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Old 12-08-2019, 02:09 PM   #1
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South Texas for the Holidays?

Thinking of camping over the Christmas break/New Years holidays at South Llano River Texas SP to get warm(er). It's about a 13hr drive (770 miles) from Colorado Springs towing our A-frame, so we will take 2 days each way plus 2 full days at campground. Typical daytime highs look like 60s and 70s, lows in the 30s and 40s.

Questions:
  • is the river warm enough for tubing in Dec?
  • are there better suggestions for warm weather camping that are about the same distance or less?
  • other comments, suggestions?
Fred W
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:04 PM   #2
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Thinking of camping over the Christmas break/New Years holidays at South Llano River Texas SP to get warm(er). It's about a 13hr drive (770 miles) from Colorado Springs towing our A-frame, so we will take 2 days each way plus 2 full days at campground. Typical daytime highs look like 60s and 70s, lows in the 30s and 40s.

Questions:
  • is the river warm enough for tubing in Dec?
  • are there better suggestions for warm weather camping that are about the same distance or less?
  • other comments, suggestions?
Fred W
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Hi Fred W. Unless you have a thick coat of fur, there is no way the river will be warm enough for tubing. Even here at the coast, the Gulf of Mexico is in the 60's. You can probably splash about a bit, for a little bit, but any extended time in the water will have you in hypothermia fairly quick.

The whether here, and especially out in the Hill Country, is very up and down this time of year. It is expected to be in the low to mid 80's tomorrow around the Houston area, but by Wednesday, we will be close to freezing, with highs maybe getting to 60. For someone from Colorado, that might be prime camping weather, but for us cold weather wimps (yeah, I admit, I am one), we don't camp unless there's a good reason.

I don't think I probably helped you too much, but good luck, and have fun where ever you end up.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:12 PM   #3
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Exactly. Snow is still a possibility anywhere in Texas, it's rare but happens.

I used to surf year round (when I was young and in shape) on the Texas coast from Galveston to Corpus. Starting in Late October a wetsuit was usually needed. And November - February was super cold in the water.

The rivers are fairly cold year round. Especially the tubing ones.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:42 PM   #4
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It does seem like a 770 mile trip should get you into South Texas, but you're closer to the Texas Hill Country and while it might be warmer than where you are, that's not guaranteed. That's a long way to drive.

Whatever you decide, make reservations online at https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/
Sites fill up quickly at this time of year.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:07 AM   #5
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I'm a native Texan who is living in the Dallas Fort Worth area. It will be a real gamble to travel that far and expect "warm" weather. It might be great but could just as likely be wet, cold, & windy.

Personally I was looking at maybe escaping to Tucson; it looks like it might be warmer (than DFW) in early January.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:13 AM   #6
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We go to Houston at Christmas.

Weather is iffy at best. Mostly chilly, Rainey and yucky.

For sure, the fireworks stores do a booming business.

While the trailer village does not allow fireworks the neighbors use them. A lot!
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:15 AM   #7
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Yuma AZ or Las Vegas sounds like much better options...though you might run thru some snow along the way - but maybe you will regardless which 'way' you go.
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:14 PM   #8
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We go to South Texas (McAllen area) for Jan & Feb to get away from the cold of Chicago, but that trip for you is farther than your intended trip - it's 1100 miles from Colorado Springs. Predicted temps: 87-72-67-70-73-82-85-79-60. A lot of people don't realize that the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is tropical!

San Antonio is about 850 miles from you and it's typically warm there this time of year and EXTREMELY colorful around Christmas time with a LOT of touristy things to see and do.

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Old 12-09-2019, 01:45 PM   #9
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We camped at South Llano in early June and I it was very cool at night. There were no “tubers” in the river, but a few people who sat in chairs in the river..

Be advised that Verizon users have absolutely no service. There was no local TV reception, which we really didn’t mind. We really enjoyed the peace and quiet and the night sky. We could not check our mail for 4 days until we reached Kerrville, TX where people were tubing in the Guadeloupe River.
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:46 PM   #10
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I would skip TX and head to Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Tucson. Tempe (Phoenix suburb) Town Lake Park has lots of watersports activities, if that is what you are looking for.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:05 PM   #11
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What's in LLano

Some of the best BBQ can be found at Coopers in llano. We motorcycle from San Antonio to eat there. It's good!!!
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Old 12-09-2019, 04:25 PM   #12
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I would skip TX and head to Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Tucson. Tempe (Phoenix suburb) Town Lake Park has lots of watersports activities, if that is what you are looking for.
X2...and I live in Texas!
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:42 PM   #13
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I appreciate the input and advice.

The reason for picking south Texas in lieu of New Mexico, Arizona, southern Utah, etc., is Raton Pass (I25, border of Colorado and New Mexico) or I70 (or I80 for that matter) weather. I would not want to tow across any of those if a winter storm comes. And being a working man, on time return to Colorado Springs is important. Going to Texas gives me the option of going straight north through the Panhandle into Eastern Colorado and then turning west, avoiding Raton Pass, with less than an hour extra driving.

Looking at other options, how does Garner SP compare to South LLano River SP? From what I can gather from Internet reading, the nicer sites in Garner SP do not have electric, while S LLano R has electric. But there are real river front and shaded sites in Garner. As long as it doesn't get too hot, dry camping for up to 4 days is fine (although the wife does like to use the microwave as an additional cooking appliance). Interested in comments from somebody who has been to both.

If we do choose west (NM, AZ), does anybody have specific recommendations for campgrounds that a) have trees - not interested in desert camping on this trip, and b) warm weather (highs in low 60s or better) at this time of year?

Thanks again for the advice so far.

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Old 12-11-2019, 01:20 PM   #14
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Well, that's a tall order!
In the case of a winter storm, the panhandle of TX is the last place I would want to traverse. I lived in Denver and traveled over Raton pass many times on my way down to southern NM. If the pass gets hit, it is cleared in a short time and is a short section of road, unlike the panhandle that always get hit hard.
If you don't enjoy desert camping, and want warm weather in Dec/Jan, let us know what you find. We would all be interested
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Old 12-11-2019, 04:19 PM   #15
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My daughter attended Baylor, so we made the drive - both camping and non-camping - from Colorado Springs to Waco and back at least 4 times a year, including at least one round trip each in December and January. You are right, the worst place when the snow hits is not Raton Pass itself, but the section over the New Mexico and Texas highlands between Raton and Dumas.

But times have changed, and because of the constant problems with I70 during snow storms, CDOT has changed its ways. The chain laws have been made a lot stricter (I would likely get stopped and made to ditch the camper if chain law goes into effect for Raton Pass). And CDOT closes down the Interstates at the slightest hint of trouble. In particular, Raton Pass is the first part of I25 to close, and Trinidad to Pueblo is the second. In December and January, the wind-driven "white-outs" are pretty rare. March and April are a different story.

In October, we went camping in Ruidoso, NM. A beautiful area with plenty of trees, mountains, and snow in the winter. But the drive from Las Vegas, NM to Ruidoso was miles and miles and miles of nothingness - as is much of NE New Mexico, Panhandle TX, and Eastern Colorado.
We've camped in Palo Duro SP (just south of Amarillo) several times, and will likely use it as our overnight on the way to S Texas. Inside the canyon, it's considerably warmer during the day, some of the campsites are in the trees, and there is usually flowing water. At Garner and S Llano R SP, the high temps are forecast for 60s and 70s, and there are trees and a river.

So I'm eager to try if we have a reasonably favorable forecast, and DW's health is OK. I'm old enough (usually) to have learned to turn around before the risks get too high, and live to camp another day. I would love to get opinions and stories about Garner and S Llano R SP.

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Old 12-14-2019, 09:38 AM   #16
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You can go straight out 24 to Limon and pick up 287 that will take you south to Amarillo and Lubbock. If you're going as far south as Junction on the LLano river, your not far from the Gulf Coast in Port Aransas. Weather this time of the year is good one day, bad the next. Wind is usually the deciding factor. Just got back from Port A and was 45 degrees and windy when we left. Had been in the upper 70's for several days before, so you probably just have to get lucky.
By the way, look at highway 94 which cuts over to 287. That may be a quicker route.
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:48 AM   #17
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You can go straight out 24 to Limon and pick up 287 that will take you south to Amarillo and Lubbock. If you're going as far south as Junction on the LLano river, your not far from the Gulf Coast in Port Aransas. Weather this time of the year is good one day, bad the next. Wind is usually the deciding factor. Just got back from Port A and was 45 degrees and windy when we left. Had been in the upper 70's for several days before, so you probably just have to get lucky.
By the way, look at highway 94 which cuts over to 287. That may be a quicker route.
What am I missing? US 287 goes to Amarillo but not to Lubbock.
It's about 300 miles from Junction to Port A.
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Old 12-14-2019, 10:02 AM   #18
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Thank you, Commanchecreek.

The CO 94/US 287 is our primary alternative to Raton Pass and northeast NM. Of course, CO 94 or US 24 can pretty terrible in bad weather, too. It all depends on how storms actually move through, and whether or not precipitation or wind (or in bad cases, both) is the major factor.

We will be watching weather closely, and are always prepared to eat or modify our reservations should weather or health or other issues go against us. After 6 years in Alaska, and being caught camping with the Scouts in really bad weather situations a few times in a variety of places, I have developed respect and appreciation for the weather and comfortable camping and boating and even traveling by automobile.

I do remember at Kodiak, a copilot asking his pilot if he should check the weather. The pilot said no, don't bother, there's no need to scare ourselves even more. We're going anyway.

I no longer have to "go anyway".

Nevertheless, we do enjoy camping, so if we get a decent weather window, we go for it. Weather permitting, we may try to drive up to basketball games in Waco during the trip.

thanks again
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Old 12-14-2019, 10:41 AM   #19
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What am I missing? US 287 goes to Amarillo but not to Lubbock.
It's about 300 miles from Junction to Port A.
287 turns into I27 in Amarillo, same road, different name, figured they would have to look at a map for the whole trip as roads have different highway numbers all the way down. Just trying to get them on the right path to avoid Raton Pass. They weren't exactly clear where on the Llano River they wanted to go.
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:24 AM   #20
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287 turns into I27 in Amarillo, same road, different name, figured they would have to look at a map for the whole trip as roads have different highway numbers all the way down. Just trying to get them on the right path to avoid Raton Pass. They weren't exactly clear where on the Llano River they wanted to go.
OK... 287 actually continues to Wichita Falls and on to Ft. Worth. We run it from Decatur when we go to Colorado.
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