Winter Adventures in the American Southwest

As the winter season approaches, many find themselves wanting to continue to take RV trips, despite the cooler weather. While winter weather is generally unpleasant to experience in an RV, there are plenty of places throughout the United States that stay relatively warm all winter long. One such area is the American Southwest. Here, you will find excellent campgrounds and public lands camping, as well as immense beauty and wide open spaces. Read on to learn all about the Southwestern places you can visit, as well as why the Southwest is such an incredible place to vacation in the winter months. 

Why the Southwest in the Winter

The Southwest is a popular place to visit year round, but many people prefer it in the wintertime. Why, you might ask? You can find these answers below.

Weather

The summertime temperatures in the Southwestern desert can be downright brutal. Most places are over one hundred degrees every day, and temperatures can even peak in the 110s on some days. Even in the fall and spring months, the weather can be too warm for some people. However, the winter temperatures are typically in the 60s and 70s during the day, and the daytime weather rarely dips below fifty degrees. The evenings can be in the 30s and 40s, but the weather still warms up during the day, while the sun almost always shines.

Less Crowded

Although the Southwest is gorgeous in the winter season, it actually tends to be less crowded during this time. Fewer crowds mean that you can have more of the beauty to yourself. It also means that there is more availability at campgrounds, and that you will have fewer neighbors if you are camping on public lands. While some of the places mentioned below may be busier than others, you can still typically find more peace and quiet in the winter season.

Cost

Because the winter is a less popular time to visit, local businesses typically try harder to attract visitors and tourists. To make this more likely, the prices at campgrounds and for other activities tend to be lower. Cheaper rates make this destination even more appealing.

Places you can visit

The following places make for excellent winter destinations. There is one location from each of the Southwestern states, leaving you with many to choose from.

1. Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada)

Visitors seeking adventure can find a little bit of everything in Valley of Fire State Park. Petrified trees and petroglyphs can be found throughout the 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone. Travelers can learn about the rich geology, ecology, prehistory, and history of the area from the park’s visitor center. This state park allows RV camping and offers partial hookups. They also offer WiFi for an additional fee. 

2. Goblin Valley State Park (Utah)

Goblin Valley State Park’s name derives from its unusual sandstone formations that are called goblins. The terrain here is unlike any other part of Utah, which is an impressive feat given the diverse landscapes found throughout the state. Parts of Goblin Valley are actually compared to Mars because they look so otherworldly. This park is excellent for hiking, mountain biking, canyoneering and viewing the night sky. Goblin Valley State Park allows RV dry camping with access to shared water and a dump station. 

3. Sedona (Arizona)

Sedona, Arizona, regularly attracts many different types of people with different interests. The “Sedona Secret 7” include: hiking, biking, vistas, stargazing, picnics, arts and culture, and spirituality. Essentially, Sedona has it all. The area of Sedona is very RV-friendly. There are several RV parks in the area to choose from and tons of boondocking opportunities with unrivaled views. 

4. Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Tribal Park (Utah/Arizona)

Monument Valley has long been considered one of the stereotypical icons of the American Southwest. Many say that it offers something different for everyone. Some come to take an iconic photo on U.S. Scenic Highway 163, while others come to tour the park itself led by local Navajo guides. Still others come to photograph the majesty of the sandstone masterpieces. There are a few nearby campgrounds for RVs. 

5. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

While it may be one of the newer additions to the list of national parks, White Sands National Park should not be missed. The area is technically filled with a mineral called gypsum, which looks like white sand. This park offers traditional national park activities such as hiking, biking, scenic driving, but also sand sledding. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own sled or purchase one from the gift shop to sled down the hills of white sand. There are nearby campgrounds and also several boondocking opportunities in the area. 

6. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (California)

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is filled with fascinating landscapes that have been naturally carved out over a long period of time. Due to erosion, the elements, and gravity, these mountains appear windy and rugged. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is actually the second largest state park in the contiguous United States, so there is tons to do here. There are numerous hiking opportunities along with specialized stops at some of the more interesting views, such as the “pumpkin patch”. There are a few RV campgrounds in the nearby town of Borrego Springs, and boondocking is allowed in several areas of the park. 

7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

Guadalupe Mountains is a very unique national park. The current landscapes are absolutely beautiful, but visitors that dig a little deeper are often blown away. The mountain range itself varies from 3,000 feet to over 8,000 feet in elevation, and, near the top, there is clear evidence of what used to be a coral reef approximately 5 million years ago. Imagine the entire desert area fully submerged in water! There is not only fascinating geological history, but the park is rich in human history as well. Like most national parks, the park offers two RV campgrounds to choose from. 

While the deserts of the Southwest may not be the winter wonderland that most folks dream of, this is still a stunning place to spend the winter. Between the views, the moderate temperatures, the low cost, and the nearly endless choices to camp, the Southwest has to be calling your name by now.

Have you ever visited the American Southwest in the winter? Where did you go? How was your experience? Tellus all about it in the comments below!

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  1. Dee Dyane
    12th December, 2020

    Love traveling the Southwest in the winter.
    Highlights Include Quartzsite and Tuscon Gem and Mineral Shows.
    Loved working on the Rancho Oasis outside of Bisbee.
    Family live in Goodyear with it’s Air Balloon Fest in Feb,
    volunteers treated well.
    Yuma and the Colorado River with
    RV Parks in beautiful locations.

    1. Sam Leash
      29th December, 2020

      These sound like awesome places to visit – thanks for sharing!