The Top Hidden Gems for Snowbirds: Find Your New Winter Escape

This study identifies a collection of hidden gem cities—warm places waiting to be discovered by those keen on avoiding the cold and the crowds. Architectural Digest ranked 75 U.S. cities based on various factors to guide you to these notable locales.

Snow and chilly weather aren’t for everyone. Many choose to head to warmer climates during the colder months. If you’re a snowbird seeking a retreat outside popular sun-soaked places this winter, you’ve landed in the right place.

Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key findings

  • The number one hidden gem destination for snowbirds is New Orleans
  • The snowbird destination with the greatest selection of activities is Sedona
  • Mobile, Alabama, has the highest-rated light-traffic outdoor trails
  • Ajo, Arizona, has the most affordable homes on Zillow with an average cost of $161,048; Santa Barbara, California has the most expensive at more than $3.7 million
  • Maui has the best weather score with average daily winter temperatures near 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Ajo, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ranking the best winter escapes

Architectural Digest ranked cities based on housing and lodging availability, Yelp ratings for activities and eateries, home sale prices, and winter weather conditions to determine the best cities for snowbirds. To ensure these destinations are hidden gems, each location boasts establishments with high ratings—between four and five stars on Yelp—but only six to 75 reviews indicating that they are still relatively undiscovered.

Considering these factors, they assigned each of the 75 cities in this study a national ranking from 1 to 75.

Their research uncovered common traits among the top-ranked winter escape cities: pleasant weather throughout the winter months, unique experiences, and highly rated yet lesser-known establishments. These locations also had many homes for sale on Zillow or lodging options on Yelp catering to both seasonal tourists and those seeking a more permanent residence. Below, I explore the distinct qualities that set each of the top five cities apart from one another.

New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Overall rank: First
  • Housing and lodging availability: First
  • Activities and dining: Third

New Orleans scored 86.9 out of 100 points securing the top spot overall and for housing and lodging availability. The city’s blend of French, Spanish, and African cultural heritage coupled with its many festivals, dining, and entertainment options make it a top choice for a winter escape.

Corkscrew Sanctuary near Naples, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Naples, Florida

  • Overall rank: Second
  • Housing and lodging availability: Second
  • Activities and dining: Fourteenth

Nestled within the Sunshine State, Naples boasts pristine beaches and an upscale way of life establishing itself as an ideal haven for a sun-soaked seasonal getaway. With a commendable 10th place in the weather category and beautiful Floridian homes widely available, its appeal is undeniable.

Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Overall rank: Third
  • Housing and lodging availability: Eighth
  • Activities and dining: Second

Honolulu is the vibrant heart of Hawaii offering more than just postcard-perfect beaches and swaying palm trees. Located on the southern shore of the island of Oahu, this tropical paradise provides a harmonious blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication. With a high rank in housing and lodging availability, you’ll likely be able to find a luxurious island home here for the winter.

Palm Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Palm Springs, California

  • Overall Rank: Fourth
  • Housing and lodging availability: Fourth
  • Activities and dining: Fifth

This Sonoran Desert jewel is a hidden gem in the Coachella Valley offering a unique blend of relaxation and midcentury-modern charm. Despite its property costs and weather rankings at 48th and 43rd, respectively, Palm Springs still holds allure as an under-the-radar winter escape with many housing, activity, and dining options.

Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gilbert, Arizona

  • Overall Rank: Fifth
  • Housing and lodging availability: 38th
  • Activities and dining: First

Located southeast of Phoenix in the Valley of the Sun, Gilbert is a true hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While its 38th position in housing and lodging might suggest limited availability, it shines brilliantly as the number-one location for activities and dining.

The study as a whole has limited use for RV snowbirds since a key focus of the researchers was housing and lodging availability and cost. As a result, I will focus the remaining portion of this article on factors relevant to RV snowbirds: eateries and walking trails.

Average winter daily temperatures and UV index were of limited use since the top three locations were Maui, Honolulu, and Key West. But how practical is it to get your RV there?

I’ve identified hidden gem cities for snowbirds based on several key factors all determining whether a city is an ideal escape during the winter months. I’ve spotlighted each category below to further explain how cities fared across the rankings. The key factors/categories I’ve selected—eateries, activities, and trails—are relevant for most RV snowbirds.

Number of highly-rated hidden gem eateries and bars:

  • Gilbert, Arizona (150)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (107)
  • Palm Springs, California (86)

Number of highly-rated hidden gem activies:

  • Sedona, Arizona (109)
  • Honolulu, Hawaii (97)
  • Santa Barbara, California (29)

Percentage of total walking trails with high ratings and low traffic on AllTrails

  • Mobile, Alabama (68 percent)
  • Yuma, Arizona (62 percent)
  • Idyllwild, California (60 percent)

Other categories including the number of homes for sale in Zillow and the number of highly rated hidden gem lodging options were also included in the rating but unrelated to RV snowbirds and thus omitted  in this article,

Where to Go to Escape the Snow

Planning for a future RV snowbird road trip? Need to know where it doesn’t snow? Here are the top six states with the least snow to get you started on your plans.

Keep reading…

The Best RV Driving Routes for Snowbirds

Snowbirds migrate from the northern reaches of the continent to the Sun Belt when the weather starts to get cold and snowy just like millions of actual birds that migrate back and forth every year. And just like the flocks of birds that follow familiar routes, RV snowbirds tend to make this journey on a few well-traveled arterials.

Keep reading…

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12 of the Best State Parks for Snowbirds

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a well-developed RV site with all the bells and whistles or a wooded tent spot far from any sort of road or development, there’s a state park campsite for you. To lend a hand—there are over 10,000 state parks, after all—I’ve profiled a list of some of the best campsites in state parks that are known for their popularity and unique beauty.

Keep reading…

Worth Pondering…

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida but they turned sixty and that’s the law.

—Jerry Steinfeld

12 Best RV Parks in Arizona for Snowbirds (2023-24)

Where snowbirds enjoy a second summer in winter

It’s that time of year again! The birds are migrating south for the winter and the RV snowbirds are behind them. After all, isn’t that the whole point of having a house on wheels? So you can follow the good weather no matter where it leads!

Snowbirds love to head to the Southeast, temporarily residing in states like Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, or Texas that stay relatively warm. Other options include the Southwest where the dry climate allows for more temperate winters (as long as you stay in the lower-elevation Sonoran Desert). Arizona is one of my favorite options for northern snowbirds escaping the snow and freezing temperatures this winter!

I rounded up 12 of the best RV parks in Arizona for snowbirds. Check them out below!

Leaf Verde RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Leaf Verde RV Resort, Buckeye

Leaf Verde RV Resort offers spacious back-in and pull-through RV sites with full hookups including 20/30/50-amp electric service. Enjoy gravel pads with concrete patios, complimentary Wi-Fi to keep you connected, and a picnic table for your outdoor enjoyment.

Other amenities include a swimming pool, shuffleboard, game room, clubhouse, pet area, laundry facilities, restroom, and shower facilities. Located in the West Valley off Interstate 10 at Exit 114.

Canyon Vista RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon

Canyon Vistas RV Resort is nestled at the base of the Superstition Mountains in the Gold Canyon area southeast of Phoenix. Here you’re beyond the noise and congestion of the city yet minutes from shopping and entertainment.

Enjoy a morning walk or bike ride amid a stately hundred-year-old Saguaro cactus or keep in shape at the state-of-the-art Fitness Center. Meet your friends for a round of golf at the pitch and putt course followed by a cool drink on the covered veranda. Go hiking, boating, and horseback riding in the nearby mountains. Other amenities include ceramics, wood carving, lapidary, pickleball, computer lab and classes, quilting and sewing room, pools and spas, tennis courts, and pet area.

Rincon West RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Rincon West RV Resort, Tucson

Situated near the beautiful Tucson Mountains, Rincon Country West has 1100 spaces including deluxe, pull-through RV sites. Amenities include full hookups with 30/50 amp electric, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, gated entry, private mailboxes, laundry, showers, heated pool and spas, exercise room, woodworking shop, pottery room, lapidary room, card room, arts and crafts and sewing rooms, billiard room, tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard, and bocce ball.

Vista del Sol RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Vista Del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City

This area has needed a new 5-star RV resort and in November 2015 a new Roberts resort opened with paved streets. The 88 wide concrete sites are terraced both back-ins and pull-ins in the 65-foot range with paved sites and patios.

The pull-in sites face to the west-northwest with views of the hills and mountains as well as Bullhead City, Laughlin, and the Colorado River. 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV are conveniently located. Resort services include Wi-Fi, two pools, one spa, a fitness room, billiards/game room, daily activities, Doggie Park, gated entry, and a clubhouse with a commercial kitchen and serving area for groups. Within this gated 55+ community, one can also purchase a 400 sq. ft. model home or a manufactured home in varied sizes.

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, El Mirage

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort is in El Mirage about 30 minutes northwest of Phoenix. A Roberts Resort, Pueblo El Mirage resort offers 378 RV sites and a range of five-star amenities including an 18-hole championship golf course, 26 pickleball courts, lawn bowling, a pool, banquet hall, hair salon, two-story library, computer room, workshops for woodworking and other crafts, and two dog parks.

The resort also organizes weekly entertainment such as live music, games, and food trucks for the guests’ enjoyment. The location of Pueblo El Mirage allows for easy access to local attractions as well as hospitals and healthcare providers.

Upon arrival, guests received a care package including tote bags, note paper, mugs, pens, and lip moisturizer.

Palm Creek RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande

All RV sites at Palm Creek are back-ins with a minimum of 50 feet in length and 40 feet in width. All sites come equipped with patio pads and full hook-ups including 50-amp electric service, cable TV, water, sewer, and Wi-Fi service.

Amenities include a championship Par-3 golf course, four swimming pools and Jacuzzi tubs, an on-site bistro, pickleball and tennis courts, lawn bowling, a softball field, a fitness center, a ballroom, four laundry facilities, and nine dog parks.

Sonoran Desert RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Sonoran Desert RV Park, Gila Bend

After a day of rolling through the dramatic and diverse Sonoran Desert, you can roll your rig right into this oasis in the desert. It’s so convenient with the easy-on/easy-off access from both I-8 and SR-85. Formerly, Gila Bend KOA, the campground was built for RVers by RVers and it shows! You’ll find roomy, 100-foot full-hookup pull-through sites throughout the park—all big rig friendly.

Relax by the heated pool or just soak up the desert views and dark evening skies from your site. Fido will love the 4,000-square-foot Canine Corral with three separate corrals (two with grassy areas). Amenities include Wi-Fi throughout the park, laundry facility, putting green, heated pool, and recreation hall Ranch House with a 2,500 sq. ft. veranda that’s perfect for savoring a brilliant sunset at day’s end. 

Destiny RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Destiny RV Resort, Goodyear

A walled and gated community, Phoenix Destiny RV Resort offers 20/30/50-amp service on every site, heated pool and spa, fitness center, laundry facility, shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pits, pickleball courts, putting green, billiard room, and fenced-in pet areas and a shaded turf dog run.

The RV resort is clean, well-maintained, and attractively landscaped with an abundance of citrus and other trees and shrubs. Interior roads and sites are asphalt; the picnic table is conveniently located on concrete. Destiny offers a quiet, peaceful, and friendly atmosphere with easy access to I-10 (Exit 123; Citrus Road). Our pull-through site (#263) was in the 55-foot range.

Tucson/Lazydays KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Tucson/Lazydays KOA, Tucson

Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort features citrus trees throughout the park and offers pull-through RV Sites with full 30/50-amp hookups, grassy luxury sites, and new RV sites with a patio and fireplace. Whether you want to relax by one of the two pools, soak in the hot tubs, play a round on the nine-hole putting green, or join in the activities, this park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Two solar shade structures allow guests to camp under a patented structure that produces solar energy. The structures shade more than two acres of the campground giving visitors room to park RVs on 30 covered sites. Lazydays, a full-service RV dealership with a service department is located next door. Other campground amenities include a bar and grill, meeting rooms, a fitness center, three off-leash dog parks, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Eagle View RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Eagle View RV Resort at Fort McDowell, Fort McDowell

Eagle View RV Resort is far enough away from the hustle of Phoenix and Scottsdale but still close to numerous attractions. The resort has 150 full hookup sites with beautiful views of Four Peaks, part of the Mazatzal mountain range. Amenities include a swimming pool, dog run, fitness center, complimentary pastries, and coffee in the mornings, and a clubhouse with an HDTV, pool table, computer room, and library.

If you feel like trying your hand at blackjack or poker, Fort McDowell Casino is less than a mile up the road. The park is also a short drive from the city of Fountain Hills which is home to golf courses and one of the largest fountains in the world.

Sundance 1 RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande

Sundance 1 RV Resort is a 55+ Active Adult Community in Casa Grande. This family-owned park was established in 1998 and has grown to become one of the most popular RV destination resorts in Arizona. The park has 750+ sites that make up a community of park model homes and full hookup RV sites.

The average lot size is 40 feet wide by 50 feet deep. The park has 13 pull-through sites for daily and weekly stays only. Each site has 30/50-amp electric availability. Available activities include pickleball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, billiards, wood carving, quilting/sewing, ceramics, photography, and stained glass.

Pleasant Harbor RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Pleasant Harbor RV Park, Peoria

Located in the beautiful area of Peoria, Pleasant Harbor RV Park features all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities. It has a fully operational marina as well as a heated pool. Once you are done with your outdoor activities, the resort is also close enough to Peoria that you can enjoy the local shopping outlets and dining establishments.

Whether you want to have fun on the water or relax with a fun game of golf, this resort is near everything that you need. Access to the marina is worth the price of admission alone. Since you’ll be in Peoria, you can also go into town and check out the charming shops.

Between the warm weather, RV parks filled with activities and amenities, and the gorgeous desert and mountain views, Arizona ranks high as the best place for snowbirds to spend their winters. Each one of these parks offers something unique.  

Worth Pondering…

This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaros standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.

—Dorothy B. Hughes

55 + RV Parks: VIP Treatment

Have you heard of 55+ RV parks? If not, they’re very popular in Arizona and Florida—two states known for active retirement communities and beautiful weather.

RV life is perfect for the active retiree and 55+ RV parks cater to the growing Boomer-retiree demographic who have found they no longer want to camp with children running around. Or at least not all of the time!

Today I’m diving deep into these parks and why the majority of RVers appreciate this option.

Let’s dive right in!

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona, a 55+ RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are 55+ RV parks all about?

The name says it all. The mission of 55+ parks is to create a mature environment for active seniors who enjoy a social lifestyle.

What states have the most 55 and older RV campgrounds? 

While every state has 55 and older RV campgrounds, two states take the cake in that category. Not surprisingly, they are Arizona and Florida

There are several reasons that these two states attract the most retirees. 

First, Arizona and Florida have beautiful weather. They can get pretty hot in the summer months but they are a great place to find a temperate winter climate. 

Both states are also tax-friendly for retirees appealing to many folks. 

Yuma, Arizona, is home to the most 55 and older RV campgrounds in the United States. Out of the top 25 parks in the city, 40 percent of them are age-restrictive.

Other popular cities in Arizona featuring 55+ parks are Tucson, Mesa, and Apache Junction. 

Speaking of Arizona, here are 21 Arizona RV Parks You Must Visit.

Since I’m talking about Arizona, here’s a related article: What Makes Arizona Such a Hotspot for Snowbirds?

Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California, a 55+ RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why do people love 55+ RV parks? 

In short, folks are drawn to these 55 and older RV campgrounds for their age-appropriate activities. Most parks have excellent amenities that encourage a sense of community and outdoor recreation. 

Most places offer pools, tennis, and pickleball courts and even golf courses. Many parks also have a recreation center that hosts bingo nights, dinners, live music, dancing, arts and crafts, games and cards, and other hobby workshops. 

While each park is different you can expect to find some activities available to residents. Many also offer a meeting place for snowbird clubs to meet. These outside organizations have their events and are excellent places for people to meet peers and make friends while camping.

Common activities at 55+ RV parks

The active lifestyle of 55+ parks is a huge attraction for baby boomers. These parks usually have great amenities that encourage outdoor activities. Pools, pickleball courts, tennis courts, and golf courses are common features.

Voyager RV Resort in Tucson is a popular 55+ RV resorts in southern Arizona. Here’s what they offer their 55+ community:

  • Arts & crafts
  • Dancing
  • Live music
  • Games & cards
  • Hobby workshops
Gold Canyon RV Resort in Gold Canyon, Arizona, a 55+ RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are 55+ parks more expensive than normal RV parks?  

The answer to this question is that there is no answer. It depends on the park. 

Some 55 and older RV parks are much more affordable than others. You will pay for the amenities you receive, so parks that offer more will cost more. 

There are some ways to save money, however. Consider joining a camping club like Escapees which includes many places to stay. Escapees is perfect for every age camper not just those over 55. With your membership, they combine Escapees and Xcapers RV Club. 

When you stay at 55+ parks you will find other like-minded campers. You often become friends and find that you see each other at different places throughout the year. 

Can people younger than 55 stay? 

Again, you have to look at each park to answer this question. Some 55 and older RV parks will allow folks younger than 55 to stay. At the same time, others adhere to a strict age policy. 

The bottom line is that these 55 and older RV campgrounds want respectful people who will be aware of those around them. If younger people are approved and follow the rules, there should be no issue staying there. 

Also, be aware that the retirees in many age-restrictive parks want a quiet environment. It is not the place to bring young children. While us older folks love the sounds of children’s laughter there is a time and place that we want to hear it. 

Most parks do not have an issue allowing those younger than 55 to stay for a short period if they have the availability. 

How do you find 55+ RV Park?

One way is to just Google “over 55 RV campgrounds near me” or check your membership clubs.

Luxury RV resorts for those 55 and older

These 55-and-older RV parks are dedicated to seniors and they have some fabulous amenities.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona, a 55+ RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona

Located mid-way between Phoenix and Tucson, Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort is minutes from Interstate 10. They have over 2,200 RV sites, park homes, and activities to keep you busy all winter.

You can play pickleball, tennis, billiards, or a round of golf on their 18-hole course. Afterward, cool off in one of their three swimming pools or Jacuzzis and soak in the mountain views. They also have card games, lawn bowling, and special events planned every week.

Tropic Winds RV Resort, Harlingen, Texas

Tropic Winds RV Resort is less than an hour from South Padre Island on the Gulf Coast. The resort includes over 500+ RV sites along with a swimming pool and spa, fitness center, and a clubhouse. The RV Park is open all year with daily, weekly, and monthly sites available. 

Water’s Edge RV Resort, Punta Gorda, Florida

No matter the time of year, Florida is always an excellent option for RVers looking for a warm climate. All RV sites at Water’s Edge have full hookups and RV guests have access to the laundry room, restrooms, pool, and the fishing lake. This resort has options for full-time ownership or short-term stays so it’s possible to stay for a few days or a few months. If you visit during the peak season and want something to do expect a packed calendar of events to keep you busy every day.

Caliente Springs Resort, Desert Hot Springs, California

RVers who want an active lifestyle resort will love the amenities at Caliente Springs Resort. Caliente Springs has pickleball, water sports, golf, tennis, and more. A bonus? This park is located minutes away from Palm Springs and less than an hour from Joshua Tree National Park. This park serves the 55-and-older crowd and has RV sites for different size rigs whether big or small. 

81 Palms Senior RV Resort, Deming, New Mexico

You don’t have to venture far off I-10 to reach 81 Palms Resort in Deming. The senior resort has 106 long pull-thru sites with full hookups and access to their community amenities. They have spotless restrooms and hot showers, an indoor heated swimming pool, coin-operated laundry, and a pet run.

Gold Canyon RV Resort in Gold Canyon, Arizona, a 55+ RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gold Canyon RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona

Stay near where the action takes place when you park your RV at Gold Canyon RV Resort. Gold Canyon is a planned active lifestyle community with everything from park model homes to large pull-through sites with large patios and full hookups. This senior RV resort is also a golf resort and the social and service amenities are unbeatable. Since Gold Canyon is located just east of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, RVers will find entertainment, shopping, and access to adventure, all within an hour’s drive.

Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California, a 55+ RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Golden Village Palms RV Resort; Hemet, California

While this park isn’t exclusive to 55+ folks it is tailored to the active adult lifestyle. The park features 1,000 full hook-up sites available for rent on a daily, monthly, seasonal, or annual basis. The amenities are top notch including a tournament level shuffleboard complex, regulation sand volleyball courts, championship billiards tables, a library and business center, pickleball courts as well as three pools and spas, modern laundry facilities, and a professional gym.

We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite Go-To places—places that draw us back again and again.

Arizona is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter. 

Worth Pondering…

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

—Les Brown

Snowbird Guide: States with the Least Snow

Planning for a future RV snowbird road trip? Need to know where it doesn’t snow? Here are the top six states with the least snow to get you started on your plans.

The seasonal migration of Canadian and American snowbirds from the greater north into southern states like Arizona, Texas, Alabama, and Florida and then back home again requires good planning.

There are many logistical issues to consider when traveling and one of the first decisions is how you’ll get from point A to point B.

Here are a few great articles to help you do just that:

Planning for the best and preparing for the worst will help you keep safe during your snowbird travels whether in sunny weather or adverse road conditions.

Here are the top six states with the least snow to get you started on your plans.

Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

# 6: Georgia

When it comes to Georgia and snow, it’s all about what area you visit. For example, parts of northern Georgia can see up to as much as three inches of snow each year. If you want to avoid snow altogether, stick to central and southern Georgia where less than an inch of snow a year is the norm. By the way, the higher snow totals in northern Georgia are due to the Northeastern mountain region.

By the way, I have a series of posts on Georgia:

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

# 5: Mississippi

If you hate snow and want to avoid it at all costs many areas of Mississippi are bound to deliver. The Gulf Coast and southern regions of Mississippi see an average of half an inch of snow or less each year. Central Mississippi usually gets less than an inch of snow but northern Mississippi can get up to two inches though it’s infrequent.

It’s worth noting that the Gulf Coast of Mississippi is a popular vacation destination. Winter months offer high temperatures in the 60s. Cities throughout the Gulf Coast like Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis offer a variety of holiday events throughout the winter months. 

Another great winter event in coastal Mississippi is, of course, Mardi Gras. Though more commonly associated with Louisiana, Mardi Gras has a 300-year history on the Gulf Coast. Numerous Mardi Gras events take place beginning in January and into February.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

# 4: Alabama

The Alabama Gulf Coast and southern Alabama are a great escape from the white stuff. Most cities in these regions average .2 inches or less of snow a year—not exactly the best destination for cross-country skiers. That isn’t to say snow is completely out of question. Some cities in Alabama have seen record snowfall amounts of more than 13 inches.

By the way, I have a series of posts on Alabama:

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

# 3: Louisiana

Average snowfall throughout Louisiana is an inch or less making the state a consistently snow-free destination. Winter highs are likely to be in the mid-60s. In addition to its temperate climate, Louisiana has one impressive draw for winter traveling: Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras has been openly celebrated in New Orleans since the 1730s. The Mardi Gras traditions began in France and then spread to French colonies. It was brought to New Orleans by a French–Canadian explorer in 1702. The traditions and celebrations have slowly grown over time to become what New Orleanians call the.

The Carnival season begins on January 6 or King’s Day kicking off a long stretch of celebrations and events. The date of Fat Tuesday changes every year and is always the day before Ash Wednesday (February 13, 2024). Bacchus and Endymion are two of the biggest parades of the season and happen the weekend before Fat Tuesday.

By the way, I have a series of posts on Louisiana:

Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

# 2: Florida

Summing up the average snowfall in Florida is easy: none. Don’t believe it? It snowed in Florida 16 times in the entire 21st century. Simply put, temperatures don’t drop low enough.

The average high is in the mid-60s. The consistent weather and lack of winter precipitation make Florida a great destination for vacationing. Florida is the number one destination in the United States for Canadian transplants and one in four residents in Florida are seniors.

Florida is home to several attractions that make it a desirable vacation destination. One of the most well-known is Disney World and some of the winter months are the least busy at the park.

Consider planning a trip in early to mid-December or January to mid-February. If you are looking for something a bit different consider a visit to the Kennedy Space Center or Everglades National Park.

By the way, I have a series of posts on Florida:

# 1: Hawaii

YES, HAWAII DOES GET SNOW!

Just not very much! But how practical is it to get your RV there? So Florida could be in this number 1 spot.

Are you really surprised? Of course not!  Much like Florida, Hawaii’s average yearly snowfall is non-existent. It also boasts highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 60s.

Weather like this should certainly make you consider saying Aloha to Hawaii in the winter months.

The only place you are likely to see snow in Hawaii is at the top of the state’s three tallest volcanoes: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala.

Worth Pondering…

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida but they turned sixty and that’s the law.

—Jerry Steinfeld

The Best RV Driving Routes for Snowbirds

Head south this winter on these RV driving routes

Snowbirds migrate from the northern reaches of the continent to the Sun Belt when the weather starts to get cold and snowy just like millions of actual birds that migrate back and forth every year. And just like the flocks of birds that follow familiar routes, RV snowbirds tend to make this journey on a few well-traveled arterials.

The two major routes connecting these two seasonal zones are the two interstate highways near the west and east coastlines. That would be I-5 in the west and I-95 in the east.

Although there are several north-south interstate routes in the interior of the continent, these two main routes carry the bulk of RV snowbirds simply because the coastal regions of the continent are the most densely populated areas; therefore, there are more RVers in the coastal states and more RV snowbirds.

7 Feathers Casino RV Park, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Interstate 5  

Interstate 5 is the best RV driving route if you are on the West Coast of the U.S. or Western Canada. It is a well-maintained, RV-friendly route that stretches from Vancouver, British Columbia to the Mexico border.

The highest elevation along this route is the Siskiyou Summit in Southern Oregon just north of the California border. Siskiyou Summit is 4,310 feet above sea level with numerous steep grades on both sides of the summit.

If you intend to travel on I-5 from late fall to early spring, be sure to check the weather conditions in the Siskiyou Pass before you try to climb that mountain range with your RV and discover it is covered in snow, and chains are required. 

The steep grade in the mountains is not the only challenge on this snowbird route. Large sections of I-5 go through state and national forests and wildlife abounds along this route. Daytime driving and extra caution are recommended to avoid a collision with wildlife that might happen to venture into the roadway.

Red Bluff KOA, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grapevine

Other sections of I-5 may have dangerous winds which may affect your RV’s stability. One of the most notorious sections of I-5 for dangerous winds is the Grapevine which serpentines up through the Tejon Pass at 4,144 feet. This 40-mile section of road north of Los Angeles has several sections with steep grades, high winds, and occasional snow.

As with the Siskiyou Summit, it would be prudent to check with the California Department of Transportation regarding driving conditions in Tejon Pass before embarking on that part of your journey.

Flag City RV Park, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to go camping on I-5

You can drive from Vancouver, British Columbia to San Diego, California on Interstate 5 and I suggest you take your time to enjoy the diverse and beautiful scenery as well as some of the most productive agricultural land in the country.  

If you’re looking for great campsites on I-5, check out Seven Feathers Casino RV Resort in Canyonville, Oregon (Exit 99) and Red Bluff KOA Journey in Red Bluff, California (Exit 649). See photos above.

New Green Acres RV Park, Waterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Interstate 95 

The other main coastal route for snowbirds runs down the eastern seaboard from the Canadian border in northern Maine to the Florida Keys.

This interstate is over 1,900 miles in total length and it is the longest north-south interstate highway in the US. I-95 goes through 15 different East Coast states. It is the best RV driving route on the East Coast and is used by thousands of Canadian and U.S. snowbirds every year. 

Many of the secondary routes in the east are older construction and can be a problem for big rigs because these secondary routes may have low overpasses, narrow bridges, or weight restrictions. Consequently, I-95 is the most popular route in the east because it’s beautifully maintained and appropriate for all types of RVs.

Most of the major cities along I-95 can be circumvented by using bypass routes.

Coastal Georgia RV Park, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to camping on Interstate 95

If you’re looking for midpoint RV parks on I-95, check out New Green Acres in Waterboro, South Carolina, and Coastal Georgia RV Resort in Brunswick, Georgia. See photos above.

Creek Fire RV Park, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Interior snowbird routes

The two main coastal routes carry the bulk of RV snowbirds between their summer and winter destinations. But if you are in the middle of the US or Canada, you might not want to drive to one of the coastal routes to make your north or south snowbird journey. 

If you’re starting from a location in the interior of the continent you can use one of these alternate routes to migrate south for the winter or north for the summer. As you can readily see, the Interstate numbering system uses integers of 5 for major routes with a north-south orientation.

The following is not a comprehensive list of all north-south routes but these are the major thoroughfares and some of the best RV driving routes for snowbirds.

  • I-5 connects California, Oregon, and Washington as well as British Columbia.
  • I-15 connects Southern California, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Alberta.
  • I-25 connects New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Manitoba. I-25 ends in Northern Wyoming but turns into I-90 which continues into Montana and points beyond.
  • I-45 and I-35 connect Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Ontario.
  • I-55 connects Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois. I-55 ends in Chicago but a multitude of connecting interstates continue up either side of Lake Michigan and eventually arrive in Ontario.
  • I-65 and I-75 connect Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Ontario.
  • I-95 as mentioned before goes up the east coast of the US, through Maine and gives you access to all the maritime provinces of Canada.
Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66

In addition to all these major freeways, you could follow the iconic Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago for your northbound snowbird journey or go from Chicago to LA on your southern journey.

However, Route 66 is not a freeway. In many places, it literally is Main Street in dozens and dozens of small towns in the West and Midwest.

This route is scenic and historic but not necessarily appropriate for big rig RVs. If you’re in an area of the country near part of this epic roadway, it might be worth a side trip just to say you were on Route 66 and to see for yourself what it’s like. 

If you have a smaller RV, van, or small trailer you could probably follow the entire route.

The Lakes RV and Golf Resort, Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your RV driving routes

The best RV driving route for snowbirds may be the one closest to your starting point or it may be the one furthest away. After all, half the fun of RVing is getting there. Can you think of a better RV adventure than taking a road you’ve never traveled before?

It’s all about discovering new places, people, cuisine, cultures, and scenery. If you’re a regular RV snowbird, you could take a different route every time you go north or south until you have experienced them all.

Here are some helpful resources:

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

The Ultimate Guide to Cold Weather Camping

Looking to go winter camping, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

 ‘Tis the season where the mercury starts dropping and RVers the world over begin to hunt for warmer pastures. After all, one of the best parts of owning or renting an RV is the fact that you can chase 70 degrees as it gets colder up north.

But what if cold weather camping is your jam? Or suppose you want to be close to a ski hill or other place that’s great for winter RV camping? Or do you live in your RV full-time but work still requires you to be in a cold-weather spot?

Whether you do winter RV camping by choice or by necessity, there are steps you’ll want to take to stay warm in your rig. That’s why I put together this Ultimate Guide for Cold Weather Camping. 

I want you to know exactly how to use your RV in the winter—how to shield it from Mother Nature, how to winterize and store it if you want to, and even how you can make money renting your rig to others in warmer parts of the country.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is cold weather camping?

Cold weather camping can be defined as any time you camp in your RV in the winter when the temperature is consistently below freezing. That’s because temps above freezing don’t usually bring with them the same problems and considerations that winter camping brings with it.

When temps dip below 32 degrees, that’s when you have to worry about freezing pipes, increasing heat needs, and cold—and complaining—family members. 

Another consideration with cold weather camping in an RV is wind. Even if the temps are above freezing, winter weather can still bring cold winds. Cold winds can make RV camping in winter a tough proposition because the winds more easily penetrate RV windows and doors than in a house. 

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why cold weather camp?

Cold-weather camping can get you into some of the best places to hang out in your RV. You could stay close to a ski hill for a fraction of the cost of a condo, you could hang right by certain national parks and have them nearly all to yourself, or you could just stay in an area you want to stay in despite the wrath of Mother Nature

None of this means that RV camping in the winter has to be uncomfortable. There are ways to explore the outdoors in a place you enjoy and still come home to a home-on-wheels. 

Heated water hose for winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to keep an RV warm in the winter 

Each RV is unique and some are better equipped for cold weather. Despite the marketing sticker on the outside of your RV saying something like “Extreme Weather Package”, very few RVs are ready for freezing temperatures without some modifications.

It is important for you to know specifically what is installed on your RV such as a heated and enclosed underbelly, holding tank warmers, or insulated pipes.

You can take the following steps to make sure you’re ready for cold-weather RV camping:

  • Add to your insulation
  • Use clear marine vinyl or Reflectix to create an additional insulation barrier on your RV windows
  • Cover your RV with area rugs for an extra layer of floor insulation
  • Insulate your RV roof vents
  • Install heavy drapes that insulate your windows against the cold
  • Check to ensure all doors and windows are well sealed and replace old seals/weather stripping as needed
  • Purchasing or fabricating an RV skirt to seal your RV’s underside
  • Use multiple forms of heat—furnace, heat pumps, electric space heaters
  • Blankets, thermal undergarments, and thick socks go a long way in keeping the family happy while cold weather camping.
Electric space heaters help to keep the interior warm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV camping in winter: Maintain your furnace BEFORE it gets cold

RV propane furnaces haven’t changed much since the early days of RVing but they can still be a pesky appliance to keep running efficiently. And you can be pretty much certain that it won’t be on a 60-degree day in the middle of the week that it dies. It will be on a cold holiday weekend when you’re hundreds of miles away from civilization. As part of preventive maintenance have your furnace tested and serviced by a certified tech before the winter season.

Keep water flowing with a heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping

Keeping water flowing—and unfrozen—is your most important winter camping mission, apart from staying warm yourself. 

You should take these precautions to keep RV pipes from freezing:

  • Use a heated water hose: This will keep water flowing through your city water connection
  • Use the RV fresh water tank: If you don’t want to use a heated hose or aren’t connected to city water, your fresh water tank is a viable option
  • Practice strategic dumping: Leaving your black and grey tanks open is never a good idea; instead, dump only when your tanks are about 70-75 percent full
  • Use low-temp heat tape on hoses: Heat tape can be easily wrapped around external hoses to keep them thawed while using your RV in the winter
  • Let your water drip: I don’t particularly like this one because it wastes water but if you’re in a pinch this will keep your water hose from freezing because sitting water freezes before running water
  • How to pack for cold weather camping
Faucet protector and heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now that your RV is ready for winter camping, it’s time to prepare your family for the adventure. Here is what you want to pack in your RV for cold-weather camping: 

  • Sleeping bags and thick blankets
  • Breathable underlayers such as thermal underwear that wick away moisture
  • Thicker mid-layers like fleece or wool sweatshirts
  • Toque, warm socks, and waterproof boots/shoes
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof outer layer
  • Headlamp and lantern 
  • Snow brush/ice scraper
  • Shovel
Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to go

Many RVers opt for winter camping in southern destinations because their winters are far less harsh. While you may still need to take certain precautions to keep your RV warm, most snowbirds find southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida comfortable during the winter months. Other states that attract snowbirds include Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Nevada.

On the flip side, if you plan to chase the snow, consider Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and even northern New Mexico. If you’ve decked out your RV to be the ultimate cold-weather camper, ski resorts can be a great place to winter camp.

To experience the snow in less harsh conditions consider Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina. Since winters here are relatively mild, you’ll get snow without the extreme cold (usually). Explore Smoky Mountain National Park when few people are there and enjoy southern hospitality as you cold weather camp.

The Pacific Northwest is known for mild winters, light snow and rain, and ocean fun. Even during the winter, the Oregon coast is a fun spot for cold-weather camping. And north of Washington State in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, you’ll experience Seattle-like weather.

The Springs at Borrego Golf & RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to stay safe while cold weather camping

Cold weather camping brings with it a few extra precautions.

First, keep an eye out for icy conditions—especially black ice. Ice is a sticky situation for any vehicle but it can be especially problematic when driving an RV. Second, be sure to have an emergency RV kit with you at all times in case you get stuck on the side of the road. Finally, be sure you always have extra water, food, and blankets on board at all times in case you get stuck in cold weather. 

How to winterize your RV

While cold-weather camping is appealing to many RVers, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes you just want to tuck your RV away for the winter until spring arrives. Storing your RV for the winter can be a great option. If you choose to do this, you should take the following steps to prep your RV for cold-weather storage: 

  • Drain your water lines via your low point drain: Consult your owner’s manual to find the location of your low point drain. Once you find it, open it to drain all the water from your lines.
  • Drain your water heater and bypass it. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to do this. It’s very important that you allow the water in your water heater to cool before you do this so you don’t get burned.
  • Pump non-toxic RV antifreeze through your water lines.
  • Store your RV batteries in a climate-controlled location: You can extend the life of RV-deep-cycle batteries by storing them in a temperature-regulated place.
  • Pour a bit of non-toxic RV antifreeze down your sink drains: This helps to protect the P-traps. Also leave some in your toilet bowl to protect those parts.
  • De-winterize your RV in spring before you head back out. 
Sea Breeze RV Resort, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want to rent out your RV this winter?

Winter RV camping can be a fun journey if it’s your jam. But what if you’d rather make money with your camper during the winter? Many parts of the U.S. still experience high demand for RVs during the winter and there are many ways you can connect with individuals who want to rent RVs in these climates. Moving your RV south for the winter could be a great option for you if you were otherwise planning to store your camper for the winter.

While it might seem intimidating to have your RV rented out to strangers in a faraway place, there are many ways you can have peace of mind while your RV makes money as a winter camping rig. 

Hit the winter roads

Cold-weather camping is a tried and true path that many have trod. While it’s not necessarily for everyone, the bottom line is that you have many options for your RV in the winter from storing it to camping in it to making money with it. No matter which way you choose to use your RV in the winter it’s good to know that cold weather doesn’t need to stop your camping plans.

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

Winter Isn’t For These Birds

Are you dreaming of a snowless destination for the winter?

Winter is for the birds. Do you find yourself repeating this throughout the snow-filled colder months? Or perhaps, some other version of this sentiment that isn’t exactly appropriate for publication?

Winter is a wonderful and beautiful time of year in Canada and the northern states but this season’s charms aren’t for everybody. Freezing temperatures, an abundance of snow, and icy conditions soon have many people dreaming of warmer climes. Many northerners like to temporarily trade in their winter gear for shorts and sandals with a winter getaway to a sunny destination. But this plan only provides some temporary relief until one needs to come back home to frigid reality.

Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One popular solution is to skip winter altogether by RVing to a warmer location until spring. People who follow this plan are often referred to as snowbirds. Many snowbirds migrate from the northern United States but numerous Canadian snowbirds also make the move. The word has been used in its popular context since the 1980s to mark the trend of retirees flocking south for the winter.

While this lifestyle has long been most suited to seniors, the increasing popularity of remote work options has opened up opportunities for people from all demographics to become snowbirds. They can be found all across the southern states but their most popular destinations are Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Southern California.

Amelia Island, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Beyond these popular destinations, more and more snowbirds have been choosing other states such as South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. Generally, these states offer much milder winters than a snowbird’s home state allowing migrating active adults to avoid frigid temperatures and precipitation.

There are many reasons that people choose to travel to warmer locations for the winter. Personal preference is often a big factor but choosing to be snowbirds can significantly improve the quality of life for those with health conditions or mobility issues.

Corpus Christi sunset © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For many of us, things like shovelling snow, dealing with icy conditions, and freezing temperatures are simply some of the less enjoyable aspects of winter. These facets of winter living can keep a person housebound and isolated for those dealing with certain health conditions and/or mobility issues.

We know what snowbirds do best: RV south. There are tons of incredible destinations all over the U.S. that are sunny, beautiful, and certainly not frozen over in the winter. Here are some great destinations for northern snowbirds and why they’re so appealing.

Phoenix as seen from the Hole in the Rock at Papago Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Phoenix, Arizona

Some reasons you’ll love Pheonix in the winter include the incredible hiking and biking, shopping and live music, time spent in the mountains, excellent opportunities to golf on beautiful courses, the gorgeous desert with blooming wildflowers, warm weather all year, and tons of fantastic RV parks. Phoenix has more than 300 days of sunshine each year and you will instantly forget that winter is ever a thing.

>> Get more tips for visiting Phoenix

Palm Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Palm Springs, California

Visiting the desert in winter means idyllic weather. You can expect temperatures over 70 degrees so pack your warm-weather clothing. With its abundance of golf courses, spas, shopping, and upscale dining, Palm Springs is a fantastic option to wait out the colder months. The warm, desert heat is perfect for those looking to escape the snow and there are many luxury RV resorts full of amenities. If you’re looking for the perfect place to park your RV this winter, Palm Springs might be it.

>> Get more tips for visiting Palm Springs

Near Fort Myers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Myers, Florida

A snowbird’s destination list wouldn’t be complete without the Sunshine State. Just about anywhere in Florida could be considered a good destination for snowbirds, but some areas are more popular than others.

Fort Myers has various activities and experiences for all different interests. You can take a fishing charter out before sunrise and make it back in time to soak up the last of the afternoon rays on Estero Island. Spend your days traversing the shops and avenues or stay beachside with clear water views and seaside restaurants. There are plenty of museums for history buffs and national baseball tournaments for athletes and fans.

Texas State Aquarium at Corpus Christi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Gulf Coast of Texas

If you have yet to consider the Texas Gulf Coast the ideal snowbird destination, you need to add it to your list. There is a 350-mile-long stretch of sandy beaches and unique places to visit along the whole thing. Kick your feet up and relax on South Padre Island, stroll along Galveston‘s seawall to its one-of-a-kind Pleasure Pier, or explore Corpus Christi‘s fascinating museums.

>> Get more tips for visiting the Texas Gulf Coast

Lesser know snowbird destinations

Increasingly, more and more RV travelers are seeking alternative snowbird destinations in their quest to escape the winter cold. If you’d love to spend some time in a milder climate or are just dreaming of new experiences and the usual hot spots don’t entice you, you might be intrigued by one of these six unexpected snowbird destinations.

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Savannah, Georgia

Full of history, architecture, gardens, and art, Savannah, Georgia, is a fantastic place to spend the winter. Wander the historic squares and see the preserved buildings and cultivated gardens or explore the local restaurants and shops. 

>> Get more tips for visiting Savannah

Signage near Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Las Vegas, Nevada

For those who love dining and nightlife, Las Vegas can’t be beaten. The temperature stays warm throughout winter and with endless restaurants, shows, and shopping options, there’s always plenty to do. Nearby Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead National Recreation Area provide hiking for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Golfing at Hurricane near St. George © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

St. George, Utah

Think Utah winters are all about cold weather and snow-capped mountain peaks? Think again. The desert city of St. George in the southwestern corner of the state (aka Utah Dixie), is closer in climate (and distance) to Las Vegas than to the ski resorts in northern Utah. St. George has been a snowbird destination for decades but it’s becoming more popular as the city grows. And it’s not hard to see why: Sunny over 300 days a year on average with winter temperatures in the 50s and 60s and relatively little precipitation. Plus it’s close proximity to Zion National Park!

Main Street Downtown La Cruces © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Las Cruces, New Mexico

While New Mexico might not immediately come to mind when you’re deciding where to spend the winter months, the southern part of the state has a lot to offer. With sweeping views of both the desert and rugged mountains and mild temperatures in the 50s and 60s, Las Cruces is an up-and-coming destination for snowbirds. 

>> Get more tips for visiting Las Cruces

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Florida isn’t the only state where snowbirds can relax on the beach. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, gives visitors easy access to the ocean with fewer crowds. There are plenty of options for shopping, fishing, golf, and, of course, a sandy beach. Myrtle Beach is a fantastic place to spend the winter months on the East Coast. 

Jekyll Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island lies in southern Georgia on the Atlantic. With its mild weather, you can golf year-round here. It’s also a sought-after location for snowbirds who like to explore nature, birdwatch, and beachcomb. In addition, there’s a sea turtle rehabilitation center on the island.

>> Get more tips for visiting Jekyll Island

Worth Pondering…

One of the things I had a hard time getting used to when I came to California in ’78 was Santa Claus in shorts.

—Dennis Franz

When Does the RV Season Begin (and End)

Is there a beginning and an ending to the camping season?

The short answer: It depends. While many resume their RV adventures after the winter months pass, there are plenty of resorts open during all seasons. From Ontario and New York to Florida; British Columbia and Washington state to Arizona.

Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There really isn’t a month that can’t be considered part of the “RV season.” Any of the 365 days can be appropriate for an RV adventure. However, in many parts of the continent, in-season RV camping typically takes place between April and October while off-season makes up the remaining months.

While some RV sites close for the winter, many are open year-round. This article will provide some variations related to the RV season, but first, here are some pros and cons of traveling during the on-season versus off-season.

Gloucester, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Good and Bad for In-Season RV Camping

Choosing to take a trip between the spring and fall is popular mostly for the pleasant weather. Sunny skies always provide a reason to be out and about. There are warmer and longer days and clearer road conditions.

Another reason in-season camping is popular for many is that more tourist attractions are up and running. County fairs, music festivals, amusement parks, and swimming pools are all open during this time of year and seem to be major draws for travelers.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On the flip side, in-season traveling also sees crowded conditions within RV parks and tourist spots. Sunny skies don’t just invite a few to come out and play. Many RVers favor this season. Crowded amusement parks and swimming destinations and more people than you might prefer are likely during the in-season.

Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros and Cons for Off-Season RV Camping

The biggest positive for RV travel during the late fall and winter months may be the reduced price of RV parks. Like most things, rent at RV resorts may be cheaper during the off-season. To attract more travelers, parks hope the lower rates will help increase business. This goes right along with another positive side of off-season camping: fewer crowds. Whether at a national park, state park, museum, theme park, or RV resort, fewer folks will be there. This is good if you like a bit more peace and personal space.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some cons during this time frame could range from bad weather and poor driving conditions.

This calendar period will not be as good for overly social people. If you love to make lots of new friends with every resort stay, the odds will not be in your favor. 

So, now you have the very long answer: there isn’t an end to the RV Season. When RV season starts is all up to you. Cold versus warm temps; snow-covered ground versus bright sunny skies.

Sonoran Desert RV Park, Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snowbird Destinations

Snowbird locations can contradict all the pros and cons of in-season and off-season camping. Florida is the most popular destination for non-winter fans but Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and other southern border-states and parts of California also qualify.

Shuffleboard, pickleball, swimming, golf, and water aerobics can be found nearly year-round at many southern RV parks. Other favorite indoor activities like bingo, karaoke, and dances are often staples, too.

Hiking trails can be found at virtually any resort or within a few miles providing birdwatching opportunities and hiking and biking outings.

Coachella Valley Preserve near Palm Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some popular destinations for snowbirds include the Rio Grande Valley, South Padre Island, and Rockport-Fulton in Texas; Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and the Keys in Florida; Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, and Quartzsite in Arizona; and Palm Springs and San Diego in California.

Main Street Downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t limit the trip to large metro areas or well-known snowbird roosts, though. Consider some lesser-known destinations for a more unique adventure or a quieter RV park. Places that come to mind include Temecula and El Centro in California; Las Cruces and Deming in New Mexico; Mobile and Ocean Shores in Alabama; San Antonio and Galveston in Texas; and Biloxi in Mississippi.

State parks and county/regional parks are great for nature lovers.

Boondocking at Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter Destinations

For those who don’t mind a bit of cold and snow, there are some beautiful opportunities to camp up north. Outdoor adventurers have plenty of opportunities for winter activities such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and sledding/tubing. Spending evenings in the clubhouse by a roaring fire reading a good book also sounds appealing. While traveling to and from might be a bit more difficult, upon arriving you just might find yourself in a real-life winter wonderland. Don’t exclude the winter destinations completely; they might surprise you.

St. Marys, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seasonal Camping Opportunities

As RV sales continue to grow, seasonal camping is becoming more popular with each passing month. Seasonal camping is the act of renting a long-term lot at an RV resort and leaving the RV there even when you aren’t camping.

Seasonal camping reduces the need to pack/unpack, travel, and set up/tear down as often. Arrive. Stay. Enjoy. Less work and more fun are always win-win, right?

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buying a seasonal permit can save you money depending on how often you travel to the RV. Before committing, have an idea of many times throughout the season you will reside there and make sure the cost will be justified.

Obvious, but worth the mention, be sure to visit the resort before purchasing a season pass. If ordering via the internet, remind yourself that online photos might not show all the details of a place. Six months is a long time if you aren’t happy with your surroundings.

Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buying and Selling Times

Thinking of upgrading your rig to a newer model? Primarily, we think of spring as the best time but with more RVs being used as a primary residence as well as weekend and holiday travels, the same answer shared about RV season applies here, too. There is no wrong time to sell or to buy. Every day there are plenty of RV sales lots, online ads, and individual buyers ready to take a rig off your hands, and/or place a new set of keys in your hands.

Worth Pondering…

We shall not cease from exploration 

And the end of all our exploring 

Will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Yuma: Gateway to the Great Southwest

Plan for sunny and warm in Yuma, Arizona

The true Southwest awaits in Yuma. Immerse yourself in rich culture and heritage rooted in centuries of history. Soak in blue skies and sun that shines 310 days a year—perfect for outdoor excursions.

Yuma is the winter lettuce capital of America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Yuma is known as the Winter Lettuce Capital—thanks to its abundant vegetable production—and it holds a Guinness World Record as the “Sunniest City in the World.” With a prime location overlooking the Colorado River and home to the well-preserved Wild West-era Yuma Territorial Prison, this destination is an ideal place to explore.

A river runs through it at Colorado River State Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your first stops should be the Yuma Visitor Center and the Colorado River State Historic Park, the former site of the Army Quartermaster Depot established in 1864. Stock up on brochures and maps and find the latest info on Visit Yuma’s food tours and specialty dinners which are a great way to experience the region’s agritourism.

The Yuma Quartermaster Depot was a U.S. Army supply distribution point for forts throughout the American Southwest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Park includes a visitor center, the office of the Depot Quartermaster, the officer’s quarters, the corral house, the storehouse, a passenger train car, and more. Visitors can learn about how supplies delivered by ship from the Sea of Cortez were distributed to Army forts throughout the Southwest.

Related Article: I Was Wrong About Yuma

Serving hard time in Yuma © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River are the remains of Arizona’s famous Yuma Territorial Prison. On July 1, 1876, the first seven inmates entered the Territorial Prison at Yuma and were locked into the new cells they had built themselves. A total of 3,069 prisoners including 29 women lived within the walls during the prison’s 33 years of operation. You can tour the original cell blocks, guard tower, and solitary chamber. In the museum, browse prison artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the prison staff and the notorious convicts.

Yuma as a Colorado River community © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Explore Yuma’s lush parks and perhaps spot a LeConte’s thrasher or the elusive black rail. Be sure to pick up a copy of Finding Birds in Yuma County AZ by local birder Henry Detwiler available at the Visitor Information Center. East Wetlands Park offers 400 acres of wetlands at the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area; it’s part of an environmental restoration effort that’s doubled the bird population and increased species diversity. There are paved pathways suitable for all abilities.

The old steam locomotive at Pivot Point Plaza © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

See a 1907 Baldwin steam locomotive, hear a “ghost train” travel along the original railroad alignment, and learn about the historic importance of the Yuma Crossing. The outdoor exhibit area opened in 2010 where Madison Avenue meets the river―the exact site where the first railroad train entered Arizona in 1877.

Yuma Territorial Prison is a living museum of the Old West © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Toast the survivors of the Territorial Prison at the Prison Hill Brewing Company with a craft beer and conversation. Then, continue a few blocks to Lutes Casino, a historic establishment dating back to 1901. Despite the name, there are no card tables or slot machines; however, you can shoot some pool, order food, shop, or eye the quirky décor: retro signage, vintage photos, and posters of iconic Hollywood stars.

Related Article: The Beating Heart of Yuma

The Yuma area is one of the largest date producing areas outside of the Middle East © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Never had a date shake? Now is your chance. You’re in date country after all. At Martha’s Gardens sip on a Medjool shake, a sweet and creamy concoction made from Medjool dates grown right on-property. While indulging take a tour of the grounds to find out how these dates are cultivated in the desert (offered November–March only).

The Peanut Patch is nuts for you. Stop for a visit. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Converted from a vaudeville house, the Yuma Art Center features a pottery studio, an artists’ gift shop, four visual-art galleries, and a 1912 theater. Before you leave, pick up a map for a self-guided tour of Yuma’s public murals and sculptures. Don’t forget to snap some photos!

Yuma’s historic downtown offers a wide variety of shopping, dining, and old-fashioned street fairs and festivals © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now it’s time to stroll Yuma’s downtown center. Stretch your legs without stretching your wallet as you shop for handmade wares and agri-centric souvenirs at Brocket Farms, Colorado River Pottery, and Desert Olive Farms.

E.F. Sanguinetti helped transform the economy of Yuma heading into and through the start of the 20th century © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Round out the day with a stop at the historic Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens and Jack Mellon Mercantile. Named after the “Merchant Prince of Yuma” and a riverboat captain, respectively, these charming abodes are full of memorabilia and antiques, and frequently offer events such as tea time and haunted ghost tours.

Related Article: Yuman Nature

The Sanguinetti House Museum is a stop not to be missed © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now an Arizona Historical Society museum, Sanguinetti House Museum chronicles E. F. Sanguinetti’s (1867-1945) life as the Merchant Prince of Yuma. Visit the museum and hear stories of how Sanguinetti came to Yuma as a penniless young man at just 15 years old. He quickly grew to become a civic-minded businessman whose various enterprises—electricity, ice house, ranching, farming, merchandising, banking, and real estate—advanced his own well-being and that of the community he loved.

Related Article: Of Yuman Interest: Top 7 Attractions In and Around Yuma

Gateway Park is Yuma’s downtown riverfront park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three national wildlife refuges in the Yuma area—Cibola, Imperial, and Kofa—make up one of the country’s largest contiguous protected areas for wildlife. With more than 1,000 square miles between them, their ecosystems include desert, desert upland, riparian, grasslands, and forest.

Worth Pondering…

Alone in the open desert, I have made up songs of wild, poignant rejoicing and transcendent melancholy. The world has seemed more beautiful to me than ever before.

I have loved the red rocks, the twisted trees, and sand blowing in the wind, the slow, sunny clouds crossing the sky, the shafts of moonlight on my bed at night. I have seemed to be at one with the world.

—Everett Ruess

13 More Parks That Snowbirds Should Explore This Winter

Here are some of the best parks for snowbirds to explore

There are 63 national parks across the US. That’s not counting the hundreds of national monuments, historical sites, battlefields, memorials, trails, and more. When you count all of them together, the number of protected sites that fall under the US National Park Service is well over 400. And America’s state parks number over 8,500.

So it should not surprise anyone when I say that there are scores of incredible sites worth exploring in America.

Whether you’re looking to explore waterfalls or rivers, volcanoes or deserts, canyons or mountaintops, there’s a park for snowbirds to discover this winter.

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

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona

The remote Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a gem tucked away in southern Arizona’s vast the Sonoran Desert. Thanks to its unique crossroads locale, the monument is home to a wide range of specialized plants and animals, including its namesake.

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

This stretch of desert marks the northern range of the organ pipe cactus, a rare species in the U.S. With its multiple stems, the cactus resembles an old-fashioned pipe organ. There are 28 different species of cacti in the park, ranging from the giant saguaro to the miniature pincushion.

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goose Island State Park in Texas

Lapping water and Gulf breezes: We must be on the coast! Goose Island offers camping, fishing, and birding along St. Charles and Aransas bays. Camp, fish, hike, geocache, go boating, and observe and take photos of wildlife, especially birds. Fish from shore, boat, or the 1,620-foot long fishing pier.

Related Article: Parks That Snowbirds Should Explore This Winter

The Big Tree © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose from 44 campsites by the bay or 57 sites nestled under oak trees, all with water and electricity. Every camping loop has restrooms with showers. Be sure to visit the Big Tree which has been standing sentinel on the coast for centuries and has withstood several major hurricanes.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico

Enjoy camping, fishing, and boating at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico’s largest state park. Elephant Butte Lake can accommodate watercraft of many styles and sizes including kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, sailboats, ski boats, cruisers, and houseboats. Besides sandy beaches, the park offers restrooms, picnic areas, and developed camping sites with electric and water hook-ups for RVs.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park in Utah

Zion is a park that you have to see to believe. It is a true desert oasis and an American icon. The surrounding area looks desolate, dry, and barren, but when you drive into Zion Canyon, a massive formation, miles wide, with sheer rock walls that rise thousands of feet, await you. There is something so incredible about seeing the oranges and yellows of sandstone mixed with the greens of the Virgin River and the vegetation that grows so easily there.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend National Park in Texas

Big Bend National Park is home to more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 75 species of mammals, and 56 species of reptiles. Big Bend is named after a stretch of 118 or so miles of Rio Grande River, one part of which forms a large bend in the river at the Texas-Mexico border.

Related: Top 10 State Parks to Visit This Winter

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over 150 miles of trails give visitors the opportunity to venture out on a day hike on their own or participate in a ranger-led program with a ranger as your guide, teaching you about the science, history, nature, and culture of Big Bend National Park. There is a little bit of everything for those visiting this unique part of the world.

Usery Mountain Regional Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Usery Mountain Regional Park in Arizona
Located on the Valley’s east side, this 3,648-acre park is located at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. The park contains a large variety of plants and animals that call the lower Sonoran Desert home. Along with the most popular feature of the park, the Wind Cave Trail, water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support the hanging gardens of Rock Daisy.

Usery Mountain Regional Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Usery Mountain Regional Park offers a campground with 73 individual sites. Each site has a large parking area to accommodate up to a 45-foot RV with water and electrical hook-ups, a dump station, a picnic table, a barbecue grill, and a fire ring.

Myakka River State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Myakka River State Park in Florida

Seven miles of paved road wind through shady hammocks, along grassy marshes, and the shore of the Upper Myakka Lake. See wildlife up-close on a 45-minute boat tour. The Myakka Canopy Walkway provides easy access to observe life in the treetops of an oak/palm hammock. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy. The park features three campgrounds; 90 campsites offer 50 amp electrical service and water; some with sewer hookups.

Related Article: Ultimate Collection of National Parks Perfect for Snowbirds

Buccaneer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buccaneer State Park in Mississippi

Located on the beach in Waveland (adjacent to Bay St. Louis), Buccaneer is in a natural setting of large moss-draped oaks, marshlands, and the Gulf of Mexico. The use of this land was first recorded in history in the late 1700s. Buccaneer Jean Lafitte and his followers were active in smuggling and pirating along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Meaher State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meaher State Park in Alabama

This 1,327-acre park is situated in the wetlands of Mobile Bay and is a day-use, picnicking and scenic park with modern camping hook-ups for overnight visitors. A self-guided walk on two nature trails includes a boardwalk with an up-close view of the beautiful Mobile Delta.

Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in Texas

In the Rio Grande Valley, you’ll find wonderful bird-watching opportunities. Approximately 360 species of birds have been spotted at Bentsen-Rio Grande. Butterflies, javelinas, bobcats, and more have also been seen at the park.

plain chachalaca at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You will definitely want to bring your binoculars for birding with you. Like many other state parks, nature is the most intriguing part of the journey. Cars are not allowed to park on-site to help preserve nature. You can leave your car at headquarters and explore on bike, foot, or even tram.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico

Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves—formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes. Regardless of the snow and cold temps above, the cave is always a temperate 56-57 degrees.

Related Article: The Absolutely Best State Park Camping for Snowbirds

The most popular route, the Big Room, is the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. This 1.25-mile trail is relatively flat and will take about 1.5 hours (on average) to walk

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park in California

Joshua Tree is a diverse area of sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, extraordinarily rugged mountains, granitic monoliths, and oases. The park is home to two deserts: the Colorado which offers low desert formations and plant life, such as ocotillo and teddy bear cholla cactus; and the Mojave. This higher, cooler, wetter region is the natural habitat of the Joshua tree

Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona

Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak. The unique shape has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. Many hiking trails traverse the desert landscape and offer hikers both scenic and challenging hikes. Enjoy the beauty of the desert and the amazing views.

Worth Pondering…

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

—Rachel Carson