RVer's Guide to Flagstaff

rvers guide to flagstaff

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

Boondocking

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.

rvers guide to flagstaff

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!

Oregano’s

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.

Pizzicleta

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.

rvers guide to flagstaff

Fratelli’s

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.

Salsa Brava

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.

downtown flagstaff

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.

RVer Comforts

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.

rvers guide to flagstaff

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?

Plan Ahead

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.

staying connected on the roadThese 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.

staying connected on the roadLibraries, 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.

winnebago-dual-pane-windowsOur 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.

winnebago-dual-pane-windowsThe 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

Increased safety

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.

winnebago-dual-pane-windowsThe dual-pane acrylic windows’ friction hinges and multi-locking system increase safety.

Increased convenience

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.

winnebago-dual-pane-windowsIf 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.

Trend single park spot-Winnebago_RDY-10

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.

winnebago trend interior twin beds

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).

winnebago trend

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.

winnebago trend

Read more about the Winnebago Trend’s features and specifications.

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!

Weather Extremes

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!

rving in perfect weather

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.

california

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.

seattle

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.

crater lake

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.

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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.