With incredible coastal views, dramatic desert backdrops, astonishing geological formations, and miles and miles of promising vineyards, there’s not a single minute you won’t be amazed on this epic California road trip. Famed for its hot, sunny climate and friendly people, California is one of the best states for a campervan holiday. Driving from Los Angeles in Southern California to Bodega Bay in Northern California, you have the opportunity to see some of America’s oldest and greatest natural wonders.
From the powdered sand beaches of Malibu to the spectacular scenery of Yosemite National Park, there’s something for everyone on this epic road trip. So head to Los Angeles, choose your campervan , and hit the open road on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Bordered by soft, sandy beaches and covered in picturesque hiking trails, Malibu is the perfect first stop on your California road trip. The city and its people are warm, comfortable and relaxed, just as you might expect from such a scenic spot. Surfers try their luck on the waves, hikers climb along the dry and rocky landscape, families feast at classic roadside diners, and couples enjoy tasting local wines under the dusky Californian sky.
Known for hosting the beach houses of many Hollywood stars, Malibu is an iconic pacific paradise. There’s something for everyone in the city and surrounding landscape. Beach lovers have a wide selection, from the rocky coves of Point Dume and El Matador to the powder sands of Zuma Beach. Trekkers can enjoy the stunning backdrop of Malibu Creek State Park, where famous movies such as Planet of the Apes and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed. Places like Malibu Pier or Surfrider Beach cater to those who enjoy watersports, like surfing, diving, or fishing.
Your Southern California to Northern California road trip will be filled with awe-inspiring scenery, amazing destinations, and lots and lots of driving, so take advantage of your Malibu stay to get yourself energized for an epic adventure.
from Los Angeles Depot
Leo Carrillo State Park
Beachside park with many activities and natural wonders
Malibu Country Mart
Upscale shopping district with many boutiques, restaurants and diverse architecture
Make the trek to the wonderful, hidden 150-foot waterfall
Long-standing seafood and burger diner, featured in many films
Malibu Farm Restaurant and Cafe
Serves fresh, delicious food at either end of Malibu Pier
Easy access to the pier but can fill up quickly
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Convenient parking lot adjacent to the beachfront
Malibu Beach RV Park
Lovely campervan park along the waterfront
To the North of Malibu, through the hot Californian desert, lies the geological marvel that is Red Rock Canyon State Park. Dominated by colorful cliffs and incredible, jagged rock formations, the park is as historic as it is beautiful. Hundreds of years ago, the park was home to the indigenous Kawaiisu people. Their legacy now lives on in the many drawings and carvings that have been discovered in and along the mountains.
While Red Rock Canyon State Park is breathtakingly beautiful enough to justify the journey, many flock to the park to see the filming location of a range of Western classics, and other features such as Jurassic Park and Holes.
If you‘re traveling in the Summer and leave Red Rock, driving through the Great Basin Desert to reach your next destination, you may feel as though you have left civilization behind. While there are towns dotted along the Three Flags Highway, they are few and far between. A great place to visit, if you need a break from the long road, is the small, historic town of Lone Pine.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
El Paso Petroglyphs
See prehistoric drawings from early native Kawaiisu Indians
Red Cliffs Trail
Staggering cliff-face with vibrant, layered red rock
A Southern comfort kitchen located 16 miles from the park
Friendly American diner with a view over an airfield
Picnic Spots, Red Rock Canyon
Bring your own food to one of many scenic spots
Red Rock Canyon Parking Lot
Open sunrise to sunset, start your canyon adventure here
Red Rock Canyon Campsite
A natural camping space, nestled in the desert mountains
Yosemite National Park is a famed, Californian-protected, valley known as much for its natural beauty as it is for its varied wildlife. A great stopping point on any road trip, Yosemite can be explored through a network of hiking trails on foot, or by following the winding and scenic roads from the comfort of your campervan.
It’s difficult to choose a favorite feature of Yosemite National Park, as it has a variety of natural wonders to behold. Yosemite Falls is just one of many waterfalls to flow into the vast park, but it is so named as it is the longest, at nearly 2,500 ft. Impressive mountains border Yosemite, such as the iconic Half Dome, or the 3,000 ft tall El Capitan. Discover the flatlands throughout the park, like the Tuolumne Meadows which spreads from the Tuolumne River, and see if you can spot some deer or bobcats. Take a step back in time as you journey through the impossibly tall and ancient Giant Sequoia trees.
Yosemite National Park isn’t the only geological marvel in the area. While you’re traveling the Three Flags Highway in the summer, be sure to visit the Hot Creek Geological Site, where natural springs bubble with geothermically heated boiling water.
Yosemite National Park
from Red Rock Canyon State Park
Valley Floor Tour
Guided open-air tram tour of Yosemite Valley
A sunset visit in February offers the amazing ‘Firefall’ illusion
A grand 1920’s lodge with quality American cuisine
Meadow Grill, Curry Village
Affordable, easy lunch, halfway from Half Dome to Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Valley Parking Lot
Can fill by 9 am, some delays if you arrive late
Tuolumne Meadows Parking Lot
Limited parking, try to arrive before 10 am
Indian Flat Campground
30 minutes from Yosemite Valley Visitor Center along Highway 140
This sunny Northern California region is the birthplace of some of the greatest wines ever produced. Many flock from all over the world just to visit one of Napa Valley’s high-class vineyards and wineries, so it’s worth a visit when you’re in the area.
Stretching out for miles and miles over the beautiful countryside are vines with all different colored grapes. From the warm-weather Cabernet Sauvignon to the cold-weather Chardonnay, wine is being produced in Napa Valley all year round. While wine-tasting here is always recommended, remember to never drink and drive. Only partake in the tasting if your campervan is in an RV park or one of the many free parking lots, and you are finished driving for the day.
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from Yosemite National Park
Silver Oak Vineyard
Enjoy tasting the finest wines in Napa Valley
Charles Krug Vineyard
Discover Napa Valley’s longest-standing vineyard
Hess Persson Estate
A magnificent blend of vineyard and art gallery
Napa Valley Wine Train
Sophisticated meal aboard an antique train travelling through wine country
Compline Restaurant and Wine Shop
Terraced restaurant with French-American cuisine
All-Day Parking Lot
Large, open-air parking lot
Pearl Street Garage
All-day underground parking
Fifth Street Garage
All-day underground parking
Napa Valley Expo RV Park
Steeper prices, but has full hookups and free WiFi
Skyline Wilderness Park
Peaceful campgrounds within a wilderness park
You’ve made it all the way from Los Angeles to Bodega Bay on your epic Northern California Road Trip. Now is the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself. Bodega Bay is famed for its natural beauty, with sandy beaches and picturesque hiking trails. Explore the quaint harbor, with its fascinating boutiques, or stretch your legs as you adventure through the various protected parks.
While you’re in town, make sure to sample some of the fresh seafood that is caught and prepared for the numerous waterfront restaurants each day. Then pick up a pair of binoculars and walk along to the end of the Bodega Head peninsula for your chance to spot some Gray Whales.
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Rugged, beachside hiking trail
Peaceful, county park famous among bird-watching enthusiasts
19th Century building used prominently in Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’
The Marshall Store
A landmark restaurant, known for their fresh and delicious seafood
Spud Point Crab Company
Freshly caught crabs and fish served along the shorefront
Gourmet Au Bay
Wine and snacks along a waterfront terrace
Salmon Creek Beach Access Parking Lot
Smaller car park between the Pacific Ocean and Salmon Creek
Bodega Head Parking Lot
Perfect place to start your hike along the coast
Bodega Bay RV Park
Convenient overnight stop with coastal views
from Bodega Bay