RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
RV Trip Planning Discussions

Go Back   iRV2 Forums > CAMPING, TRAVEL and TRIP PLANNING > Boondocking
Click Here to Login
Join iRV2 Today

Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-28-2020, 08:08 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 37
How Far South?

I'm becoming very serious about heading south, or more accurately southwest, when the weather turns really cold up here in the northland. I'm looking to hear from you experienced hands who regularly winter in the southwest during "winter". Please be gentle, since it's my first time.

First of all, I'm interested in knowing typically how long does it take to freeze water lines in below freezing temps. If it dips below freezing for a few hours, will I be safe? 12 hours? All day? I'm trying to figure how long I have to make a high-speed run to cross to the safe side of the invisible freeze line.

Secondly, how far south do I have to go to insure I won't be caught in freezing temps? Phoenix? McAllen? El Paso? Albuquerque? Can I consider southern Utah?

Thirdly, what are my prospects for boondocking? I can be self sufficient for as long as 2 weeks. Where will be my best opportunities to avoid boredom while being relatively close to necessities.

Finally, some helpful information:
* Older 33' class A
* 3 Souls onboard (one's an 80lb Lab puppy...... I know, right?)
* Would like to have decent phone/web connectivity
* Will be travelling late December thru end of March
* I'm a relatively experienced camper, but haven't done boondocking on this scale ever before.

Lastly, what would be your advice on what should I consider priorities?

Thanks in advance for your input.

1992 Fleetwood Pace Arrow
1995 Jeep Wrangler
Jimontheroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 RV Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

iRV2.com RV Community - Are you about to start a new improvement on your RV or need some help with some maintenance? Do you need advice on what products to buy? Or maybe you can give others some advice? No matter where you fit in you'll find that iRV2 is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with other RV owners, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create an RV blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-28-2020, 08:24 PM   #2
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 674
We have done a lot of camping in the SW but not snowbird stuff as for this question:

How fast will lines freeze.

From my FIL who was a upper manager in the Dept of Agriculture: 26 deg F is the danger point for quick freezing, lines will freeze just below 32 or 30 deg but it will take longer. How long in your case, that is impossible to say because local conditions will have a big effect. A couple of hours at 32 I'd GUESS is safe, all night probably not. And that applies to the first temp dip, after that everything is cooled down and will freeze more quickly. Usual tactic is to drain water hoses before the temp drop, after filling the water tank, and go on the water pump until temps recover.

As to how far south, below Phoenix begins the big AZ snowbird area, Quartzite AZ is the major center and we will be heading there in Jan. Search the web for Quartzite you'll find a lot of info.
Agesilaus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2020, 10:37 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Enjoying the Western States!
Posts: 12,920
Most snowbirders from the north keep their RV winterized for a day or two or until they can escape the frigid temps. You can use the toilet though... just flush with bottled water. Even if it freezes in the tank it won't be full enough to cause any issues.

Use bottled water for drinking, etc.

Have a nice hot breakfast and dinner in a restaurant or take out or even cook on your stove. Use paper plates so no washing and wipe the heavy stuff from pans. Add a small amt. of water to pan & soap to do a quick cleanup. Keep it simple for a couple days.

The first night your mattress will probably be very cold. Some stay in a motel. If you're lucky enough to find a campground with hookups an electric blanket would help.

AZ - plan to stay in a straight line at Phoenix or below
Boondocking: Quartzsite is the biggie. Lots of space; the 'big' group of RVers will be there mid-Jan for 2 weeks for the RV show (if going on during Covid) Other times - less crowds but still plenty of RVers. AZ state parks are awesome!

UT - too cold

NM - we tried it one winter in the southern part and found it too cold and windy.

TX - try to keep it below I-10. Rockport/Port Aransas is good or further down to Harlingen/Mission area but very crowded down there.
Full-timed for 16 Years . . .
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Diesel
& 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th wheel
twogypsies is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 07:56 AM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 77
Twogypsies has some good advice above. Starting out from your northern home base with a fully winterized RV is critical. You may be ok overnight if not winterized down to 25 deg or so. But that temp will freeze your plumbing quickly when you get on the road at 60 mph.

That speed will increase heat transfer rates dramatically and quikly freeze up unprotected pipes. 25 deg actual temp feels like single digit temps at 60 mph due to the increased heat transfer rates.

OTOH if the actual temp gets up even one degree above freezing you will be fine at any speed. It may feel much colder but the pipes won't get below 33 deg, they will just get there much quicker.

DavidEM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 08:14 AM   #5
Senior Member
Old Scout's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 6,324
...latitude and elevation are the keys....Phoenix and south, and I-10 south are good rules of thumb....locations like Tucson and north of I-10 in Texas are doable but you will get freezing temps and occasional snow....west Texas and most of New Mexico are too high in elevation to avoid frequent freezing temps....Example: it will freeze in San Antonio TX for a few hours this coming Tuesday morning.... Q-site is the mecca for boon-docking....lots of BLM land with few if any fees but you may have to move around every few weeks if asked....
For freezing plumbing -- high 20s for for a few hours is the limit...interior pipes are a bit safer because of heat sink and insulation but exposed pipes will freeze fairly quickly below 32....typical solutions include blowing out water line and/or adding anti-freeze to water lines and drains and sink traps....
Old Scout
2003 Alpine 40' MDTS
New Braunfels, Texas
Old Scout is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 09:19 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Posts: 1,737
Excellent advice above!

Monitor the weather forecast daily. Take advantage of your mobility to move out of the way or go around winter storms.

New Mexico sees closing state parks as the solution to all kinds of events, like budget negotiations or pandemics.

The kitchen water supply line in my Dutchmen Kodiak Cub froze in 4 hours when temperature dropped from 34 degrees to 28 degrees. The Cub has "Heated and enclosed underbelly". It is "All Season". The TT was setting in my driveway at the time.

Other TT's and RV's have other behaviors. Test it in your driveway. It is easier to fix it at home when not living in it. A few models can be rigged for winter use. Everything wet must be heated one way or another. However, almost all dumpsites are closed north of St. Louis.

I recommend you winterize using "blow out" or RV antifreeze method. Check your owner's manual for recommendation. Re-wet after getting south of St. Louis.

Even if you make a run for it, what happens if you have a break down on the way. Do you want to risk loss of your plumbing system while it sits at a service shop?

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
Paul Bristol
Kodiak Cub 176RD
Nissan Pathfinder 2015
Persistent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 05:45 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Enjoying the Western States!
Posts: 12,920
Originally Posted by Old Scout View Post
...latitude and elevation are the keys....Phoenix and south, and I-10 south are good rules of thumb....locations like Tucson and north of I-10 in Texas are doable but you will get freezing temps and occasional snow....
Having spent many winters in both the Phoenix and Tucson areas they are both very doable. Both will get an occasional overnight freeze but by 10am it's sun and warmth again. Same goes for a dusting of snow - very rare but beautiful. Again, it will melt the next day. We also like the Benson, AZ area but it's a little higher elevation so more nights of freeze but again... warms up. When it freezes at night in these areas you don't have to worry about winterizing because it's not long enough to do damage. It's best to always keep a tank of water to use and run off the tank instead of the hose... especially if you're planning to change sites in the morning. Having to deal with a frozen water hose or sewer hose is not fun. Fill & dump the day before so you don't have to bother with it in the cold morning. The only place you'll have 'almost 100%' of above freezing and no snow is Yuma, AZ. Desert areas are always colder at night but ahhhh... that sun returns in the morning.

Even Florida can have some freezing nights!
Full-timed for 16 Years . . .
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Diesel
& 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th wheel
twogypsies is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2020, 08:38 AM   #8
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 674
Even Florida can have some freezing nights!
You mean tomorrow night when the weather guessers are calling for 28 deg here?
Agesilaus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2020, 05:48 PM   #9
Senior Member
National RV Owners Club
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Pendleton, In.
Posts: 249
We almost always leave in freezing temps. The rear furnace heats rear of the coach and the wet bays, and they are somewhat insulated. I fire the furnaces up the day before we leave and fill the water tank in the morning.
We run the furnaces until we get to good weather to keep us warm. The dash heat in a pusher isn't much help because the lines are so long. Your feet are cold in the front!
We stay between Texas and the Colorado River. And Yuma to Vegas.
Elevation is the key to good Temps. You can be at 500' ASL in shorts and drive 30 minutes and need a coat.
SOUTH TEXAS IS WINDY! That's the real reason for the big hair in Texas! LOL
We are usually around Q in January and St Patties day in Vegas.
Good luck and have fun!
BOOZE TRAVEL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2020, 11:14 PM   #10
Senior Member
Tiffin Owners Club
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Cedar Falls, IA
Posts: 1,505
If you are worried about freezing temps, turn on your heater. With a rig of your size I assume you have propane heaters. Turn it on as you leave your house, and everything will be just fine when you reach your destination. As long as it is mid20s or so, no problem. You can even dewinterize, though it is not a task we prefer to do in the cold, just because it is uncomfortable to go outside. We just try to drive where we will be in temps of 40 or so during the day, get there early enough, and get the rig dewinterized before continuing on. If you will be in freezing temps the entire first day or so drive, just grin and bear it as others have recommended.
2018 Tiffin RED 37PA
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk toad
UTTransplant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2020, 12:40 AM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,785
As an alternative to Quartzsite, which can get crowded even boondocking especially in Jan, check out Parker Dam, Lake, Havasu and Bullhead City to the north. Just follow Hwy 95 north.
2015 Itasca Ellipse 42QD
2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock
2011 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide
TXTiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2020, 03:58 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Prescott, Arizona
Posts: 2,742
Blog Entries: 6
Get an indoor/outdoor thermometer and place the outdoor sensor in your water bay. Temps in the rig, in storage areas, and outside are all different.

Lower elevation is usually best. Phoenix is normally warmer than Tucson because Phx is lower elevation. I'm in Willcox AZ now and the forecast is for freezing 5 nights within the next 7.
'04 Newmar MADP, 1100w of solar, towing a jeep wrangler
ByeTheWay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2020, 06:50 PM   #13
Senior Member
Triangle Drifter's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Bermuda Islands
Posts: 775
The first good sign heading south is when you don't see snow blowers outside of Lowes or Home Depot. Next is when you see the first palm trees. After that look out for banana trees. You have gone far enough.
Home: Bermuda
US RV base, MD
2007 Alpenlite 34RLR
Triangle Drifter is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
How far is far enough to skip Chicago on I90 Normy RV Trip Wizard - Trip Planner Topics 18 08-21-2018 09:08 AM
$$$ vs. safety, how far is too far? NoTime4Work 5th Wheel Discussion 26 03-05-2017 10:34 AM
How Far is Too Far damdannyboy Just Conversation 19 06-05-2014 11:26 PM
Not far enough south.....I fear.... firedoc iRV2.com General Discussion 3 09-05-2012 05:33 PM
Traveling Next Spring (How Far South) Possum iRV2.com General Discussion 9 10-25-2011 12:16 PM

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:40 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.