Regardless of the season, you do not need a rubber arm to be convinced of the several merits of a West Coast road trip. However, there is no doubt that with temperatures becoming brisk and fall ticking towards winter, this is certainly the time of year when the California Coast really shines. So, why not take a campervan weekend getaway?
It is no secret that variety is the spice of life in Southern California, where you can build beautiful sandcastles amongst dunes early in the morning, and within the next 2 hours, trek through rugged and exciting hiking trails in the mountains or lounge by the pool in a gorgeous desert oasis by afternoon. There’s something for everyone.
Few places on earth are as stunning, beautiful, picturesque, and diverse as the Pacific coastline. From California’s pretty beaches to the rugged mountains and peaks of the Pacific Northwest in Oregon and Washington, the West Coast is magical for scenic drives.
In our travel guide for an amazing West Coast road trip, we recommend a campervan as one of the most affordable and exciting ways to explore the enchanting destinations on the West Coast. There is nothing quite like the fun and thrill of hitting the road in a reliable campervan, where you are limited just by your ambitions and beholden to no strict timetable.
A campervan offers you both the flexibility and freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. A little more compact than a motorhome, it truly is the ultimate way to venture away from the standard tourist trail and get off that beaten path.
Abutting the beautiful Pacific Ocean on the majestic Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, Olympic National Park attracts millions of visitors every year into its wild and fun environment. This national park certainly has it all and a lot more, from pretty glacier-capped mountains to temperate and lush national forests. So, it is an essential destination on any Washington state road trip. There is no better place to mountaineer by morning before enjoying an unmatched West Coast sunset by dinner time.
The stunning coastal strip of Olympic National Park is a diverse region of beautiful sandy beaches, rock arches, and cliffs rising out of the sea. Keep in mind that the northern part of the park is only accessible on side roads that branch off Highway 101, while the southern third of the coastline between Queets and Ruby Beach is easily accessible through the 101.
It is worth noting that this national park is nestled between two of the most worthwhile urban stops: Vancouver and Seattle. So, make sure that you bring your passport along with you so that you can experience a quick hop out of the United States and into Canada.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
You have to check out Washington’s tallest peak, Mt Rainier. Home to an active volcano covered in glaciers, Mount Rainier National Park is a place of undeniable beauty with its rugged mountain peaks and spectacular wildflowers speckling the lush green valleys.
Only sixty miles outside Seattle, this is an iconic and memorable part of Washington’s gorgeous landscape. And the best thing is that there’s no shortage of fun things to do here. Maybe you want to do some summer hiking or pick up some snow activities in winter; there’s something for everyone. There are many free camping opportunities in this area too!
Andersens Oceanside RV Park & Cottages, Washington
If beach views are more your thing, you’ll enjoy Andersens Oceanside RV Park. Just a few miles off the pacific coast highway 101, you’ll find this award-winning waterfront property. It’s family-owned and operated, so you’ll have no trouble finding a myriad of activities for both adults and kids alike.
If you’re up for a little adventuring, take a short drive to see Cape Disappointment National Park; observe the marine wildlife, and immerse yourself in history at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
The park has 60 full hook-up RV sites; be sure to try out their premium sites right on the beach to enjoy uninterrupted sunset views. Andersens Oceanside RV Park is reservation only, so book ahead for your weekend.
If you are in the mood for a scenic and fun road trip that starts in Bend, Oregon, and ends in one of the most beautiful and pristine national parks, then Crater Lake National Park is the best destination for you. This park features stunning volcanic islands and towering cliffs. The water here is so shockingly blue that you might mistake it for one huge, beautiful mirage.
Take your pick of activities here. Explore meadows and forests along Crater Lake’s rim or take advantage of the historic Sinnott Memorial Overlook. You will find it behind the famous Rim Visitor Center, open from June to October.
Make a visit to Crater Lake Lodge while you’re there; it carries a rich history which you can read about at their in-house exhibits.
While Crater Lake is open most of the year, some facilities and roads are usually closed during the winter. This is because the area gets about 44 feet of snow on average. However, all that snow is excellent for having a great time at Crater Lake’s famous ranger-guided snowshoe walks from November to April.
Just an hour on the road from Crater Lake National Park, you’ll find Umpqua Hot Springs and Toketee Falls, which are definitely worth a day trip.
Cannon Beach RV Resort, Oregon
Another great Oregon weekend getaway is Cannon Beach, just less than a 1.5-hour drive from Portland, Oregon. Labeled by National Geographic as “one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places”, Cannon Beach is also home to the iconic Haystack Rock – 235 ft tall sea stack.
This particular resort located on the Northern Oregon Coast offers year-round activities. From great waves for surfers, horseriding by the beach in the sunshine to storm watching on a rainy day. There’s something for any beach lover.
If you’re more into food and culture, visit the local galleries and world-class restaurants. You’ll get a great slice of small-town life in this wonderful beach community.
Willamette Wine Country RV Park, Oregon
You might be surprised that you can find a Wine Country escape in under an hour from downtown Portland. This RV Park is right on the Yamhill Riverbank in Oregon’s scenic Willamette Valley.
Enjoy 191 manicured RV sites with full hook-ups and a range of amenities from hot showers, laundry services, and Wi-fi. You’ll have everything you need.
It makes a perfect base to either go wine tasting at Sokol Blosser Winery, explore the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, or tire out the kids at Wings and Waves Waterpark.
California Campervan Weekend Getaways
Oregon and Washington are key destinations on a West Coast camping trip. However, you can’t say you’ve seen this side of the USA until you explore California.
California has some of the most exciting camping spots in America, full of hiking and biking opportunities. With wonders like the world’s tallest trees in its iconic national and state parks, to 840 miles of pristine coastline and beaches, you’ll want to get in a campervan and live the California dream.
Yosemite National Park, California
A bucket list location, Yosemite National Park, is just a 3 to 4-hour campervan drive from the golden gate bridge of San Francisco. The park is impressive and offers the most stunning and beautiful scenery. It also features some of the most attractive hiking trails and camping sites in California.
Yosemite National Park is perfect for hikers, but especially for nature-lovers looking to see some sequoia trees. At the South entrance of Yosemite, you’ll find Mariposa Grove, which is home to over 500 giant sequoias. A must-see when you’re here.
There are 3 reservation campgrounds in the gorgeous Yosemite Valley, so you can stay close to nature. We recommend North Pines Campground, located in the heart of Yosemite National Park. It has more than 80 single-family campsites perfect for campervans and motorhomes. The roads, as well as parking pads, are well paved. You will also find drinking water, flush toilets, and an RV dump station.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground, California
Located about 25 miles south of Carmel on the famous Highway 1, you will find Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground in the fantastic redwood forest just above the Big Sur coast. The best thing about this destination is that oak, redwood, and sycamore trees beautifully line the river, and trails will lead you to eye-catching views of Big Sur River Gorge and the Big Sur Valley.
Did you know that the state’s most famous wildflowers fill the majestic slopes of Big Sur in early April – the California poppy, and there is simply no better way of seeing them. Also, you will be pleased to know that campsites in this area offer RV access. There is no doubt that this campground is a very popular getaway; so, make a reservation now, to avoid missing out.
San Elijo State Beach Campground, California
San Diego makes an excellent weekend Southern California trip on the California coast. After all, there is never enough beach camping.
To the north of San Diego, San Elijo State Beach Campground is a popular stop. Situated on the bluffs, campers enjoy unparalleled views while affording convenient access to the waterfront. Here you’ll find all the quintessential beach activities.
This location gives a more urban vibe than more rural campgrounds with the proximity of campsites and a convenience store and fast-food restaurants.
Ocean Mesa at El Capitan, California
Ocean Mesa at El Capitan is one of the best RV parks on the Santa Barbara coast. It is a 2-hour road trip from Los Angeles. Its ideal location along the famous 101 makes it perfect for exploring Southern California.
You can enjoy gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, Gaviota Coast, and incredible Santa Ynez Mountains. You will also be entertained by wine tastings, movie nights, and seasonal concerts. The park is excellent and has full utility hookups. It also features pull-through and back-in sites.
Some of the other amenities are cable TV and Wi-Fi, a grill and fire pit at every site, a spa and heated pool, and laundry facilities. You will also find a general store in order to make for a luxury and memorable camping experience.
Malibu Beach RV Park, California
Malibu might not strike you as a campervan destination, but this RV park – the one and only in the city of Malibu is definitely worth a visit.
Less than an hour from Los Angeles, you’ll get the chance to watch dolphins year-round. If you’re visiting from March/April or October/November, it’s a great opportunity to go whale watching.
But at this spot open 365 days a year, you don’t have to choose between a sporty beach escape or Hollywood adventures on your weekend away.
There are 142 RV sites with either sea or mountain views, so you can’t lose either way. Plus, you’ll have all the necessities to have a great weekend like laundry amenities, heated showers, and a convenience store.
Whether you live in the region or are taking a tour of North America, we hope these spots have given you some inspiration for a weekend on the West Coast. Rent a campervan in California and be ready for your road trip!
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.