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RV Winter Camping – Driving South for the Winter

Winter camping can be challenging, especially if you live in the northern half of the US. But, how about driving south to sunny Florida, or southern California, or even Arizona, New Mexico or Texas? There are many warm and very desirable locations where you can go to escape the cold of winter. We’ll give you several suggestions.

Are you looking to escape the cold and have some fun in the sun? Try these amazing spots for an RV Winter vacation. Here are some of the top RV destinations for escaping the cold of winter.

Tampa Bay and Clearwater, Florida

Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico’s coast, you can find lots and lots to do in the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg (with its sort of artsy vibe), Tampa (new metropolitan chic) and Clearwater (laid back, beach town with a modern twist). There are so many things to do in the metro Tampa Bay area you can literally spend the whole winter there and still not run out of activities.

Beaches are obviously a big draw for Florida visitors. Enjoy some of the sandy shores of Tampa Bay or cross the bridge to enjoy the fabulous Gulf Coast. Or, if the beach is not your scene, there are many quiet county parks and waterways for canoeing or kayaking. Tampa Bay is also home to a terrific zoo, (Lowry Park), the Florida Aquarium, and several museums. Be sure to stay through the winter and enjoy the annual Gasparilla pirate invasion in January complete with a parade and flotilla of boats.

Some statistics and nearby parks for you:

  • Average January temps: High 70 degrees F, low 54
  • Elevation: Sea Level
  • Nearby State Parks: Honeymoon Island State Park, Hillsborough River State Park, Fort de Soto Park (Pinellas County Park with campground)
  • National Park: Everglades National Park
  • Activities: Hiking, cycling, boating including wind surfing, SUP’ing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing
  • There are many RV parks in the area; some of the best include:

Fort De Soto Park (Pinellas County Park with campground) – Whether you are sitting on the beach or kayaking near the still water’s edge at Fort De Soto, you will find yourself absorbed in the abundance of natural beauty as far as the eye can see. The complexity of the ecology is not immediately apparent, but the park offers the greatest diversity of systems just about anywhere. 

The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys). These keys are home to beach plants, mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and scores of native plants. Each of these species plays a vital role in the preservation and protection of the natural environment.

Annual park attendance averages more than 2.7 million visitors.

Lazy Days RV Resort is located off Interstate 4 just 15 minutes east of Tampa, towards Plant City and Lakeland. It has a deluxe pool area, fitness room, two dog parks (one for big dogs and one for small), large playground, tennis courts, game room, onsite restaurant, and much more. You can even order food and drinks from the bar poolside.

Located in Northwest Tampa, Bay Bayou RV Resort is especially popular for the social snowbird crowd and has many activities during the winter months. It is set in natural surroundings on Double Branch Creek, and doesn’t even seem like you’re in the midst of a city.

Desert Hot Springs, California

With January temps occasionally climbing into the mid-80s, the Mojave Desert is the perfect antidote to wintertime blues. Sunbaked rocks and towering yucca plants stretch to the horizon in all directions. Find the right spot to hide out for a few days, and your only neighbors will be lizards and rabbits. 

Joshua Tree National Park has long been a midwinter stronghold for dirtbag climbers, but bouldering isn’t everyone’s bag. The park offers seemingly endless miles of hikes, trail runs, and sunrise strolls.

The low light of winter solstice casts a magical glow over the Mojave. That alone is worth the visit. If pretty sunsets don’t do it for you, take a long soak in one of the many mineral hot springs in the area.

Some statistics and nearby parks for you:

  • Average January temps: High 78 degrees F, low 54
  • Elevation: 1,076 feet
  • Nearby public lands: San Bernardino National Forest, San Jacinto Wilderness
  • National parks: Joshua Tree
  • State parks: Coral Pink, Goosenecks, Snow Canyon, Sand Hollow
  • Activities: Hiking, cycling, bouldering, music festivals, hot springs
  • Some of the nearest recommended RV parks include: The Sands RV Park and Resort, Desert Springs Spa and RV Park

Silver City, New Mexico

The Southwest is full of quirky little towns like Silver City, New Mexico. For many people, it’s best known as the home of the Tour of the Gila, one of the longest-running bicycle stage races in America. If you like to pedal, Grant County’s road system offers challenging and solitary rides. If gravel is your thing, the roads in Gila National Forest will keep you riding for days on end.

The town itself is — well —a bit of a sleeper. With just over 12,000 residents, the main street won’t compel you to stay for long. But the opportunities for adventure in the immediate area will keep you busy.

The Dragonfly Loop Trail is a popular hiking destination. Just to the west of town, the Continental Divide Trail parallels portions of the Gila River. Take the trail due north for a few days, and you’ll end up in Pie Town, a small pitstop made famous for the annual Tour Divide bike-packing race.

As a place to spend a few weeks, Silver City may not have enough to keep you entertained, but a short drive puts you in Truth or Consequences near Elephant Butte Reservoir. White Sands National Monument isn’t much farther east.

If you’d rather go west, more quirky little towns in Arizona are not far off. Places like Tombstone and Bisbee have even more quirk than Silver City.

 Some statistics and nearby parks and monuments: 

  • Average January temps: High 54 degrees F, low 34 – so this isn’t a hot spot, but is nicer than many miles north. Mainly, this is due to the elevation, which is 5,876 feet.
  • Nearby public lands: Gila National Forest
  • Nearby national monuments: White Sands
  • Activities: Hiking, cycling, hot spring soaks
  • RV parks: Silver City RV Park, Rose Valley RV Ranch

Corpus Christi, Texas

Is by no means a small city with 320,000 residents, but miles of coastline allow ample room to find your own slice of secluded sand. Located just southeast of San Antonio, this is an interesting destination in its own right. Corpus Christi offers an abundance of activities.

With a steady and strong winter wind, sailing and kitesurfing are popular activities. Locals like to grab a lawn chair and watch the Wednesday night sailboat regatta races. If you need more solitude, you can slip outside the footprint of the city and into the surrounding wetlands, where thousands of migratory birds gather.

Just north of South Padre Island, Mustang Island State Park offers a chance to camp within walking distance of the surf. The park’s 48 sites include 50-amp hookups and fresh water for a reasonable $20 fee.

If you can’t snag a spot there, cruise up the coast to Goose Island State Park with similar amenities. Launch your kayak or SUP on nearby St. Charles Bay, try your luck with a rod and reel, or just enjoy the beach.

To tap into the vacation vibe of the Gulf Coast, the Texas State Aquarium and Naval Museum aboard the USS Lexington are worth a visit. While you’re relaxing, you can hit up one of the small seafood restaurants along the waterfront, where shrimp boats create the appropriate backdrop.

Some statistics and nearby parks: 

  • Average January temps: High 68 degrees F, low 48
  • Elevation: Sea level
  • Activities: Surfing, sailing, kiteboarding, waterfowl hunting,
  • Nearby RV parks: Gulf Water Beach Front RV Resort, Laguna Shore Village

Driving South with El Monte

For more great winter getaway RV travel ideas, try driving south with your El Monte RV Sales dealer, who can help you with any questions you may have. And, don’t forget, when you are considering getting an RV, check out our gently used, refurbished models at El Monte RV Sales.

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