Can You See the Entire California Coast in a Single Trip?

The state of California has somewhere in the neighborhood of 840 miles of coastline stretching from the northern border with Oregon down to the southern border with Mexico. Much of this coastline is absolutely stunning, making it a tourist attraction for people from all around the world. While the Pacific Coast Highway gets many of the headlines – and deservedly so – there is more than just driving to be done along this coast. Given the diverse and immense nature of this part of the country, the question at hand is this – can you see the entire California coast in a single trip?

There Is Simply Too Much to See for Just One Trip to the California Coast
There Is Simply Too Much to See for Just One Trip to the California Coast

Some Basic Math

While the coastline of California may be around 840 miles, you would certainly have to drive much farther than that to make it from the north end to the south end (or vice versa). You aren’t going to be able to perfectly follow the coastline the entire way, even if you stay on PCH for as much of the trip as possible. For example, using Google Maps, you can create a route that will keep you along the coast line for much of the journey from north to south, starting near Oregon and ending just short of Mexico. Such a route will require more than 1,000 miles of driving, with a driver time of near 24 hours.

Of course, in terms of simple driving requirements alone, those numbers aren’t particularly daunting. Plenty of people drive more than 1,000 miles on their RV vacations, and driving for 24 hours isn’t that big of a deal if it is broken up over a few days. However, you probably don’t live near either one of those starting points, so you will need to get to and from home as well. After you add in those drive distances/times, the whole trip might start to look a bit more intimidating.

You’re Going to Miss Out

It is hard to explain to someone who has never been to the California coast just how beautiful and inspiring it is. As soon as you arrive and begin to head either north or south along the coast, you are going to find countless spots where you want to get out and explore your surroundings. There are many great beaches, vistas, restaurants, trails, and much, much more. It is truly a great place, and not one that can be fully experienced from the driver’s seat in your RV. Trying to do this trip all at once would require that you sacrifice seeing many of the wonderful attractions that drew you to the coast in the first place.

The Verdict

Could you see the entire California coast in a single trip? Yes – you probably could. Should you? That is a different question entirely. If you are interested in actually enjoying the coast for everything that it has to offer, no, you shouldn’t try to do it all at once. Instead, pick out a specific section of the coast and spend enough time to really appreciate it for what it is. After that initial trip, it probably won’t be long before you start to plan a return visit.