An RV Guide to the Ultimate Pacific Coast Road Trip

Empty bridge overlooking the sea on The Pacific Coast Highway
James O'Neil / Getty Images

Driving along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. is already a fantasy road trip for many, but being able to do it in the comfort of an RV only adds to the delight. This scenic route begins in San Diego, California, and brings travelers up to Seattle, Washington, traveling nearly the entire length of the country from the southern border with Mexico to the northern border with Canada.

Although you can complete the drive in under 20 hours by taking Interstate 5 through the interiors of California, Oregon, and Washington, these recommended stops require driving primarily on Highway 101 and Highway 1 along the coast. It adds about six or seven hours to the total driving time, but the spectacular views more than make up for the extra time behind the wheel.

Any time of year is fantastic for visiting Southern California, but if you're traveling in winter, the weather will get much colder and wetter as you travel farther north. Summer is a great time for sunny weather from start to finish, but it's also the most popular time for travel and Highway 101 can quickly get congested. Spring or fall is the best time for enjoying some sunshine with fewer crowds.

01 of 07

First Stop: San Diego

Overlooking lily pond in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, USA

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Where to Stay in San Diego

There are several great RV parks around and in San Diego, but one of the best all-around parks is Campland on the Bay. There are several full utility sites and even “super sites,” which are private and come with several upgraded amenities such as a full-size washer and dryer and private whirlpool spa. Regardless of if you’re staying in a super site or not, there are plenty of features and amenities at Campland on the Bay including a dog park, game room, fitness center, laundry, and a marina available for use. Whether you're starting your trip in San Diego or ending it, Campland on the Bay is an RV park you'll want to stay at.

What to Do in San Diego 

San Diego features many kid-friendly parks and activities such as Sea WorldLegoland, and the famous San Diego Zoo. If you want to explore the city’s views and scenery try Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Reserve, or La Jolla Cove for some of the area's best beaches. Whether you want to hike around the coast, catch a Padres baseball game, or get some fabulous food, San Diego has it. 

Distance to Big Sur: 7 hours; 415 miles (668 kilometers)

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02 of 07

Second Stop: Big Sur, California

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Chiara Salvadori

Where to Stay in Big Sur

Big Sur Campground is only a few miles from the magnificent coastline that makes Big Sur so alluring. The RV grounds are nestled right in a California Redwood Forest and sites come with electrical and water utility hookups with a dump station located within the park. The campground also comes with washrooms, laundry facilities, a camp store, playground, and more. Kids can rent inflatable tubes to bring to the nearby river for a rafting adventure.

What to Do in Big Sur 

Big Sur is all about taking in the majestic views. You'll see many of these vistas from the road as you're driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, but if you want to explore nearby parks you have your options of Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer State Park, and Burns State Park. You can also try venturing down to the actual coast to spot marine life such as elephant seals and whales. If the weather isn't ideal, venture into nearby Monterey for the award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Distance to San Francisco: 2 hours, 45 minutes; 145 miles (233 kilometers)

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03 of 07

Third Stop: San Francisco

USA, California, San Francisco, Bay Area, View from North Beach

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Where to Stay in San Francisco

San Francisco RV Resort is technically found in Pacifica, but it’s only a 20-minute drive to travel into the heart of San Francisco. This park is all about some great scenery as it is located right on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean for some great sunsets, wildlife viewing, and even surfing. The park itself comes with 150 great full utility hookup sites to go along with the views. Other amenities and features at San Francisco RV Resort include restrooms and showers, picnic areas, playgrounds, laundry facilities, a clubhouse, and more. 

What to Do in San Francisco 

Few cities have so many attractions packed into such a tiny area as San Francisco does, and you could easily spend a week or longer exploring the City by the Bay. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see site, although you'll be driving across it to the next stop so you can focus your time on other places. Take a cruise to Alcatraz and tour the infamous prison that still sits on this eerie island, and then head back to the city for a walk around Pier 39 and the nearby Ghiradelli Square for a chocolatey energy boost. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all there is to see, try a guided walking or bus tour to see as many places as you can before continuing on your road trip.

Distance to Crescent City: 6 hours; 356 miles (574 kilometers)

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04 of 07

Fourth Stop: Crescent City, California

A beach along the Redwood National Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

Where to Stay in Crescent City

Redwoods RV Resorts is one of the best RV parks in all California due not only to its stellar amenities and features but also because it's literally surrounded by the gorgeous and towering California redwoods. The amenities include Wi-Fi, immaculate bathrooms, and hot showers, plus on-site features including a playground, horseshoes, a dog park, and countless hiking trails.

What to Do in Crescent City

You won’t be in Crescent City so much as you will be in the surrounding forests of the Redwood National and State Park. Journey through this incredible land by foot or vehicle to get a glimpse at some of the largest living organisms on Earth. Popular spots in Redwood National and State Park include Howland Hill Road, Crescent Beach Overlook, and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. If you plan on staying a while you can also venture into Klamath National Forest. 

Distance to Port Orford: 1 hour, 30 minutes; 82 miles (132 kilometers)

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05 of 07

Fifth Stop: Port Orford, Oregon

Rope on fence post with Cape Blanco lighthouse behind.

Richard Cummins / Getty Images

Where to Stay in Port Orford

Port Orford is a sleepy southern Oregon town known for its artistry where the mountains and forests meet up with the vast Pacific Ocean. Your best place to stay is at the Port Orford RV Village. This lovely RV park offers the full utility of hookups along with cable TV and wireless internet access right at your campsite. You also get washrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a recreation room with exercise and kitchen equipment, horseshoes, basketball, and more. 

What to Do in Port Orford

The number one destination should be the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. Make your way over to the beautiful Cape Blanco State Park for some great hiking and sightseeing and, of course, to take a view of the lighthouse itself. The Port Orford area is full of several great parks like Humbug Mountain State Park and Port Orford Heads State Park. The area is also known for being quite artistic, so make sure to check out some of the great art scenes at the Hawthorne Gallery and other local creative hot spots. 

Distance to Cannon Beach: 5 hours, 30 minutes; 257 miles (414 kilometers).

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06 of 07

Sixth Stop: Cannon Beach, Oregon

USA, Oregon, Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, beach

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Where to Stay in Cannon Beach

What better way to explore the United States than to be near some of the most famous spots of Lewis and Clark’s western expedition, like Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach RV Resort will be a good place to rest and recharge for the final stops of your adventure with their gorgeous park situated right on the beach. A hundred paved and full-hookup sites give you the basics along with Cannon Beach’s complimentary cable and wireless internet. Cannon Beach RV Resort also houses laundry and bath facilities, an indoor pool and spa, a game room, gift shop, camp store, and more. 

What to Do in Cannon Beach 

Cannon Beach is all about the breathtaking coastline. Your ​first stop should be at Ecola State Park to explore the beaches all the way up to Seaside, Oregon. You can then set your sights to Tillamook Head, with its haunting lighthouse out on the Pacific Ocean. Other great areas of Cannon Beach to explore can be found at Haystack Rock, Hug Point State Park, and Oswald West State Park. If you’re looking for something different, try gazing at the artwork at Icefire Glassworks or sampling some spirits at the Cannon Beach Distillery.

Distance to Seattle: 3 hours, 30 minutes; 206 miles (332 kilometers)

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07 of 07

Seventh Stop: The Seattle Area

Pike Place Market at Christmastime, Seattle, Washington, USA

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Where to Stay in the Seattle Area

The last (or first) stop on your Pacific coast road trip takes you through the Seattle area and the surrounding bounty of outdoors hot spots. Two RV parks in the local area are both outstanding, so choose depending on what area you prefer to be in. Elwha Dam RV Park lies west of Seattle and is the perfect spot to start on exploring one of the most biodiverse regions in the world at Olympic National Park. Mounthaven Resort is found east of Seattle and is a great starting spot if you want to focus on Mount Rainier National Park. Both RV parks are packed with great features and amenities for your Seattle adventures.

What to Do in the Seattle Area

From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Seattle. This trendy city is known for its amazing seafood, microbreweries, and unparalleled coffee culture, so you'll have plenty to indulge in while you're there. If you're already aching again for the rich beauty of the Pacific Northwest, there are an endless number of options for day trips around Seattle to revel in its natural splendor, such as Bainbridge Island and Mt. Ranier National Park.

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