If you want to escape the cold winters of the northern regions, there’s no better place than “Snowbird Country”. Every year, tens of thousands of full-time RVers make the trek for warm winter weather, lots of sunshine, and unusual desert landscapes.
Just 118 miles from the border with Mexico, Tuscon is situated in the exotic Sonoran Desert. In fact, Tucson is home to the world-renowned Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This is where you can see and learn about more than 200 local desert-dwelling creatures and plants.
Mission San Xavier del Bac is the beautiful and oldest Spanish Colonial building in America. Known as the “White Dove of the Desert” the mission was founded in 1692 by Father Kino. However, the mission was finally completed in its present state in 1797. The mission is still an active Catholic church, serving the Tohono Oʼodham and Yaqui communities. You can visit daily for free. However, photos are not allowed during church services.
The Pima Air and Space Museum opened in 1976 and spans more than 80 acres. It’s home to more than 3,000 historic aircraft. The museum is the world’s largest non-government funded aviation and space museum.
Places to Camp Around Tucson
Tucson is home to many very nice RV parks. However, if you want to go deeper into the desert, there are a few options.
Snyder Hill, BLM Boondocking. FREE There is a 14-day stay limit. GPS: 32.1567, -111.1157
Gilbert Ray Campground. $20 a day. 7 Day stay limit. Reservations not accepted, first come basis. 8451 West McCain Loop Road, Tucson, AZ (520) 883-4200
Colossal Cave. $12 a night dry camping at a crystal-filled underground cavern. 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail, Vail, AZ (520) 647-7275
West Manville Road. FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: 32.2919, -111.3475
Pipeline Road. FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: 32.3747, -111.3882
As you travel further west into Snowbird Country along I-10, you will come to Yuma. It borders both California and Mexico. Surprisingly, the most popular thing to do in Yuma is cheap dental work and filling prescriptions cheaply in nearby Los Algodones, Mexico. Los Algodones is a small town with over 350 dentists and pharmacies. It also has delicious and inexpensive restaurants, liquor stores, and curios shops. Every day in January more than 33,000 tourists cross the border to Los Algodones.
Of course, there are many nice RV p>arks and resorts in Yuma. However, just across the California border near Winterhaven, many RVers camp at the BLM LTVA (long-term visitor) areas. There is also camping on tribal lands of the Fort Yuma tribe. Both require permits. You can inquire about camping on Fort Yuma tribal lands at the Paradise Casino.
Sidewinder Road GPS: 32.8172, -114.7949 FREE Stay limit 14 days.
Dunes Vista GPS: 32.7632, -114.8397 FREE Stay limit 14 days.
American Girl Mine Road GPS: 32.8368, -114.812 FREE Stay limit 14 days.
Pilot Knob 14 Day Area. GPS: 32.7436, -114.7803 It’s FREE and as stated, there is a 14 day stay limit.
Mittry Lake Wildlife Area GPS: 32.8199, -114.4701 FREE Stay limit 10 days
Traveling north along Highway 95 you finally come to the RV Mecca of Quartzsite in Arizona. During the winter months, this tiny desert town comes alive with tens of thousands of full-time RVers. Camping in the long-term visitor areas is very affordable; a long-term visitor pass is $180 to camp from September 15th to April 15th. That includes access to water, sewer and trash pick-up. You can find out more about an LTVA permit by calling 928-317-3200
During the Snowbird season, Quartzsite also hosts the Sports, Vacation and RV Show. It’s THE place to see all of the new RV lifestyle innovations and maybe buy a new RV from one of the many dealers on site. Quartzsite is also home to the world-famous Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Show. Rock hounds can find literally pick up tons of the most amazing and rare minerals and gems the world over.
La Posa West LTVA Requires a BLM LTVA permit. The stay limit is 7 months with a permit. GPS: 33.6523, -114.2184
La Posa North LTVA Requires a BLM LTVA permit. Stay limit is 7 months with a permit. GPS: 33.6513, -114.216
La Posa South LTVA Requires a BLM LTVA permit. The stay limit is 7 months with a permit. GPS: 33.6251, -114.2156 Attention: This is a “clothing optional” area.
Scaddan Wash FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: 33.6662, -114.1874
Hi Jolly Camping Area FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: 33.7095, -114.2158
Dome Rock Mountain FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: 33.6493, -114.28
Mitchell Mine Road FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: GPS: 33.6508, -114.146
Plomosa Road FREE Stay limit 14 days. GPS: GPS: 33.7488, -114.2162
A trip to the sunny winter regions of Arizona is a must-do for any American travelers bucket list!