Van rental for Pacific Coast Highway trip


Land Cruiser junkie here that wants to give the van life a try. Typically, we'd load up our Cruiser with trailer and RTT in tow and hit the road, but we'd like to try a different style for a little bit. I'm looking to fly into to California from Texas, rent a van and drive along the coast, maybe from LA to San Francisco or further north. Any suggestions for companies that I could look into for van rental? I would really like something with 4wd or AWD at least, and something a little more inconspicuous maybe to be a bit more stealthy.

Any tips on things to consider in a van would be of great help!

Also, suggestions on routes, poi's, must see/do are greatly appreciated.


pics of our trip earlier this year to Colorado and Wyoming for attention!




Expedition Leader
Great question! I'm not too far behind you in the LC to van transition. Let's us know how the trip goes. Very nice LX570 by the way!!


Thanks so much for the links everyone! Some real nice ones on the outdoorsy site, and Trekker looks like a great option also. Roamerica is exactly like what I was looking for but they are in Portland. I will contact them regarding a one way rental, but even then, thats a bit longer of a drive than I was planning.

@ChuckB, thanks for the compliment, really excited to get a taste of traveling by van.

Any must have items you guys can suggest as far as equipment in the van?


Expedition Leader
If your staying along the coast 4x4 wont be needed. This time of yr cool nights warm days. Great time of yr regarding weather.


If your staying along the coast 4x4 wont be needed. This time of yr cool nights warm days. Great time of yr regarding weather.
calicamper, what about further north into some of the national forests? We are not sure how far north we would like to go yet but if your experience states 4x4 not needed for what we want to do, then that will help make the search for a van easier. I'm just so used to the thought process of 4wd being necessary for the types of trails/roads I want to do, but need to think a bit differently when considering the van.

How will the weather be in December? I like the cool nights, warm days, being able to get in the water in occasion would be great. Realistically, we're looking into early next year, so february-april time frame. How is the weather then?


Expedition Leader
West Coast winter storms trickle in off and on from about Nov to end of Dec. Our heavy weather doesnt really roll in till mid to late Dec. Jan -March typically is the heavy storm period, high winds along the coast From SF to Vancouver. The big thing to watch for are trees coming down in camp areas due to the winds. From about Mendocino North mid Dec till June the very few accessible BLM areas by dirt road are typically boggy muddy steep messes hardly accessible by built jeeps that can handle deep ruts and be winched up muddy climbs.

The lost coast in Northern CA when dry is easily accessible for 6-10 miles from 1 going north Usal Beach is a great spot to experience it. Quiet this time of year.

The easiest direction to transit the Lost Coast is from the North end going south, not something I would do in a van other than a beefy truck 4x4 based rig. But again plenty to see just poking around a few miles in from the north end.

There are a few other logging roads etc scattered through out the Coast but I wouldnt get in deep in the winter without a local who knows the area and chainsaws.

Way plenty to see and without any crowds ie off season without going deep off the beaten path. The van will also be ideal to hide from cold winds and rain etc. Just be really aware of trees/condition around your choice for the nights parking spot.

Even in super popular campgrounds I learned a long time ago to eye ball the trees in camp for dead fall debri or scetchy trees etc. two summers ago I watched a 500lb dead limb drop out of a Redwood into a campsite across from us. It missed the husband and wife by a few feet clipped his Xterra creasing his fender. Their entire site was littered with these limbs. They packed up and moved pretty quick. We only had 10-15knot winds. Winters 25-70mph winds can be typical each time a front comes through.

From Point Reyes Ca north we can see a cycle of 2-3 fronts a week blowing in from the Aleutian islands. My sailing buddies and I are currently impressed by the system out there right now. Generating huge wave heights, CA surfers are anticipating 40 footers in 3 days or so in Half Moon Bay the west coast location for Giant Wave surfing. PNW typically gets high winds in events like this.


I don't think I read when and how long you are going, but I would skip the Los Angeles. to San Francisco - parts of Pacific Coast highway are closed due to mudslides and it will be a while before it opens, but there are detours around it. It's a nice drive and towns to stop in while heading north, but too crowded and commercial, except for the Big Sur area. I would recommend going North from SF then when you get tired of going North head towards Shasta, but depends on when you are going. We often head up the coast along highway 1, but we're in west county Sonoma, which is close to highway 1 - heading up to Gualala this weekend, and which is worth putting on your list.


New member
California Campers rents Westys if that is your thing (I can't post links yet).

February can end up being nicer than March some years so it can be a real wild card in the end of winter/beginning of spring...


I agree with Graton, avoid SoCal as a whole (unfortunately?) due to the slides that closed 1. I've driven from Santa Monica North on 1 to Santa Barbara where it merges with the 1 then back to the 1 above and other than the closed sections and few undeveloped areas, your not missing much.
Frisco area North is Beautiful. Only issue going so early in the year will be weather related with road closures/ passes closed for snow or rain/ tree related issues.
Good luck and enjoy. Go as far North on 1 as you can, you'll regret it otherwise.