Ten Falls. The park offers many different trails of a variety of length and difficulty, and all except the Canyon Trail allow dogs on leashes. The day-use area has picnic tables, horseshoe pits, barbeque stands, and an area to let you dog run off-leash.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is part of the Redwood National and State Park complex that is co-managed by both the California State Parks and the National Park System. The park was established in 1829 and contains 7% of the world's remaining old-growth redwood forest. The dense redwood forest has a primeval feel with giant ferns and towering trees that cast the area into deep shade. In addition to hiking on the trails, you can enjoy fishing, snorkeling, and kayaking on the crystal-clear Smith River.
Castle Crags State Park
The entrance to Castle Crags State Park is less than a mile off I-5 in the north end of the Sacramento Valley. The park is named for the 6,000-feet tall granite spires that were formed 170 million years ago. It features 28 miles of hiking trails, with routes that offer everything from a leisurely stroll to a strenuous adventure. You'll find picnic tables along the Sacramento River, and fishing is allowed.
International Rose Test Garden
For a fragrant stop on your Seattle to Sacramento RV road trip, visit the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. The garden is located in Washington Park, which also houses the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children's Museum, Portland Japanese Garden, and the World Forestry Center. The garden is one of the 11 rose test gardens of the American Garden Rose Selections (AGRS). This test garden includes the Miniature Rose Garden, one of only six such test gardens for the American Rose Society (ARS) miniature rose test program. Amenities include paved walking paths, a fountain, a gift shop, and guided tours.
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
Cave tours are the main attraction at the Oregon Caves. You can choose from a variety of options, with everything from a kid-friendly tour to a full off-trail caving adventure. If you don't like enclosed spaces, you can enjoy the light of day at one of their many hiking trails through the surrounding forests. In addition to the variety of bats inside the caves, the area is home to an estimated 130 species of birds, amphibians such as the Pacific tree frog and giant salamander, and a host of mammals ranging in size from the diminutive Siskiyou chipmunk to the large American brown bear.
The Oregon Vortex
Prepare to have your senses altered at the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery. This quirky roadside attraction has demonstrations that seem to defy the laws of physics. The visual and perceptual natural phenomena make it seem as if balls roll uphill and the relative size of two people becomes reversed.
Folsom Prison Museum
Folsom Prison was the site of one of Johnny Cash's infamous prison concerts from the 1960s. The museum is located just outside the gates. Only about a half-hour from the center of Sacramento, Folsom Prison Museum houses an array of artifacts such as weapons made by inmates as well as photos and memorabilia from Cash's concerts.
While you can make the road trip from Seattle to Sacrament in one day, it would be most comfortable to break it into two or more days. Here are a few of the cities and towns you'll pass along the way.
Portland is a city with thriving music, art, and theater communities. You'll also find a wide range of dining possibilities, making it a great stop on your Seattle to Sacramento RV road trip. Whether staying a few days or just passing through, Portland has a host of dump stations. You'll also find plenty of campgrounds such as the Roamer’s Rest RV Park.
Salem is the state capital of Oregon and offers plenty of art, entertainment, and dining possibilities. There are many dump stations, including places such as Silver Falls State Park. Campground options abound, including the self-described five-star campground Phoenix RV Park.
Grants Pass is a lovely small town located along the Rogue River on I-5. If you want to camp here, you'll find plenty of RV campground options such as Schroeder Park.
Redding is a city of about 90,000 people that lies a couple hours north of Sacramento. Along with restaurants and attractions like Waterworks Park, you'll find plenty of campgrounds to accommodate your RV, including Mountain Gate RV Park and Cottages. If your RV needs a pit stop, you'll also find dump stations.
Nature is the centerpiece of many destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Your Seattle to Sacramento road trip will take you by or near a number of places that showcase nature's phenomenal variety. To get the most out of your trip, you can rent an RV from RVshare in Seattle, Sacramento, and many points in between.