Southern California

Trip Planning

Snowbirds Find Warmth in California's Low Desert

For many snowbirds looking to escape winter's icy grip, Southern California is a safe haven. Warm sunny days, beautiful RV parks, and lots of outdoor activities make this a prime snowbird vacation destination. Jeff Crider shares his expert tips on where to go, what to do, and where to stay.

California lives up to its reputation for having some of the best winter weather in the country, especially in the lower desert regions of Southern California. On Christmas Day, for example, while most of the nation was shivering in sub-freezing weather, snowbirds in the Southern California desert enjoyed clear skies and 80-degree weather. “They love it here,” said James Lim, senior vice president for La Jolla, California-based Sunland RV Resorts, whose popular snowbird destinations include Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert, which has enjoyed daytime highs in the 70s since Christmas Day.

“You can see them enjoying our heated swimming pools,” he said, “even in the morning when there is steam rising off the water.” Many snowbirds are also drawn to Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, another sunny Sunland park on the west side of the San Jacinto Mountains.

"Both Emerald Desert and Golden Village Palms have newly renovated swimming pools, which are heated to keep the temperature above 80 degrees during the winter months," Lim said. Of course, snowbirds visiting the Southern California desert not only enjoy some of the best winter weather in the country, but activities like water aerobics and water volleyball, which nicely complement the workouts they are able to do in the exercise rooms of their favorite RV parks and resorts.

Snowbirds who spend the winter in California’s Coachella Valley also opportunities for hiking, birdwatching and photography at the Palm Springs Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon, which has a 60-foot spring-fed waterfall. Snowbirds craving a day in the snow can also ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a variety of snow play activities as well as spectacular views of the desert from the 8,500-foot level. 

Many snowbirds, however, are simply happy to soak up the desert sun, and there are a variety of snowbird-friendly places to stay, including a brand new resort, Coachella Lakes RV Resort in Coachella, which is scheduled to open February 1. This new 375-acre RV resort with four manmade lakes is scheduled will include two heated swimming pools and hot tubs, pickleball courts, a 24-hour fitness center, a fitness trail, an outdoor exercise circuit and a world class putting course and a clubhouse, among other amenities. The park has 360 RV sites and 15 park model rentals.

Other Coachella Valley RV resorts include:

Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA
 in Desert Hot Springs

Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert 

Shadow Hills RV Resort in Indio

Snowbirds seeking to soak up the winter sun in more remote locations in the Southern California desert flock to the Fountain of Youth Spa RV Resort in Niland, which is located not far from the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. Organized winter activities at the park include hiking, line dancing, yoga, water aerobics, arts and crafts and desert golf. The park even has a theater club.

         Another popular snowbird destination in a remote Southern California desert location is the Springs at Borrego RV and Golf Resort in Borrego Springs. Park amenities include an outdoor amphitheater, volleyball, horseshoes, and lawn bowling, as well as an outdoor salt pool and spa open 24/7. The resort also has a health and wellness center with a spacious fitness center, hot mineral baths and massage therapy by appointment. The resort is located just outside Anza Borrego Desert State Park, a popular location for hiking, rock climbing, bird watching and photography. The open desert areas near Anza Borrego are also popular with ATV enthusiasts.

Snowbird friendly parks in the Imperial Valley, in extreme southeast California, include Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort in El Centro, which complements its golf course with a full array of organized activities, from water aerobics and water volleyball to line dancing to pickleball, horseshoes, corn hole, and bocce ball. The park also has concerts. El Centro is also home to Desert Trails RV Park and Golf Course, whose amenities include a 9-hole executive golf course, pickleball, and organized activities.

In addition to being just a few miles north of Mexicali, Mexico, the capital of Baja California, El Centro is close to the Imperial Sand Dunes near Glamis, which is a popular location for off road vehicle enthusiasts, who are allowed to ride their own ATVs, RZRs or other vehicles they rent from local concessionaires, including Glamis ATV Rentals and Glamis Dunes Rentals, across certain sections of the dunes.

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.