Fly South: Extending Your RV Season
Warm, late-season destinations to extend your RV season
Now that summer’s warmest temperatures have largely blown away, replaced by cooler breezes coming in from the north, many campers choose to put in a few last weekends in their RVs before winterizing and storing them for the season. With less crowded campgrounds, ideal weather and beautiful fall colors coming soon, this is the perfect time to maximize your year’s camping quotient and extend your vacation season.
While the weather often stays pleasant enough (at reasonable elevations) for camping well into October for much of the country, many northerners relish the opportunity to follow the birds in autumn by heading south for some southern exposure and warmer temperatures.
As the expression goes, easily winterize your RV by heading to Florida — or somewhere else that’s nice and warm. Here are a few interesting and still-warm destinations for the upcoming fall season.
Petrified Forest National Park
See some of the planet’s most notable Late Triassic fossils, explore untouched native grasslands and learn about nearby Navajo and Apache cultures at Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona, which itself is an hour and a half east of Flagstaff off of I-40. It’s one of the most rugged landscapes on Earth, with some old secrets buried — and still being studied by archeologists.
Other nearby attractions include Painted Desert, the sprawling Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon three hours north and west of Petrified Forest.
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New Orleans, and Beyond
Everybody knows about Mardis Gras and the never-ending excitement, upbeat music and flavor in the Big Easy, but the area has other attractions worth visiting — and they are especially tempting for northern residents looking for an excuse to head south. Planted in the center of an amazing river delta region, there are many natural attractions to be found within an hour’s drive of town.
Thirty minutes northeast of downtown off I-10, the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge is one of eight refuges in southeast Louisiana, and includes more than 24,000 acres of fresh and brackish marshes, coastal hardwood forests and fascinating marine and avian life — all inside the city limits. Informational kiosks are located on Highway 11 and Highway 90.
On the north side of Lake Ponchartrain, the Fontainebleau State Park is RV friendly and features great fishing, a beach, canoeing, hiking, nature programs, hiking trails and available waterfront sites.
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Founded during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, Birmingham has grown to become Alabama’s largest cities. It has a beautiful skyline, many colleges, outdoor attractions, great food and unique southern culture that make it a worthy late-season destination.
In town, notable attractions include the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame ($2 admission, guided tours available for $5), the 67-acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens in the heart of the city (10,000 plants, 25 themed areas, 30 works of sculpture and Japanese gardens with tea house) and the Civil Rights Institute (closed Mondays) that covers life in the area from the late 1800s to today.
For a more natural experience, Birmingham’s weather is ideally suited to year-round golfing, and the city has more than 19 golf courses. Other ideas include the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, Oak Mountain State Park, Moss Rock Preserve and the 25,000-acre Sipsey Wilderness Area, which is the third largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi.
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Country music doesn’t need to be your thing to enjoy a trip to Branson, Missouri. With warm, temperature autumns, beautiful fall color, rolling hills and countless in-town and out-of-town activities, Branson is the perfect destinations for families and empty nesters — and Christmas comes early in these parts.
Everybody should stop at Silver Dollar City, which has historical reenactments, handmade crafts, delicious food, thrilling amusement park rides, live theater, the Marvel Cave and much more. Starting in November, the daily Christmas parades are a stunning display of light, costume and sound.
Not interested in catching the shows of Branson, or looking to supplement your Branson excursion? With all its hotels, resorts, campgrounds and proximity to beautiful terrain, Branson’s surroundings make a great fall trip for nature lovers. Check out the Table Rock State Park, Lake Taneycomo, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park (excellent horseback riding!) and the Ozarks Mountains that surround Branson on all sides. The Branson Scenic Railway, which leaves right from downtown, is a great way to experience the beautiful sights south of town and across the Missouri-Arkansas border.
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