Sunbelt RV Parks Report Record Number of Snowbirds

Resurgence of the Polar vortex and snow in 49 of the 50 states is good news for the Sunbelt.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds in southern California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona are seeing a boom in occupancy for December–March with travelers seeking a respite from this winter’s ravaging snow and plummeting temperatures.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports that more than 1 million RVers will use their RV this winter to head to warmer climates, spending on average 12 weeks at campgrounds throughout the Sunbelt.

“RVing has always been popular in the winter months but this year has been exceptionally successful for campgrounds. Every segment of traveler is discovering that RVing is affordable, easy and most importantly, flexible,” says Richard Coon, RVIA president.

“RVers can stay at a campground for as long as they would like or travel throughout the season without worrying about any long-term commitments, an option not afforded traditional seasonal rentals.  If you want a new view, just pick up and go.”

The most popular Sunbelt state for snowbirds is Florida with RV parks seeing an ever-expanding demographic of travelers who will spend the winter months working while escaping the cold weather.

Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We are at 100 percent occupancy for February and March and up 20 percent for April over last year. This winter has been great for us,” Tim Deputy, GM of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Florida.

“We’re seeing the retirees that you would expect to be snowbirds, but also a growing number of younger folks who are telecommuting. With technology, you can really work anywhere, so why not spend the winter on the beach if you can?”

However, campgrounds are doing more than just relying on good weather and warm beaches to attract the competitive snowbird market. They’re adding amenities that rival traditional hotel resorts.

Two years ago, Sun N Fun RV Resort opened an 18,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, infrared sauna, and steam room. They also offer an onsite masseuse and sports therapist. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this campground is the Neurogym, equipped with computer programs and equipment that helps people learn how to reduce their stress and improve their mental wellbeing.

Snowbirds and full-time RVs in their winter home at Bella Terra RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Snowbirds and full-time RVs in their winter home at Bella Terra RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Services and amenities are increasingly more important for a campground to compete with other snowbird accommodations. The Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California, has garnered a reputation for outstanding entertainment seven days a week with tribute bands, jazz performances, and dinner shows. They also cater to the pet-friendly traveler with a dog park and weekly Bark & Wine parties.

Arizona-based Carefree RV Resorts, which offers more than 10,000 RV and park model sites throughout the Sunbelt, expects to see a 6 percent increase in revenue over last winter.

“The snowbird business is stronger than ever. The convergence of a steadily recovering economy, the demographic bulge of Baby Boomers who embrace travel and leisure, the ease of connectivity for travelers, and the growing appeal of RVing as a vibrant lifestyle will likely fuel growth for decades,” says Colleen Edwards, president of Carefree RV Resorts.

“What’s particularly encouraging is that the snowbird season is extending every year with many of our guests, who have traditionally checked out in March, staying through April.”

Texas has seen a particularly robust season this year as well, with parks from the central part of the state, known as the Texas Hill Country, to the southern border of the Rio Grande Valley reporting a year-to-year increase ranging from 5 percent to 37 percent, that is credited to the severe winter weather in the north. But it’s not just the campgrounds that are benefiting from this winter’s frigid temperatures and record-breaking snow.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“According to a University of Texas Pan Am study of snowbirds, they spend nearly $100 a day when visiting Texas; so the economic impact to the whole community is significant,” says Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Helping fuel this boom is the strong performance of the RV industry that is surging back from the great recession. Shipments in 2013 hit a four-year high of 321,127 units—up 12.4 percent over 2012 totals and nearly double the amount of RVs shipped in 2009 at the depth of the recession for the industry.

Worth Pondering…
It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snow-bird life

behind the wheel.

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2014 Texas Travel Guide Features Famous Texas Singers

Texas is famous for its country musicians, including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Tex Ritter.

2014_Guide_Cover (1)But some of the best known names in every genre of music were either born in Texas or lived there for long periods of time, including Scott Joplin, Roy Orbison, Janis Joplin, Beyonce, Selena, Freddy Fender, and Kris Kristofferson.

So, in an effort to add a new level of interest to the 2014 RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas, the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) is introducing each region of the Lone Star State by highlighting famous singers, songwriters, and musicians who were either born there or lived there for long periods of time.

“We think it’s a pretty unique approach to introducing each region of Texas,” said Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO.

Steve Haley of Arlington, Texas-based Steve Haley Designs is the lead designer of the 2014 guide, which he divided into seven regions, each of which has a two-page, illustrated introductory spread that talks about singers, songwriters, and musicians from each region as well as popular songs that highlight each area of Texas.

Texas Quilt Museum in La Grande, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Texas Quilt Museum in La Grande, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Region 1 or West Texas performers include Betty Buckley of Big Spring, a Tony award winning Broadway star whose credits include “Cats.” She also played Abby Bradford in the 1980s television series “Eight is Enough,”; rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly of Lubbock; and country music singer Waylon Jennings of Littlefield. The featured West Texas song is “El Paso” by Marty Robbins.

Region 2 or North Texas performers include ragtime piano pioneer Scott Joplin of Texarkana; pop singer Johnny Mathis of Gilmer; and rock and roll pioneer Roy Orbison of Vernon. The featured North Texas song is “Big D,” a song about Dallas from “The Most Happy Fella,” a broadway musical.

Region 3 or East Texas performers include Jim Reeves, a country music singer and songwriter from Gallaway; Tex Ritter, the famed country music singer and television star, who was born in Murvaul; and Bob Wills, a singer, songwriter and band leader who was born near Kosse. Wills is considered to be a co-founder of Western Swing. The featured East Texas song is “East Texas Red” by Woody Guthrie.

Region 4 or Central Texas performers include country music stars Pat Green of San Antonio, Willie Nelson of Abbott; and George Strait of Poteet. The featured Central Texas song is “Luckenbach Texas,” which was made famous by Waylon Jennings.

Region 5 or North Gulf Coast performers include Beyonce, who was born and raised in Houston; rock star Janis Joplin of Beaumont; and Selena, the Tejano music superstar, who was born in Lake Jackson. The featured North Gulf Coast song is “Galveston,” which was made famous by Glen Campbell.

 Lockhart, the official Barbecue Capital of Texas, is home to four major barbecue restaurants including award-winning Black's Barbecue, which has been owned by the same family since 1932. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lockhart, the official Barbecue Capital of Texas, is home to four major barbecue restaurants including award-winning Black’s Barbecue, which has been owned by the same family since 1932. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Region 6 or South Texas performers include country music star Radney Foster of Del Rio, and Johnny Rodriguez of Sabinal, the first Latino country music star. The featured South Texas song is the “Streets of Laredo.”

Region 7 or South Gulf Coast performers include Freddy Fender, a Tejano, country and rock and roll musician from San Benito; Bill Haley, a rock and roll performer from Harlingen; and Kris Kristofferson, a country music star from Brownsville. The featured South Gulf Coast song is “Brownsville Girl” by Bob Dylon.

Locator maps are provided at the beginning of each regional section of the 2014 guide, with numbered listings of the campgrounds for each region. Campgrounds are also alpha-indexed by city and park name.

Each campground listing includes a grid that lists the park’s facilities, services, and amenities as well as driving directions, a miniature locator map and many parks have panoramic photos showing off what campers can experience. The directory also features a Texas Saver Card, which provides 10 percent discounts at participating parks.

Schaeffer said an initial batch of directories has already been sent to campgrounds, RV parks, TXDOT Travel Information Centers along with Convention & Visitor Bureaus across the state.

tacoRV and camping enthusiasts can order the nearly 150-page directory online by visiting www.texascampgrounds.com.

The 2014 RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas is also posted on the website in digital page-turning format.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Wasn’t Born in Texas, But Got Here as Fast as I Could

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2013 RV Travel and Camping Guide to Texas Now Available

The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) has begun to distribute 250,000 copies of the 2013 RV Travel and Camping Guide to Texas, a free, four-color glossy magazine that lists more than 350 campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas and surrounding states.

TACO-logo-for-web1The 2013 guide, which highlights the fact that Texas is a birders paradise, includes detailed information on campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, as well as old western style maps, according to a news release.

“We focused on a birding theme this year because you can see more bird species in Texas than any other state in the union,” said Steve Haley of Arlington, Texas-based Steve Haley Designs, the lead designer of the 2013 guide.

But while it’s tempting to focus on exotic birds that fly through Texas on their way to Canada or Latin America, Haley said the guide includes photos of commonly seen birds that RVers are likely to see when they visit the various regions of Texas.

“We know we have a lot of RVers who are interested in birds,” Haley said, adding, “Texas is a birders’ paradise.”

Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive and CEO, said an initial batch of directories has already been sent to campgrounds, RV parks, travel information centers, and visitors bureaus across the state. Additionally, pallets of the guides were sent to Anderson’s Brochure Service who will distribute them at 24 shows across the Eastern part of the United States and Canada.

Texas-Guide-cover-20131-237x300Additional directories will be distributed at upcoming RV shows, including the San Antonio RV Show, January 3 to 6 in San Antonio; the All Valley RV Show, which takes place January 10-12 in Mercedes and the Houston RV Show, which will be held February 6-10 in Houston.

The 2013 directory provides detailed descriptions of more than 350 private campgrounds and RV resorts, or roughly two thirds of the private parks in Texas.

The directory is broken up into seven sections, each representing a distinct region of Texas. Locator maps are provided at the beginning of each section, with numbered listings of the campgrounds for each region. Campgrounds are also alpha-indexed by city and park name.

Each campground listing includes a grid that lists the park’s facilities, services, and amenities as well as driving directions, a miniature locator map and many parks have panoramic photos showing off what campers can experience.

The directory also features a Texas Saver Card, which provides 10 percent to 15 percent discounts at participating parks.

The 2013 directory also includes a separate section listing campgrounds with cabin and cottage rentals as well as a listing of park model manufacturers. Schaeffer said almost 25 percent of Texas campgrounds have cabin or cottage rentals. Many of the parks that offer cabin and cottage rentals also have sites for lease or for sale to park model owners.

Recreational park trailers or “park models” are 400-square foot, movable resort cottages. Typically upscale in appearance, they often include hardwood floors, bay windows, and lofts as well as cherry, oak, or maple cabinetry. And because park models are technically classified as recreational vehicles, they can be set up on leased or purchased sites in campgrounds and RV parks and used as weekend retreats or seasonal vacation dwellings.

RV and camping enthusiasts can order the nearly 150-page directory online by visiting the TACO consumer site (see details below). The 2013 RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas is also posted on the website in digital page-turning format.

Details

Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO)

Pair of Roseate spoonbills on South Padre Island, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pair of Roseate spoonbills on South Padre Island, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) represents nearly 400 private campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas.

Started in 1972 by a group of five campground owners who felt there should be independent marketing and advocacy for the private park industry in Texas. Over the years, TACO has developed a significant consumer facing magazine with a distribution of 250,000, the most widely used website for RV parks and campgrounds in Texas, along with a presence in Austin to insure a positive consumer experience.

Address: 910 S. Crowley Road, Ste. 9-504, Crowley, TX 76036

Phone: (800) 657-6555 (toll free)

Website: texascampgrounds.com

Worth Pondering…

Texas is a state of the mind.

Texas is an obsession.

Above all,

Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.

—John Steinbeck

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Bentsen Palm Village Awarded 2012 Park of the Year

Bentsen Palm Village has received the campground industry’s highest honor, the Park of the Year Award, from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Bentsen Palm Development 1173826v1v1The 250-site campground won the award in the medium size park category, which is based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings, and community service, according to a news release.

Bentsen Palm Village General Managers Guy and Juanita Carvajal received the award during a November 30 ceremony at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which was hosted by ARVC.

Built 10 years ago by developer/builder Mike Rhodes and his wife, Lori, Bentsen Palm Village is located next to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park & World Birding Center and has a lot of visitors who come to enjoy the resort’s native plants, which host butterflies and birds.

“Our guests love to come bird watching and butterfly watching,” Carvajal said, adding that the park also has two miles of frontage along the Rio Grande River.

“We have pontoon boats that take people on the river for bird watching and nature tours.”

Although Bentsen Palm Village was built from scratch, the owners planted native trees and shrubs, which are becoming more beautiful each year as they mature, Carvajal said. The park was designated by Texas Parks & Wildlife as a certified wildscape and is the largest of its kind in Texas.

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort Super Site
Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort Super Site

Texas Wildscapes is a habitat conservation plan for rural and urban area. It enables Texans to contribute to wildlife conservation by developing wildlife habitats where they live, work, and play.

But while Bentsen Palms has a scenic setting, Carvajal said it’s the park’s exemplary customer service that results in high ratings.

“The majority of our business comes from referrals,” she said.

“I get a lot of calls from people and the first thing they say is, ‘We have some friends and they recommended your park.’”

Bentsen Palm Village has 5.5 miles of onsite hiking and biking trails as well as numerous organized activities and workshops, from couples dancing and Zumba classes to gourd painting, Swedish blanket making, water color painting, and woodshop.

The dog park at Bentsen Palm Village has become so popular that the owners recently added a second park so that guests could have separate running and play areas for big dogs and small dogs.

“About 70 to 75 percent of our guests have dogs, so these kinds of amenities are important,” Carvajal said.

Of course, while pet friendly amenities are attractive to Winter Texans, that’s not the only attraction at Bentsen Palm Village.

The 250-site resort recently set aside an open area of the park where its guests can grow their own organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

“It’s like a community garden,” Carvajal said, “but we give each guest a 10 by 10-foot section where they can put a stake with their name on it. They often grow kale, peppers, tomatoes, onions and radishes. Sometimes, they grow so much they bring it into the office to share.”

Details

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort

The colorful green jay is a common visitor to Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort is one of the most unique RV Resorts in South Texas and is part of the 2,600-acre Master Planned Community of Bentsen Palm Development.

Bentsen Palm Village is located in South Mission at the entrance to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park on South Bentsen Palm Drive.

Bentsen Palm Village is only minutes from shopping, medical facilities, and easy access to Expressway 83.

Bentsen Palm Village offers over 250 large pull-through and back-in sites, full hookups, rental cabins and casitas, and native landscaping.

Super Sites offer a 10×12 storage building that can be locked and secured when necessary. The sites are extra-wide concrete pads that include a picnic table and a charcoal grill.

Bentsen Palm Village is affiliated with ARVC and a member of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Phone: (877) 247-3727 (toll free)

Website: bentsenpalm.com

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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Big Rio Grande Valley Welcome for Winter Texans

It’s no secret that RV parks and resorts in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) whose livelihoods depend on the annual influx of Winter Texansare facing several challenges.

The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bil to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bil to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many of today’s winter visitors are younger and more mobile than their counterparts of years past.

“They may go to Arizona this year, Texas next year, and Florida the next year,” said Kristi Collier, president and CEO of Welcome Home Rio Grande Valley, which markets 74 RV parks and resorts from Mission to South Padre Island.

Snowbirds unfamiliar with the RGV are also more likely to be concerned by publicity about violence in Mexico, even though cities in the Rio Grande Valley have less crime than other popular winter resort destinations in other states.

Despite these challenges, RV parks and resorts across the Valley are finding that they can continue to grow their business base for the winter season if they offer plenty of organized activities and continue to invest in new amenities for their parks, said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of theTexas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Pet Amenities

These new amenities include walking areas and agility courses for people with dogs as well as special pet-related activities.

“Dog parks are a big deal,” said Jacqueline Gomez, who is the marketing director for Llano Grande Lake Park Resort & Country Club in Mercedes, Victoria Palms Resort in Donna, and Alamo Park Mobile Home & RV Park in Alamo. She said each of the resorts has two, off-leash dog areas.

The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The dog park at Bentsen Palm Village in Mission has become so popular that the owners recently added a second park so that guests could have separate running and play areas for big dogs and small dogs.

“About 70% to 75% of our guests have dogs, so these kinds of amenities are important,” said Juanita Carvajal, Bentsen Palm Village’s general manager.

Community Gardens

Of course, while pet friendly amenities are attractive to Winter Texans, that’s not the only attraction at Bentsen Palm Village. The 250-site resort recently set aside an open area of the park where its guests can grow their own organic fruits, vegetables and herbs.

“It’s like a community garden,” Carvajal said, “but we give each guest a 10 by 10-foot section where they can put a stake with their name on it. They often grow kale, peppers, tomatoes, onions and radishes. Sometimes, they grow so much they bring it into the office to share.”

Birding, Hiking and Wildlife

Bentsen Palms also markets its proximity to the World Birding Center while also highlighting the rare birds and other wildlife that make their way into the park.

“This past season, we had a family of elf owls that stayed in our park,” Carvajal said, adding that the owls are only 5 inches tall.

“The season before we had Black vented Orioles,” a rare bird native to Mexico and Central America that has a black hood, upper back and wings, and a bright yellow-orange underside.

The Black-vented Oriole made its home a short distance from our RV site at Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Black-vented Oriole made its home a short distance from our RV site at Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many Valley visitors enjoy state parks, national wildlife preserves, and other nature reserves. Others like taking bike rides and walks and kayaking down the Rio Grande River.

Other Activities

RV park operators are finding that other types of organized activities are also critical for today’s Winter Texans.

El Valle del Sol in Mission offers more than 100 activities each week for its guests including classes in wood carving, ceramics, and painting and Tai Chi while its food related events range from pancake breakfasts to potluck dinners with Hawaiian, Cajan, Western, and other culinary themes. The park also has live entertainment with polka bands and other musicians.

Winter visitors like their surroundings to be nice, too, which is why many Rio Grande Valley parks are also investing in aesthetic improvements and other creature comforts.

“We just put in a high powered Wi-Fi system this summer and everybody is real happy about that,” said Ruth Dearinger, manager of VIP Park in La Feria.

Other improvements at the 256-site park include resurfaced streets, landscaping, and the installation of more campsites with 50 amp electrical hookups.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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Texas RV Parks Anticipate Strong Winter Season

Campgrounds and RV parks that cater to Winter Texans in South-Central Texas anticipate a stronger winter season than last year, thanks in part to the Eagle Ford shale oil pipeline project, which has brought scores of construction workers into the area, according to a news release from the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

“Last winter was about the best we’ve ever had and we’re going to be about 20 percent ahead of that this winter, so we’re looking really good,” said Doug Shearer of Parkview Riverside RV Park in Rio Frio.

In addition to seeing the return of their Winter Texan visitors, campgrounds in the Texas Hill Country and other areas of South-Central Texas are filling up with construction workers involved in the Eagle Ford shale oil project, which is boosting campground occupancies during the fall shoulder season, Shearer said.

Other Hill Country campgrounds and RV parks also anticipate a strong winter season, including Hill Country RV Park & Cottage Rentals in New Braunfels.

“We have a waiting list for both RV sites and park model rentals,” said Bryan Kastleman, the park’s manager.

Other parks are similarly upbeat.

“We did well last winter, but we’re doing better this winter,” said Teri Blaschke of Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy.

Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio is family owned and operated by Mark & Teri and the Coleman Family since 1973. Officially in Von Ormy, the heritage of the two towns has long been intertwined.

“People are making reservations further in advance, so we’re being able to tell sooner what our vacancies will be. I do have spots here and there for travelers, but our long-term sites are already booked.”

Blaschke added that she is putting in eight new campsites for the winter season and they are already reserved.

Further to the north, La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin is already booked solid for the winter season.

“We’ve got a waiting list and we’re turning people away for the 2012-2013 winter market,” said park owner Ken Butschek, who added that his year-to-date revenue is up about 15 percent over last year’s figures.

La Hacienda RV Resort has a mix of sites that are owned by RVers as well as elegant park model cottages that are available for rent. The park also has about 30 sites that are available for overnight use.

“We have a loyal group of repeat Winter Texans. But we’re also seeing a lot of people who are trying out our park models,” Butschek said.

Further east, Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring and Timber Ridge RV Village in Tomball are already booked for the winter season, said Gwen Craig, who co-owns both parks. She said she has waiting lists for her seasonal sites, although she has kept a few overnight sites available for travelers.

“Every year we’ve outperformed the prior year in occupancy and revenue,” she said, adding that this year is again shaping up to be stronger than last year.

Thousand Trails RV Resort at Lake Conroe is also seeing a strong winter season, fueled both by Winter Texans as well as families from Texas that come to the park on weekends to take part in organized activities and special events.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We’re seeing younger crowds,” said Terry Munoz, resort manager of the 360-site park.

“Even during the winter the locals come out on weekends, so long as we have mild weather. We do a lot of themed weekends and activities.”

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

There’s something different about this country from any other part of the nation.

The climate is generally pleasant.

The sun is generally bright.

The air seems to be always clean.

And the water is pure.

The moons are a little fuller here.

The stars are a little brighter.

And I don’t how to describe the feelings other than I guess we all search at times for serenity.

And it’s serene here.

—Lyndon Baines Johnson

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RV Space Still Available for Winter Texans

Most Winter Texans who plan to spend all or part of the next two to four months in campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts have already made their reservations.

"Remember Goliad"! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But for those who have waited to the last minute, the task of locating a park that still has room for short or long-term winter visitors just got a little easier: The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) has surveyed its members and assembled a list of parks that still have room for Winter Texans.

As of early January, the association had identified 20 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts that had yet to fill up for the season.

“Generally speaking, our parks are busier this winter than last winter, but there are still a number of parks that have room for snowbirds,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners. Parks that still have vacancy for short- and long-term winter visitors include:

Advanced RV Park in Houston-Pearland: This park offers hot showers, a tree at every campsite, a clubhouse, playground, swimming pool and spa and shuffleboard courts.

Bay View RV Resort in Rockport: This park, which features two outdoor swimming pools and an activities director, is walking distance to Copano Bay and Aransas Bay fishing piers.

Rockport-Fulton! The Charm of the Texas Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Columbus RV Park and Campground in Columbus: This quiet park offers its guests free cable TV and wireless Internet service as well as a video and book library. The park is popular with Winter Texans who want to be in a central location for day trips.

Corpus Christi RV Resorts in Corpus Christi: This is a network of parks in the Corpus Christi area, including Colonia del Rey RV Park, a Best Parks in America affiliate; Padre Palms RV Park; and Greyhound RV Park.

Dixieland Mobile Home and RV Park in Harlingen: This Rio Grande Valley park has a heated pool, billiard tables, shuffleboard courts and a recreation hall.

Fig Tree RV Resort in Harlingen: This park, purchased by new owners last year, has undergone remodeling in the pool, laundry and bathroom areas. Wi-Fi service has also been added throughout the park.

Explore the historic homes of Galveston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy: This park near San Antonio has sites available with 30- and 50-amp service as well as dry camping areas and sites with partial hookups.

Jamaica Beach RV Park in Galveston: This park offers free wireless Internet service, free cable, free Continental Breakfast with homemade waffles, and a free daily newspaper. Other amenities include pull through sites, an exercise room, a swimming pool and hot tub, a splash pad for the kids, a game room and planned activities.

Koyote Ranch in Medina: This Hill Country park offers RV and tent sites as well as cabin rentals. Other amenities include a restaurant and grill with “all you can eat” fried catfish on Friday nights; a camp store; a beer and wine garden; and an infinity edge swimming pool.

Magic Valley Park in Welasco: This Rio Grande Valley park has 24 shuffleboard courts, a pool hall, swimming pool and hot tub and numerous activities, including morning exercise classes, square dance lessons, painting classes, a quilters group, a golf group, a wood carving group, a computer group, bingo and potluck suppers. The park also has a dance band and organizes tours to nearby points of interest.

Mission Bell and Tradewinds RV Resorts in Mission: These resorts are 55+ retirement resorts with numerous activities, classes as well as live entertainment.

Palmdale RV Resort in San Benito: This Rio Grande Valley park has a 6,000-square foot recreation hall, shuffleboard and horseshoe courts and a full-time activities director.

Rollin Homes West RV Park in Donna: This Rio Grande Valley park features pull through sites and wireless Internet service.

The Old Hildalgo Pumphouse and World Birding Center in the Rio Grande Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spring Branch RV Resort in Spring Branch: This Hill Country park features ADA compliant family restrooms, onsite propane delivery service, pet walking areas and a recreation hall with a large kitchen. They are just minutes from San Antonio.

Valley Gateway RV Park in Edinburg: This park offers organized activities in its clubhouse, including card games, shuffleboard, ping-pong and billiards as well as occasional dances.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake: This family friendly Hill Country park has both RV and cabin accommodations available during the winter season. Park activities include gem mining, hayrides, laser tag, arts and crafts, horseshoes, pedal carts, karaoke and themed weekends.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Details

Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO)

The Texas Association of Campground Operators (TACO) publishes and distributes the Texas RV Travel & Camping Guide each year.

Website: texascampgrounds.com

Note: This is the first of a 2-part series on RV space availability for Winter Texans

Part 2: Fewer Winter Texans at Valley RV Parks

Worth Pondering…
Wasn’t Born in Texas, But Got Here as Fast as I Could

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