If you are one of those 70-degree RVers, chances are your wheels follow the weather. Seeking out temperate climates during the winter has many benefits, such as keeping heating costs down while allowing for more comfortable adventuring and exploration.
Therefore, many RVers head to the Sunshine State for the winter, and, while Florida has a lot to offer travelers, there are other options in the lower 48 and beyond that are worth considering.
Become a Winter Texan
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and we’ve experienced Texans’ big, warm winter welcomes. Take for instance their winter moniker that immediately makes you “part of the club.” When you winter in Texas, you’re not referred to as a “snowbird” but rather a “winter Texan.” No matter where in the world you came from, you’re now “one of them.” I love that!
As the largest state in the lower 48, Texas boasts a multitude of fair weather destinations, but two that will make your snow-shoveling friends back home green with envy are Padre Island National Seashore and Big Bend National Park.
Padre Island National Seashore
20420 Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
361-949-8068 • www.nps.gov/pais/index.htm
While Florida beachside camping nightly rates spike as temps plummet, Padre Island National Seashore, with its free beach camping, is a welcome relief. Wake up to the sound of waves cresting on the shore and watch real snowbirds migrate south in droves. Sixty-four miles of sandy shore are available for you to stake your claim, although the majority of it is set aside for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Not brave enough to pull your RV onto the beach? No problem. There are two campgrounds (no hookups but water and dump available onsite) with rates of $8, less with the Golden Age or Access National Park Service (NPS) Pass, and, while these campgrounds don’t take reservations, they are rarely full.
Been-there, done-that hint: Cellular service and by default WiFi signal are weak at the campground. Be sure to alert your family and friends that you may be “out of range” for a bit.
Big Bend National Park
Due southwest, and straight across the state, you’ll find Big Bend National Park. Mountains burst from the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert, lending to a stunning, rugged landscape built for adventures.
The Rio Grande river valley cuts a ribbon of life through this picturesque hikers’ wonderland. Not only will you find miles of hiking trails leading to stunning vistas, you’ll also be sure to see many remnants of settlements Native Americans called home for thousands of years.
The concession-run Rio Grande Village Campground has 25 full-hookup sites. The NPS website says, “A limited number of campsites in the Rio Grande Village campground can be reserved from November 15 to April 15, and in the Chisos Basin campground from November 15 to May 31. Reservations must be made four days ahead of arrival and can be made up to six months in advance by visiting recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. (www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/rgv_campground.htm)
Jojoba Hills Resort
45120 Hwy. 79 S
Aguanga, CA 92536
45323 Park Sierra Dr.
Coarsegold, CA 93614
Get Your Desert on in Southern Arizona
Drive through Arizona on Highway 10, and you’ll experience an RVing phenomenon. There is a dusty desert landscape, barren from April through October, but as temps drop, neighborhoods on wheels swell along the washes and the tumbleweeds. Quartzsite has a rich and varied history that includes gold prospectors, stage coaches and Hadji Ali, a camel driver who took part in an unsuccessful 1850s experiment to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert for the U.S. Army.
Every winter, the town’s humble population, that hovers around 3,500, bloats to over one million people, as droves of travelers enjoy nice weather, free camping (on miles of BLM land) and the internationally renowned Sports, Vacation and RV Show (January 20–28, 2018). Many RV clubs, including Escapees Boomers and Xscapers, use the backdrop of the show as an excuse to meet up and circle the wagons as they participate in fun desert activities together like bonfires, ATV tours and prospecting.
Been-there, done-that hint: There are no large box stores or even large grocery stores in Q (as it’s affectionately called). Be sure to stock up before you pull in.
Southern California in Winter
Looking to stay in optimal weather all year long? Many of us RVers do, and that’s why we chase the sun. But, what if I told you picture-perfect days could be had without even moving your RV? From beaches to history—shopping, culture, world-class cuisine, it’s no wonder San Diego, California, is called America’s Finest City. This SoCal mecca also offers balmy 60 to 70 degrees year-round temps.
Campland on the Bay
2211 Pacific Beach Dr. San Diego, CA 92109
858-581-4200 • www.campland.com
Looking for the perfect place to serve as your base for exploration? Campland on the Bay is an oasis conveniently located in the heart of the city. According to their website, “The property includes swimming pools and accompanying Jacuzzi hot tubs, immaculate bathrooms and showers, a marina with 124 slips, watercraft and bicycle rentals, game room, restaurant, market, laundry facilities, WiFi, campsites ranging from primitive to full-hookup RV, and a Super Site–complete with a private patio and Jacuzzi, grill and a spectacular view of the marshland and bird sanctuary.” Sounds like the perfect place to winter on the West Coast.
New Mexico and Old Mexico
Here are two honorable mentions: If you still haven’t found the right spot for your winter travels, consider southern New Mexico towns such as Alamogordo and Roswell for pleasant temps and camping rates.
Thinking of heading south of the border? Mexico offers great RVing on sugar sand beaches and in quaint pastel villages. Be sure to check out Escapees Chapter 8 Mexican Connection (mexicanconnection08.com; see page 80). This group hosts annual RV caravans for those interested in RVing internationally during the winter.
If you’re looking for a little less cramped camping or maybe some more economical accommodations, there are many great winter options outside of Florida, waiting for you to explore. Happy camping, and I hope to see you down the road.
Kimberly Travaglino is the author of How to Hit the Road, a comprehensive step-by-step guide for making your family’s full-time RV dreams a reality. She’s also one-half of a dynamic podcasting duo called The Roadschool Moms, and co-founder of Fulltime Families (fulltimefamilies.com), an organization that supports risk takers, pioneers and intentional families blazing their own path across the country.