San Jose is a major technology hub in the Bay Area. Before you even depart on your San Jose to Helena RV road trip, you can set aside some extra time to visit renowned spots like the Tech Museum of Innovation, Tech Interactive, and the Computer History Museum. There are also several examples of unique architecture and historic landmarks in San Jose that are worth checking out, including the Winchester Mystery House and Hoover Tower. Several amusement parks are located in this part of California if you want to have a day of thrills with your family. While most of the trip will be spent on I-80 E, two national parks that are well worth the slight detour are not that far off this route. Helena is the capital of Montana, so make sure to spend some time exploring that city as well once you arrive.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is often overlooked because Yellowstone National Park is so close. However, this is a breathtaking park that you will want to include on your trip. If you would like to spend some time on the water, there are raft trips that you can take on the Snake River. The river is pretty calm, so you can safely paddle in the water. This is also a great option for anglers and anyone who wants to spot wildlife in the park. There is also a scenic drive that is about 42 miles long that will take you past most of the highlights in the park. Short trails and full-day trails that you can hike, bike, or enjoy on horseback are readily available.
Yellowstone National Park
Since Yellowstone National Park is such an iconic place to visit in the country, you will surely want to include it on your road trip itinerary from San Jose to Helena. It spans a massive 3,500 miles and sits on top of a dormant volcano, which is why there is more volcanic activity in this area than anywhere else on the planet. You can explore the park via a scenic loop that is 142 miles long. Make sure to stop and see park attractions such as Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin, the Morning Glory Pool, the Grand Prismatic Spring, the Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Mount Washburn.
Donner Memorial State Park
One of the first state parks that you will encounter on this road trip from San Jose to Helena is Donner Memorial. The park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, and it is the exact site where the Donner Party found themselves trapped in 1864. The park has a museum that you can explore to learn more about the history of this event. There are also several hiking trails to pursue, as well as a beach. Donner Lake is stocked with trout, so anglers will enjoy fishing in the park. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards can also be rented to be used in the lake.
Lake Walcott State Park
Lake Walcott State Park is a state park in Idaho that is worth a stop. It is home to a disc golf course that the entire family can enjoy, and since there is a lake in the park, fishing, boating, and swimming can also be enjoyed. If you like watching wildlife, you'll be pleased to know that this park is located at the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge border. This means that animals will be plentiful in the area; in fact, you can find some of the best birding in the state inside this park.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Another state park to visit during this trip is Lewis and Clark Caverns. This park is home to one of the largest limestone caves in the western part of the country. Tours of the caves are available with a guide who can explain a great deal about the features of the cave. There is also a nature trail that you can explore above ground where you can see the wildlife that lives in the area.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord is one of the most thrilling waterparks in California, and it features over 20 rides and attractions that you and the family can enjoy. You can relax in a lazy river, jump in a wave pool, or fly down a 70-foot waterslide. There are also splash areas for smaller kids to enjoy.
Minidoka National Historic Site
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 10 isolated war relocation camps were set up in different states. One of these camps was created at this location in Idaho, and it was used to hold individuals with Japanese heritage. The Minidoka National Historic Site commemorates the 9,000 Japanese Americans that were held at the location during WWII. Visitors can see the guard station, the rooms, the barracks, and the rock garden.
The actual Teton Dam is no longer at this location because it was breached back in 1976. When the water broke the dam, 11 people and 13,000 head of cattle lost their lives. The dam was never rebuilt, but you can see the site where the dam was located and learn about the history of the dam as well as the collapse.
Sacramento is the capital of California, and it is a cultural city with plenty of great art to see. You can visit the California State Railroad Museum, the Crocker Museum of Art, the California Automobile Museum, and more. Kids will love spending time with the animals at the Sacramento Zoo and seeing their favorite stories come to life at Fairytale Town.
Since there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy in Sacramento, finding a local campground can help you see more of the things you are interested in. There are a lot of dump stations that you can use in the area for a small fee. If you want to use a dump station for free, some campgrounds allow you to do so if you are staying there.
Reno is a city that definitely warrants a stop on this San Jose to Helena road trip, especially if you are looking for some adult entertainment. Along with the bright casino lights, the city also offers fun things that your family can enjoy together. You can explore the Nevada Museum of Art, the National Automobile Museum, Animal Ark, the Fleischmann Planetarium, and the Sierra Safari Zoo. Lake Tahoe is less than 40 miles from this city, and it is considered one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the entire country. You can fish, swim, and enjoy the pristine blue waters found in the lake. You can even hike the mountainous region surrounding the lake, and in the winter, there are skiing options available.
Find a Reno campground to extend your time in this area. River Rest Resort is a rustic option that is great for fishing and relaxing, and Shamrock RV Park is great for someone traveling with their dog. Reno dump stations can be used free of charge if you stay at the Bordertown Casino RV Resort or the Sierra Valley RV Park.
Twin Falls, Idaho
As the name implies, Twin Falls is home to stunning waterfalls. There are also very scenic parks in the city that you can relax in and walk through. If you enjoy golfing, the Canyon Springs Golf Course is one of the most scenic golfing options in the state. Sawtooth National Forest is also nearby if you would like to take a nice hike. There are several campgrounds nearby that will give you the chance to explore the wilderness in the area more thoroughly. Places like Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs and RV Park even have dump stations that are free for guests to use.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from San Jose to Helena, 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 San Jose or Helena.