Sometimes, a 1,200- to 1,500-mile winter journey to a warmer place is more than you want to do. People in the country’s northern tier have a long way to go to get to Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or California. But there are alternatives for placid climes nearer your northern home. Out West, there are mini “banana belts” scattered throughout the mid-northern climate regions that, though little known, can substitute for a long trek to Palm Springs, Death Valley, Phoenix, or Yuma.
“Banana belt” in Oregon
For example, Oregon, which can be pretty cold in its interior in the wintertime, has an oasis of warmer winter weather at Brookings. The daily low temperature in December and January, the coldest months of the year, remains above freezing, while daytime temperatures are in the high 40s. Even farther north, Washington state has pacific weather on its inner Olympic Peninsula. The town of Sequim, just south of the shoreline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, has December–January temperatures averaging in the high forties and remaining above freezing at night.
Temperate zones in Idaho
Idaho, generally known for frigid winter weather and dotted with alpine ski resorts, has temperate zones at Lewiston, White Bird, and Hell’s Canyon—places less than 200 miles from the coldest part of the state. Surrounded by much higher terrain, these locations are at low elevations of 1,500 feet above sea level or less—a perfect recipe for a fair climate. Campgrounds are always wide-open throughout the winter in these locations, including commercial properties and U.S. Forest Service and Army Corps of Engineers sites.
Moderate climate in Colorado
Suppose you live east of the Continental Divide in Montana or Wyoming, and would rather not winter in Cut Bank, Havre, or Cody, where the winter temperatures routinely dip to double digits below zero in high winds. In that case, a banana belt is not far away in Colorado’s Arkansas River Valley. There is a moderate climate belt encompassing Buena Vista, Canon City, and Pueblo in the Rocky Mountains south of the Sawatch Range (elev. 14,000+).
For those in the Midwest and Eastern regions
It is more challenging to find balmy winter weather in the Midwest due to the flat terrain and the upper Midwest/Great Lakes’ ferocious weather patterns. But there is Kentucky and Tennessee not far away, where locations such as Bowling Green and Chattanooga have temperate weather throughout most winters. Easterners have abundant warmer-weather options throughout the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. Don’t forget parts of the great state of Texas too.
You do not have to travel the breadth of the country to find pleasant winter RVing if you don’t want to. There’s usually a great—if little-known—option much closer to home.