A road trip from Riverside to Arcata will take you through almost the entire length of coastal California. You will pass through several major cities like Bakersfield, Los Angeles and San Francisco. There is almost an endless number of national forests that lie next to your route, including the Sierra, Stanislaus, Eldorado, Lassen National Forests and more. Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park are close by as well. The trip is a long one, but you will have ample opportunities to take side trips to the west to see the Pacific Ocean or detours to the east to visit a nature preserve.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is named for its most famous denizen, the Joshua Tree, which is only found in the Mojave Desert. The tree is a yucca plant in the agave species, and it looks like a cross between a twisted pine tree and a saguaro cactus. Native peoples in the area utilized the Joshua Tree for its seeds and plant fibers, but today, the trees are popular for their unique appearance. Besides viewing these interesting trees, visitors can also visit portions of both the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. The Mojave is the smallest and driest of the four American deserts, which include the Great Basin, Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mojave Deserts. The Sonoran Desert is often named the hottest and greenest desert in the world. It is the only place where you can find the giant saguaro cactus.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The park is known for its old-growth stands of giant sequoia trees, including the "Grizzly Giant," a 900-foot-tall tree that has a circumference of 92 feet. Other areas of interest include the granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Tunnel View. The best time to view Bridalveil Fall while on your Riverside to Arcata RV road trip is in the spring, and El Capitan and Half Dome are particularly impressive in the winter when covered in snow and fine mist. Ansel Adams spent many years famously photographing these and other park sites extensively in black-and-white photographs, and you will find prints of many of his works in the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the third-largest state park in California and well worth a stop on your Riverside to Arcata road trip. It encompasses over 53,000 acres and contains the largest contiguous old-growth redwood forest in the world. More than 100 of the known 137 tallest trees in the world are found at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Here, you will find the fourth-tallest living redwood, the Stratosphere Giant, which is a little over 370 feet high. The Avenue of the Giants is a 31-mile portion of old Highway 101 and parallels Freeway 101, which passes through the redwood groves. This scenic route travels through Humboldt Redwoods State Park and affords access to picnic areas, campgrounds, and the Eel River. There are numerous trailheads that lead from the highway. The Humboldt Redwoods Visitor Center contains the Kellogg Travel Log, which is a famous hollowed-out redwood log that was driven across the country in the early 1900s to promote the saving of the redwoods.
Chino Hills State Park
Chino Hills State Park is part of the Santa Ana Mountains in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. This park offers a unique natural refuge from the stresses of the nearby urban communities, and its 14,102 acres protect the wildlife and the habitats within. Visitors can hike, bike, ride horses and view the surrounding Chino Hills. There are wide swaths of wildflowers on the slopes in the spring.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
The second-highest peak in Southern California is Mount San Jacinto, which is part of the San Jacinto Mountains. Both the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountain ranges are located in Mount San Jacinto State Park, and the park also features disparate landscapes like meadows, subalpine woods, and granite hills. A popular attraction of the park is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a rotating tram that transports passengers to the summit of Mount San Jacinto. Once arriving at the station at the top, you will find numerous amenities and attractions. You can also access the extensive trail system that connects to the summit. The Pacific Coast Trail runs between the Northern U.S. border with Canada and the Southern U.S. border with Mexico. Part of the PCT runs through Mount San Jacinto State Park.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge was opened to the public in 1937 and is something that you should definitely add to your Riverside to Arcata road trip itinerary. At the time of opening, it was the tallest and longest single suspension bridge in the world. Two twin towers serve as anchors on each end of the bridge, and the two 7,000-foot cables that run between the towers provide support. The bridge spans the Golden Gate Strait and connects the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It is painted in International Orange (formerly the original primer on the steel) and features an art deco architecture. Visitors can take a self-guided tour or avail themselves of free tours offered by city guides on Sundays. The best way to start on your walking tour is by first visiting the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, located on the southern end of the bridge. Here, you can view artifacts from the building of the bridge, watch an orientation video and see other interesting exhibits. The visitor center also has souvenirs for sale. The bridge is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is a large, noncontiguous preserve with many sites.
Disneyland is a must-visit attraction on your Riverside to Arcata road trip when you are in the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area. This iconic theme park was originally named "The Mickey Mouse Park" and opened in 1955 with 18 rides and attractions. Today, the park is one of the most visited in the U.S. and has received more than 700 million visitors as of 2019. The park has grown over the years and now includes more recent Disney favorite characters and other characters under the Disney company umbrells. However, the motto over the entrance is the same: "Here you Leave Today and Enter the World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy." Everyone in the family can have fun riding Radiator Springs Racers, Storybook Land Canal Boats and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Older riders will love the newer Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge's Rise of the Resistance ride, and older rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion are still thrilling passengers.
California State Railroad Museum
The California State Railroad Museum is one of the most popular museums in Sacramento. It covers an area of 225,000 square feet and features six buildings of exhibits and displays. There are 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some of which date back to 1862, and a replica construction scene representing Donner Pass circa 1867 that features the Gov. Stanford locomotive. Exhibits include informational displays on the influence of railways on commerce, travel, and daily life. The roundhouse has a rotating display of locomotives and equipment, and there is a reconstruction of the 1870s’ era Central Pacific Railroad passenger station and freight depot. Between April and October, visitors can ride the Sacramento Southern Railroad on a six-mile round-trip route along the Sacramento River.
Santa Rosa is known for its wineries. There are fun sites to visit that include the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center; Trione-Annadel State Park; the Burbank Center for the Arts; and the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, which includes a mini train station. Spring Lake Park is one of the largest parks in the area and is close to Spring Lake and only 10 minutes from Santa Rosa. You will have no trouble locating a convenient dump station nearby.
San Francisco is the center of commercial and cultural industries and events. The city is the 13th largest in the U.S. and is known for its high-end restaurants and other foodie favorites. Landmarks include the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, cable cars, and the wickedly curvy Lombard Street. San Francisco RV Resort is located on the Pacific Ocean and is 15 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Half Moon Bay. San Francisco is a large urban region with numerous dump stations for your use.
Los Angeles is a hub of television and film production and related industries. While in Los Angeles on your Riverside to Arcata road trip, you can take tours of studios like Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Universal. Other fun places to visit include the Griffith Observatory, the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and more. Finding a dump station in this popular tourist area is an easy task. Hollywood RV Park is the former Balboa RV Park and is located in Hollywood. Sometimes, celebrities stop by the park, which has been a popular landmark since 1948.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Riverside to Arcata, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Riverside or Arcata.