Driving from San Diego to the Grand Canyon and the Mogollon Rim gives you the opportunity to see some of the most incredible scenery in the country! When you go RVing, you have the freedom to enjoy this uniquely American journey at your own pace and no limit to which amazing sights you visit along the way.
Cruise America from the majestic Pacific coast, past mountains, through deserts, and along the historic Route 66 before being amazed by the immense Grand Canyon. Here are some of our favorite stops along this incredible road trip that will make you want to jump in an RV rental and set off right away!
Don’t leave San Diego without visiting the cultural oasis of Balboa Park! Home to a host of attractions, including San Diego’s Institute of Contemporary Art, the Starlight Bow theatre, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, there’s something for everyone. Walking through the lush gardens is free, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy something to eat before you begin your road trip.
Take A Break At Truckee, CA
Once you have finished up the couple of activities that you have chosen for yourself in San Francisco and you have started your journey, consider finding some spots to stop so that you can see all that that area has to offer you and your travel companions. There is a small town located in Nevada County, California, by the name of Truckee. It is situated on the Truckee River and has many cute restaurants to try when making a stop on your road trip. If you happen to be visiting in the winter, there are also a lot of winter activities to do here, including:
Things to do:
These can all make for a fun day stop as you continue to explore with your RV rental. Whether you choose to explore downtown, try different restaurants, or indulge in winter sports, you’re sure to have a fun adventure when passing through Truckee.
Next Stop: Explore the wild terrain of Torrey Pines State Reserve
Just north of San Diego, the Torrey Pines State Reserve is a must-see for any nature lover when they go RVing. The 2,000 acres of coastal state park feature rocky cliffs and miles of untouched beaches. Park your RV rental and take in the stunning views while you meander through the many trails. Or, take a guided hike to learn more about the local flora and fauna.
Stay at South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
Hook up your RV rental at South Carlsbad State Beach Campground’s sites right by the beach. Wheelchair-accessible sites are available; however, motorhomes and trailers are limited to 35 feet. Steps lead down to the 3-mile-long dog-friendly beach. Bring your board for a sunset surf or enjoy watching the experts as you plan the next leg of your journey.
Entertain the kids, or your inner child at LEGOLAND, California
Cast your line off the longest wooden pier on the western US coastline
Oceanside Fishing Pier is about 35 miles from San Diego and is a great stop when you cruise America. Spend an afternoon fishing, walking, or just taking in the fresh ocean air. You don’t need a license to fish from the pier, and there’s a bait and tackle shop on-site. If you’re more into eating fish than catching them, or don’t want fish in your RV rental, the historical 1,954 feet long pier has several restaurants that serve up mouth-watering cuisine.
Stroll around an 18th Century Spanish mission
The historic Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 and is known as the “Jewel of the California Missions.” The beautiful grounds include a stone church, gardens, and a museum. The museum’s exhibitions display artifacts from the Mission’s past, religious influence, and Native American culture. If you go RVing during the summer, try to catch one of their Saturday evening concerts.
Wade in rock pools at the foot of "Pirate Tower"
The city of Laguna Beach is famous for its beautiful beaches, but it’s also an adventurer’s dream. Explore the coast’s network of caves, cliffs, and tide pools and let your imagination run wild at Victoria Tower on Victoria Beach. Known locally as “Pirate Tower,” it was built in 1926 to contain a staircase to the beach. Don’t forget to snap a pic of the Instagram famous manmade lagoon before you jump back into your RV rental!
Stay at Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA
Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA in southern California’s Coachella Valley is a great place to park your RV rental when you go RVing. It has full hookups, and it’s just 45-minutes to the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. The carefully landscaped resort-style site has a swimming pool, hot tub/sauna, and on-site mini-golf.
Be wowed by nature at Joshua Tree National Park
The otherworldly desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park is full of extraordinary plants, including the striking Joshua tree, for which the park is named. The Hidden Valley Nature Trail is suitable for all skill levels and takes you past some of the park’s most interesting rock formations. If you’re up for a challenge, try Joshua Tree’s toughest hike — a 3-mile out-and-back trail to Ryan Mountain. The summit offers panoramic views of the entire park.
Take in some culture at Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Springs Art Museum features permanent collections of Native American art and architecture, and hosts international visiting exhibitions. Fill up on Mediterranean-influenced cuisine paired with a California wine or craft beer at Persimmon Bistro & Wine Bar. The museum’s 430-seat Annenberg Theater, with its nearly perfect acoustics, is the perfect place to catch a performance.
Ride the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one of the coolest ways to get to the top of San Jacinto Peak. The 10-minute ride takes you along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon to the 8,516 feet high Mountain Station. The tram cars slowly rotate to give spectacular 360-degree views of the valley below. At the top, there are over 50 miles of hiking trails, a natural history museum, and two documentary theatres to experience. Or you can take it easy and take in the views from an observation deck.
Hit the slopes at Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is a popular ski resort town and a mecca for ski and snowboarding enthusiasts. The town’s two family-friendly resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, offer a variety of beginner to advanced routes. If you go RVing in the summer, Big Bear Lake is the perfect place to cool off with a swim, go fishing, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking.
Stay at Calico Ghost Town Campground
Calico Ghost Town Campground is a great place to park your RV rental if you’re brave enough to explore the nearby Calico Ghost Town! The campground has RV sites with full hookups, an on-site restaurant, and a gift shop. In the former mining town of Calico, you can tour an old silver mine, ride the Calico Odessa railroad, and take a Saturday night ghost tour.
Pay tribute to American soldiers at Painted Rocks
A pile of rocks in the Mojave Desert doesn’t sound like much, but these Painted Rocks are worth visiting on your road trip. The rocks are next to the main gate of the Fort Irwin National Training Center and represent United States Army units from various Battalions. Painted Rocks is a unique and moving tribute to the men and women who serve our country.
Step back in time at Peggy Sue's 50's Diner
Peggy Sue’s original roadside diner is a great place to stop for a bite while you go RVing. Squeeze into a booth and enjoy classic American dishes like burgers, fries, and milkshakes while listening to 1950s jukebox hits. Don’t forget to check out the diner’s impressive collection of movie and TV memorabilia before you continue your road trip.
Go sandboarding at Kelso Dunes
Get out your RV rental and sandboard across the largest area of sand deposits in the Mojave Desert! For those who want to enjoy the “singing” dunes at a slower pace, hike to the top of the dunes and enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding desert. The dunes are open 24/7 year-round but offer no shade, so hiking them in summer isn’t recommended due to the heat.
Get your kicks at the Arizona Route 66 Museum
Brush up on your knowledge of “The Mother Road” at the Arizona Route 66 Museum in Kingman. The museum tells the history of Route 66 and its impact on America through exhibits, documents, and photographs. There’s also a gift shop where you can buy Route 66-themed souvenirs. When you cruise America, this is definitely a place you want to stop.
Stay at Railside RV Ranch in Williams
Close to the tracks of the old Grand Canyon Railway, Railside RV Ranch has full hookups and is less than an hour from the Grand Canyon. The site has free wifi, a game room, a fitness center, and is dog-friendly. Railside RV can also arrange private guided tours, train trips, and air tours of the Grand Canyon.
Dine 200 feet underground at the Grand Canyon Caverns Grotto
The temperature in the Grand Canyon Caverns is a constant 56 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s a great place to visit on a hot day when you cruise America. Whether or not you explore the sprawling caves, dining in the largest dry caverns in the US will definitely be a meal to remember! Be sure to reserve your seat in advance to avoid disappointment.
Chateau Tumbleweed Winery & Tasting Room
If you’re a fan of wine, stopping your RV rental at Chateau Tumbleweed Winery & Tasting Room is a must. The tasting room offers a selection of 15 Arizona wines and is open daily from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Located between Cottonwood and Jerome, Tumbleweed winery has a spacious dog-friendly patio with scenic views of the Verde Valley.
Hang out with the Bighorns at Bearizona Wildlife Park
Bearizona Wildlife Park is a drive-through wildlife park where you can see a variety of rescued animals in their natural habitats. Set in the Ponderosa Pine forests of Northern Arizona, Bearizona is home to animals such as grizzly bears, bison, wolves, and bighorn sheep. There are several animal shows to see, and you can also get out of your RV rental and explore parts of the park on foot.
Finish at the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon
There’s no better way to end your RV road trip than to watch the sunset at one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The best place to watch the sun go down is from the Grand Canyon‘s South Rim, where you can also see the stars come out in all their glory. The best time to visit is between April and June but be sure to pack a blanket or jacket in your RV rental whenever you go, as it can get chilly in the evening.
PS – You don't need your own RV for this adventure!
If you are thinking about taking an RV trip, you’ll need an RV for the highest level of comfort on the road.
RVnGO makes it easy to find and rent an RV for your epic San Diego to Grand Canyon road trip so you can cruise America comfortably. With a huge selection of RV rentals to choose from and nationwide delivery, all you need to do is pack your bags and hit the open road. With over 8,000 RVs available, we have the perfect RV rental for you to go RVing.