Resist the urge to hibernate this winter. Instead, answer the call to adventure in some of America’s finest and sunniest playgrounds. With the right attitude and plan, you can create a winter vacation that will feel like a summer getaway. Enjoy wild winter camping across North America.
Boating in Lake Mead in Arizona & Nevada
This human-made lake lies on the Colorado River just southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The breathtaking backdrop of mountains and mesas provides a picturesque setting for boating and water sports. Almost 250-square-miles of waterways give you the choice of open waters or smaller coves that are great for paddling. View the towering Hoover Dam or explore the Colorado River as it winds through Black Canyon. Fishing in Lake Mead yields popular species, from rainbow trout, catfish and sunfish to bass and crappie.
Hiking Saguaro National Park in Arizona
Saguaro National Park consists of two vast swaths of preserved land on each side of the city of Tucson. About 165 miles of trails wind through the park, leading hikers past the park’s towering namesake succulent as well as surreal rock formations and petroglyphs left by early Native Americans. In the Tucson Mountain District, located west of the city, the Signal Hill Trail leads hikers to scores of examples of the 800-year-old rock art. To the east, the Rincon Mountain District is home to diverse recreation fun, from cycling to horseback riding along winding trails. Throughout the park, the Saguaro cactus reaches for the sky, with some growing as high as 40 feet.
Stay: Rincon County West RV Resort, Tucson
Exploring California’s Joshua Tree National Park
Hills of bare rock share an arid landscape with Joshua Trees, combining to create a mystical vista. This vibrant setting is the perfect backdrop for hiking, camping, world-class rock climbing and amateur astronomy. Short trails allow you to enjoy the park’s beauty without straying too far into the desert. A section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail winds 35 miles through the western side of the park and offers views of Coachella Valley and Palm Springs. Thousands of climbing routes provide varying levels of difficulty for beginners and experts.
Stay: Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages, Indio
Drifting on Florida’s Peace River
The Peace River is the perfect vehicle for getting close and personal with the wildlife of central Florida. This beautiful waterway moves from the Green Swamp through the lush foliage of the region and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Charter an exciting airboat or launch your kayak or canoe for a more tranquil trip downstream with plenty of fishing holes. The river is home to bream, catfish and bass, plus saltwater species like mullet and snook.
Stay: Big Tree RV Resort, Arcadia
Paddleboarding off Sanibel Island, Florida
Known for its white-sand beaches, breathtaking sunsets and historic lighthouses, Sanibel Island is also home to a vibrant tropical ecosystem. This famed resort is located on the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles south of Fort Myers. Popular Bowman’s Beach draws beachgoers but is also an ideal spot for windsurfing and sailing. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to hundreds of species, including crocodiles and manatees. Mangrove-lined kayak trails are the perfect, peaceful way for paddlers to explore the area. Another fantastic trail for paddlers is the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile trail with lots of options for beginning and advanced kayakers.
Stay: Woodsmoke Camping Resort, Fort Myers
Airboating outside of New Orleans in Louisiana
New Orleans is a feast for the senses, with jazz, gumbo and out-of-this-world cityscapes thrilling visitors throughout the year. Add nature to the menu with an airboat ride through a bayou wonderland just outside of the Big Easy. Several outfitters offer rides just 35 minutes outside of the city limits through the channels and watery expanses of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. See gators and egrets thriving in their natural habitat, or just enjoy the speed of the boat as it skims along the surface. Passengers also will learn the history behind this corner of the Pelican State, with insights into the Battle of New Orleans and the experiences of the namesake pirate.
Stay: Pine Crest RV Park of New Orleans, New Orleans
Riding the Sandia Peak Tramway in New Mexico
Overcome your fear of heights on the Sandia Peak Tramway, which ferries passengers almost three miles from Albuquerque’s city limits to the summit of the 10,378-foot Sandia Peak. The ride dishes out spectacular views of the city and its surroundings as the comfortable car glides on cables over the rugged mountain slopes below. From this vantage point, visitors can see up to 11,000 square miles of desert and city on a clear day. The journey also provides glimpses of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and birds of prey. During winter, the peak’s ski area offers trails for both beginning and advanced skiers and boarders. There’s a certified snow sports school, a rental shop, café and ski shop. Skiers and boarders using the tram are given a reduced rate when purchasing a daily lift ticket. The tram is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and riders can enjoy the city’s lights on the way down.
Stay: Isleta Lakes & RV Park, Albuquerque
Fishing North Carolina’s Crystal Coast
The welcoming warmth and astonishing beauty of this 85-mile coastline set the perfect tone for outdoor excitement. Take in the beautiful beaches as you surf-fish or set out from the quaint coastal towns of Morehead City, home to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, and Beaufort on a charter boat looking for game fish, including marlin, yellowfin, wahoo, drum and mackerel. The Atlantic invites surfers, paddlers and boaters to enjoy the crystal waters.
Stay: Beaufort Waterway RV Park, Beaufort
Canoeing in a Canyon in Big Bend National Park, Texas
Untamed beauty has a home along the Rio Grande on the Texas border with Mexico. Out of the wilderness of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Chisos Mountain Range rises to an elevation of 8,000 feet. Over 800,000 acres of endless desert, massive canyons, forested mountains, and the dynamic Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River await exploration. Three unique river canyons and surrounding desert scenery offer an extraordinary rafting or kayaking experience. Backpackers and hikers can challenge over 200 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult.
Stay: Lost Alaskan RV Park, Alpine
Playing in Port Aransas, Texas
Port Aransas has been called the fishing capital of Texas, hosting fishing tournaments almost every weekend during the summer. Surf-fish for trout, redfish, or Spanish mackerel. Go offshore for red snapper, black drum, or yellowfin. Those with less experience might fish from the jetties or piers. And everyone gets a thrill at the weigh-ins during the Deep Sea Roundup every June. For kayakers there are miles of adventurous trails. The paddling trail from Lighthouse Lakes winds through an extensive black mangrove estuary into sloughs and back lakes near the Lydia Ann Lighthouse, built in 1857.
Stay: Island RV Resort, Port Aransas