The Snowbirds Have Landed

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…snowbird! And just like that, the snowbirds are back.

Every year, millions of Americans and Canadians fly south to enjoy the warm winter temperatures of the Sun Belt.

Before you join the Snowbird flock, consider what you’re looking for in a snowbird roost.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the first things new snowbirds need to learn is that there is no place in the continental United States where you are going to be assured of 70 degree weather all winter long. Many first-time snowbirds from the upper Midwest and the Canadian Prairies are surprised that it can get down into the 30s in Florida, Southern Arizona, and the Palm Springs area during the winter. They thought the Sun Belt states were always consistently warm.

Lake Okeechobee, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No, not always T-shirt and shorts weather. We have spent several winters in Florida and parts of it can be darned cold! We’ve had to unhook our water hoses as far south as Orlando and Lake Okeechobee to prevent them from freezing.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A few years ago one couple asked me how far south they had to get to be assured of 70-degree weather. I think Costa Rica might do it, I’m just not sure how to get my Dutch Star down there. So where do snowbirds roost when the white stuff flies up north?

Rockport, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Generally, if you’re south of Interstate 10, from California to Florida, you will be out of the worst of the winter weather. But there is no guarantee. We’ve experienced snow at Rockport, Texas on Christmas Day, a dusting of snow in southern Arizona in March, and even snow in Verde Valley near Sedona during the Easter weekend.

Estero Llano Grande State Park, Rio Grande Valley, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas we’ve sweltered in the heat and humidity, and we have had frost on our windows during the same time other winters. Sometimes even in the same winter.

Port O’Connor, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Rio Grande Valley in Texas draws thousands of snowbirds with reasonably priced RV parks, lots of activities, and generally good weather. It can get windy at times, but it’s one of your best bets if being warm is a priority. People tend to either love the Valley or hate it, and we are fans of the area primarily due to the diverse wildlife, the availability of outstanding citrus, and a welcoming attitude.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Park, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another of our favorite places in Texas is the Rockport/Aransas Pass area, on the Gulf Coast. This is a laid back place where they appreciate snowbirds and make them feel welcome. The combination of affordable RV parks, lots to see and do, and close proximity to Corpus Christi if you need services only a big city can provide, make it popular with many Winter Texans.

Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We also enjoy the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast and Louisiana where we found the weather pleasant during our stays there in the winter. It’s a nice, laid-back area with a lot to see and do, and you can’t beat all the fresh seafood. Seafood markets offer shrimp, oysters, crab, and snapper. When you’re on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the good times roll and roll and roll with 12 casinos, some excellent restaurants, historical homes, and a slow pace that we enjoy.

Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following Interstate 10 west into New Mexico, you don’t have a lot of choices. Some RVers spend their winter in Las Cruces and Deming. It’s inexpensive, but chilly due to the higher elevation. Expect to unhook your water hoses overnight to keep them from freezing.

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many snowbirds flock to Arizona. Favorite roosts include the Yuma area, Mesa and Apache Junction, Tucson, Lake Havasu, Casa Grande, and of course, Quartzsite.

Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you venture into California, there are a number of popular snowbird enclaves in the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs to Indio. You’ll find this to be one of the more expensive options for RVers, but you will almost always enjoy warm and dry weather. Expect the Santa Ana winds to blow in on occasions.

Coachella Valley, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep in mind that the things we look for in a snowbird roost may not appeal to you. We favor a slower pace, enjoy sightseeing and photography, and being close to nature. We’re not into playing golf, organized activities, or potluck dinners.

Shields Date Garden, Indio, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But whatever you like to do, and whatever your budget, there are numerous places to park your rig and hang your hat during the winter.

Worth Pondering…

We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead at our home in Alberta, something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass pointer and head for the Sun Belt.