Your Portland to Denver road trip will take you along a beautiful route that's filled with amazing places, such as Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Fort Stevens State Park, the Oregon Zoo, and Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. From hiking to camping and wildlife exploration to birdwatching, this trip should offer you a wide array of fun opportunities. If you are traveling in an RV, consider planning a route that goes through some larger cities like Boise and Twin Falls. You'll find a few excellent campgrounds in and around these areas.
As you will see in our National Park guides, there are some wonderful western national parks that you can add to your route.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Situated 95 miles northwest from Portland, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is spread across the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River. One of the main attractions is Fort Clatsop, which is located on the northern Oregon coast. This will be the first national historical park that you'll see during your Portland to Denver RV road trip. It is a tribute to Lewis and Clark, America’s two most popular explorers and adventurers. They stayed at Fort Clatsop during the winter of 1805 before returning home. This fort now serves as a museum with an actual replica of the original Fort Clatsop from 1805 and an exhibition room detailing the highlights of Lewis and Clark’s journeys. Another amazing thing about this park is that it cherishes the rich history of Native Americans who occupied this land.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Before completing your journey, be sure to check out Rocky Mountain National Park, which is located two hours north of Denver. As you might imagine, this park celebrates the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. There are over 300 miles of hiking trails that you can explore, so be ready to get some exercise. If you visit during spring, you may see the park's legendary colorful wildflowers.
No road trip itinerary from Portland to Denver would be complete without a few stops at some of the state parks along the way. You can find a wealth of information about your options in our state park guides.
Ainsworth State Park
You will find Ainsworth State Park 37 minutes into your road trip from Portland to Denver. This park is home to one of the most scenic wildlife areas in the Pacific Northwest. Located in Cascade Locks, OR, it offers a full-service campground for RVers. You can enjoy electric and water hookups along with all the modern amenities, such as dumping stations, hot showers, refueling options, playgrounds, etc. This park is surrounded by well-preserved hiking trails that will take you into the heart of the lush green forest surrounding the park. There are gorgeous waterfalls and marvelous rock formations for epic photography sessions with your family.
Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park in Tillamook, OR, is tucked neatly between Netarts Bay and the ocean. If you are into scenic views and wildlife exploration, this state park is a must-see destination. The forest surrounding this park is well-preserved and still has centuries-old growth without any deforestation. The hiking trails will lead you into the lush green forest, and you can enjoy a serene picnicking experience with your family in this tranquil state park. You could even catch a glimpse of the seasonal whale by the tranquil beach.
Fort Stevens State Park
Also in northwest Oregon, Fort Stevens State Park is 92 miles from Portland. This is a beautiful state park tucked along the shoreline of Oregon and is spread over an area of 3,700 acres. This state park is built around the old Fort Stevens, and there are guided tours to take you through the history of the area. One of the best things about this state park is that the climate is always temperate. This park is neither too hot nor too cold.
Portland Japanese Garden
This traditional Japanese garden offers a serene and Zen environment to visitors. It makes for a perfect first stop before you head out on your Portland to Denver road trip. This 12-acre garden, which was leased from the city in the late 1960s, is treated as a non-profit organization. If you are looking to get away from the busy city life, a hike through this garden can help you accomplish that in a heartbeat. The gorgeous trees are breathtaking in every season, but this garden is packed with visitors in the fall to enjoy the lovely Bonsai trees. There are also regular exhibitions.
Oregon Zoo should be a must-see stop if you are traveling with kids. This is yet another amazing attraction you will find in the awesome Washington Park in Portland. As one of the West Coast's oldest zoos, it was founded in 1888. Oregon Zoo is spread over an area of 64 acres and is home to 230 species and 1,800 animals. The zoo also holds 19 endangered species and nine threatened species. If you think that animals are the only thing this zoo has to offer, think again. The destination also offers a beautiful collection of extensive plants collected from all over the world. There are specialized gardens where the visitors can relax, enjoy a good meal, and appreciate the beauty of flora all around them.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
It is impossible to mention Denver and leave out Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. This open-air amphitheatre, which is located 10 miles from Denver, has been carved into an existing rock structure. The seating area in this place can easily accommodate up to 9,500 people. This gorgeous venture was opened to the public in 1941 and is home to regular festivals, concerts, music gatherings, and lively events throughout the year.
If you take the I-84 route for your Portland to Denver road trip, you'll hit Boise, Idaho, after about 430 miles. The fish-packed rivers in Boise attract thousands of anglers every year, and the gorgeous mountainous regions also attract climbers, hikers, and campers to the region.
Being about a third of the way to Denver, Boise is a good place to find a campground. Consider Mountain View RV Park, which also offers a sanitary dumping station. You will have to pay $10 to use the dump station, and you can also enjoy full electric and water hookup during your stay here.
If you are interested in exploring the scenic beauty of active waterfalls, Twin Falls is a must-add stop to your itinerary. As the name suggests, this city in southern Idaho is home to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls in the nation. They include Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls.
If you want to camp in Twin Falls, try the Oregon Trail Campground. It comes with full-service hookup options and a dumping station for RVers. This RV park is also in proximity to Magic Valley, Ske River, and Shoshone Falls.
Fort Collins, CO, should be among the last few cities during your road trip from Portland to Denver. This college town offers you easy access to the world-famous Rocky Mountain National Park. RVers can refuel in the city, head over to the nearby national park, and make their way back before sunset.
You'll encounter so many amazing places as you travel from Portland to Denver. If you complete the road trip via RV, you can enjoy everything without worrying about lodging or transportation. Renting an RV will also offer you ample time to get to the nearby attractions before returning to your original route. Since most destination in the American West are quite spread out, it's good to have some flexibility in your travel plan.