Another Snowbird Season Ends as the Northern Migration Begins

As refugees from the frozen north, snowbirds escape winter at home by migrating southward each fall.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. Sedona is also a popular stop over snowbirds on their northern flight. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. Sedona is also a popular stop over snowbirds on their northern flight. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These snowbirds are mostly seniors that live part time in the Sunbelt and spend summers in the Northern states and Canada.

They are gilded nomads, prosperous enough to own a recreational vehicle, a temporary second home, or condo unit.

Snowbirds desire some place warm and relatively free from crime, and an active lifestyle that may involve boating, fishing, swimming, dancing, hiking, biking, 4X4ing, golf, shuffle-board, or pickle ball. Some prefer the Pacific or Atlantic coast or Gulf of Mexico with their sunny beaches, while the preference of other is the arid desert of the Southwest.

Warm weather hubs such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California are tops for their predictable warm weather. But other states are also becoming popular—Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Snowbirds build the population base. Their financial impact is estimated in the billions of dollars.

Snowbirds often evolve in flocks, following friends and family and regional or social enclaves into migratory communities.

Fire Canyon/Silica Dome offers an excellent view of the deep red sandstone of Fire Canyon and the unique geological features of Silica Dome at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas . © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fire Canyon/Silica Dome offers an excellent view of the deep red sandstone of Fire Canyon and the unique geological features of Silica Dome at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas . © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There was, in the beginning, a simple mathematical formula: The shortest distance between Up North and the Sunbelt was a straight line—I-95 down along the East Coast or I-75 from the Midwest to Florida’s West Coast or I-5 and 1-15 south to the Desert Southwest.

Patterns are patterns and habits are habits. The majority of snowbirds still tend to migrate straight south from their northern home.

They flock to Florida from New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, from Michigan and Illinois, even from Ontario and Quebec. Snowbirds arrive in Texas primarily from the Mid-West. And northern refugees from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, British Columbia, and Alberta migrate to Palm Springs, Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson, and other hot spots in the Desert Southwest.

The available options are unlimited enabling snowbirds to design their winter lifestyle to suit their financial ability and social preferences.

While most snowbirds enjoy long-term stays at RV parks and resorts that cultivate a sense of community among seasonal residents, others, like us, prefer to be “roving gypsies” spending the winter months traveling from one warm-weather location to another.

Then, in the shift of seasons with spring on the horizon, they go again. Spring, warmer weather, and melting snow and ice mark the time of year when a mass migration gets underway as snowbirds return to their northern homes.

Popular with migrating snowbirds, Arches National Park is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Popular with migrating snowbirds, Arches National Park is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From late February to early March some snowbirds begin their pilgrimage back to their northern residences. Others delay their departure until the snowy mess up North is nothing but a distant memory.

Still others, like us, break up their journey into segments taking several weeks to a month or more to reach their northern home.

Through both journeys, they change the lives of everyone else who comes, for however long, and of everyone who stays.

Worth Pondering…

Ah, Spring! Baseball. Blossoms. Sunshine. And northbound Snowbirds. Hitching up, bidding farewell to winter friends, heading up the Pacific Flyway…that’s Spring in the southwest for Snowbirds. Once snowbirds reach central and northern California, they may see they have been joined by great flocks of their high-flying feather counterparts, seeking sanctuary and feeding grounds in the state’s wetlands as they migrate along the Pacific Flyway.

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