If traveling from the California coast to the banks of the Great Salt Lake sounds like fun, then you should take a San Jose to Salt Lake City road trip. On the way, you’ll get to see some of California’s greatest national parks, as well as a fascinating one on the eastern edge of Nevada. Some interesting state parks and tourist attractions await you as well; there’s no shortage of great locations for you to put on your road trip itinerary from San Jose to Salt Lake City.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
If you travel two hours and 17 minutes north of Sacramento, you’ll be able to visit lovely Lassen Volcanic National Park. There are, of course, plenty of volcanic areas to explore, but you can also see geysers, mudpots, and other hydrothermal wonders. Hiking, swimming, horseback riding, fishing, and other activities are all popular here. After you’ve hiked through this awe-inspiring volcanic environment, you can relax at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch in a hydrothermal pool or on a masseuse’s table.
Yosemite National Park
Driving three and a half hours in the other direction from Sacramento will take you to the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Nearly 1,200 square miles of the Yosemite Valley and its surrounding environs contain iconic features like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Soda Springs. There are numerous trails in this park, so you’ll have no problem finding gorgeous views and mountain adventures here. If you take your road trip from San Jose to Salt Lake City in the winter, you’ll be able to go skiing, skating, tubing, and snowboarding.
Kings Canyon National Park
This section of California is one of America’s greatest national park corridors, so why not keep driving down State Route 99 to Kings Canyon National Park? Its entrance is three hours and 45 minutes from Sacramento, but it’s only two hours from Yosemite. Like most parks in this region, this one gives you the chance to explore giant sequoia groves, majestic mountains, and gorgeous waterfalls. Backpacking, rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking, and more are all fun activities you can do here.
Sequoia National Park
Just down the road from Kings Canyon and four hours from Sacramento is Sequoia National Park. Some of the other parks on this list have sequoias on display, but this national park is dedicated to these awe-inspiring, ancient trees. With more than 800 miles of trails in the park from which to choose, you’ll have plenty of options for exploring the trees, waterfalls, and wildlife found here. Other great activities to do at Sequoia National Park include snowshoeing, horseback riding, shopping, and skiing.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park is two hours and 50 minutes south of West Wendover, Nevada. If you want to visit a national park that has a little bit of everything in it, then this national park is a must-see on your San Jose to Salt Lake City RV road trip. Twisted, ancient bristlecone pines stand watch over this unique park. You’ll also be able to see Wheeler Peak Glacier, Wheeler Peak, and some intriguing caves. You can hike on more than 60 miles of established paths in the park, but you can also set off on your own adventure off the beaten path.
Half Moon Bay State Park
You’re only 45 minutes from the coast of California from Milpitas, so how could you pass up the chance to check out Half Moon Bay State Park on your road trip from San Jose to Salt Lake City? Nearly 200 acres of protected beach contain many great places to surf, swim, fish, snorkel, and more. There are some quality hiking trails in the park as well if you’d prefer to have your Half Moon Bay adventure on dry land.
Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Diablo State Park is roughly 40 minutes southeast of Walnut Creek, California. Mount Diablo is nearly 4,000 feet tall, so it’s a great vantage point to see the San Francisco Bay area. Hiking and horseback riding are popular here; another fun tradition is the viewing of the annual tarantula migration every September and October.
Brannan Island State Recreation Area
In order to reach Brannan Island State Recreation Area, all you have to do is travel 25 minutes northeast from Martinez, California. The waterways of this part of the San Joaquin Delta are perfect for boating, fishing, and wind-surfing. Other popular activities include picnicking, paddling, and swimming.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is only a 15-minute drive east of Roseville, California. Folsom Lake is the main attraction here, but you can also explore beautiful Natoma Lake. This is, of course, a great place to go fishing, swimming, and boating. If you’re into biking, you’ll probably want to check out the 32-mile bike path that connects Folsom Lake with multiple other parks and Old Sacramento.
Great Salt Lake State Park
Just before you drive into Salt Lake City, you will naturally want to explore the Great Salt Lake. Great Salt Lake State Park is an excellent place to experience the wonder of this famous lake; it’s only five minutes from Interstate 80 as it goes through Magna. In addition to strolling along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, you can also stop by the visitor center, take a sunset cruise, or launch your own boat onto this fascinating body of water.
Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve
Seven miles south of Sunol, California, you’ll find the rugged Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve. The nearly 7,000 acres of wilderness here are perfect for backpacking, camping, hiking, and more. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail, Little Yosemite, the Alameda River, and more await you at this lovely preserve.
Hurricane Harbor Concord
Hurricane Harbor Concord is only five minutes off of Interstate 680 as it goes through Concord, so adding this attraction to your road trip itinerary from San Jose to Salt Lake City is reasonable. It bills itself as “Northern California’s most thrilling water park,” so you should check it out. Fun rides like Cliffhanger, Honolulu Halfpipe, and the Big Kahuna call this park home.
The Sacramento Zoo is just 10 minutes from both your route and Downtown Sacramento. Close to 500 animals representing 120 species reside at this interesting zoo. You’ll be able to visit great exhibits like Big Cat Row, Wonders of Africa, and Reptile House. Don’t forget to take a ride on the Zoo Train so that you can see Big Cat Row from a different perspective.
Just because Las Vegas isn’t on your route doesn’t mean that you can’t party at some fun casinos on your road trip from San Jose to Salt Lake City. Interstate 80 takes you right through Reno, and downtown is only about three minutes off your route. Circus Circus Reno, Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Eldorado Resort Casino, Club Cal-Neva, and more can be found in this action-packed part of Reno.
Historic Wendover Airfield
Five minutes from Wendover, just across the Utah-Nevada border, is Historic Wendover Airfield. You can tour the airfield itself as well as the museum on the premises. You’ll be able to see multiple WWII-era buildings, including the Norden Bombsight Building, a squadron maintenance hangar, and the atomic bomb loading pit.
Fairfield is in wine country, so be sure to drop by Wooden Valley Winery and Vezer Family Vineyard when you’re in the area. You’ll be able to take advantage of multiple dump stations and campgrounds in the area while you’re exploring Fairfield.
Sacramento is California’s capital, so the presence of interesting attractions like the California State Railroad Museum and the California State Capitol is hardly surprising. There’s plenty to do here, and you may want to use some of the top-notch dump stations and campgrounds nearby.
In addition to having fun in Reno’s casinos, you can also tour the National Automobile Museum and stroll along the Truckee River Walk. Given the popularity of Reno, there are, of course, numerous dump stations and campgrounds close by.
Some excellent Elko attractions to visit include the California Trail Historic Interpretive Center and the Northeastern Nevada Museum. The area has some good dump stations and campgrounds for those wanting to visit this rugged gem in the Ruby Mountains.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from San Jose to Salt Lake City, 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 Salt Lake City.