Escape Campervan Road Trip Through California

Tali      October 11th, 2022

When M and R mentioned that they were planning on doing a little California road trip after their elopement, Dom and I decided that was a brilliant idea. Since we were flying into California for our road trip, we needed wheels and a place to stay. We had a great time last November in our Escape Campervan rental and after figuring out that we could get one in San Francisco, we knew it was the perfect plan. After M and R’s wedding, we picked up our Escape Campervan and started our great California Escape Campervan Road Trip!

We visited Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Park while on our campervan adventure. We packed a lot of adventure into a relatively short time. If you are planning on doing a similar trip, I would definitely add a couple of days to do a more in-depth dive into the beauty that these areas have to offer.

Disclaimer: This blog post is in collaboration with Escape Campervans and features some affiliate links. This means I get a small commission if you make a purchase using the links (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for the support!

Day 1

Escape Campervan Heritage Minute

Picking up the Van

Escape Campervans makes picking up your van and getting on the road super easy. We filled out some paperwork, did a quick vehicle inspection, and we were on our way. All of their vans have a unique name based off of their custom painting. Ours was Heritage Minute for this trip!

Off and Running!

It’s happened twice now, so it might be the start of a tradition that Walmart is our first stop after picking up the van. The little fridge in the van and plenty of pantry space in the kitchen make stocking up on groceries for the entire trip a breeze. 

Having a fridge is probably my favorite luxury of van life. It makes it a lot easier to cook healthy, delicious meals that we are excited to eat. Which also means that we eat out less, an easy money saver on vacation.

After securing a generous supply of snacks, we drove our van through the countryside to our campsite in Yosemite National Park.

An escape campervan in front of el cap in Yosemite National Park at sunrise

Day 2

Yosemite

Our time in Yosemite didn’t quite go as planned. Wildfires in the area filled the valley with smoke so we had to pivot from our original plans. Instead of exploring the valley, we headed to the Tuolumne Meadows area of the park. We found the perfect lunch spot overlooking Lembert Dome and used the stove from the van to cook a delicious meal of tortellini.

We had planned to do a longer hike in the area after lunch, but with a big rainstorm moving in, we decided to change our plans again. Luckily, the back of our van was the perfect place to hang out while we waited for the storm to pass and the combination of the rain, smoke, and sunset made for some crazy conditions as the storm came to an end.

After the storm, we made our way back to our campsite. It was a warm night and the rain had stopped, so we decided to sleep in the tent on top of the van. I loved how roomy the rooftop sleeper was and was so glad to have the breeze during the warm night! 

Day 3

Smoked Out

Our original plans for this day included more exploring Yosemite, but after waking up to even more smoke, we decided that wasn’t the right move. We wrapped up our adventures in Yosemite with a scenic drive through the park and started our way South to Kings Canyon National Park.

Our first stop in Kings Canyon National Park was a visit to the Nation’s Christmas Tree. General Grant is the second largest living tree on the planet (by mass) and is breathtakingly huge. Even the “small” neighboring Sequoia trees made our van look like a toy. 

From there, we made our way out toward the canyon and found a beautiful campsite along a lake in the Sequoia National Forest to spend the night.

Day 4

An Escape Campervan along the road in a rocky canyon

Kings Canyon

We managed to sneak in three different hikes while we were in the canyon area of Kings Canyon National Park on our campervan road trip. 

Our first hike was a short jaunt along a paved trail out to Roaring River Falls. This easy hike was well worth the view and one that I would definitely recommend checking out if you are in the area. 

Next, we did a short hike around Zumwalt Meadows. Some recent damage to the trail made this hike an out-and-back instead of a loop, but it was still beautiful. It starts out with a bridge over the river and has a nice mix of rock features and forests as you make your way to the meadows.

Our final hike in Kings Canyon National Park was a bit more of an undertaking. We hiked out to Mist Falls, the largest waterfall in the park. The hike comes in just under 10 miles round trip and is a steady climb out and then mostly downhill on the way back.

We managed to sneak in three different hikes while we were in the canyon area of Kings Canyon National Park on our campervan road trip. 

Our first hike was a short jaunt along a paved trail out to Roaring River Falls. This easy hike was well worth the view and one that I would definitely recommend checking out if you are in the area. 

Next, we did a short hike around Zumwalt Meadows. Some recent damage to the trail made this hike an out-and-back instead of a loop, but it was still beautiful. It starts out with a bridge over the river and has a nice mix of rock features and forests as you make your way to the meadows.

Our final hike in Kings Canyon National Park was a bit more of an undertaking. We hiked out to Mist Falls, the largest waterfall in the park. The hike comes in just under 10 miles round trip and is a steady climb out and then mostly downhill on the way back.

Day 5

The Biggest Tree in the World

The next morning, we woke up bright and early in Sequoia National Park, glad to have had a cozy van to spend the night in. When rolling into campsites late and night or heading out early in the morning, the van is SO nice to have. I love literally rolling from the front seat into bed at night without needing to go through all the work of setting up a tent, blowing up our sleeping pads, and getting everything situated. Likewise, it is amazing being able to just jump in the front and get rolling in the morning, which is exactly what we did. 

Our early morning wake-up call was to beat the crowds to the biggest (by mass) tree on the planet, General Sherman. General Sherman is so big that it grows in mass by an entire averaged size tree every single year!

We followed up our early morning adventures with a leisurely breakfast back at the van. Dom became quite the van chef on our trip and cleaning the dishes after our meals was so much easier with the little sink in the back than it typically is when we are tent camping. 

The next morning, we woke up bright and early in Sequoia National Park, glad to have had a cozy van to spend the night in. When rolling into campsites late and night or heading out early in the morning, the van is SO nice to have. I love literally rolling from the front seat into bed at night without needing to go through all the work of setting up a tent, blowing up our sleeping pads, and getting everything situated. Likewise, it is amazing being able to just jump in the front and get rolling in the morning, which is exactly what we did. 

Our early morning wake-up call was to beat the crowds to the biggest (by mass) tree on the planet, General Sherman. General Sherman is so big that it grows in mass by an entire averaged size tree every single year!

We followed up our early morning adventures with a leisurely breakfast back at the van. Dom became quite the van chef on our trip and cleaning the dishes after our meals was so much easier with the little sink in the back than it typically is when we are tent camping. 

We did so much on this day… holy cow!

After breakfast, we hiked through the Giant Forest and out to Crescent Meadow. There are a lot of little trails in this area and I definitely recommend taking the time to check some of them out. Walking among the giant trees is a really neat experience. After our hike, we took the shuttle back to the van. This was a great way to maximize how much we were able to see without committing to the round-trip hike.

We continued our drive through the park and headed out to the Mineral King region of the park… a place I will probably never return to because I don’t think I could handle the two hours on the narrow winding road up. The area was breathtaking and remote, but as someone who is prone to getting motion sick, it just wasn’t tempting enough to get me to go back. Unless you are looking for some great multi-day backpacking trips, I would probably skip this region of the park and instead spend more time exploring the main area of Sequoia National Park. 

Day 6

Monarch Lakes

While in Mineral King, we decided to hike out to Monarch Lakes. The hike was just over nine miles round trip and a pretty steep climb out. The views were breathtaking and we saw plenty of wildlife on our hike. Right away, we saw a black bear making its way through the bushes on the other side of the stream. (This area is a VERY active black bear region. They will break into vehicles to get food, if given the opportunity, so proper food storage is very important.) We also saw a variety of birds, deer, and marmots! In September, we were late enough to not need to worry about marmots down by our vehicle, but earlier in the summer you might need to tarp your vehicle to get the marmots from chewing on lines and chords in your vehicle and crawling into the engine.

Day 7

Saying Goodbye

Day seven brought our epic campervan adventure to a close as we brought our van back to Escape Campervans to return it. We said goodbye to Heritage Minute and made our way to the airport to head back home.  

Thanks for checking out our van life adventures in California! If you have any questions about our trip, the places we went, hikes we did, or questions about our experiences with Escape Campervans, feel free to reach out!

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