Best RV Camping in the Southern California Desert
As one of the largest states in America, California has so much to offer. From pristine beaches to snow-capped mountains to towering forests and vast deserts, there are so many different landscapes and regions to see in just one state. As the winter approaches, snowbirds from all over North America tend to flock to Southern California. Here, the desert regions tend to stay warm and sunny, even in the cold winter months. This makes them a popular destination for winter RV camping. If warm winters sounds ideal to you, let’s escape the cold and head down to the Southern California desert for some fun in the sun.
1. China Ranch Date Farm
In eastern SoCal, just south of Death Valley National Park, you will find China Ranch Date Farm. Filled with palm trees and a variety of attractions, this Harvest Hosts location is like a small desert oasis. At this date farm, you can find a bakery filled with date products, several historical buildings, rail and mining ruins, a small museum and a riparian wildlife area. The museum and buildings provide insight into the historic and natural history of the area, while the farm itself provides visitors with a variety of new foods to sample and even some to bring home. Be sure to call ahead and reserve one of the four spaces, available to rigs of any size.
2. Death Valley NP
Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the United States. It is also known for being the dryest, hottest, and lowest point in North America. This land of extremes is covered in a variety of colorful rock structures, as well as sand dunes, dry lake beds, craters, and even snow-capped mountains in the distance. Because it looks so much like another planet, several sequences of the Star Wars series were even filmed here.
For RV camping, there are several campgrounds located throughout the park, with some being reserveable and others available as first-come, first-served. If you are looking for fun activities to enjoy, you will find plenty of hiking, biking, off-roading, backpacking, and sightseeing. Be sure to visit Death Valley in the winter months to avoid the record-breaking summer temperatures of 120+ degrees.
3. Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner
On the way from Death Valley to Joshua Tree, be sure to make an overnight pitstop at Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner. This quirky roadside attraction was built in 1954 and offers a variety of delicious American comfort food meals. Besides the diner, you can find a nickel and dime store, a soda fountain, and a large desert garden. If you decide to stay at this Harvest Hosts location, be sure to check out Calico Ghost Town, located just three miles away.
4. Joshua Tree National Park
At Joshua Tree National Park, two distinct deserts collide to create a fascinating ecosystem formed by strong winds and occasional torrential storms. Rich history, beautiful natural features, and a vast variety of plants and animals combine to create this unique area filled with so much to do and see. With nine campgrounds to choose from, RVers can easily snag a campsite within park boundaries. This is ideal for exploring this stunning park. Hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, biking, and stargazing are among the many activities to try at Joshua Tree. Be sure to visit in the winter or early spring months for optimum weather.
5. General George S. Patton Memorial Museum
Just south of Joshua Tree, you can find the General George S. Patton Memorial Museum in the town of Chiriaco Summit. This Harvest Hosts location offers unique insight into the military history of the area, while also honoring the service of local American veterans. Beside the museum, there is a cafe and a gas station. Here, you can spend a morning perusing exhibits and learning history before grabbing a bite to eat and heading on your way.
6. Palm Springs
A bit northeast of Joshua Tree, you will find the small resort city of Palm Springs. A mid-century modern vibe meets a desert oasis here, where people from all over come to shop, swim, eat, drink, gamble, golf, and relax. In the nearby San Jacinto Mountains, visitors can also enjoy hiking, scenic driving, biking, rock climbing, and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
For camping, we recommend Palm Springs RV Resort. With over 400 full hookups campsites, this campground also offers a variety of deluxe amenities, such as jacuzzis, pools, a game room, a library, shuffleboard, pickleball, and more. Be sure to reserve your site in advance as these tend to book quickly.
7. Imperial Valley Desert Museum
Almost as south as you can go in Southern California lies the Imperial Valley Desert Museum in the town of Ocotillo. This museum doubles as a Harvest Hosts location and is located in the heart of the Yuha Desert. Here you can learn about the area’s geology, Native American History, and more. There is plenty of nearby hiking, and the stargazing here is said to be spectacular.
Southern California is an ideal location to visit in the winter, when the sun is shining and the weather is warm. Consider any of these lovely locations for an excellent place to stay as you escape the cold and explore the deserts of California.
Have you visited the Southern California Desert? Where is your favorite place to stay? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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Just wanted to put a plug in for Peggy Sue’s Diner! We stayed there for a night on our way to Death Valley and the dinosaurs and pie make for a very memorable stop.
So glad to hear you enjoyed Peggy Sue’s! 🙂