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Old 10-25-2020, 11:08 PM   #1
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Default Suggestions for SoCal/Arizona in winter?

After a successful 2 week adventure in southern Utah and Nevada, the wife and I are now contemplating a mid-winter (Jan/Feb) escape to southern Cali and/or Arizona in our Era. We are NOT golfers nor are we the types to just go and sit in an RV park for a week. So looking for ideas/suggestions. On the Utah trip we moved every other day or so and did a lot of dispersed (free) camping while hitting all 5 national parks and 3 state parks. I'm guessing that free camping in Cali would be hard to come by, so probably looking at state parks.


Feel free to hit me with your suggestions/experiences.

Thanks

dm
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Old 10-26-2020, 05:36 AM   #2
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You can try some hiking in Joshua Tree, there are campgrounds (some require reservations, some are first come) in the national park or you can stay outside the park for free. Warning, Joshua Tree is close to LA and San Diego and is very popular. Anza-Borrego area has trails and some interesting metal sculptures. Jan/Feb may be too early for spring bloom, if it turns out to be a super bloom, it's beautiful.

AZ is beautiful, Sedona is one of my favorite places however it's probably best if you get information from a native of that state.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:43 PM   #3
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South of Interstate 10 in Arizona and east of Tucson has comfortable weather and lots of interesting campgrounds.

Cochise Stronghold CG in the Coronado National Forest is a small 10 site campground limited to smaller RVs. It says 22 ft. maximum but it will take a 24 ft. van as we stayed there numerous times. Hike the trails Cochise took to evade the US Army.

In Arizona, Chiricahua National Monument is worth it and the campground is limited to under 25 foot RVs. You can go to the top of the mountain with the park shuttle and then walk down. Interesting rock formations.

Kartchner Caverns State Park has the most pristine cave I've ever been in. Discovered I believe in 1987 and well protected. State Parks in Arizona allow boondocking overflow camping if all campsites are taken.

Tombstone is an interesting historical town and there is a campground in the city across the street from the OK Corral.

Bisbee, AZ is also an interesting old mining town and the The Queen Mine RV park is adjacent to the old city which is walkable. The CG also has mine tours.

Sierra Vista is a military town and birding center. Ramsey Canyon is worth a visit. We stayed in a few private CG around that area.
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Old 10-27-2020, 03:04 PM   #4
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Good tips above- just about anywhere in AZ 50 miles North of Phoenix will be at 5000' rising to 8000' so cold.
( prescott, kingman, flagstaff, winslow, grand canyon, payson, sedona etc)


Southern AZ at lower elevations will be warmer


Lots of dispersed/boondocking around the quartsite area- but I see no attraction. a large flea market set up near town


if looking at campgrounds around san clemente CA- be aware that some are close to I-5 and railway lines ( so noisy) but there are spots closer to the beach, the nearby san mateo campground is near a firing range- noisy- and sometimes a party place for young Marines
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Old 10-27-2020, 05:09 PM   #5
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Southwest of Tucson on the border is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. You can see Mexico from the campground. They have a desert hiking trail to a lost mine starting from the campground. There is also a desert loop drive. You can also drive the border but it is a rugged drive after a few miles in. I don't know if they have fenced it in but you can see the highway across the border with lots of traffic. The desert is more interesting than most imagine.

They have an interesting campground.


The border drive info sign and map of the park.
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Old 10-27-2020, 11:51 PM   #6
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Another good thing about Karcher Caverns is they allow Park overflow to boondock in the caverns parking lot if no campsites are available. At least this was the case in Spring '2019.
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:55 AM   #7
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Per Davidy: Organ Pipe is great. Also look into the area around Portal NM/AZ. There's good camping there. Madera canyon around Tucson. Kofka and Cibola in AZ around the CO river.
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:58 AM   #8
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Postscript: Recently did Yosemite. Might not be able to get reservations any longer. We snagged some during the Covid/Wildfire time in which they cancelled all reservations previously made due to the previously mentioned problems. It was great
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Old 10-28-2020, 03:09 PM   #9
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In Southern California Joshua Tree NP is an absolute must. We have been there several times and camped in just about every campground in the park. It is hard to get in the campgrounds in some seasons but there is a free BLM dispersed sites campground just before the south entrance off Interstate 10.

If you come across California north of Joshua Tree on I-40 between Needles and Barstow there is an old Route 66 spur where Amboy Crater is. It is a National Natural Landmark. We stayed boondocking overnight free in a parking lot with a few other RVs. The crater itself is a class cinder crater you can hike up to and around the rim.

We have stayed in the Palm Springs valley when visiting winter condo friends there but they have been private campgrounds. We often go high above the valley at Mt. San Jacinto State Park right in the town of Idyllwild, CA, a mountain tourist town with lots of restaurants. You can walk to everything. The campground has 33 sites and we haven't had trouble getting a site yet because high up in the mountain it could be winter when Palm Springs is warm.

Of course in Southern California you have to check out Slab City near the Salton Sea. On the sea there are several state parks with campgrounds. Off hand as of this typing I couldn't tell you which ones we stayed but we met a local kayak group there and enjoyed their company.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:02 PM   #10
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Check out county/city camping in Southern California. We have found these to be great-although filled with locals during the weekends.
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Old 11-01-2020, 07:19 PM   #11
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Good suggestion South of I-10; I’ve done that last year from San Diego across i-10 looping up to Palm Springs and there are a number of good sites on i-overlander for free dispersed camping. I too am not into golf but like touring around. Also north of Phoenix is great but can be chilly in Jan/Feb but. I have done that to, forget the huge reservoir lake name that has large state park that is empty in Jan but there is also lots of wild camping available. About 60 mile north of Phoenix.
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Old 11-01-2020, 07:26 PM   #12
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Don't forget Lake Havasu City. There are dispersed camping areas to the south and north of the city. It is almost at the sea level. It is very nice there in December and February through May. January might be a bit cold, about +50C.
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Old 11-01-2020, 08:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KitsapEra View Post
After a successful 2 week adventure in southern Utah and Nevada, the wife and I are now contemplating a mid-winter (Jan/Feb) escape to southern Cali and/or Arizona in our Era. We are NOT golfers nor are we the types to just go and sit in an RV park for a week. So looking for ideas/suggestions. On the Utah trip we moved every other day or so and did a lot of dispersed (free) camping while hitting all 5 national parks and 3 state parks. I'm guessing that free camping in Cali would be hard to come by, so probably looking at state parks.


Feel free to hit me with your suggestions/experiences.

Thanks

dm
Don’t forget Catalina State Park just north of Tucson. Lots of space between Riggs and some good hiking into the Santa Catalina foothills.
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:36 PM   #14
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Being a native Californian I think you have a lot of options. We love the coast so from San Diego to the Oregon border is great. We use the California State Parks, Ventura County Parks and we have just joined Harvest Hosts. We have reservations so far at San Clemente State Park, Crystal Cove Morro State Park, El Capitan State Park and Morro Bay State Park and at Tobin James a Winery in Paso Robles (part of Harvest Hosts) in the next few months, If your looking for non hook up places I would suggest Harvest Host and you have to be diligent in looking for a California State Park reservation seems like everyone else has the same idea. I wish you all the best!
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:47 PM   #15
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Yes, I can endorse Harvest Host if you like to stay overnight without hookups and basic restroom facilities overnight after closing. They are mostly rural, quiet and scenic, and if you like good wines and beers as the bulk of them are vineyards and breweries but there are museums and farms as well. We are members and have taken advantage of it in vineyards and craft breweries in IA, IN, MO, OH, PA, NY, TX, and AZ. We have stayed overnight in non-Harvest Host, but similar sites, in LA and NM just by asking. Some have restaurants. They most all have tasting rooms, tap rooms and gift shops so staying free is kind of a misnomer because you generally don't get out of there without spending money.
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Old 11-08-2020, 03:45 PM   #16
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Be sure to check out national and state wildlife refuges. Two in Arizona we've enjoyed are Whitewater Draw State Wildlife Refuge, where you can boondock, and Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, where there is BLM land across the street.
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