RV Camping on California’s Highway 99

Looking for a new way to spend a weekend in the Sacramento area? RV camping fans will find two Northern California towns, each with its own vintage charm, along historic Hwy 99E. The towns of Chico and Red Bluff are connected by this scenic byway that parallels the Sacramento River, and is also conveniently close to Mendocino and Plumas National Forests.

Chico – Art for Everyone

You’ll find plenty to keep you busy on our first stop along Historic Hwy 99. While RV camping near Chico, CA, here are five things you won’t want to miss in this friendly town with an artistic flair.

  • SoPo and The Junction, a vibrant, vintage district where the distinct blend of art, music, eateries and special events make the area a favorite of Chico State students.
  • Thursday Night Market on Broadway, held weekly April through September, is a special treat for Chico visitors hoping to experience artists, artisans, food truck chefs and the town’s eclectic music scene, all in one event.
  • Chico’s Public Art offerings include stunning sculptures, murals and mosaics throughout Downtown Chico. Plan time to see each one on your trip.
  • Bidwell Park, more than three thousand acres on the banks of Big Chico Creek, is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Whether you’re hiking the more rugged trails of the Upper Park or strolling the serene pathways of the Lower Park, it’s the best way to explore Chico outdoors. Scenic bonus—you can enter the park trail system through Chico’s beautiful City Plaza.
  • Eighth & Main Antique Center in Downtown Chico offers antiques and collectibles hunters nearly thirty thousand square feet of shopping. Come early and be prepared to be amazed at what you’ll find in hundreds of booths over two floors.

Hwy 99E – Chico to Red Bluff

When you’re ready to pack up the RV and head down the road to Red Bluff, it’s an easy hour’s drive north, IF you don’t stop to take advantage of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable offerings along the way.

Once in Red Bluff, you’ll soon see why Northern California RV travelers mark the town as a favorite stop. Not only is it known for its Western history and a great selection of antique stores, it’s also adjacent to Lassen Volcanic National Park. In other words, camping in Red Bluff always promises fantastic views as well as plenty of entertainment!

Once you’ve made a driving circuit of Red Bluff, built high above the Sacramento River, here are four more ideas for spending time while you’re there:

  • Shop and stroll in the Victorian charm of Downtown Red Bluff to find antiques, local arts and crafts and an impressive array of Western wear. Tip for RV camping rodeo fans: if you happen to be in town the third weekend of April, don’t miss the Red Bluff Round-Up, the country’s biggest two-day rodeo
  • Take a walking tour of the town’s gorgeous Victorian homes and be sure to tour the Kelly-Griggs House Museum (open Sundays only) to learn even more about the area’s early settlers.
  • Camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park, just north of town,  Ciff Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park and surrender to the wilderness beauty of the region. Whether your idea of outdoor recreation is a quiet walk on a forest trail or fishing an untamed waterway, you’ll find a place to do it in the shadow of Lassen Peak.
  • Visit Gaumer’s Jewelry & Museum: In business for decades, Gaumer’s offers shoppers the chance to learn about local mining history while exploring displays and exhibits featuring gems, minerals and custom-made jewelry.

The Route

How to get to Chico, our first destination on Hwy 99E? You actually have two choices,

  1. Follow I-5 (formerly known as Hwy 99W) north from Sacramento until you reach Hwy 32 and follow it east to Chico.
  2. Follow CA70/Hwy 99E north from Sacramento to Marysville and then continue north thru farmland and orchards on CA70 to Oroville, swinging west on CA149 to Chico.

A trip along Northern California’s Historic Hwy 99E promises plenty for art lovers, antiques hunters and history buffs. Make the whole trip in a weekend, or slow things down and branch out to the magnificent national forests and parks surrounding Chico and Red Bluff for a big dose of natural wonder.

Don’t own an RV? No problem—nothing could be easier than picking up your reserved motorhome rental in Sacramento, or if you’re planning to extend your trip to enjoy the Bay Area, our San Francisco location is waiting to help. We hope you’ll add your trip report to the Comments below!

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RV Traveler’s Guide to California Underground

California’s natural beauty is no secret to anyone who’s visited, but did you know the Golden State is just as beautiful below the surface? California is home to an impressive number of caverns, with tours that will appeal to any level cave explorer. As you’re planning this year’s RV travel, consider discovering the wonders of California underground.

To start our tour of California caves, we’re headed for Lake Shasta, near Redding, CA. That’s where you’ll find Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark and a cave tour that begins with a boat ride! Cross the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake on your tour boat, ride the special bus to the cave’s remote entrance and then watch, listen and learn on a 45-minute guided tour through the cavern.

Tip for RV travelers hoping to visit: this cave tour isn’t suited for small children or anyone not able to climb multiple flights of stairs. If you’re up for it, you’re in for a treat and the surrounding scenery is spectacular, too. Numerous private RV campgrounds are located nearby to allow you to stay in comfort.

Another outstanding underground adventure is available in California Gold Country. This is your chance to visit not one but three caverns within three hours’ drive. To reach the northern-most cavern, travel US-50/CA-16 east from Sacramento to Sutter Creek, then CA-88 to Pine Grove’s Volcano Road to find Black Chasm National Natural Landmark. Whether you choose the walking cave tour or the Labyrinth Rock Scramble through an abandoned gold mine, it’ll be a fascinating trip.

You can then follow CA-88/CA-49 to California Cavern State Historic Landmark near San Andreas. This cavern offers three levels of exploration in a family-friendly atmosphere. Just down CA-49 to the south is Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, where you can rappel down the largest vertical chamber in the state, take a walking cave tour or combine rappelling with spelunking on the Adventure Tour.

For travelers hoping to add a magnificent national park into their caving adventures, why not visit Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park?  Crystal Cave, Sequoia National Park, CA  Travel CA-99 north from Bakersfield to Three Rivers and then on to the cave entrance within the national park. A half-mile hike will bring you to a marble wonderland below the surface of one of the nation’s prettiest preserves.

Round out your trip with hikes through groves of giant sequoias and a stay at a Three Rivers or Visalia campground.

For a truly unique caving experience, consider a trip to the La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve, where you can explore the Seven Caves of La Jolla by kayak. You can visit one of these limestone sea caves on land, but don’t miss the chance to see the wonders of the other six by kayak tour. It’s a quick drive from San Diego to La Jolla, and San Diego area RV campgrounds make an overnight stay easy.

These are just six of the ways to discover the beauty of California underground by RV. Plan to visit all six, or pick one for each long weekend this summer. With California RV rentals plentiful and campgrounds up and down the Golden State just waiting to play host, what better way to learn something new about California this year?

Image attribution:  Vgane at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

 

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How to Get Away from the Crowd While RV Camping

Traveling by RV is always comfortable, no matter whether you’re parked in a luxury RV resort or deep within a national forest. For campers who enjoy solitude, seeking campsites beyond developed campgrounds can be your best choice, if you’re willing to plan ahead.

One of the easiest ways to get away from the crowd while RV camping is to take advantage of campsites at state and national forests. Here are just a few spots to consider as you plan your adventures:

  • If you’re planning a Virginia RV camping adventure, consider a visit to Shenandoah National Forest. The campgrounds there, set among woodlands, waterfalls and trails with panoramic views, offer dump stations, drinking water and large campsites.
  • Travelers planning a Pennsylvania RV vacation should take a look at the less-developed campgrounds in Allegheny National Forest. This vast greenspace is a fishing and hiking paradise and some campgrounds offer both electric or primitive campsites.
  • Visitors to California will want to take a look at Lassen National Forest, where several campgrounds accommodate your need for no-hookups privacy (and the views are simply breathtaking!)
  • Florida RV campers hoping for a less crowded environment can check out Osceola National Forest west of Jacksonville, especially the Ocean Pond campground. Three levels of camping allow you to pick how isolated you’d like to be while exploring the trails and waterways in this lush, green environment.

But you may be saying, “Wait a minute! What exactly do you mean by “camping outside of developed campgrounds”? What we’re talking about is a camping area where you’ll find a water supply, dump station and shower/restroom facilities close by, but perhaps without electric or water hookups at each campsite. You may not be able to use your electronic appliances and devices unless generator use is allowed, but the trade-off is in uncluttered views and uncrowded camping.

To take advantage of the beauty many of these campgrounds have to offer, you’ll have to plan ahead and make some adjustments to expectations. Here are some suggestions as you prepare to camp in a state or national forest campground.

  • Check ahead for rules about generator use, and plan for essentials accordingly.
  • Fill water tanks and empty waste water tanks before arriving.
  • Plan to cook on a gas stove or grill or plan menus that don’t require cooking.
  • Take care to only dispose of waste water at campground or park dump stations.
  • During the warmest hours of the day, plan activities like swimming or hiking in the deep woods to stay cool.
  • Plan ahead for safe food storage.
  • For ‘dispersed camping’ spots, where parking the RV is allowed in areas without amenities, you’ll need to pack out your own trash.

Being able to embrace the beauty of natural areas is possible even while enjoying RV comfort. Don’t own an RV? No problem—we’re always here to help with an RV rental.

With a little planning, camping in less crowded campgrounds might just become your favorite way to vacation. Why not start planning your get-away-from-it-all adventure now?

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California RV Camping Idea – Yuba Donner Scenic Byway

Yuba-Donner Scenic BywayDoes the thought of clear mountain lakes, national forest camping and the chance to play in an unforgettable northern California playground sound like the perfect vacation? If your answer is “Yes!” start planning now for an RV trip along the Yuba Donner Scenic Byway.

Your trailhead is in Truckee, California, just thirty miles from Reno, Nevada. All along this one hundred sixty mile Byway you’ll find magnificent scenery, exciting outdoor recreation and outstanding motorhome camping. Your entire itinerary is within the boundaries of the Tahoe National Forest, located in Northern California’s spectacular Sierra Nevadas.

Follow our quick guide below to planning your RV camping vacation along the Yuba Donner Scenic Byway.

Quick Guide to Planning Your Yuba Donner Scenic Byway Vacation

  • How You’ll Go: Start your journey in Truckee, California and travel north on CA-89 to Sierraville, then head west on CA-49 past Sierra City and Downieville. Your next leg is south down to Nevada City, finishing the circle by traveling CA-20 then I-80 east through Soda Springs, making your way back to Truckee. You can drive the entire byway in about six hours, but there’s so much to do and see, you’ll want to plan time to stop, camp and play along the way.
  • What You’ll See: This scenic byway roughly follows the route of the ill-fated Donner party, who spent a tragic winter here in 1846 when their wagon train was stranded by mountain snows. Take time to see the historic monuments and exhibits throughout this area to learn more about the stories of early pioneers as well as the California Gold Rush. One of our favorite side trips—Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park north of Nevada City.
  • What to Do: Hundreds of lakes, an abundance of mountain streams and rivers and impossibly tall granite bluffs provide excellent opportunities for fishing, photography, wildlife viewing, paddling, hiking, boating and swimming all along the Byway. Stop wherever you want along your route and take advantage of all this national forest has to offer.
  • Where to Camp: The National Forest Service website has detailed information on RV campgrounds within Tahoe National Forest, including nearby recreation opportunities. If you prefer private campgrounds, here are a couple of nearby RV parks to contact:
  • When to Go: The entire route is paved and is open year-round (some passes may close due to snowfall.) The peak season is after the winter snows have passed in the higher elevations, usually May 1 to September 1. RV packing tip: You’re going to find a wide range of temperatures as you wind your way through the Sierra Nevadas, so pack clothes for cool nights and warm days.
  • Where to Find an RV Rental: Here’s where we can help you plan the perfect vacation. With locations throughout California, it’s easy for you and your family to fly in, pick up a luxurious RV for your trip and head to Truckee. Click here to get started.

Get a jump on early summer RV travel this year by planning your trip to Yuba Donner Scenic Byway and Tahoe National Forest. Go for the history and natural beauty of the area and stay to enjoy a trip down a mountain river in a kayak, a visit to an historic mining town or a night spent camping in RV comfort, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

This is the year to take the motorhome vacation your family’s been longing to enjoy. Northeastern California and the grandeur you’ll see along the Yuba Donner Scenic Byway are custom-made for making RV camping memories.

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An RV Camping Trip on the California Coast

There is no better time to explore the California coast than right now.  It may still be winter, but the crowds are gone and you are going to get some solitude and privacy on this western vacation.  Take an RV as your mode of transport and sleeping quarters.  You will quickly find out how thrilling a trip up the Pacific coast can be.  It is also very convenient.  Rent your RV at El Monte RV Rentals in San Diego and get ready to experience the California coast in style.

Start out in Southern California and head north.  This is going to be a trip of a lifetime, with beaches where the Pacific ocean crashes ashore, redwoods shade your picnic area in the afternoon and comfortable RV campgrounds exist all along the way.  It is great to begin your adventures in San Diego where you can take time to visit the San Diego Zoo.  If the weather is warm enough, which it most likely will be, you can beachcomb on Coronado Beach.

Entrance to San Diego Zoo

Entrance to San Diego Zoo

A little further north is a mecca of seaside amusement – Oceanside.  Take a boating tour, go jet skiing or fish from the pier.  You can play a round of golf on one of the golf courses here in Oceanside or you may enjoy visiting the California Surf Museum.  RV camping is recommended at Oceanside RV Park .  Here you’ll have easy access to all the attractions the area has to offer.

The next place on your itinerary for the California coast trip is beautiful Santa Barbara.  Besides the lovely ocean views, there are historic sites to see, shops where you can pick up unique gifts for those back home, and hiking trails to explore at El Capitan State Beach.

Everyone must visit Monterey and Big Sur at least once in their life.  Driving Big Sur is a breathtaking trip along some of the most beautiful coastline in the United States.  With lots to do in Monterey, you can stay here for some days.  Bird watchers come to try and catch a glimpse of the rare California condor.  Others come specifically to tour the Monterey Aquarium.

Big Sur Coast

Big Sur Coast

A spectacular view of ocean and coastline is available at Point Reyes National Seashore.  As you watch the waves crashing against the headlands and see the sandy beaches and lighthouse, you know you have come to the right place to get inspiration for whatever your big dream is.  It’s a place of beauty and solitude.

After visiting Eureka and absorbing some area history in Old Town, you can head to Redwood National Park to walk among the redwoods.  This is a truly unique experience if you’ve never been to the coastal redwood forests before.

This is just a taste of what awaits you on the California coast.  Pack up the kids, your friends, neighbors and relatives and head off for one super RV trip.  You will love every second.

Picture credits: photo of the San Diego Zoo and Big Sur are all licensed under the Wikimedia Creative Commons.

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