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Can You Drive An RV On Highway 1?

Most RVers have heard of Highway 1 in California. Famous for its breathtaking coastal views, Redwood trees, and interesting stops, it’s no surprise this route is on many adventurers’ bucket lists. However, if you’re planning on driving an RV on the winding Highway 1, you’ll want to know how to do it safely and what must-see stops you should check out along the way. Luckily, there are many great RV parks along Highway 1 you can camp at while exploring this famous route.

Let’s dive in!

mortons driving rv on highway 1

Can You Really Drive an RV on Highway 1?

Let us start by saying: Yes, it is possible to drive along Highway 1 in an RV. However, we say this with an abundance of caution. Many parts of Highway 1 are narrow and run through winding cliffs. There are also very few spots to pull over or pass other cars, which makes the route even more dangerous.

We drove Highway 1 in our fifth-wheel RV in the fall of 2016. We were white-knuckling most of the way and the driver (Tom) was unable to really enjoy the sights unless we stopped.

Therefore, don’t expect this beautiful roadway to be a relaxing RV road trip. On the contrary, whoever is driving the RV will likely focus more on the road’s many twists and turns. For the most enjoyable experience, we recommend driving this route with a smaller vehicle. However, RV is doable if you’re careful.

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What Is Highway 1 and Why Is It Hard for RVs?

Highway 1, or the Pacific Coast Highway, stretches along the rugged coastline from Orange County to Mendocino County in California. We know from experience that it offers some of the most awe-inspiring views in the country.

While the scenery is beautiful, the highway’s narrow, winding roads and cliffs can pose challenges for RV drivers. Many sections of Highway 1 have hairpin turns and narrow lanes, making it a taxing route for larger vehicles. 

This is especially true along the Big Sur section where there are winding roads on unstable cliffs. An area called Devil’s Slide is prone to accidents and vehicles toppling over the cliff, largely because of a narrow curve in the road before a drop-off.

However, that doesn’t mean that Highway 1 is inherently dangerous. We drove much of it with our large fifth wheel and were fine. We highly recommend being extremely cautious when driving this route. If you can drive a smaller RV (25’ or less), we recommend going with that option. 

Pro Tip: Want to stop in Big Sur for the night? You’ll need to know Can You Camp in Big Sur? 

big sur
Driving along the Big Sur section of Highway 1 is sure to leave you speechless.

What Is the Most Beautiful Part of the Highway 1?

While every mile of Highway 1 offers stunning vistas, we think the Big Sur coastline is the most beautiful part of this iconic route. The dramatic cliffs plunging into the Pacific Ocean, the rugged terrain, and the winding road make Big Sur a must-see destination.

However, the Big Sur section can be dangerous. Generally, navigating an RV through this area requires patience and skill, and the driver will need their eyes on the road. If you can, we recommend taking turns driving the most scenic parts of the route so the driver won’t be tempted to sightsee while driving. 

7 Awesome RV Parks Along Highway 1

So, where should you stay on your road trip along Highway 1? Here are some of the best RV parks on the journey.

1. Olema Campground

Sitting near Point Reyes National Seashore, Olema Campground is an ideal spot to set up camp. Offering a tranquil atmosphere in nature, it provides a beautiful place to stay north of San Francisco. The campground accommodates RVs of various sizes, making it suitable for those exploring the area in their big rigs. Olema Campground has back-in and pull-through sites with the option for full hook-ups. There are also showers, propane, and laundry available. 

2. Wright’s Beach Campground

Nestling along the Sonoma Coast, Wright’s Beach Campground offers a beachfront camping experience. With stunning ocean views and convenient access to the shore, it’s a place to relax after navigating the twists and turns of the highway. There are 27 sites open year-round. However, the maximum RV length allowed is 31 feet. There are also no hookups at Wright’s Beach Campground, so prepare to boondock. 

View of California Coast
Extend your stay along the California Coast by RV camping on Highway 1.

3. Bodega Bay RV Park

If you’re looking for a relaxing coastal setting along Highway 1, Bodega Bay RV Park is an excellent choice. Sitting on the shores of Bodega Bay, this RV park provides a peaceful retreat with convenient access to the highway. The same family has owned it since 1967. This campground has 71 sites, and 55 offer full hookups. They can also accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long and provide hot showers, laundry, and plenty of entertainment areas. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you know these 5 Old Roadtrip Rules That Still Apply Today to stay safe while driving Highway 1.

4. Gualala Point Regional Park

If you’re itching to camp among the Redwoods, Gualala Point Regional Park is your spot. Overlooking the Gualala River, this park offers RV-friendly sites amid the giants of the California coast. Take a break from driving to enjoy hiking trails or unwind in the natural beauty surrounding your RV. There are 19 non-electric sites available, and 6 are walk-in only. There are also coin-operated showers, flush toilets, and a dump station. 

5. Caspar Beach RV Park

Caspar Beach RV Park is a hidden gem on the Mendocino Coast. With its oceanfront location and proximity to Mendocino Village, it’s an inviting place to park your RV. We like that this well-maintained park provides a range of amenities. Finally, it has RV sites with full and partial hookups, a coin-operated shower, and access to beautiful Caspar Beach. 

6. Crescent City Redwoods KOA

As you approach the northern end of Highway 1, Crescent City Redwoods KOA awaits. This 17-acre RV park contains 10 acres of majestic Redwood forest, offering a peaceful and scenic setting. They even have mini-log cabins you can rent if you need a break from roughing it. Additionally, Crescent City Redwoods KOA offers water/electric sites and can accommodate rigs up to 80 feet long. We recommend taking advantage of the proximity to the Redwood National and State Parks for an unforgettable experience.

Crescent City Redwoods KOA Campground Overview | Camping near Redwoods National Park

7. Thousand Trails South Jetty

Sitting in the coastal town of Florence, Oregon, Thousand Trails South Jetty provides a refreshing stop along the highway. While not directly on Highway 1, it’s a beautiful and convenient location to stay as you make your way along the Pacific Coast. The park offers a range of amenities, like 50 and 30-amp RV sites, a swimming pool, a hot tub, laundry facilities, and plenty of entertainment options. Of course, we love exploring the dunes in this area and suggest taking advantage of Thousand Trails’ dune buggy rentals. 

Get Ready for the Road Trip of a Lifetime on Highway 1

Embarking on a road trip along Highway 1 in an RV is a challenging and rewarding experience. If you’re planning on tackling this adventure, we recommend planning ahead and remaining aware of the potential challenges you might encounter. From the rugged beauty of Big Sur to the captivating Redwood forests of the north, Highway 1 provides landscapes that will leave you in awe.

As you navigate the twists and turns of this iconic highway, remember to take your time, savor the scenery, and embrace the spirit of adventure. The memories of conquering Highway 1 in your RV will likely stay with you forever. 

Which part of Highway 1 are you most excited to see? Tell us in the comments below!

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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Lee goodburn

Friday 9th of February 2024

I would appreciate your comments on pros and cons of driving north tosouth and south to north with a truck camper and jeep wrangler tow. Thank you

Tom and Caitlin Morton

Monday 12th of February 2024

Either way is fine, just depends on the season and how long you will be on the road. We did it with a 36 foot fifth wheel so its totally doable towing. Its a slow go sightseeing drive.

Stephen Snure

Friday 9th of February 2024

Note that motorhomes over 40' are prohibited from traveling on some parts of Highway 1. Other roads in California also prohibit travel for big motorhomes, all of which are detailed on the following Caltrans website pages:

https://dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-operations/45-buses-motorhomes/bus-map

John S.

Friday 9th of February 2024

Hwy 1 is fine in a 45' RV, just go slow and bring your patience. Hwy 1 is more fun in a car as it's easier to get into nooks & crannies you can't get an RV. Hwy 1 is best on a motorcycle. Period.

Done all three, several times.

Xau

Friday 9th of February 2024

Just a few updates on some of the rv parks: Olema floods during the rainy/winter season. The summer it is full of kids and families in tents and rigs and can get noisy and hectic!

Wrights Beach is a State campground that is very popular. Reservations only at least a year ahead! Last year many sites were wiped out by high water.

Bodega Bay rv park: nice park with a lot of rules. Mostly a quiet adult park. You won’t see many kids around Be aware Bodega Bay is packed to overfull in the summer-it can be unpleasantly crowded in the summer with dense traffic and don’t come on a weekend then!