In recent years, our National Parks have been smashing attendance records. Last year, nearly matched the National Park System’s record-breaking centennial in 2016. As wonderful as it is that more people are enjoying the treasure that is our National Park System, this does have a little bit of a downside, especially if you’re looking for a serene escape into nature at one of the more popular parks.
To alleviate the strain on some of our parks, shuttle systems have been instituted. Some shuttles, like the one in Zion National Park, are mandatory for most of the year, sometimes resulting in an experience that’s a little more theme park in feel. (You can only drive your car through Zion from November to March, now.)
But, as summer winds down and fall begins, a more serene experience opens up once again at some of the busiest National Parks. If you have the flexibility, try visiting Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks in the fall. The crowds die down, along with the mosquitoes (in the case of Yellowstone and Grand Teton), making them just perfect to visit in the fall.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
RMNP was the 4th most-visited National Park in 2017 with 4,437,215 visitors. Its close proximity to Denver keeps it quite busy on the weekends, but it’s also a very popular National Park with families on summer road trips. About a quarter of visitors come to the park during a six-week window in the summer. RMNP is a great place to see a small, but beautiful part of the majestic Rocky Mountain range which stretches from Alaska to Mexico.
Why RMNP is Great in the Fall
The Aspens in RMNP begin to change color in autumn, treating visitors to beautiful fall foliage. Most visitors look forward to driving Trail Ridge Road, which climbs up into the alpine region of the park at over 11,400 feet. The Alpine Visitor’s Center is a great place to stop along the way, but it can be difficult to grab a parking spot in the summer. We actually couldn’t find a spot on two separate drives through in the summer, but had no problem finding a spot in the fall!
It’s cold up there with the wind whipping through even in the summer, so fall can be chilly. However, the section of Trail Ridge Road containing the visitor’s center closes in mid-October before the temperatures really drop. The quieter side of the park is the west side. Staying at Grand Lake, even in the summer, is a quieter alternative to Estes Park. The west side of the park also has access to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
On the east side, hiking out to Dream Lake and Bear Lake are popular activities. Summertime is busy enough to warrant shuttle use from the Park n’ Ride off of Bear Lake Road. However, as long as you’re in your car, you can probably drive down to the trailheads and skip the shuttle in the fall. If you’re in your RV, you won’t fit at some of the trailhead parking lots, so you’ll need to use the shuttle. However, both the shuttles and the trails won’t be as crowded.
2. Yellowstone National Park
Undoubtedly, one of our most iconic National Parks, Yellowstone was the 6th most visited National Park in 2017 with 4,116,524 visitors. In 1872, Yellowstone became not only the first National Park in the U.S., but the first in the world! Yellowstone’s geysers make it truly unique as no other place in the world contains as many.
Why Yellowstone is Great in the Fall
Summer brings warmth to Yellowstone, but summer also brings the crowds and mosquitoes. We’ve been to Yellowstone both in the summer and fall. If you’re staying in Jackson Hole, the sidewalks get extremely crowded in the summer. It’s also difficult to snag a good spot up in the popular boondocking spot at Upper Teton View, plus it is quite warm and mosquito infested during the daytime in that area. True, you could run the generator and use you’re A/C, but that’s probably not the experience you envision when boondocking with a view of the Grand Tetons.
Along with a more relaxing stay, fall in the park sees less crowds and less traffic. The more unpredictable fall weather also brings some mist and light snowfall. However, the mist brings out a mysterious beauty in Yellowstone.
If you’re there for the geysers and Old Faithful, make the trek (or part of the drive) from Old Faithful to Mammoth Hot Springs in the north of the park. If you’re there for the wildlife, try driving from Lake Village to Tower-Roosevelt. This route will take you through Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley, which are ideal for spotting wildlife – especially bison. We definitely saw bison in the summer, but during the fall they were very literally walking up to our car!
Remember though, don’t wait too long into the fall season to go to Yellowstone, because winter does come quickly, and road as well as campground closures along with it! (Read more about Yellowstone campgrounds in this article by a fellow contributor.)
3. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park, with its close proximity to Yellowstone, was the 9th most visited National Park in 2017 with 3,317,000 visitors. The peaks of the Teton range lack foothills, which makes them a spectacular sight because the mountains seem to abruptly rise up out of the Jackson Valley floor.
Why Grand Teton is Great in the Fall
Grand Teton National Park really has an untouched wilderness feel to it. It’s possible to see beavers, moose, and bears. But, this serene and tranquil park teems with human activity during the summer. In the fall, it’s possible to have the grandeur of this area seemingly to yourself. It almost becomes like a Planet Earth episode playing right before your eyes as opposed to your screen.
Just as with Yellowstone, you might find yourself staying in Jackson Hole or boondocking at Upper Teton View. These two areas are extremely packed with people during the summer months. For any of you who depend on Wi-Fi, you’ll also want to take into account the strain that puts on the towers. During the summer, you’re lucky if you can get some decent service after 9 p.m., and before 9 p.m. it’s pretty much impossible.
Mosquitoes are rather fierce at Grand Teton NP in the summer, but just about non-existent in the fall. The changing season there also brings in some browns and yellows, and sometimes a light snow dusting. There are also many hikes and paddling opportunities, but don’t be surprised if Grand Teton NP in the fall brings out your inner photographer.
While visiting in the fall, be sure to channel your inner Ansel Adams at the Snake River overlook. Inspiration Point on Jenny Lake is a beautiful spot you’ve likely seen in many photographs. And Schwabacher Landing is a must. It’s a beautiful short hike and, if you’re lucky, you might spot some beavers. Iconic, brochure-worthy shots abound along the walking path. Plus, Oxbow Bend offers the chance to photograph the mountains with a glassy pond in the foreground.
Our National Parks are a true treasure. It’s fantastic that more and more people are experiencing their natural beauty. If you have some flexibility in your travel, you can experience a serene nature getaway, even in our most popular parks, without having to go in the backcountry. All you have to do is time your visit for the fall! (For more fall travel tips, read our article on reducing condensation).
Winter is coming. Okay, okay, maybe not quite yet, but summer is coming to an end and temperatures will be cooling down in many parts of the country. RV condensation is a fact of RV travel, which is at its worst in cold temperatures.
Condensation results when water vapor cools and becomes liquid. Just breathing in your RV creates water vapor! Cooking, showering, and your camping location can also significantly increase water vapor in the air. Although these things can produce RV condensation any time of year, they’re most impactful as the temperature drops. But, fall is a gorgeous time of year to RV, so if you’re not ready to store your RV just yet, or you’re a full-timer, we have nine tips, including both products and behaviors, to help you reduce condensation in your RV.
Products that Reduce RV Condensation
1. Moisture Absorber
A moisture absorber is a good start toward fighting mold-causing condensation. This is a great start because it’s most effective in warmer weather. If you’re spending the end of your summer anywhere in the Southeast, a moisture absorber is a must. If you’re heading in that direction, it’s still a good idea to grab one as fall can arrive as late as November depending on where you’re staying.
A moisture absorber is pretty much a bucket of crystals that behaves like a dehumidifier without the need for electricity. The crystals absorb excess moisture from the air, returning the humidity level to a more optimal level. Jon and I began RVing in the Southeast in a travel trailer. The DampRid brand is our favorite moisture absorber.
As the weather becomes colder, you’ll definitely want to add a dehumidifier to your condensation fighting toolkit. Most dehumidifiers require power, but Eva Dry, which is mine and Jon’s favorite brand, make a 12-volt version (the EDV 2500) that can work out better for boondocking.
In our small Class C Winnebago Trend, we use a small Eva Dry Dehumidifier (the EDV 1100, but we constantly travel and don’t rely solely on it). If you’re stationary for long periods of time, have a large RV, or are often connected to shore power, you may wish to upgrade to a larger dehumidifier. As a rule of thumb, 15 pint/7 liter dehumidifiers are effective for many RVs, and 25-30 pint/14 liter dehumidifiers could work best for large RVs.
Carefully look through reviews for real-world comments regarding weight, power consumption, and noise. Desiccant and compressor dehumidifiers are the two main types. As another rule of thumb, desiccant dehumidifiers are quieter, lighter, and perform better at lower temperatures, but a compressor dehumidifier could remove moisture faster and possibly consume less power. It really all varies by unit, and manufacturers don’t all rate capabilities at the same humidity levels, so it will be hard to make direct comparisons. Mostly, beware of advice that points you toward a dehumidifier that’s best for an average sized house – you don’t need that for your RV.
3. Dual-Pane Acrylic Windows
We’ve raved about our Dual Pane Acrylic windows before. We bought our Trend with this upgrade and can’t imagine RVing without it. RV condensation is a problem to begin with because RVs are not insulated in the same way that a home is. Traditional RV windows are a major weak point when it comes to insulation.
We’ve personally found dual pane acrylic windows help immensely with insulation. As a result, we haven’t had to wake up early to race around the RV, wiping dry all of our windows in a blaze of blue shop-towel glory. (We may have done this on a few occasions in our pre-acrylic-windows RV life). This isn’t to say that dual pane acrylic windows eliminate RV condensation, but we’ve personally seen a reduction. We also found that we used the furnace less since the RV stays warmer. RV furnaces are often propane powered, and propane appliances do create water vapor.
Behaviors that Reduce RV Condensation
Besides buying products there are free, or nearly free, things that can be done to reduce RV Condensation.
4. Opening a window or vent
Again, beginning with what you can do while it’s still warmer: open a window. Opening a window or vent can go a long way toward reducing RV condensation. Unfortunately, although this is true, it won’t work once it becomes too cold. Letting too much cold air in will make it too cold inside the RV, which in turn will mean you’ll turn on your propane furnace, which will only create more water vapor. Not to mention, you probably don’t want to spend all of your money on propane refills.
5. Open closets and cabinets
When we were new RVers, we were horrified to discover moisture inside one of our closets when reaching in for a shirt. Upon further investigation, we found these sweaty walls inside of other closets and cabinets. Condensation on windows is an easy fix because you can see it. Hidden sweaty walls are out of sight and could therefore be out of mind. Get some air flowing into these areas by cracking open your closet and cabinet doors. Or place a moisture absorber or dehumidifier, near other areas where condensation could build up on account of low air circulation (like the wall behind your couch).
6. Cooking outside when possible
If you can, cook outside. This will help immensely in your fight against condensation. Cooking is one of the main causes of water vapor in your RV. If cooking outside is not an option, by all means cook inside, but then try your best to avoid boiling. Try sautéing your veggies rather than steaming or boiling them for example. If you must boil, be sure to use a lid.
7. Campground showers
Jon and I do love campground showers and using other public shower facilities (gyms) and we understand that not everyone does. However, when RV condensation is at its worst during the colder months, they are a great way to help reduce condensation in your RV. Showers, especially the longer ones you might take if you are hooked up to city water, are a major contributor to RV condensation. You’ll gain the most by showering outside your RV if you’re a full-time RVer.
8. Don’t stay long in the Southeast
Humidity is often high in the Southeast, no matter what season it is. Jon and I were born and raised in said humidity and we highly recommend avoiding long stints in the Southeast with your RV. Humidity levels in your RV are going to be higher anytime you are in the Southeast (certain parts of the Midwest also).
A great benefit to RV travel is the flexibility to follow the weather. High humidity climates are not ideal for your RV. That being said, we do love the Blue Ridge Mountain area of the Southeast in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Try visiting in late summer/early fall with your moisture absorber, dehumidifier, outdoor cooking, and campground shower strategies in place.
9. Fall in love with the Southwest
A sure way to reduce condensation is to go where there is no humidity. Jon and I fell in love with the desert and red rock of the Southwest. If it works with your travel route, try watching the Aspens change color in Colorado and work your way down to Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona during the later parts of the fall. Consider wintering in the Tucson area. A little love for the Southwest can have you back to just being mindful of cracking windows and vents when you cook and shower, keeping condensation in the back of your mind and your focus back on the joy of your RV travels.
RV condensation can be a bit of a nuisance, but luckily there are many ways to reduce condensation. The combination of methods that work best for your preferences, and your particular rig, may differ from someone else’s, but with the right combination we can all enjoy a little fall and winter RVing.
Our Winnebago Trend recently went on its first international adventure, taking a jaunt up to the Canadian Rockies. The area awed us with eye-popping, jaw-dropping scenery at every turn. Friends, if as you are reading this, you are anywhere near the Alberta, Canada border – go now. Really, it’s that beautiful! We just can’t get our minds off Banff and the surrounding area, so we will happily reminisce and share our favorite lakes and other can’t-miss spots.
When to go
As most know, Canada can be a bit cold! While there are a ton of winter time activities, we were hoping to see the famous blue lakes of the Canadian Rockies, meaning we had to visit when the lakes had thawed. Their electric turquoise color makes them world-renowned.
The lakes showcase their deepest hues during the high season in July and August. But, July and August also happen to have the most rainy days and the most tourists visiting. The months of May, June, and September, however, make up Banff’s shoulder season, and are less crowded. While there is still some rain and crowds, this is a great time to visit.
We traveled through in late June, finding crowds, but also having some of the beauty entirely to ourselves. We also found typical mountain weather, with rain, sun, cold and warmth all possible in a span of a few hours. When we return we’ll choose shoulder season again.
Lay of the land
Banff is sometimes used as a catchall term to mean Banff National Park and its surrounding areas. But, within Banff National Park there is an actual town of Banff. The town of Banff is roughly 45 minutes east from the famous Lake Louise and stunning Morraine Lake. (Read more about things to do in Banff in this previous GoLife article).
The unforgettable Icefields Parkway takes you north from Lake Louise and into Jasper National Park. If you head west from Lake Louise instead, you’ll find yourself in Yoho National Park in less than 10 minutes.
Where to stay
The largest city near Banff is Calgary, just an hour east. On the western edge of Calgary, we found a campground called Calgary West Campground. It can serve as a base camp to explore the areas around the towns of Banff and Canmore, but it can feel a bit far to explore some of the other surrounding areas.
For this reason, we switched over to campgrounds in Banff National Park to explore the lakes and some of the hikes. Banff National Park has 15 campgrounds, and 9 of those are reservable at reservation.pc.gc.ca. They range from full-hookup to rustic, but don’t count on having sewer, only one of those has sewer hook-ups. Yoho and Jasper have campground options of their own too.
Overall, be sure to book early, and don’t expect to find free boondocking near Banff NP. The Banff campgrounds can accommodate big rigs, so Class As and fifth-wheels are okay. Both the town of Banff and the National Parks are RV friendly and you can tour them without a toad.
Morraine Lake, Banff National Park.
Best of Banff National Park
Nestled in The Valley of the 10 Peaks, Morraine Lake is not to be missed. If for some reason you can only see one lake, make it Morraine. We ventured out to Morraine just before sunset and we had it all to ourselves! The general recommendation is to see it at sunrise or sunset to avoid the large crowds. For a more up-close experience, you can rent a canoe and paddle around Morraine. The water was perfectly still for us, serenely reflecting the mountains surrounding it.
Lake Louise’s turquoise shade is so vibrant, so electric, that you can hardly believe it’s real when you first approach it. Lake Louise can be conveniently viewed from a walkway that circles around part of the lake. You can also rent a canoe if you’d like to actually get out on the lake itself. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel is right on the lake and there are amazing pastries to enjoy inside its coffee shop.
Lake Agnes Trail & Tea House
To catch a view of Lake Louise from above, hike up the Lake Agnes Trail. It’s a steep, 2.2-mile trail and can be a bit muddy and slick if it’s raining, but you’ll be rewarded. As you hike up, the trail will lead you to both Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes. After taking in the views of the peaceful Lake Agnes, you can recharge at the Lake Agnes tea house. They have an indoor and outdoor seating area and offer hot teas and snacks. Don’t forget to take cash! Lake Agnes tea house does not accept credit cards. We went on the hike right at sunrise and were the very first to arrive at the tea house when it opened at 8 a.m.
The Icefields Parkway begins in Banff National Park. One of the many lakes along the way is Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is an alpine lake that looks like a fox. The viewpoints are just a quick hike from the parking area. Again, we were amazed by the vivid turquoise color of the lake. It’s as if someone turned the saturation and contrast way up, like they do on TVs in the electronics section of stores. It’s a wonderful spot for a picture, and you’ll have to wait for a turn to snap your pic of the lake, but while you wait you have one heck of a view. You can visit Peyto Lake while you’re in the Banff NP area, or when you’re ready to head up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.
Peyto Lake through the trees. Do you see the fox shape?
Best of Yoho National Park
Just a 20-minute drive west from Lake Louise, and technically in B.C. rather than Alberta, you’ll find Emerald Lake. The first European to see Emerald Lake accidentally came upon it when trying to recover his escaped horses. What a find! Like Morraine and Louise, a good way to see this lake up close is from a canoe.
We asked a friendly local at Wild Flour Bakery in Banff (great little coffee shop!) what the number one sight most tourists missed in the area was. He slid a receipt with the words Takakkaw Falls scribbled on it across the counter. Always, always ask the locals for tips! We drove further into Yoho, past Emerald Lake thanks to his tip. After a bit of a windy road (beware: big rigs won’t fit around one of the bends!) we reached a parking area for Takakkaw Falls.
With light rain falling, we decided to take a quick nap in the RV, with the beautiful falls visible from our window. Once the rain subsided, we walked across a bridge to the falls. The water danced and billowed as it crashed down into the river below. We’re glad we didn’t miss Yoho with it’s rugged beauty, feeling a bit more wild and unspoiled than Banff NP.
Best of Jasper National Park & the Icefields Parkway
The national parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains form a Unesco World Heritage site, and we dare say the Icefields Parkway is the crown jewel. Unless you absolutely can’t, please don’t leave the Canadian Rockies without driving the entire Icefields Parkway. It’s STUNNING. The drive can take three hours or many more depending on how often you stop. Should you only be able to make one stop, stop at Sunwapta Falls. You’re going to be tempted to stop at the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield as your one stop, but drive on to Sunwapta Falls. Look Sunwapta Falls up on Instagram if you have any doubts. The crashing falls beautifully showcase the sheer power of nature during the late spring when the glacial melt is the highest. Be sure to stop at Sunwapta Falls for sunset.
Sunwapta Falls is a must-see destination in the area.
Because, can you ever really see too many waterfalls? At 60 feet wide, Athabasca Falls is known for its power. There are paved platforms all around the falls making them easy to see from many different angles. Athabasca Falls is only about 30 minutes from the town of Jasper and the end of the Icefields Parkway. If you’re running short on time, don’t worry if you have to turn back around here. If you need to head back south, you can turn around here and then spend the night parked at the Glacier Discovery Centre (big-rig friendly). Beware it’ll be a cold night due to its location in the Columbia Icefield. But, it’s worth it if you’re short on time and you need to head back south.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all there is to do up in Banff and the Canadian Rockies, but it’s a great start. We took a 10-day trip in June, when sunset was at 10 p.m., and we still felt rushed. A good bit of this is because we wanted to see so many of these places at sunrise or sunset. Keep that in mind, and be sure to build in some time for hikes. Enjoy Canada, eh! (For a video version of these tips, watch our Winnebago Facebook Live session here).
As Floridians, Jon and I are partial to summer and warm weather activities. As such, we have mostly visited “ski towns” during the warm months of the year. However, we’ve discovered that as well-known as some of these idyllic mountain towns may be for their winter sports and ski resorts, they have a booming summer season with loads of activities and festivals as well. With their beautiful vistas and milder summer temperatures, three ski towns stand out above the rest. So, pack the RV, don’t forget your hammock, and a fun summer read, and head out to one (or all!) of these destinations for some summer fun.
1. Telluride, Colorado
This former mining town will steal your heart and leave you breathless no matter which way you turn to look. It’s a charming town in a box canyon, surrounded by mountains. Flowers fill the fresh mountain air you breathe with their delicate fragrance.
Things to do
As, if the views and fragrant flowers weren’t enough, Telluride is filled with quaint shops, like Between the Covers Bookstore, and eateries with sidewalk seating. Town Park allows you to recharge to the sounds of water with a path along the San Miguel River.
And, if you’re a dog lover, you may think you have died and gone to heaven. The dogs of Telluride are a happy bunch, that wander freely about town and are welcome even on the free gondola ride up to the Mountain Village ski resort. There are leash laws, but the resident dogs seem to deem those more of a formality. However, if your dog is not an easy going friendly type, the extreme dog friendliness could be stressful for you, as other dogs are rarely on leashes.
Telluride’s summer event schedule is packed with festivals. Summer kicks off with the Mountainfilm festival during Memorial Day weekend which pairs movie screenings with a robust schedule of free events. The Telluride Balloon Festival and Bluegrass Festival are notable events in June, and July brings you the Telluride Yoga Festival.
For some good eats, stop in at the Butcher & Baker Cafe. Try their carrot cake for the moistest piece of carrot cake you’ve ever had. There are seemingly endless options for coffee, but Coffee Cowboy, serving coffee and smoothies out of a Travel Trailer, stood out to our RVer hearts. The ambiance at Ghost Town coffee couldn’t be beat and there was a constant stream of people during our entire stay in Telluride. Smuggler’s Brewpub was a nice spot for a beer and gastropub fare. For a healthier take on burgers, try grabbing a steamed burger at Steamies Burger Bar.
RVers can book a stay at the Town Park campground, placing you right in the middle of all the action, or explore the nearby Forest Roads for some boondocking with mountain views.
If you’d like to continue the road trip or mix in a National Park, try jumping onto the San Juan Skyway as part of your trip and loop around the nearby quintessential mountain towns of Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton. The San Juan Skyway continues to Durango where you can jump on US-160 to follow the Skyway to Mesa Verde National Park. You may even spot bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, or moose along the way!
2. Sun Valley, Idaho
Great American writer Ernest Hemingway was certainly onto something when he chose Ketchum, Idaho (Sun Valley is often used to refer to Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue), as a home. Although his home in Key West, FL, is better known, perhaps because of the famous six-toed cats, Hemingway loved to spend summer and fall in Idaho.
Things to do
During the summer, the area is perfect for mountain biking, fly-fishing, hiking, and kayaking. In town, one of the most unique Starbucks in the country doubles as the Visitor Center.
The Starbucks is not to be missed. They do have some local baked goods to offer, and the use of real dinnerware used to serve “for here” orders was highly amusing to us. We grabbed counter-style seats facing out the window and onto the charming town streets
For dinner, try local favorite Enoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar. They have wood-fired pizza and mouth-watering “tapas” style small-plates.
Sun Valley downtown is very RV friendly with parking spots in what would normally be the median of the streets. Class B vans and Class C rentals were very common, even during our stay which was slightly ahead of season.
We went completely off-grid, boondocking in the Sawtooth National Forest along a babbling creek. Private campsites along babbling creeks are the best! However, while the boondocking spot we found was accessible for our Class C, you may wish to look through the handy Idaho RV park guide available at the Visitors Center if you own a Class A.
You can roll back time by heading out to Stanley from there. Stanley is a tiny town right out of an old Western with whitewater rafting tour companies ready to take you out for adventure.
3. Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman residents will tell you that the summer season is where it’s at, despite Montana being a world-class ski destination. Bozeman blew us away, and apparently, others have taken note too as they are currently experiencing rapid growth. Downtown Bozeman is filled with local shops, breweries, pubs, distilleries, and coffee shops. If you love strolling idyllic main-streets, like we do, it just doesn’t get much better than this. Bozeman’s charm will have you making plans to stay forever, and forgetting that winters are a six-month ordeal.
Things to do
The Cannery district is definitely worth a visit with its own set of cafes, breweries, and eateries. Don’t miss the Daily Coffee Bar and Bakery, the oldest coffee shop in Bozeman! The Cannery District location is their larger location, the original being on the MSU campus.
Their baked goods and dessert case is so mouthwatering everyone walking in steps up to the counter only to step right back realizing they need a minute to decide, because you really do just want to try it all. You MUST have a Bee Sting Bun, a heavenly croissant drizzled with caramel and almonds, filled with a cream cheese center. Have it warmed and thank us later. If you’re gluten-free they have quite a few mouthwatering options as well.
Bozeman, like the other two ski towns on this list, is a mountain biker’s and fisherman’s paradise during summer. There’s also plenty of good camping and hiking to be had – including in Yellowstone. Plus, Mammoth Hot Springs and the forest lined main road offer a chance to possibly spot some bears and definitely see some mighty bison.
The Gallatin National Forest offers public campgrounds, and you have the Yellowstone north entrance at your doorstep.
Consider continuing your summer adventure heading north from Bozeman and into Glacier National Park.
Who needs snow to enjoy mountain ‘ski towns’? Head over to some of our best mountain towns this summer and see them in a new light.
Many people are under the impression that Arizona is all desert. We thought so too, until we stayed in the Coconino National Forest just outside of Flagstaff, enjoying mild temperatures and abundant shade. Plus, some great dining options! Upon sharing our surprise with a U.S. Forest Service ranger, he smiled and said we should keep it our little secret.
And we intended to, but we know the heat will begin to push those of you who wintered in Phoenix and Tucson out. And some of you may be planning a trip to the Grand Canyon this spring or summer. With Flagstaff’s proximity to nearby destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend make it an ideal stop. But this small city on historic Route 66 is a destination in its own right. Read on to find out where you should stay, eat, and why Flagstaff is perfect for RVers.
Where to Stay
Flagstaff is perfect for boondocking. You can boondock for free in the Coconino National Forest. Our favorite spot is off U.S. Hwy 180 just northwest of Flagstaff. If you prefer, you can also boondock off Route 66 just east of Flagstaff. You can stay up to 14 days as with most USFS land. Both areas are just 15-20 minutes from downtown. Jon and I have boondocked in these areas in both our travel trailer and our new Class C, Winnebago Trend. For those of you in Class As, both of these areas are accessible.
Campground with hook-ups
If you prefer a campground with hookups, we recommend Black Barts RV Park. You see, this is home to Black Barts Steakhouse, and Black Barts Steakhouse is a singing steakhouse! You get a show along with your meal. All of the wait staff are talented singers, and most are Northern Arizona University music and theater students. The food is a little pricey, but the on-stage performances and the novelty of the restaurant compensate for the price. Plus, if you are staying at the RV park, you receive 10% off of your bill.
Where to Eat
Flagstaff has some great pizza joints, and we made sure to try more than a few. But there are some other great dining options as well, no matter what you are in the mood for!
If you love pizza, you are in for a real treat! Flagstaff has amazing pizza. Make sure to give Oregano’s a try. Oregano’s came highly recommended to us by a close friend from Chicago – and Chicago knows its pizza! Oregano’s, was founded in Phoenix by a Chicago native whose father learned to cook traditional Italian recipes passed down to him by family.
I personally, love the deep-dish pizza, but our friend swears by the thin crust. It’s up to you, really, but we went back more than once to try both. If you happen to be in a hurry, opt for the thin crust, as the deep dish will take about 40 mins to make. The 40 minutes are worth it though. We were presented with a perfectly baked deep-dish pizza. Just the perfect ratio of sauce and cheese and a crispy pan crust.
After the wonderful experience eating Chicago-style pizza at Oregano’s, we were excited to try more of Flagstaff’s pizza. Pizzicleta serves up Neopolitan-style pizza and opens at 5pm every day. So, plan on dinner if you want to try it. The pizzas are wood-fired and delightfully crispy. Our pizza was light, flavorful, and very obviously made with fresh ingredients.
For a very budget-friendly meal, try splitting a margherita pizza with your dinner date and stick to the water. If you’re in the mood to splurge, go for the wine and try one of their starters or end with a gelato. If you are vegan or need to avoid dairy, try their marinara pizza which is made with no cheese. Pizzicleta’s dough is fermented which they say makes it easier to digest. We loved that their produce is all organic and locally sourced. We dined outside, but the inside has a very cozy feel and a view of the wood fire pizza oven.
We dined at Fratelli’s because a new location had just opened up on North Valley Road on our way into town from our boondocking spot. Their pizza is baked in a stone deck oven. We ordered the veggie pizza. The wait was a little long, just as they say on their menu. But again, it was worth it. The first bite was filled with hot, gooey mozzarella – perfect as far as we’re concerned. This particular location had a comfortable patio, which was just right on a Sunday afternoon with gorgeous weather.
Pizza is not the only thing we eat. Jon and I love to try out Mexican restaurants when we are out West in search of the best tacos. Salsa Brava, though not necessarily known for their tacos, caught our attention because it had once been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I wouldn’t really classify Salsa Brava as any of these. But it is on Route 66, so I’m thinking that’s the connection. Jon had the fajitas, and I had the stuffed sopapilla which was designated as “What Guy [Fieri] Ate” on the menu. It was amazing! And here, I may spark controversy–I know New Mexico is known for their sopapillas, but this one ruined the New Mexico sopapillas for me. I suppose I can’t really say which is more authentic, but I can tell you the one at Salsa Brava tasted better. The traditional fry-bread was indeed cooked golden brown and was the right amount of crispy!
The McMillan Kitchen & Bar
We popped into The McMillan because we were starving and couldn’t agree on a specific cuisine type. Originally built in 1886, it is located in the oldest building in downtown Flagstaff and was once a bank with a hotel above it. When we first sat down we had second thoughts as the music was a bit loud and we were thinking perhaps we had walked into more of a college bar spot.
Luckily, at least while we were there in the early evening, the vibe was not actually a rowdy college one. I had the grilled chicken sandwich. And I usually don’t really like chicken (isn’t it a little boring?), but I thought it was the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had. Jon and I weren’t expecting much, so we were blown away. Ingredients were all fresh and the food tasted carefully crafted, rather than cooked.
Coffee and Tea
During our Urban RV explorations, one of our favorite things to do is visit coffee shops. Jon is quite the coffee snob (in a good way). We really enjoyed Late For the Train, which had a convenient location over by the Fratelli’s near our boondocking spot. Jon would recommend an Americano and I, who doesn’t drink coffee, rates coffee shops by their tea. If you’re a fan of chai lattes try the Sweet Masala chai latte. We’re heading back this year, and I will be looking forward to trying their Spicy chai, made with hot and spicy peppers.
Kickstand Kafe was another favorite. They were incredibly friendly and even made me a custom beverage.
Every so often we find cities that have tea houses. Steep Leaf Lounge is a great little tea house downtown. You can order tea by the cup or by the pot. They have a robust menu with black, white, and herbal teas as well as tea lattes. This year, a friend pointed out a hot chocolate menu I had missed. They also sell their loose-leaf teas, so you can take some home with you.
If these great spots were it for Flagstaff it would still rank high for us. But there is even more that we missed during our first trip. This year, we’ll be looking to try the rest of the coffee shops, along with the many adorable coffee kiosks, and the Flagstaff breweries. There’s even a brewery called Wanderlust Brewery.
As if the food and the boondocking weren’t enough, Flagstaff is also very RV friendly. For those of you boondocking and looking to conserve water, or those of you full-timing and missing having a bathtub, you must head over to the Little America truck stop.
They have a hotel, but on the truck stop side they have a comfortable diner and best of all hot showers. These are no ordinary hot showers. For $12 (prices were raised from $10 last year), you get towels, shampoo, soap, and a private hotel-style bathroom with both a shower and a bathtub! We love this as a way to conserve water, enjoy a little luxury, and as a shower hack for visiting Sedona. It gets pretty dusty in Sedona. And if you boondock there, you may wish for a better shower than your RV shower and this is a great place. We love Little America, too bad more towns don’t have them.
RV parking is another RVer comfort in Flagstaff. Downtown has a visitor’s parking lot (across from Pizzicleta) which includes designated RV spots. There are six of these spots available and they would fit most, if not all, Class As. If you’re in a smaller rig like we are, the street parking in downtown will work too. The cherry on top is a free RV dump station available at the Giant/Conoco just off of I-40 east of downtown.
We can’t rave enough about Flagstaff. Enjoy the RVer’s paradise that is Flagstaff and the surrounding area.
You’re nestled among some pines, with a clearing overlooking a majestic mountain or a pristine lake. Taking it all in with a deep breath of fresh mountain air. You get ready to roll out the awning, pour some drinks, and break out the camp chairs – only to realize that you have no cell signal and a conference call in the morning.
One of the biggest challenges of RVing is staying connected while on the road. Don’t assume you’ll escape the struggle to stay connected by staying at an RV park with Wi-Fi. There are many a park that advertise Wi-Fi as an amenity, yet their Wi-Fi couldn’t load a webpage if it were 1999.
Most RVers are dependent on connectivity for work, entertainment, or keeping in touch with friends and family. Whether you’re boondocking or camping at an RV park, the struggle is real. So, what can you do to stay connected on the road?
Staying connected while RVing is the worst part of being on the road because there is no silver bullet. Staying connected is dependent on so many variables. So, a solution that was best for today won’t necessarily be the right one tomorrow. Therefore, the number one thing you can do to avoid struggling with connectivity is to plan ahead.
Do you have a conference call? A deadline? Is it Uncle Bob’s birthday? Do not plan your drive days to coincide with any day on which you know you will need to be connected. Trust us, you won’t make it to where there is signal in time, and whatever coverage map you checked for signal along your driving route is probably wrong. Dead zones multiply when you are desperate for signal.
Take it from someone who once had signal the whole way through a six-hour driving day, except for the one hour of the day during which their conference call took place. I’ll never know what that call was about, but I do know you will save yourself a tremendous amount of stress if you plan to arrive to your destination at least a day and a half before you need connectivity. Arriving that early gives you time to assess the connectivity available and come up with a Plan B that you can test. (Don’t assume the coffee shop an hour away you found on Google Maps has signal or will be open when Google says it is. Go check it out in person, trust us.)
Know What You Need
Another very important part of being able to stay connected on the road is knowing what you need. Do you just need to text and email or are you looking to video conference? Are you looking for fast upload speeds or download speeds?
As an example, we focus on uploading video to our YouTube channel and our work involves video conferencing or regular conference calls, which need a strong and stable connection, so the call won’t drop.
For those needs, we know we are mostly after fast upload speeds. We check our speeds with the speedtest.net app. If you don’t have the app you can also use it here.
These are our speedtest.net results from our second carrier while boondocking in Flagstaff. Cherie and Chris of Technomadia recommend 5 MB download and 2 MB upload. Don’t automatically turn on your cell booster. If speeds are good, turn your cell booster off.
Know the Gear
Once you know what you need, you can avoid buying the wrong tool for the task and buy the right piece of equipment. Let’s take a look at what we mean, by using our own example above.
Because our top needs are uploading video to our YouTube channel, as well as both video and traditional conference calls, we know we are looking for a tool that can help with fast upload speeds and steady cell signal. If you’re thinking, “I wouldn’t know what tool does that”, don’t worry, we didn’t either. Chris and Cherie of Technomadia have a wonderful resource that teaches you all of the technical stuff over at the Mobile Internet Resource Center.
For us, looking at their “Gear Center” product overviews and reviews taught us that a cell booster would help us with what we are looking for. In their “Cellular Booster Guide,” we learned that cell boosters improve signal strength and stability which means less dropped calls, and that boosters increase upload speeds if you are on the fringes of a tower’s range. In the reviews, we can see that their most-recent top pick is the WeBoost Drive 4G-X OTR.
If your needs are different than ours, you can follow the same process on the Mobile Internet Resource Center to find out what tool you need and what the top pick is. Definitely do your research, so you are not disappointed because you bought the wrong tool for your particular situation.
Know When Gear Won’t Help
Lastly, be aware of when gear cannot help you. Cell boosters, Wi-Fi extenders, and Cellular Antennas are not magical by any means. For example, a cell booster cannot help if there is no signal to boost. If there is no signal where you are, it won’t work and it’s not the cell booster’s fault. Also, be aware that if you are being throttled by your cell carrier, a cell booster and cellular antenna can’t help (because your carrier is causing the slow speeds, not the signal). And the same goes if you’re in an area where the tower is congested. Also, be aware that Sprint cannot be boosted.
Avoid frustration by knowing the limitations of whatever gear you are purchasing and be aware of a few alternatives. When gear can’t help, we look for coffee shops, libraries, and co-working spaces to stay connected.
Libraries, coffee shops, and co-working spaces are great connectivity backups. One of our favorites was the Seattle Public Library.
Another backup that has worked well for us is to have plans with two carriers. Our primary plan is with Verizon. We have a Verizon hotspot along with our phones. Our second carrier is AT&T. This helps us when there is congestion, or when one of our carriers is throttling us.
If you are an avid RVer, it’s likely that you will eventually want all of the different type of gear out there that can help you stay connected on the road – especially if you are working. As great as it is to build up a toolkit with an answer for every situation, try starting by finding what your needs are the majority of the time, and first find a solution for that.
When RV shopping, it can be difficult to decide if upgrades or optional equipment add enough value to warrant the extra charge. Should the optional items actually be standard? Will they truly make my RV experience better? When we were shopping for an RV, we narrowed it down to a Winnebago Class C, and found a feature that has completely transformed our RV experience. When we purchased our Winnebago Trend 23D, it came with the dual-pane acrylic windows. And, after seeing how they improve our travels, we think they are a must-have for RVers!
About Dual-Pane Acrylic Windows
Dual-pane acrylic windows are fairly common in the European RV market. If you are browsing Winnebago’s site, you may even see them called “Dual-pane Euro acrylic windows” for some RV models, like the Trend. Although this type of window is standard in European motorhomes and towables (or caravans as they call them), they’re a little harder to find here in the States. If you find them as an option, we recommend you jump on this upgrade!
RVing before dual-pane acrylic windows
Do you love to RV during the fall? Do you dream of RVing in the desert? Have you ever wished it wasn’t so cold in your rig? Our RVing experience when it’s cold out has been drastically improved by our dual-pane acrylic windows.
The fall is hands-down one of our favorite times to be out on the road. Crowds are at a minimum and nature is putting on quite the show for you with colorful fall leaves. The thing about fall, however, is that the temperatures are falling and nights are chilly.
Our dual-pane acrylic windows make RVing in the desert during the winter and spring seasons comfortable, as the superior insulation keeps the heat of the day and the cold of the desert nights from seeping into the RV.
Before we had our dual-pane acrylic windows, returning to the rig in the evening was uncomfortable. With the falling temps, it felt as if the cold was seeping into the rig through our windows, mainly because it was. Our dinette had a beautiful picture window, but that window made the dinette COLD! There were two options: layer on the clothing or put up our reflective insulation panels. Well, I don’t know about you, but we sure did not want to unwind and eat dinner with the same amount of layers we were wearing out on our hike. As for the reflective panels … being inside your rig with reflective silver staring back at you from every window just doesn’t exactly scream cozy. To conserve propane for overnight use, we would set up a space heater, but those dry out your eyes.
RVing after dual-pane acrylic windows
After only a few months in the Trend, we can already point to some amazing improvements the dual-pane acrylic windows have provided. For one, seating areas near our windows are no longer frigid. Dinner can be had without us fully layered up to puffy marshmallow proportions. There is zero need for unattractive reflective panels. At bedtime, without the dual-pane acrylic windows, being warm required 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 humans, 1 quilt, and one heavy wool blanket. We love our pets, but they will push you out of your own bed at night if they sleep with you (our dogs are 50 lbs each)! With our amazing windows, warmth, even if there is SNOW outside, requires 0 dogs, 0 cats, 1 light fleece blanket, and 1 quilt. We can sleep in peace, since the humans and animals are warm enough in their own separate beds.
The view from one of our dual-pane acrylic windows as Nadia walked one of our dogs, and Jon stayed toasty inside the Trend, when unexpected snow hit Atlanta this winter.
The comfort in the cold afforded to us by our windows is invaluable. We can RV comfortably in the fall now. We’ve had comfortable desert stays in the winter and spring as well, even with the cool nights.
We are also using less propane due to the insulation the windows provide, keeping heat in and the cold out. As for high heat, we can’t avoid it at all times since we visit family in South Florida. On our last visit, we found our dual-pane acrylic windows allowed less heat transfer than our old regular RV windows did.
Benefits beyond insulation
Superior insulation isn’t the only benefit we’ve enjoyed since RVing with dual-pane Euro acrylic windows. Our windows have friction hinges with a multi-locking system. This makes them sturdy and increases safety because the locking system prevents the windows from being opened from the outside.
The dual-pane acrylic windows’ friction hinges and multi-locking system increase safety.
The roller blinds that are included with the windows make it easy to obtain privacy and block out the light at night. The blinds clip straight onto a rolling screen so that you can easily keep the bugs out when you open your windows. When the blinds and screen are clipped together, you just roll up for privacy or roll down for the screen. When the view outside your windows is spectacular, simply unclip the screen and roll down! As we travel and needs change during the day, it has been so convenient to have an all-in-one solution.
Because our dual-pane acrylic windows are top-hung, or “awning style”, we are also able to keep our windows open, and let fresh air in, even when it is raining. In addition, we no longer have to worry about dirt and dust getting in the window track because with top-hung windows, there is no track! We personally love RVing in Utah and the Southwest during the spring, so this has been a great benefit. The spring in the Southwest has mild temperatures, but the winds sure do kick up and blow dirt and dust everywhere! It’s nice not to worry about the windows getting stuck on a dusty track.
Care tips for Dual-Pane Acrylic Windows
Proper care of your windows is important to keep them in good condition and avoid light spider-webbing that can otherwise occur. A friend with dual-pane acrylic windows on their Winnebago Navion recommended cleaning the windows with water and vinegar. It is also extremely important to only close the blinds two-thirds of the way in strong sunlight! This prevents excessive amounts of heat from accumulating and being trapped in the space between the window pane and the window blind.
If you are purchasing an RV with the dual-pane acrylic window upgrade from an RV dealership, be sure to take a very close-up look at the windows to be sure there has been no damage.
We would recommend that you take a very close look at the windows if the RV you are looking at has been sitting on a dealership lot. The dealership we purchased from did not have covered storage and our RV had been sitting in direct sunlight with the blinds fully closed. Sure enough, there was slight chipping on one of the windows and the rest were deteriorating. However, we personally had a wonderful experience getting this corrected. Winnebago quickly sent replacements for all of our windows to the dealer, and the dealer had them replaced in no time.
We are so glad we went for the dual-pane acrylic window option in our Trend. Compared to our RV experience with regular windows, dual-pane windows are a dream. We are able to RV more comfortably, especially in cooler temperatures. We can also easily let less light, sound, and bugs in. We can definitely see why these windows have become so popular in the European RV market. While we were shopping for a Class B or C motorhome, we took a look at a few Winnebago products. If you’re looking for a new RV in this same size range and are interested in dual-pane acrylic windows, in addition to the Trend, you may be interested in checking out the Winnebago View/Navion, Revel, and Travato.
We absolutely love our Winnebago Trend. Actually, we scream-from-the-mountain-tops love it. After full-time RVing for a little over a year, we learned so much that we became very clear on our preferred travel style and what type of RV would be best suited to it.
We learned that many National Parks have tiny campsites. Driving through some National Parks is basically driving through an entire state, and that’s a long way back at the end of the day, if you didn’t fit in one of their campsites. We also learned that we are travelers at heart who are as fulfilled by seeing the sights of the big city as we are by traveling through nature. And, it’s no fun to cut visits with friends short because the only suitable spot to drop your towable was an hour and a half outside the city.
As amazing as it was to travel in a travel trailer, we realized we were craving the smaller size and versatility of a Class C motorhome. So, like many RV owners, we decided we needed to switch RVs. Straddling the Gen X/Millennial divide, we had some familiarity with Winnebago from the MTV show “Road Rules.”
However, Winnebago re-established themselves as synonymous with RVs through their involvement in the RV community and their obvious attention to consumer feedback. That’s why we chose Winnebago, but what was it about the Trend that hooked us?
The Trend is Versatile & Great at U-Turns
At 24’4” we can park our Trend just about anywhere. On driving days, this opens up the food options beyond Cracker Barrel and truck stops. Impromptu stops at coffee shops with small parking lots are possible. We even fit in a single parking space, given there is overhang space available behind the curb or parking spot!
The Trend handles well whether adjusting to the speed of traffic on freeway on-ramps or navigating the windy climbs and descents of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have also been able to drive through the busy streets of Miami, FL, for the holidays with no problem.
Do you know how sometimes the driving map app tells you to turn left as you are passing said turn? In a larger RV this ends with an exasperated “thanks a lot,” if not something more colorful. U-turns are either difficult or impossible in many RVs, but not with the Trend. The Trend is great at U-turns!
We have stayed on friends’ driveways and even dropped a friend off at an airport in our Trend. We do wish the Trend had higher clearance for some off-roading and for the extra hilly cities, but this is something that comes with the territory in a Class C. Overall, it’s size and drivability allows us to transition between nature and the city with ease.
The Trend Delivers on Quality & Value
If the Trend fits your style of travel and adventure, as it does ours, the Trend is an excellent choice given the exceptional value delivered at its price point. We all know that weight is a big issue when it comes to RVs. Materials need to be sturdy enough to handle the road’s bumps, but light enough to keep from adding too much weight.
The end result should be materials that while light, do not feel cheap. Everything inside of our Trend feels strong and sturdy. Doors and drawers slide open and close smoothly, and any seams inside fit and come together properly. Some options available that were included on our rig are the dual-pane acrylic windows with built-in privacy shades, the expandable solar power system, tank heating pads, and the second house battery. The feel of the materials used in the Trend, the standard features, and the upgrades offered at the Trend’s competitive price point make it an enticing RV.
The Trend’s Spacious Floorplan
We fell in love with the 23D floorplan. This floorplan is open, spacious, and airy. Natural light has always been number one for us, and the Trend allows for natural light to flood in. One of our favorite things about our old rig was a panoramic rear window that brought nature inside. The Trend has four windows along the body, two on each side. It feels as if they extend the whole length of the coach, so we don’t feel we have sacrificed on amazing nature views when we boondock. When we are working inside, the cab skylight allows even more daylight in.
The floorplan is also very customizable. There is enough space inside to eat, work, and play – even when the slide, that contains the sofa and fridge, is in. When the slide is out, a roomy front lounge emerges, that is nicely rounded out by both the driver and passenger chairs spinning around.
Additionally, there is still more room to in the rear area with the twin daybeds. If we put both tables up in the rear, we both have room to work. One of us can also set up a table and work on the sofa, but really our sofa has been claimed by our dogs, so who are we kidding. But it could still be an option for someone else.
At night, the twin daybeds convert into a large bed. At first, we were a little skeptical in regard to the bed’s comfort, but the FROLI deluxe sleep system doesn’t disappoint. The only thing on our wish list would be a pocket door, rather than a regular swinging door, leading into the bathroom.
The Trend is a Good-Lookin’ RV
Being full-time RVers, the looks of our RV is as important to us as its function. On the outside, the fact that the Trend is white with subtle graphics won us over. We feel the Trend has a very clean and modern look. We might even say the exterior looks a lot like some European RVs we have seen and liked. Additionally, Jon in particular, enjoys the “automotive” silhouette that the Trend has (this is because it has a cab skylight rather than a bunk).
On the interior, the high-gloss cabinetry gives the Trend a high-end aesthetic. The curved, high-gloss cabinet doors in the rear look sophisticated and they are also highly functional. They open with a hidden latch, a detail we love, and because they are pass-through cabinets, they are highly functional.
Another higher-end touch in the Trend is the lighting. We love good lighting and luckily the Trend has easy-to-control lighting options and the lights are bright. With the different lighting options, our Trend can go from bright to cozy and conducive to winding down when only the accent lights are lit.
Perfect for Our Adventures
We need an RV that can climb mountains, zip through urban spaces, be our mobile office, and cozily house us and our two dogs. For us, the Trend has the perfect combination of form and function. Because we spend so much time in our RV, we want to feel good in the space we’re in, so we prefer a large amount of residential finishes and a more modern feel than your typical RV. (Watch this video for a tour of our home.)
The relatively short length of the Trend allows for us to comfortably fit in both city parking lots and National Parks (which tend to have very tight campsites). The Trend has performed as expected and even exceeded expectations. It is not without two of the usual tradeoffs that come with the territory of a Class C, like limited exterior storage and limited off-road capabilities. But we’ve seen Winnebago make improvements every year (like adding a slide to the Trend in the first place). And after the great experience we’ve had, we cannot wait to see what Winnebago will come up with next.
RVing can allow you to control the weather. Well, not literally control it of course, but it sure gives you the ability to follow your perfect weather. A major discovery during our first year of RVing was that at any point during the year, the United States has 70-degree weather somewhere (for us 70ish degrees is perfect). Conversely, if winter is more your thing, we found that winter can be found at almost any point of the year, too!
As South Floridians, we found that following the weather we wanted was the greatest pro of RVing. Our home state, though renowned for being the sunshine state, has many months where you can set your watch by our afternoon thunderstorms. Humidity rises to levels that cause your clothing to cling to you like cellophane within two minutes of stepping outside. However, we have friends in places where it’s so cold that tunnels connect buildings to protect residents from the frigid temps.
Weather extremes can be unpleasant and even if you live somewhere with an even balance among all four seasons, who says that you need to experience all four every year? As an Rver, you can pick your favorite and follow it throughout the year!
7 Tips for Following Your Perfect Weather
Maybe you would like to throw on your flip flops and sit outside, under your awning, with a coffee and book in hand all year. Then again you might prefer to snuggle inside your RV with hot chocolate and fuzzy socks. Whatever your preference, here are our best tips to help you enjoy the greatest perk of RVing.
1. Head to California
It doesn’t matter when you are reading this, right now is probably a good time to head on over to Cali! There is always somewhere in California offering pleasant weather year-round. Depending on what you are looking for and the time of year, just simply adjust how far north or south you are and how close or far you are from the coast.
We personally found Napa and the Russian River Valley to have gorgeous weather during the months of June and July. If things are heating up too much, Bodega Bay and the Bay Area have cool breezes waiting for you.
2. Drive to Arizona
Much like California, Arizona has it all. It can be snowing in April, or sunny and warm in the winter, it’s all up to you. Phoenix and Tucson have winters that are the envy of many, but when the temps begin to climb, head up into the mountains and explore Flagstaff and the Coconino National Forest. The higher elevation of Flagstaff allows for cooler temperatures and a much greener landscape than what you might be thinking of when you hear Arizona.
3. Study Your Weather App
This past year, every time we visited a place we absolutely loved we saved it in our weather app. (We use the Weather Underground app along with the iOS weather app). This is helpful in making future RV travel plans.
Did you fall in love with a place, but it was just a little too cold or maybe a little too rainy? If you save the location in your app, you can track the weather after you’ve moved on and really zero in on when you’d like to return. Doing this, we’ve found that Denver isn’t as cold as one might think, Seattle and Portland not always quite as rainy, and Sonoma close to our perfect weather for much of the year.
4. Seek States with a Large Range of Elevations
We don’t tend to plan out our RV routes much. If that style of RV travel appeals to you, an easy way to ensure you have easy access to the weather you enjoy is to RV in states with varied elevation. You can head up to the mountains for cooler temperatures and back down for warmer temperatures.
In this manner you can experience multiple seasons in one day. We personally found California, Oregon, North Carolina, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico to be particularly good states for this. If daytime temps are a little hot, but the evening is perfect, try heading for higher elevations for some outdoor fun and return to camp in the evening.
5. Follow the Wine
For those of you who are seeking temperate weather, desirable weather and optimal weather for growing grapes go hand in hand. Ideal wine producing climates are often without extreme weather events (frost in the winter and heat waves in the summers), with average temps in the 50-70 degree range.
When it comes to wine in the United States, California often comes to mind, but there are actually many more states with wine producing regions. We were most pleasantly surprised by the summer season weather in the wine regions of Oregon and Washington state, and the winter season weather of the Texas Hill country.
A region known for full-bodied wines will mean you can expect it to be warmer (think Napa and its Cabernets) and regions known for lighter bodied wines will signal cooler temps (think Oregon and its Pinot Noirs).
6. Stay Along the Shore
Not in every case, but certainly in many areas, if you stick to the coastline you will avoid weather extremes and sometimes snow. We highly recommend RVing along the shore in Florida’s panhandle during the winter. St. Andrews State Park and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park being great parks to winter at.
In the northern part of the country, we found that Seattle and Portland rarely see snow during the winter. The same holds true in San Fran and the California coast for the most part. The Outer Banks and Savannah are two more areas where staying along the shore keeps you in some pretty balmy weather. Even when it gets cold, you can often count on it being warmer than further inland.
7. Keep Your Travel Plans Flexible
Weather patterns can change from year to year, and almost every part of the country has a natural disaster that can threaten during certain seasons. So, while places like Texas and Florida are considered to have ideal temps during the winter months, they can experience sudden cold snaps and even snow.
Areas that have mild summers can be struck by heat waves. When unexpected weather strikes, if you have the ability to keep travel plans flexible and open, you can change course and drive over to warmer or cooler weather as needed.
In our first year of RV travel, we were able to outrun a heat wave, head (even more) south during unusually cold southern weather, and escape forest fires. With a little flexibility, when you’re traveling by RV, your perfect weather is often just a short drive over a state border, up a mountain, or down into a valley.