Winter is coming, as they say, but that doesn’t mean campervan adventures need to end! Warmer temperatures, off-season rates, and fewer crowds await on these three winter road trips.
While temperatures are mild during the winter, it’s still important to pay attention to driving conditions. Some mountain passes and towns at higher elevations may be snowy, so it’s always a good idea to bring along a basic winter survival kit. We offer snow chains for rent, as well as heaters and extra blankets for free.
Featured image by @adrianrichter
Average Temperature (December to March): 65-73°F high, 38-50°F low
Nearest Escape Depot: Los Angeles
While much of the country prepares for snow in the winter months, the weather in California (outside of the mountains, of course) remains comfortable throughout the season.
Santa Barbara is about 2 hours north of our Los Angeles depot, and there’s a lot to hit along the way. Santa Monica is just 30 minutes up the coast, where you can stroll along the iconic Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, and the Getty Villa (also a great place to spot celebs!). Head up Pacific Coast Highway 1 through the surf destination of Malibu before you hit Ventura (our namesake for the Ventura model!) and eventually the college town of Santa Barbara.
San Diego is about 2 hours south of our Los Angeles depot (depending on traffic, of course). This is where you can hit all the famous beaches (Huntington, Venice, Newport, Laguna… old MTV reruns, anyone?). After that, San Clemente is a beautiful little city to explore on the way down. You’ll find plenty of beaches and attractions in the San Diego area, but don’t have too much fun that you keep driving down to Mexico! (It’s not covered under insurance.)
If you’ve had enough of beaches and big city life, it’s time to hit the national parks! Winter is one of the best times of the year to visit Death Valley (about a 5-hour drive from LA), as it’s unbearably hot there in the summer. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood to listen to some Bono, Joshua Tree is just 2.5 hours from LA, has fewer crowds before springtime, and wildflower viewing as early as February. Swing by Palm Springs nearby to come back tan from your trip and make everyone at home in the cold jealous!
Average Temperature (December to March): 60-70°F high, 33-48°F low
Nearest Escape Depot: Phoenix
With our brand new depot opening in November 2017, there’s never been a better time to explore Arizona! Fly into Phoenix and go round trip or one way to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver… wherever your heart desires. You can read our full American Southwest itinerary for more information, but here are some of the highlights.
What would an Arizona road trip be without a stop at the Grand Canyon? One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, the 277-mile-long canyon is a mile deep and 18 miles across at its widest point. If you’re just passing by, you can see the Grand Canyon in all of its glory from the road (time it so you can watch the sunset, if you can). If you have more time to spare, take a multi-day hike from rim-to-rim or to the bottom.
The giant saguaro is the symbol of the American Southwest and the state flower–and you’ll find plenty of them here. Stop at the visitor center for facts about saguaro (like how they can grow to be 60 feet tall!), then drive the Cactus Desert Scenic Loop Drive.
The best location in the US to see petrified wood is found here in a particularly beautiful range of bright colors.There are fossils, badlands, buttes and mesas, ancient petroglyphs, wildlife and wildflowers, and vast vistas for more than a hundred miles.
You may not be in the middle of nowhere while visiting this place, but you can definitely see it from there. Located on Highway 163 between the towns of Kayenta and Mexican Hat (make sure you stop over and get a Navajo Taco), this is the land that time forgot. For a $5 fee—paid to the Navajo Nation —you can drive the 17-mile loop taking you on a meandering path around the Monuments.
This remote and unspoiled 294,000-acre monument is a geologic treasure, containing Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. Keep in mind that the most popular areas, like Coyote Butte, require hiking permits no matter what time of year you visit.
This strenuous 8-mile hike takes you to five beautiful blue-green waterfalls. A dirt trail will take you over two small bridges to turquoise swimming holes and waterfalls that reach up to 200 feet high.
If you want a feel of what Route 66 used to be back in the days of Kerouac, this is your place. Pull over, grab a chili dog and chocolate malt at the Snow Cap and wander around town.
This is one of the most iconic roadside stops in all of Arizona—a “must-see-to-believe” sort of geologic formation at Lake Powell.
Located minutes from Page, Arizona, Antelope Canyon is easily the most photographed slot canyon in the world. You’ll need a guide for this trip, so try to sign up in advance.
Average Temperature (December to March): mid-70s F high, 53-66°F low
Nearest Escape Depot: Miami
With the warmest temperatures on our list, Florida is the ideal destination for a winter road trip. It also happens to be one of the best times of the year visit the area, so take advantage of it!
Here, you’ll find diverse cultures, a thriving arts scene, delicious food, pristine ocean beaches… and plenty of nightlife. Walk through the bustling streets past historic homes with Spanish words and Caribbean music floating into your ears–a unique experience you don’t often get to have anywhere else in the US.
The largest subtropical wilderness area in North America, this place makes the top of many Escapee to do lists. While the winter dry season is by far the most crowded time of year here, it’s also the most enjoyable (tolerable temperatures and fewer bugs make a big difference). The park protects the largest habitat in the world of rare and endangered species like the manatee, the Florida panther and the American crocodile. We’ve still yet to see a panther, but we have high hopes for a sighting one day.
Make sure you head east/west on I-73 for a few miles west of the Everglades National Park. Known as Alligator Alley, this is a world-class drive by any standard.
1700 islands create the archipelago, and 42 bridges connect them along this 113-mile (181 km) section of US Highway 1. The epic trip starts just south of Miami and dead ends at the world famous community of Key West. While the area is known as a party destination, it’s also a great place to enjoy outdoor pursuits like kayaking in Bahia Honda State Park and see beautiful Victorian homes, art galleries, and beaches.
Florida had a particularly rough go with natural disasters during summer 2017. While it’s not back to normal by any means, The New York Times reports that the area is indeed coming back to life. That said, it’s more important now than ever to visit and support the affected areas during this time of rebuilding!
What’s your favorite winter road trip destination? Tell us!