by AINSLEY LAWRENCE
Who says great RVing only happens in the summer? Taking advantage of the shoulder season is a fantastic way to see some warmer parts of the country without having to pay in-season prices or deal with heavy crowds. If you’re an avid RVer or just looking for somewhere unique to go this time of year, head to the American southwest.
Exploring the southwest during the shoulder season will allow you to take your time. You won’t have to worry about campgrounds being booked up or local parks and hotels raising their rates for tourists. In fact, you might even find significantly reduced prices as businesses work to attract guests.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best shoulder season destinations you should visit this season, and how you can make the most of your trip.
1. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Most people have at least heard of this famous national park, but you can’t fully understand the beauty and wonder of Carlsbad Caverns until you visit it yourself. It’s located just beneath the Chihuahuan Desert and is a true hidden gem. As you get close to the park, you won’t notice much at first. The “treasure” is beneath the surface.
During your visit, you’ll take an elevator down 75 stories and enter what feels like a completely different world. You’ll be able to explore hundreds of natural rock formations — no two are alike. The really interesting thing about Carlsbad is that new caverns are being discovered all the time!
2. Phoenix, Arizona
Over the years, Phoenix has become one of the top destinations in the country for snowbirds. While the big draw to the area is the warmth — especially in the winter and early spring — there’s so much more about Phoenix to enjoy. Plus, if you take up a short-term residency there, you can make quick day trips to other areas of the state and enjoy things like:
- Snow-capped mountains;
- Dry heat;
- Vast deserts;
- Booming metropolitan areas.
If you do choose to live in your RV year-round as a snowbird, you can make it work for you by building an effective budget. Don’t clear out your bank account with the purchase of an RV. Rather, find a model that works for you and meets your basic needs so you’ll have money left over to actually travel in it. Many people choose to retire in Phoenix, and investing in an RV rather than renting one or buying a home is a fantastic way to start the next chapter of your life without blowing your budget.
3. Sedona, Arizona
If you don’t want to be in the heart of Phoenix, there are plenty of other places in Arizona that can meet your needs. If you’re a nature lover and have a passion for adventure, head to Sedona. You’ll experience a stunningly colorful landscape with red rock trails and hidden canyons.
Sedona is perfect for so many outdoor activities, including biking and hiking. Many people head to this part of the country on spiritual journeys, thanks to the jaw-dropping landscape. When you’re RVing and can step out each morning to see a Sedona sunrise, you’ll understand why it can feel like a religious experience.
4. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
You really can’t go wrong with any of our country’s national parks in the off-season and shoulder season. But, Great Basin often gets overlooked. It’s certainly not as popular as more traditional tourist attractions like Arches or Yellowstone. Even in the “busy season”, this park tends to get fewer visitors, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out and seeing what so many people are missing.
During the shoulder season, you can visit Great Basin and enjoy peaceful mountain hiking without worrying about large crowds. You can even take a guided tour to explore unique limestone passages with crystals and rock formations like you’ve never seen before.
Of course, if you head to Great Basin, you might have to travel through some snow-covered mountain terrain. Higher altitude regions in the southwest aren’t immune to snow, so don’t assume everything about your trip will be warm and sunny. Prepare yourself and your rig by keeping a few essential supplies on board, including:
- A first aid kit;
- Extra blankets;
- Hand warmers;
- Extra water and food.
You should also consider investing in snow tires for your RV. Winter tires will give you more traction on slippery terrain, so you won’t have to worry about sliding along a narrow mountain road.
Whether you’ve decided to become a full-time RVer, you want to head somewhere warm, or you’re just trying to beat the summer crowds, you can’t go wrong with any of these wonderful southwestern destinations. Between the gorgeous natural landscapes, unique opportunities for adventure, and a closeness to everything from spas and restaurants to golf courses and antique shops, there’s something for everyone in this area of the country.