Summer gets most of the glory when the conversation around top van destinations is discussed, but we would like to put in a strong argument that the winter holiday season can be even better. Chances are you have some built-in time off over the holidays, making it the ideal time to get out of town and out into nature. Families all over the world are on the move in late December, making airports break their travel records every year. If you’ve got to hit the road anyway, you might as well do it in the comfort of your own home, on your own schedule. Below is a list of some of our favorite destinations to celebrate the holiday season. We know you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.
Van Campground: Trailer Village RV Park
Address: 100 Trailer Village Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
Details: While tourists rush to Grand Canyon National Park in droves from spring through fall every year, the winter season is actually one of the best times to visit this famous natural attraction. With less people and cool temperatures, you won’t have to worry about long lines and cars at the most popular vistas or the sweating in Arizona’s summer heat. Want to experience a little holiday magic? The Grand Canyon Railway, which is located in the Grand Canyon Village, is a must for anyone visiting the park any time of year, but it gets even better at Christmas when it’s temporarily transformed into the Polar Express.
Van Campground: Hidden Valley Campground
Address: 74485 National Park Dr. | Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Details: Soak up the sunrise or sunset from the comfort of your camper van in one of the most iconic national parks in our country. A Joshua Tree holiday will provide you with much needed R&R. The quiet town is also a great place to get a nice meal or have a relaxing meditative experiece. No day is complete in this National Park without a legendary hike, climb, or bike ride. Be sure to walk through the stunning Cholla Cactus Garden at the edge of the park and close out your silent night with some stargazing from the comfort of your van.
Van Campground: El Cosmico
Address: 802 S. Highland Ave | Marfa, TX 79843
Details: Marfa is a funky desert town with bohemian vibes in the good old Texas. It beautifully blends nature, culture, and art in the absolute middle of nowhere. That said, there really is something for everyone. From those intrigued by the paranormal (google Marfa Lights) to nature lovers who enjoy an epic thunderstorm, art lovers, desert fiends, and campers who enjoy meeting characters along their travels, it can all be found here at one of the grooviest places on Earth.
Van Campground: Sentinel Peak RV Park
Address: 450 N. Grande Ave | Tucson, AZ 85745
Details: Despite its warm desert climate, Tucson is host to a number natural wonders and holiday events. During your holiday stay you will find that nature is calling. We suggest a visit the Saguaro National Park, hiking the Big Loop at Chiricahua National Monument for sunset, and then heading to Seven Falls Trail in the early morning for a chance to see not one, not five, but seven waterfalls. Once you’ve exhausted yourself on the natural wonders, head to the city for festive, holiday activities as Tucson is know for their holiday cheer! Check out the Enchanted Snowfall, Zoo Lights, Holiday Festival, Sugar Plum Tea, and Luminaria Nights.
Wolf Creek Ski Resort
Van Campground: The Parking lot
Address: E Hwy 160 E, Pagosa Springs, CO
Details: There are certainly other Colorado ski areas where you can spend a night under the radar, but Wolf Creek is one of the few that officially allows overnight parking. Beat the lines by camping in the parking lot of this beautiful Colorado Ski resort. It is perhaps the most ‘Christmasy-type’ experience you can have – how many people actually get to wake up and ride a mountains first tracks without having to hustle all morning just to get to the base of the mountain? After a full day of skiing, hang out in the parking lot and make your favorite meal with your riding friends, then hit at least one of Pagosa Springs three hot springs for a well deserved soak. If you’re not much for skiing, the area also offers a bunch of fun winter activities. From dog sledding to ice fishing, ice skating, and snowmobiling there is really something for everyone.
Bahia Honda State Park, Florida
Van Campground: Bahia Honda SP Loop BTWC
Address: 36850 Overseas Highway |Big Pine Key FL 33043
Details: If winter adventuring isn’t your thing, we recommend heading down to Key West to spend your holiday on a tropical beach oasis. At Mile Marker 36.8 you’ll find Bahia Honda Island. The entire island is home to one of Florida’s most southern state parks. This is a paradise for boaters, anglers, and nature lovers. It’s not bad from the shore either; the island has beautiful white sandy beaches and over 80 campsites to choose from. If you don’t have your own watercraft, you can rent canoes, kayaks, and snorkeling equipment from the park. You’ll get your white Christmas without the cold!
White Sands, NM
Van Campground: Alamogordo/White Sands KOA
Address: 412 24th Street | Alamogordo, NM 88310
Details: Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle this holiday season? White Sands will offer the isolation you need to reset for the coming year. Spending the day sliding down the dunes and picnicking amongst the sand is magical and easily accessible by van. The park starts to really show off when you walk into the depths of the rolling hills. There is no trail, no path, just white sand that meets mountains that meets the sky, and it’s freaking amazing. If you’re looking to stay the night and backpack in to the few remote campsites available, you first have to reserve your spot with the park. Then it’s about a two-mile hike through the dunes to arrive at the secluded campsites. Once the sunsets, the sky fills up with more stars than you ever considered existed and the wonder of the land really sets in. If you’re just venturing to the park during the day, check out the Alamogordo/White Sands KOA just a few miles from the park.
San Luis Obispo, CA
Van Campground: Avila/Pismo Beach KOA
Address: 7075 Ontario Rd | San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Details: SLO is littered with free, dog friendly, easy to find camp spots with amazing views of the surrounding hills and ocean. It can also serve as a great base camp to some amazing attractions; It’s a a quick drive from Monterey or Big Sur and offers tons of beach options, great food, and holiday adventure. Each Thursday there is a world-class farmers market, one of the last few drive in theaters in the country, and access to local hikes like Bishop Peak. Take a step back in time and really slow down in SLO (see what we did there?) this holiday season.
San Diego, CA
Van Campground: Campland on the Bay
Address: 2211 Pacific Beach Dr | San Diego, CA 92109
Details: San Diego literally has everything. From incredible food to stunning beaches, ideal weather, and every type of event you could want throughout each pocket neighborhood of the city, you might park your van and not leave until a year later – that’s what one of our very own did with her husband. San Diego is the ultimate beach town equipped with epic sunsets, surf, community, and tacos. It is absolutely worth it to spend every holiday here and many days after too.
The Eastern Sierras, CA
Van Campground: BLM
Details: In this magical place the mountains loom over the desert for as far as the eye can see. The Alabama Hills, located at the base of Mt. Whitney, are one of the most visually pleasing places we’ve ever seen and offers some of the best camping in all the Eastern Sierras. There are thousands of rock formations to tuck yourself into and camp for the night. Before you go, check out where disappeared camping is allowed. In Bishop and you can walk next to the oldest trees in the world or head to Inyo National Forest in search for hot springs. Once you are done exploring these natural wonders, make your way towards Mammoth for some snow adventures. There’s something for just about every one in this winter adventure land. Make sure to check out and camp at either The Rock Tub or Wild Willy’s both have natural hot springs just outside your door.
For many travelers out there cooler weather isn’t a drawback, it brings in a slew of outdoor adventures. We hope you use your time to take a holiday road trip. A shake up from your normal schedule can leave everyone you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new year.