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Old 07-03-2012, 03:52 PM   #1
Len and Jeanne
 
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Lake Mead & environs in winter??

We are considering a trip in February to Lake Mead and other parks in the area in February, 2013. We prefer the wilder places (not Las Vegas!) and were thinking of Zion NP, Snow Canyon State Park (Utah), Lake Mead, and Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada,) and possibly Death Valley NP.

We planned to winterize the Bambi, and happily boondock, especially if it means using my senior's pass in federal campgrounds. We are aware that we could anticipate snow even at low elevations.

We are very familiar with Zion NP, and camped once at Snow Canyon, but the rest is uncharted territory for us. We've not checked out BLM campgrounds in this area.

Your thoughts on this? Are we foolish even to consider this trip in February? Obviously heading south from BC at this time of year would be a huge concern, but we would definitely hole up at the first sign of bad weather, and check the forecasts.

Do you recommend reservations at this time of year?

You advice and experience would be most welcome!
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #2
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We are booked now for a week in Death Valley. I hope that by bumping up this thread I might shake loose a few Las Vegans or others familiar with Lake Mead camping. There seem to be several large Park Service campgrounds plus RV parks located at the marinas.

Anyone??? Have you got a most or least favourite CG, or other advice?

Much appreciated.
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:11 PM   #3
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Winter is a great time to visit Death Valley. Daytime highs are typically in the mid-50's and overnight lows near freezing, but there are usually some warmer days and nights to enjoy.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell are both great winter destinations, but the weather may only be marginally warmer than Death Valley. There are some dispersed camping areas, but many still require a daily fee. However, if you have a NPS Senior Pass, those charges are typically less than $10 per day. Watch out for soft sand!

Note: You don't have to worry about winterizing for the above locations.

Zion will also be cold, but Bryce is all but closed. A little bit north and a little bit higher, one of the campgrounds close to the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center is open, but there are no hookups and the dump station is closed in the winter. I'm not even sure the privately owned campground and dump station at Ruby Inn is open. I called there a couple of years ago, and they said the water pipes freeze, so no services are available.

You may wish to consider driving a little farther south. It's amazing what a difference a couple of hundred miles can make. Some other areas to consider:

* Carlsbad Caverns, NM

* Tucson, AZ -- Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air Museum & Titan Missile Silo. Several nice state campgrounds in the area.

* White Sands/Alamogordo, NM -- Space Museum, White Sands National Monument, Trinity Site (only open two days a year, in October & April, I think). Also, nearby is Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Telescope and Valley of Fires State Park (BLM land, half-off camping fee discount for Senior Pass).

Lots more in southern Arizona and New Mexico where temps are 65-75 daytime and 40-50 nites.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:42 AM   #4
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Phoenix, thanks for the info and suggestions!

We will be pre-winterized, as the Bambi mostly sits up here in BC, and then we have to get it down south in cold weather. Actually we are winterizing it in advance of a trip to Aspen, Colorado next week. We are familiar with the southern Utah parks-- visted Bryce in winter many years ago for x-c skiing, but not this time! Zion should be nice in early March when we plan to roll up.

I had the impression that the warmer parts of Arizona would be pretty full-up with snowbirds. But maybe not?

Jeanne
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:27 AM   #5
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Some RV resorts in large cities may be close to full with snowbirds who stay there all winter, especially during local events (e.g., gem and mineral show, etc.). However, most private campgrounds have a few spaces for overnighters. Federal and state parks aren't usually full because of stay-limits. For those, you can either make reservations, or arrive early in the day and get a site when everyone is pulling out. We usually do the latter.

There have only been a couple of times that we had problems finding camp sites during these occasions. If we aren't specifically attending the event activities, we just avoid those areas and camp elsewhere. The exception is during college spring break when some RV resorts may be a little busier, but I would guess that the majority of college students don't go camping.

We usually take our pre-teen granddaughters on a roadtrip during spring break, but we have never had a problem finding a site in regular campgrounds. However, we boondock a lot and only stop at RV resorts like KOA, once every 2-3 days to dump the tanks and restock.

One of our favorite RV resorts is in Tucson -- the Lazydays RV Campground. If this is the type of camping you prefer (as opposed to National and State Parks/Forests, etc.), you may wish to call ahead to see if they are booked up. We have been there a few times when they had a convention-type event at their facility. The last time they were almost full, every RV had a huge satellite dish on their roof with a bright blue light. We were half-expecting a special appearance by ET.

Here is a link to a recent post that lists may of the area attractions:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f462...ml#post1186552
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:21 AM   #6
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Thanks very much!
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:27 AM   #7
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Just thought to report back, post-trip, in case anyone else is considering camping around Lake Mead/Mohave Lake next winter.

I can see why hardly anyone responded! The NPS Lake Mead campgrounds we visited (Temple Bar, Echo Bay)were curiously empty in Feb/March. Open, but empty. The nights are fairly cold in these places (though nothing requiring winterizing); but the water level in Lake Mead is so low that the campgrounds are now a long ways from the water as well as from other attractions, let alone civilization. They do have commercial concession RV parks, which appeared to cater to permanent residents or long-term stays.

Temple Bar on the south shore of Lake Mead had little to recommend it. The concession is for sale, and barely functional. It is a long drive through non-descript scenery to get there.

Echo Bay was more promising: interesting scenery, and close to the Valley of Fire State Park, which is really scenic but has its own campgrounds.

We understood that the Callville Bay campground is more popular, but didn't visit it.

We also stayed at the NPS campground at Katherine Landing on Mohave Lake, just north of Bullhead City, AZ. The campground was nice (lots of palm trees and ornamental shrubs) and close enough to town for grocery runs. It had a concession-run laundry & some hiking trails. With a senior's pass, it's $6 per night with a month-long stay possibility. The weather was pleasant in February-- not hot, but pleasant.

An interesting find with more wide open spaces was Mojave National Preserve in southeastern California-- beautiful cactus and very uncrowded. Nights were cold enough in the campground to freeze the water in a dishpan left out overnight, but the Bambi furnace kept the pipes in good shape.

Zion National Park was really crowded in mid-March, untill we got out of the canyon and took the beautiful drive towards Lava Point-- which was still snowed in, however.
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