Every fall you’ll see them. Long convoys of motorhomes, fifth wheels, and trailers headed west or south on America’s interstates. Many of those drivers are snowbirds in search of the endless summer.
Along the way, they’ll learn important lessons about RV trip planning in the fall shoulder season. Let’s look at three of them.
RVing in the transition time between summer and fall (the “shoulder season”) allows us to be free of summer crowds and peak season prices. But if we’re not careful, it also forces us to learn some important lessons like:
1. Weather is unpredictable.
Mother Nature has fun during the fall shoulder season. One day she’ll give us a break from brutal summer temperatures and fool us into thinking that fall has arrived. But before we get too comfortable in jeans and sweaters, Whammo! The next day we’ll wake up to a blistering heatwave.
For example, last week my husband and I left Colorado. After several mornings of hard frost daybreaks, we believed freezing weather was imminent. We broke camp and fled to lower elevations in New Mexico but we forgot that it was still summer down below.
What a hassle when we realized we had already stowed our hot weather clothing. We also didn’t know if our A/C was working because we hadn’t used it all summer.
Luckily, it worked and I even found our flip flops under the bed. Amazingly once we got just two states away, we were pummeled by rain for two days in the Southern California mountains.
The big lesson here? Be prepared for any kind of weather.
2. Hunting season keeps you on your toes.
Non-hunters like me are usually oblivious to hunting season’s start dates. But even us non-hunters need to know when the season starts if we enjoy camping on public lands during fall. Here’s why:
- Public lands and forest service roads in popular hunting areas (the Rockies, Cascades, etc.) will be busy with hunters.
- A hunter might not be able to distinguish between you and a white-tailed deer if you’re out hiking.
- Animals will be on the move, grazing at roadsides and crossing highways.
Years ago I forgot that October is hunting season in the Rockies. While going for my morning run on a forest service trail, I was almost shot by a hunter who thought my white ball cap was the butt of a deer. I’ve never forgotten his stern warning to wear bright orange on the trail. Today, I just avoid those areas altogether for my morning workout. After all, orange just isn’t my color.
3. RV park vacancies work in your favor.
Traveling in between seasons means that many campgrounds are emptier than usual. Last week we arranged a two-week stay at a popular snowbird RV park that’s booked solid between Thanksgiving and April.
If we want to check out nearby national park attractions and camp there, odds are we can get in. Many state and national park campgrounds have more vacancies at this time of year.
And finally, many great RV parks that belong to popular discount camping clubs lift their club usage restrictions during shoulder seasons. We often pay half-off on luxury resorts that cater to snowbirds, just by arriving a few weeks earlier.
The longer you stay on the road full-time, the more lessons you learn that make this lifestyle so enjoyable. What are some important snowbird lessons you’ve picked up through the years? Be sure to comment below.