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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Southwest RV destinations to bask in some winter sun

As chilly days and long nights return to the Pacific Northwest, we’re feeling a familiar urge to escape.

Do you feel it too? California and Arizona have lots of gorgeous sunny RV destinations, just an RV road trip away. If you’re dreaming of heading south this winter with the rest of us snowbirds, here are some of our faves.

Coastal escapes

Central California Coast. The stretch of coastline from Monterey to Santa Maria has some of California’s most jaw-dropping views and most intense driving on California Highway 1. Stops along the way include Big Sur, Cambria, Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. Stay: Our top RV camping spots are Kirk Creek National Forest campground, San Simeon and Morro Bay state parks, and  Pismo Coast Village commercial campground. Don’t miss: The elephant seals basking in the sunshine near San Simeon. Go ahead and join them.

SoCal Coast. How about a 70-degree day at the beach  in January? Yes please! From Santa Barbara to San Diego, you’ve got lots of options. Stay: Our top spots include Carpinteria State Beach’s Santa Rosa Campground; San Clemente State Park and San Elijo State Beach near Encinitas. This year, we’re spending the holidays at Dockweiler Beach RV Park in El Segundo. Don’t miss: A bike ride on the Marvin Braude Recreation Path, extending from Pacific Palisades to Redondo Beach in the L.A. area.

California desert

Death Valley National Park, Calif. As we’ve discovered during two visits, winter is a fantastic time to see this otherworldly national park. Big views of the desolate landscape are everywhere, and the day-hiking is exceptional, from slot canyons to sand dunes. Stay: National Park campgrounds at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells are well-located. Don’t miss: The lowest point in North America at 282 below sea level in Badwater Basin.

Palm Springs, Calif. We’ve come to think of Palm Springs as our winter home. It’s a popular  tourist town, with lots of Rat Pack-era kitsch, and for outdoor fans the biking and hiking is excellent. Stay: Happy Traveler RV Park is our go-to spot close to downtown; in nearby Desert Hot Springs, Sam’s Family Spa and Hot Water Resort is the place for those who love to soak. Don’t miss: Happy hour at Melvyn’s at the Ingleside Inn, a beloved Sinatra hangout.

Borrego Springs, Calif. This funky desert town is home to golf courses, artists and fantastic Mexican food. In Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest, the hiking is remote and challenging, and four-wheel-drive desert rats will find miles of roads to explore. Stay: Borrego Palm Canyon Campground in the state park has full hookups; The Springs at Borrego is a splurge-worthy RV resort with a top-notch golf course. Don’t miss: the Borrego Springs Serpent Sculpture.


Grand Canyon National Park: This isn’t a warm-weather escape, but if you can stand the cold, the South Rim is an amazing place during winter, where sunny views of the snow-topped casym are more beautiful than at any other time of year. Best of all, the park’s notorious crowds aren’t a factor. Stay: Trailer Village RV Park is pricey, but worth it for the full hookups. Don’t miss: A winter walk along the Rim Trail.

Southern Arizona. Along Interstates 8 and 10, snowbird havens stretch from the California border to New Mexico. We know that many PNWers love Yuma and the Phoenix area, but our favorite big town is Tucson, which has amazing food, vibrant nightlife and nearby Saguaro National Park for hiking. Stay: Catalina State Park is in the mountains near Tucson; in town, it’s hard to beat the KOA Lazy Days Resort. In southeast Arizona near the town of Benson, Kartchner Caverns State Park offers lovely camping and hiking. Don’t miss: A Seattle Mariners spring training game in Peoria starting in February.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.