Snowbird Roosts

 Posted by at 12:11 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 282012

I got an e-mail yesterday evening from some new fulltimers who are hitting the road the day after Christmas, asking me for suggestions on snowbird roosts. They have been following the blog for some time now and were surprised that it can get down into the 30s here in Florida during the wintertime. They wrote that they thought Florida was always warm.

No, not always. 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 the Orlando Thousand Trails on more than one occasion to prevent them from freezing.

They asked how far south one had to get to be assured of 70° weather. I think Belize might do it, I’m just not sure how to get my Winnebago down there! Just a couple weeks ago in the Florida Keys we had a couple of days where people were wearing sweaters and light jackets to ward off the chill.

So where do snowbirds go to roost when the white stuff flies up north? Generally, if you’re south of Interstate 10 from Florida to Arizona you will be out of the worst of the winter weather, but there is no guarantee. Last spring we saw a dusting of snow in Tucson in March, even if it only lasted a few hours.

Here in Florida, folks tell us that you have to be south of Tampa to be assured the best weather during snowbird season, but again, that’s no guarantee. We have paddled our kayaks in January in the lakes around Orlando, and we had frost on our windows the same time other winters. Sometimes in the same winter! If you like Florida, prices drop steeply the further you go inland from either coast. Around Bushnell, Davenport, and Winter Haven, for example, you can find nice RV parks for less than half of what you will pay around Sarasota or Fort Lauderdale, and things are not nearly as hectic.

We like the area around Mobile Bay in Alabama, and we haven’t gotten too cold during our stays there in the winter. But, we have certainly gotten a lot of rain almost every time we visit. It’s a nice, laid-back area with a lot to see and do, and you can’t beat all the fresh seafood!

Moving west along the Mississippi Gulf coast, we have stopped many times at Magic River, the home campground of Passport America in Long Beach. There are a lot of casinos, some excellent restaurants, and a slow pace that we enjoy there.

We have not spent much time in Louisiana, except for a couple of brief trips into New Orleans, so I won’t comment on that area. We spent our first two Christmas holidays at the Escapees Rainbow’s End park in Livingston, Texas and it was darned chilly both times. Every year our friends Greg and Jan White go home to Galveston Bay RV Park in Kemah, a little south of Houston. We spent a few days there last winter and enjoyed good weather.

One of our favorite places in Texas is in the Rockport/Aransas Pass area, on the Gulf coast. We spent six weeks there over the holidays a few years ago, and while we had some rain and fog a few days, we also did a lot of kayaking in short sleeve shirts. This is another 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 big city can provide make it popular with lots of RVers.

The Rio Grande Valley in Texas draws thousands of snowbirds with low 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 not fans ourselves. But check it out, it may be a good fit for you.

Following Interstate 10 west into New Mexico, you don’t have a lot of choices. A lot of RVers stop in Deming, and some stay there all winter. It’s inexpensive, but there is not a lot to see and do, and more than once we’ve had to unhook our water hoses overnight to keep them from freezing.

A lot of snowbirds flock to Arizona, and favorite roosts are in the Benson area, Tucson, Mesa, and Yuma. Benson is good if you like smaller towns, and it’s a short drive to Tucson if you need a city fix. Tucson usually has decent weather, but again, I’ve seen it snow there more than once. Mesa, Apache Junction, and the entire East Valley are hotspots for RVers, but prices and the crowds seem to climb every year.

Yuma is home to a lot of RV snowbirds, and it’s another place where you can usually expect good winter weather. There is a lot to see and do and many choices, from small mom and pop RV parks to upscale resorts.

If you venture into California (and why would you?), there are a number of popular snowbird enclaves in the Indio/Palm Springs area. You’ll find this to be one of the more expensive options for RVers, but you can almost always expect decent weather.

So there you have it, our opinion on many of the popular snowbird roosts, though I’m sure I missed a couple. But keep in mind, the things we look for may not appeal to you at all. We like a slower pace, being around the water, and decent restaurants. We’re not into playing golf, planned activities, or potluck dinners. But whatever you like to do, and whatever your budget is, don’t worry, there are plenty of places to park your rig and hang your hat during the winter.

Thought For The Day – Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

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Nick Russell

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  13 Responses to “Snowbird Roosts”

  1. It is just about dawn here and the temperature is about 60 degrees…today during the warmest part of the day it will be 82-85…the coldest temp I’ve seen in 8 years is 53 in January. The snowbirds are arriving or passing through in RVs from Class Bs to 40′ Class As. I live within 15 miles of the Belize border and I can tell you how to get your motor home down here if you are interested. Right down the road from me is an RV park with hook ups or I offer free boondocking for as long as you like to stay. I arrived here in my motor home, decided this was where I wanted to live and built a house.

  2. You paddled a kayak in the lakes around Orlando? Are you nuts? Apparently you haven’t seen the pictures of the huge alligators lying in wait for you if you happen to fall in!

  3. Nick,
    Why not tell them to stay as far as possible from you? You can find bad weather anywhere.

  4. Nick:

    Good job summarizing the snow bird roosts. I agree with what you said and hope your readers pay attention to every point you made. We also liked Rockport but stopped going there because of the wind and rain. It was warm and small town friendly however. Now we go to the Apache Junction area. We are actually just east of there in Gold Canyon. This gives us the more rural feel we like but we are still close to the big towns for the shopping and restaurants, etc. The weather is among the best you will find. There is never snow on the valley floor, very little rain and the temperatures rival southern Florida during the winter. The wind is not a problem here either. The community welcomes us and our business. Today’s forecast is a high of 80° and it was 57° overnight last night. While this part of Arizona is not known for being near water, there are several large lakes that you can fish or kayak in that are nearby. As you say, everyone has different interests and some like the big resorts with all the friendly residents and activities and others want to boondock in the desert. To each their own. Again, great summary of the snowbird roosts.

  5. It’s good that there are so many different options or we would all be crammed in together somewhere. We like the Yuma area. Out at the SKP Kofa park it is quiet yet we are close enough to big city amenities. AZ is one of the few states that within 200-300 miles you can change climates and live year round comfortably, temperature wise.

  6. Nick: Thanks for not including Casa Grande on your list. This small, RV friendly place midway between Tucson & Phoenix will remain our little secret. After all, with RV parks ranging from basic (SKP’s RoVers Roost) to the POSH who’d want to winter here?

    Yes, it can get cool here overnite, but the mild daytime weather more than compensates.

    Be well everyone & safe journeys.

  7. How to get your Winnebago to Belize – drive it down just like we did. 🙂

  8. We are on our fifth year of spending part of our winter in Florence, AZ. It is a sleepy little town about halfway between Tucson and Phoenix in the middle of all the saguaros and chollas of the Sonoran Desert. It stays quiet and peaceful because it is less convenient to shopping than some other places, and some people are put off by the prison here.

  9. Bonnie, not just kayaks, but inflatable kayaks. I have never heard of an alligator attack on a kayak. They are not lurking just under the surface just waiting for someone to fall in. I hear of people being killed in automobile accidents every day, but I still drive a car. As the line in an old Jimmy Buffett song says, “I’d rather die while I’m living than live like I’m dead.”

  10. If you’re thinking Arizona or New Mexico, definitely avoid the four corners areas. I’ve noticed a lot of people asume that they must be hot year round, being that far south and desert-like. What people forget is they are high altitude deserts. I wound up stuck in Flagstaff, AZ for a day one winter because it had snowed so deeply during the night the roads were closed.

    So if you’re heading to the South West for the winter, aim for just north of the U.S. border. Anything less than that and you can get quite the surprise.

  11. Thanks for not talking about the Salton City area south of Palm Springs. It is nice and quiet here, accept on the major holidays. It is also warm to the mid 80’s and lows in the 60’s at night. We are 25 miles from Indio and as the crow flys 20 miles from Slab City, which I don’t think I would stay at!!! for very long.

  12. Thanks for this information…could prove most useful to us in the not too distant future!! Though not keen on being cold, I hate heat far more…especially with humidity thrown in…one thing I have requested of hubby…”let’s not spend any more summers here on the East Coast where we are now”.

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