Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Arizona sees influx of snowbirds

Arizona RV parks are reporting a snowbird incursion is underway. While some parks say their visitation rates are on a par with this time last year, others say they've seen an increase in RV traffic.

Trade group, Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, spokesman, Jo Ann Mickelson says, "If anything, we see a little comeback in the economy. Even 1 or 2 percentage points is a little bit of a boost in the economy." Mesa Spirit Mesa Resort near Phoenix echoes Mickelson's view, reporting reservations are up 2 to 3 percent. Further south and west in Casa Grande, Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort reports a 3% increase in bookings.

Along the frontier, Yuma RV resorts are having a good winter. Rolle’s Lynda Vista RV Park park manager Ruth Conti crows, "“Things are busy. I haven’t had a cancellation in years.”

While no hard statistics are available, visual signs at the Snowbird Capital of the World, Quartzsite, seem to hold weight to similar thinking. One long-time Quartzsite watcher tells us, "I'm seeing RVs parked in spots they've never been before." Just driving through the area on Interstate 10 shows rigs stacked up nearly to the freeway fence, with RVers making mad dashes for vendor tents and shows.

And the trend may last. Mickelson, for her part, owns J and H RV Park in Flagstaff. But even though northern Arizona is in the midst of winter’s grip, she’s already receiving reservations for the coming summer. "I’m having lots of reservations and inquiries coming in every day now," she said. "That’s a good sign. That’s what we want. I feel people are thinking about what they want to do, whether it’s for the winter months or the summer."

stock photo, R&T DeMaris

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tonto National Forest opens proposed travel management plan for public comment

If you're a frequent visitor to and camper in the Tonto National Forest you might want to know that the forest is on the verge of accepting its travel management plan that will govern how you may use the forest in the future.

The plan will determine which of the forest's roads you can drive on, which roads will close, and where you can camp/boondock. The following is a notification from the Blue Ribbon Coalition.
The Forest Service has announced the release the Travel Management Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Tonto National Forest for public review and comment. A 30-day public comment period began on January 6, 2012. Comments will be accepted through February 5, 2012. The action is a proposed system of roads, trails and areas. Based on previous public input, several alternatives are proposed in this draft Environmental Assessment. The final product will be a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) that shows which roads and trails will be open to motor vehicle use. The decision will also amend the Tonto National Forest Plan.
If you want a say in how the forest will be used, now is your chance to let the Forest Service know. If you don't respond, you may or may not get what you like, but your opportunity for input will be gone. Go to the Blue Ribbon Coalition's notification page for further information and links to post your opinions.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Encore RV Resorts getting ready for spring training baseball fans

Every spring, 15 major league baseball teams arrive in Arizona for the Cactus League spring training season to prep for the upcoming MLB season. Beginning March 2, baseball fans visiting spring training from around the U.S. can benefit from nearby Encore RV Resorts for accommodations.

While the area offers an assortment of activities, spring training is atop Arizona visitor's must-see lists this time of year. Whether attending games or team practices, fans experience an atmosphere with fewer barriers between spectators and players with daily games scheduled at centrally located stadiums. For more information on the Cactus League and the spring training schedule visit

RV travelers who want the best in resort-style amenities can choose from 19 different Encore RV Resorts locations across Arizona. Each offers unique amenities and activities, such as swimming pools, spas, fitness centers, lounges, sports courts, organized activities, Wi-Fi access and more.

To book a visit to any of these premier Encore RV Resorts in the Arizona area, call (866) 730-0637.

•Araby Acres RV Resort, 6649 E. 32nd St., Yuma, AZ 85365
•Cactus Gardens RV Resort, 10657 South Ave. 9-E, Yuma, AZ 85365
•Capri RV Resort, 3380 S. 4th Ave., Yuma, AZ 85365
•Casita Verde RV Resort, 2200 N. Trekell Road, Casa Grande, AZ 85122
•Countryside RV Resort, 2701 S. Idaho Road, Apache Junction, AZ 85219
•Desert Paradise RV Resort, 10537 South Ave., 9E, Yuma, AZ 85365
•Desert Vista RV Resort , 64812 Harcuvar Dr., Salome, AZ 85348
•Fiesta Grande RV Resort, 1511 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, AZ 85122
•Foothill Village RV Resort –12705 E. South Frontage Road, Yuma, AZ 85367
•Foothills West RV Resort, 10167 N. Encore Drive, Casa Grande, AZ 85222
•Golden Sun RV Resort, 999 W. Broadway Ave., Apache Junction, AZ 85120
•Mesa Verde RV Resort, 3649 S. 4th Ave., Yuma, AZ 85365
•Monte Vista RV Resort, 8865 E. Baseline Rd., Mesa, AZ 85209
•Paradise RV Resort, 10950 W. Union Hill Dr., Sun City, AZ 85373
•Suni Sands RV Resort, 1960 E. 32nd St., Yuma, AZ 85365
•Valley Vista RV Resort, 1060 S. Highway 80, Benson, AZ 85602
•Venture In RV Resort, 270 N. Clark Road, Show Low, AZ 85901
•ViewPoint RV & Golf Resort – 8700 E. University Dr., Mesa, AZ 85207
•Voyager RV Resort, 8701 S. Kolb Road, Tucson, AZ 85756

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lake Havasu site for new upscale resort

There's more to Arizona's Lake Havasu City than the London Bridge. Jerry Aldridge wants motorcoach owners think of the city as their own resort. Aldridge, who founded RV rescue service Coach Net, is banking on his latest RV invention: The Refuge Luxury Motorcoach Resort.

Tucked in between Lake Havasu City's north end and a national wildlife refuge, the new resort sits proudly on the grounds of The Refuge Golf & Country Club. Yes, this is an 18-hole course with some of the greenest grass in the area. The resort intends to capitalize on the "country club" theme and bring in high-end motorcoach owners to populate the planned 107 site resort.

The golf course is in place, and added to it the pool, fitness center, pro shop, spa rooms, restaurant, lounge, piano bar, Et Cetera. You get the picture. The physical trappings are in place, the less physical will come when the resort opens this fall. Imagine high-brow resort goings-on: Wine tastings, golf tournaments and clinics, casino tours, dances. Add the more common RV park dos: Crafting, karaoke, game nights.

While a few months remain before the opening, Aldridge is counting on winter visitors to come and get the feel of his new venture. "Motorcoach owners who enjoy golf and the country club lifestyle are invited to come now to tour the facility, play a round of golf using our Member-for-a-Day package and preview the Club's amenities," says a company news release.

Check it out on the web at or call (928) 754-1404.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big names perform in Phoenix small venues

During the heavy tour season, Cal-Am rolls out the carpet for the shows that many of their resort guests clamor for. Well, most of the shows. "People want Tony Bennett," says Starr Davis with a sigh. Davis is Cal-Am's booking agent, responsible for bringing in entertainment. "Well, it's a quarter of a million to bring Tony Bennett and he won't do two shows in one day. It's just not going to work."

Never mind the lack of Tony, resort goers seem to be happy with the likes of Wayne Newton, Crystal Gayle, B.J. Thomas, Tanya Tucker, Ricky Skaggs, the Smothers Brothers and the Oak Ridge Boys, all of whom Cal-Am has rounded up for past concerts. Davis doesn't have a crystal ball to divine who Cal-Am should try and get--it's a bit more down to earth. Eyeballing what acts are popular in other snowbird venues, who sells out a house in Branson, Missouri, and who the Valley of the Sun folks ask for by name.

When they sign, the touring stars agree to a daily double. An early show for those who go to bed with the chickens, and a later show for the owls. The prices for shows are keeping in range with many who live on a budget. You can see Marie Osmond at a Cal-Am show for $30 to $50--try that in Vegas. The concert venue is a bit different than in the bigger show towns. Here concert goes hunker down in folding chairs in a smaller setting--probably less than 1,200 folks will take in a show--not for lack of sales--it's just the settings are smaller.

You might wonder if the talents are put off by performing at an "RV park." So far it hasn't been a problem. Of course, Cal-Am's resorts are a far cry from any taint of "trailer trash." Swimming pools, tennis courts, computer labs--Cal-Am looks to provide up-scale amenities in well manicured grounds. Not every show at Cal-Am is a big name--at least not in person. Many of the resort's favorite shows are "tribute" acts and impersonators.

Check out this year's concert schedule here. Beware, tickets to Cal-Am shows are offered first to Cal-Am guests; the general public gets a crack at them after everybody else.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

State park fees: Good news, bad news. RVers could take hit.

It's a good news/bad news scenario. Arizona State Park officials are floating possible fee changes for 2012. The good news is for folks who use special facilities, things like ramadas, cabanas, and boat-in sites. For the rest of us, principally RVers, the bad news--and the increased number of bucks--start.

By press release, the Parks board says charges for specific uses such as booking ramadas, group day use, group camping, cabanas, and boat-in sites. Facility use fee ranges would be reduced to a minimum fee of $15 from $25. That's a nice $10 drop. On the other and, watch out campers! Ranges in fees for non-electric camping would be increased to $15-25, electric $25-50. Whoa there, pardner! I know RVers who cringe at the thought of paying $50 in an upscale RV resort.

A little more deviling comes to get there to start with. Per-person entrance fees could have an "upper limit" of $10, with the minimum of $2 a head.

Got a comment on the fee changes? You have until January 13 to bit your two-bits in electronically. After that, the Park Boards meets in February, takes the last of the comments in person, makes their big decision, and the new fee changes roll into place on April 1. To make a comment on-line by January 13, go to