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Old 05-02-2021, 07:50 PM   #1
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Spring in the SW desert?

With DW retiring next month we're starting to take long trips. One that I'd like to do is to see spring in the SW desert. We've never traveled there and don't know where to go. We're interested in any suggestions you have for locations and timing of the trip.

We're in N Central Florida and don't want to be out more than about 8 weeks. (We're taking our first 6 week trip to the Alleghenies in mid/late summer.) We don't have any specific dates we have to work around. We'd also like to spend at least 2 days and up to 4 days at stops en route, so much of the 8 weeks will be getting there and back. Once in the general region of our destination, we can stay longer in one place, subject to our limit of about 8 weeks, total. Or, we can move around in the region.

We're not trying to see the whole world. There will be ample opportunity for other trips in the future, health permitting. So far our experience has been mostly state parks and some national parks. We're open to boondocking and are suitably equipped.

Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom and experience.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:16 AM   #2
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spring is already happening in the desert. this is may and the weather will be getting hotter each week. many of the plants are in full bloom across the desert.

there are so many places you could go. we really like catalina state park just north of tucson. and we also like dead horse ranch state park in cottonwood and fools hollow state park in show low.

if you make the trip a suggestion would be to go to the southern part of arizona on your way out while the temperatures are still reasonable and then work your way up to the central and northern parts of arizona where the elevation keeps the temperatures much lower than the southern part of the state.

the key is to enjoy the trip.
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:37 AM   #3
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When does the blooming start? Am I correct in assuming it starts in the south and moves north?
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:50 AM   #4
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We are talking about phenology. The timing of the life cycle of plants.
Spring is over in the low desert. Blooming starts at the end of Feb. It starts for real in March and into April. Maybe next year.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:57 PM   #5
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The best time to see Arizona is March and April. The temps right now are in the High 90's and expected to start passing 100 this week. I live here in Mesa and will be leaving this month for the summer to the upper midwest. I have a 2018 CC 34RL2 and had to add a 3rd AC as we camped last year when it was 110+. Good travels if you still want to come.
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Old 05-03-2021, 01:19 PM   #6
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X2 on Catalina SP north of Tucson. Great location in the desert and close to town. You might want to start now reserving a spot for next spring.
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Old 05-03-2021, 03:15 PM   #7
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We would like to “multitask” by seeing the dessert flowers and Death Valley on the same trip. We are thinking of staying in Death Vally the middle of March (2022), for perhaps a week, and using the toad for day trips. DV does have pretty flowers, yes?

Is this a good plan?
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Old 05-03-2021, 04:46 PM   #8
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Death Valley in March is really nice. If you are lucky, there will be rain in the fall which will cause beautiful flowers in the spring. There were very few flowers this year.
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:39 PM   #9
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We are talking about phenology. The timing of the life cycle of plants.
Spring is over in the low desert. Blooming starts at the end of Feb. It starts for real in March and into April. Maybe next year.
I wasn't clear. I am planning the trip for next year.
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:41 PM   #10
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X2 on Catalina SP north of Tucson. Great location in the desert and close to town. You might want to start now reserving a spot for next spring.
That's why I'm starting my planning now. Lots of people talk about make reservations for their next stop 2 days in advance. That doesn't work for popular places, especially in the age of COVID Campers.
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:43 PM   #11
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We would like to “multitask” by seeing the dessert flowers and Death Valley on the same trip. We are thinking of staying in Death Vally the middle of March (2022), for perhaps a week, and using the toad for day trips. DV does have pretty flowers, yes?

Is this a good plan?
I was considering including Death Valley but that's a bit farther (from Florida) than is practical for us in the amount of time we're planning for this trip.

Some day ...
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:25 PM   #12
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We have snowbirded in southern Arizona every month from December to late March. After we encountered 90 degrees the day after Presidents Day in the Phoenix area, we moved further south to Tucson. There it is a little cooler because it is slightly higher in elevation and surrounded by higher mountains. But even in Tucson, most snowbirders leave for points north on April 1.

As someone once quipped, "Yes, Arizona does have a dry heat, but so does my oven!"
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Old 05-04-2021, 07:19 AM   #13
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You'll want to visit southern Utah. It has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Take your Senior pass to get into National Parks free. Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley, Goblin State Park, and Lake Powell. If you have the time and money, take a boat tour to Rainbow bridge. Powell has the most spectacular scenery outside of the Grand Canyon. All but Bryce are in desert country, and while it isn't quite as hot as southern AZ, it is still hot in the summer. If you boondock, Ken's Lake is a great location for Canyonlands and Arches, and Tropic Lake is close to Bryce. In southern AZ, Joshua Tree National Park is great. If you're near Tucson, don't miss the Sonoran Desert Museum. In NM, Oliver Lee State park near Alamagordo is great (w/hookups) and close to White Sands. Carlsbad Caverns is another must see. The first time we did southern Utah, I took my jeep with canoe on top. I've been back many times. I love the feeling of just going and exploring. You can't go far wrong.
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:18 AM   #14
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Death Valley can be well into the 90s by March.
The flowers that show are dependent on the winter moisture.
The Park averages from only a little over an inch at the low elevations to several inches in most of the lower country.
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:37 PM   #15
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Average March high is 82. Perfect time to visit. Even if it above normal in the 90's it is not bad. 90 in the desert is nothing like 90 in Florida. I lived many years in Tampa and have been in Phoenix for the last six so am speaking from experience.
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Old 05-04-2021, 09:57 PM   #16
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You'll want to visit southern Utah. It has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Take your Senior pass to get into National Parks free. Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley, Goblin State Park, and Lake Powell. If you have the time and money, take a boat tour to Rainbow bridge. Powell has the most spectacular scenery outside of the Grand Canyon. All but Bryce are in desert country, and while it isn't quite as hot as southern AZ, it is still hot in the summer. If you boondock, Ken's Lake is a great location for Canyonlands and Arches, and Tropic Lake is close to Bryce. In southern AZ, Joshua Tree National Park is great. If you're near Tucson, don't miss the Sonoran Desert Museum. In NM, Oliver Lee State park near Alamagordo is great (w/hookups) and close to White Sands. Carlsbad Caverns is another must see. The first time we did southern Utah, I took my jeep with canoe on top. I've been back many times. I love the feeling of just going and exploring. You can't go far wrong.
All of those places are a future trip. We definitely want to see it but want to have the time to enjoy it but we're not ready for a six month tour. Never having taken trips longer than two weeks, we don't know yet how well long trips will work for us.

As we're in Florida and don't want to travel far each day, a good part of the trip will just be getting there and back. We won't have months to spend in the area, so we're limiting what we plan to see.
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Old 05-04-2021, 11:42 PM   #17
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We've done the southern Utah ones in 8 days. You aren't going to see all of any of these parks in a day, or two, or three. That just gives you a reason to go back.
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Old 05-09-2021, 12:15 AM   #18
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Spring in the desert SW is beautiful. We're in New Mexico, and would echo the recommendation for Oliver Lee SP near Alamogordo: it is one of our favorites and we try to go there one or two times a year. For a quiet base of operations, we have also much enjoyed Mountain Meadows RV park in the Tularosa (a few miles north of Alamogordo) area.



That said, you must be prepared for WIND. Day winds of 20-30 mph are not uncommon (with gusts into the 40s), and *sustained* winds of 50 mph are possible. (A month or so ago in Albuquerque, my wife tells me that there were sustained winds of >60 mph for several hours.)) There may be several days in a row with total calm, but you cannot plan for that.
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Old 05-16-2021, 07:58 AM   #19
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Utah May 2022

We have just finished our itinerary and booking of campgrounds for a May 2022 trip to Utah to tour the 5 National Parks and areas beyond. We decided that for this trip we would book private campgrounds as this is our first long trip on the road to Utah and Northern Arizona. This guaranteed us sites now within our needs and allowed us to plan the activities in more detail knowing where we would be staying for days at a time. Most of our trip is comprised of hiking the parks trails, photography and learning about the history and culture of the area.
One question we have is for biking. We are not equipped with Mountain Bikes so are debating whether we should bring our bikes. Our bikes can do some off- road on light trails but not the tough trails for sure. We are debating renting bikes if we find it something we would like to do.
Any thoughts on the biking would be helpful.

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Old 05-16-2021, 12:55 PM   #20
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We have just finished our itinerary and booking of campgrounds for a May 2022 trip to Utah to tour the 5 National Parks and areas beyond. We decided that for this trip we would book private campgrounds as this is our first long trip on the road to Utah and Northern Arizona. This guaranteed us sites now within our needs and allowed us to plan the activities in more detail knowing where we would be staying for days at a time. Most of our trip is comprised of hiking the parks trails, photography and learning about the history and culture of the area.
One question we have is for biking. We are not equipped with Mountain Bikes so are debating whether we should bring our bikes. Our bikes can do some off- road on light trails but not the tough trails for sure. We are debating renting bikes if we find it something we would like to do.
Any thoughts on the biking would be helpful.

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I recommend renting mountain bikes. There will be many places there that rent them.
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