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Arazona, Utah, New Mexico next January


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We just started full timing a few months ago. We have been in Florida since Feb 1 and made reservations 6 to 12 months ahead. Do I need to do the same for the Southwest? Should I be working on reservations now or can we must go as the wind blows? Thanks

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We've been able to go with out reservations for 7 yrs. now and haven't had a problem getting into a park we like & know. We usually wait until 1 week out and then call ahead to be sure we can get in. Never have we been disappointed. We spend time in Az., Nv., NM., & many parks on the way there from the midwest. We use RV Park Reviews to find parks in the areas where we will be the next day when travelling. This was between Oct. & April. There may be some areas that are difficult but we've never encountered that. Good luck & enjoy your travels, Dave.

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Just a head up....January in New Mexico and Utah will be cold.

 

For Arizona in January you should be looking in these areas for best temperatures. It's all about elevation. :) For winter don't plan elevations higher than 4,000' - lower is best. These are good:

 

Yuma and north along the Colorado River up to Havasu City

 

The greater Tucson area including Amado and Benson

 

The greater Phoenix area including Mesa, Apache Junction, Casa Grande

 

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If you look on an Arizona map you don't want to go east beyond Benson over to the New Mexico border. South of Benson at Bisbee or Tombstone will be cold for long stays although visiting would be fine.

 

Globe, Safford, Payson, Show Low, Pinetop, Wickenberg, Sedona, Flagstaff will be cold.

 

North of Havasu City will be cold.

 

Good luck. For your first visit I'd recommend you pick a few areas to try out. It will be more expensive to get weekly rates but at least you won't be stuck in a spot that you dislike.

 

All of Arizona state parks are great and fine for big rigs. Lost Dutchman in Apache Junction is awesome in winter. The Phoenix area also has some wonderful Maricopa County parks with big sites and lush vegetation. These are all popular in winter so reservations would be advisable.

 

The Phoenix area RV parks are mostly huge and you'd probably get a spot without reservations for short times but if you want seasonal sites you might reserve. These huge RV parks have a lot of Park model permanent trailers in case you don't care for that atmosphere. There are a few just for traveling RVers.

 

Arizona is great for winter - October through April - then it starts getting hot and that's when you can move up in elevation in Arizona or start checking out New Mexico and Utah.

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It depends on where you are planning on staying and when. National and state parks fill up faster than commercial parks, especially in areas around places like Phoenix where western snowbirds congregate. Also, watch out for holiday weekends, like President's Day or Martin Luther King's Birthday. I am from Michigan and not used to people camping on those three day winter holidays so had problems a few times.

 

Love the Maricopa County parks, by the way! Those do need early reservations.

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Cold??? I guess it depends on what you call cold. Southern NM and UT below 5000' can be very pleasant.

 

Yes you will have days where the temp will dip into the 20's in the morning. However if it is sunny then the afternoons will be warm up into the 60's & 70's. In lower elevations it can get into the low 80's and very dry. You can get several days cloudy weather with temps in 30's & 40's.

 

The beautiful sunny weather far out ways the few days of chilly weather. Also the uncrowded conditions in the state and national parks is wonderful.

 

Now if you are planning on staying in the popular RV Parks in the Phoenix/Tucson area, then, yes you should make reservations. Especially if you are staying in one park for a month or more.

 

To see actual temps go to the Weather Underground History website. On the website it is easy to change months, years and cities to see the actual temps for any month and year. The link I provided is for St George, UT for the month of Jan 2014. The highs are in the upper 50's to the 60's with bright sun, and mostly light winds. Lots of people come to St George to spend the winter. The temps are what I would call cool, but not cold.

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Should I be working on reservations now or can we must go as the wind blows?

It just depends upon you and your way of travel. If you want to go to one particular park and be able to stay there for a month or two, you should probably make reservations as you travel but if you are flexible and plan to seldom stop for more than a few days, no reservations will be needed as you can just stay in a park that has available sites. With a cell phone it is pretty easy to check for openings as you approach the next location that you wish to stop to avoid driving from one park to the next when finding a location to stay. We carry a good campground directory and cell phone and when in a busy area we do call ahead but only an hour or tow prior to our arrival. We only rarely make reservations further ahead than a few hours but if we expect to be in a very busy area, especially over a holiday or other rush period we do then make a reservation.

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We are just back from spending the entire past winter in New Mexico except for a couple of weeks in Arizona. We did not make any reservations. We spent the time in the state parks of New Mexico and except for once did not find the parks full and usually got either the electric or non-serviced site we wanted. The time in Arizona was at Quartzsite with the SKP boomers so no reservations needed there. Check out the great deal New Mexico offers in their state parks! Yes, it can get cold especially in the northern parks, but you can always move further south, or lower in elevation.

Suzan

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One year we bought the New Mexico non-resident State Parks pass with the intention of spending the entire year traveling from park to park. We started out in about May and left at the end of December when it simply got too cold *for us.* So I agree with others that New Mexico gets cold in the winter, but there are lots of people who spend the winters there, so you'll have to make your own decision as to whether or not a particular location suits you.

 

Personally, I wouldn't attempt Utah in January...even Las Vegas gets too cold for us during the winter. Here again, though, there are lots of people who spend the winters there.

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Most of the West is a land of extremes, including the weather. I've lived in NM most of my life and NM weather can be as varied day-to-day and even hour-to-hour as any place I've ever heard of. That said, you definitely want to be in the southern portion of the state for the winter months (late November through March) if you are looking for warmer weather and even that is no guarantee. For the summer warmer months (early June through early September) NM will be hot unless you are above about 8,000 feet. But the springs and falls are always really fair.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Taos is 6969' (2124 m) and it is cold in winter. Lowest spot in NM is about 4000' while Yuma is 141' but western AZ gets crowded with RV'ers while eastern AZ and western NM has a lot of BLM lands that are great for boondocking. We got caught in an early snow storm near Socorro two years ago during The Festival of the Cranes. We just hunkered down for three days until the snow started to melt.

 

If you do plan to primarily boondock than Arizona and NM are the places to spend the winter. Texas is extremely limited with regard to available public lands except for Big Bend and its surrounding areas. There are excellent places in CA desert but there are a lot of Californians who want to boondock as well.

 

We boondocked for about two weeks with friends about 40 miles NW of Silver City last year. We were about 3 to 5 miles from Gila River and saw no one except the rancher who had the Taylor Grazing rights to the land during those two weeks. We only saw him twice and he was friendly. We have boondocked/dry camped exclusively for two years with current rig except when visiting family near big cities where boondocking is not a credible option.

 

Reed and Elaine

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As so many have said "it depends on your own style" We seldom reserve ahead unless we need to be in a popular area at a popular time, or just at a specific time set by others. We seldom stay put for more than a week, although that may change now that we have become members of Jojoba Hills. I do not remember being turned away - on the phone - from campgrounds more than a couple of times over the past 13 years in the Southwest. Even in Mesa in February we got a decent spot with Passport America in a huge resort. We wouldn't go back, not our style at all.

 

That is our style. If it makes you feel uncomfortable by all means reserve well ahead, just understand that once you have booked you may not get a full refund if you find someplace else more to your liking. And if you haven't been there you may not know what the options are and how you will feel about them.

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