Snowbirds Season Begins Early in Yuma

Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the annual migration of snowbirds fleeing the frozen North for sunny Arizona has begun.

Yuma Quartermaster Depot, one of two state historic parks in Yuma. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An early cold snap has prompted a number of winter visitors to get an earlier start than usual, reports the Yuma Sun.

Why pay to keep your home warm if you can get it heated for free, Pat McGrann figured.

So as he does every year, McGrann shuttered his home in Oregon and headed to Yuma for the winter. “My furnace ran the last three weeks before I left,” he said.

An estimated 84,940 winter visitors made the trek to Yuma last year, about 1,000 more than the previous season and not far from the record 85,950 in 2007-08, the Yuma Sun reported.

While many own their homes or choose hotels, thousands stay in Yuma’s nearly 100 RV parks and resorts, which offer well over 23,000 rental spaces.

Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, said he’s been getting word from several Yuma-area recreational vehicle parks that the winter visitors are settling in earlier this year.

An informal survey of parks indicates that the number of winter visitors will stay on track this year and park managers are predicting a good season, if not better than last year. For example:

Friendly Acres RV Park in Yuma had only 20 vacancies left in the 450-space park this week. “We’re looking good. We’re a family-owned park and a lot of people come back year after year,” said Cynthia Crisp, office assistant.

Yuma is known as the Winter Lettuce Capital of the U.S. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pioneer RV Park in Wellton reported that all but three of its 326 spaces had already been reserved, with a few spaces left open for “in-and-out” visitors.

West Sands RV Park in Yuma is expecting to be full again this year, with its 156 spaces already reserved.

Sunset Palm RV Park in Yuma also reported that the park was almost full with only a few of its 117 spaces left.

Tina Oldfather, manager of Desert Paradise RV Park, said the park is already starting to fill up. “They’re saying it’s too cold back home,” she said.

This is all good news for Yuma’s economy as winter visitors shop local stores and patronize restaurants as well as play golf, enjoy the city’s amenities, and support community events.

Winter visitors also regularly volunteer their time at charitable and nonprofit organizations, schools, and the hospital.

However, Yuma Stats is predicting “a record year for attendance but with proclivity toward less per-capita spending.”

“I suppose that’s better than no visitors so let’s hope more in general, spending a little less each, is enough to bring revenues up above past records,” said Paul Shedal, a professional statistical analyst and owner of Yuma Stats.

Details

Yuma, Arizona

Swapmeets are popular with snowbirds in Yuma. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yuma is located in the southwest corner of Arizona, on the banks of the Colorado River near the Mexican border. Its wonderfully temperate winter climate makes this a popular destination for northern snowbirds.

Yuma is Arizona’s warmest winter city and the sunniest year round place in the U.S., with an annual average of 4,133 hours of sunshine. Yuma has a classic low desert climate with extremely low relative humidity and very high summer temperatures.

It is approximately 180 miles southwest of Phoenix and 170 miles east of San Diego. Yuma is on Interstate 8, making its accessibility from California or points east expedient and convenient.

From soothing waters to lush golf courses, breathtaking natural scenery to dining and shopping, there is a diverse selection of recreational activities and cultural attractions.

Snowbirds who winter in Yuma find cheap health care in Mexico. Many locals refer to Algodones as the “Dental Capital of Mexico.” There’s also a proliferation of eye doctors, pharmacies, and general practitioners in this border town.

Worth Pondering…

YUMA = Yearly Uncontrolled Migration of the Aged

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