Adventure travel isn’t just about HOW you travel, it is also about WHEN you travel.
This is why the month of May is one of our favorite times for an adventure.
Traveling in May generally means pleasant weather + fewer crowds + lower costs when compared to traveling during the peak summer season. This all sums up to mean ONE important thing to us – GREATER FLEXIBILITY and the opportunity to change course on a whim or to stay for a few more days to explore.
“I hate having flexibility in my travel plans” – no one ever.
The 3 Perks Of Spring Travel:
1. Warmer weather: Just like one of those beloved friends who occasionally overstays their welcome, May is a time where we can typically wave good-bye to colder temps and greet the warmer ones. Average temps out west in May range from cool 60’s to the warm 80’s. The only downside is that it makes deciding where to go even more difficult.
2. Fewer Crowds: May is also a great time to beat the heat AND the millions of visitors that flock to summer destinations during the months of June through August. Although we love the buzz of summer travel, we also enjoy the serenity that comes with remote campsites, beaches and trails. Fewer crowds mean that your chances of getting that ideal site to spend your evening or that ocean view table to celebrate mothers day are significantly higher.
3. Off peak pricing: While pinching pennies on your vacation may not be the mission objective (it is your vacation after all), it would be poor form on our part not to mention this often overlooked benefit of traveling during the off season. Traveling in May generally means that prices are discounted compared to peak season travel – from one-way flights back home to the price you pay at the pumps. Even our van rentals have tiered pricing structures which means our value driven Moterra rental offerings take place over winter, spring and fall.
Now for the TOUGHEST question of them all: “Where should I travel?”
Here are 3 Escape Plans for traveling in Utah, Arizona, & Southern California this May!
This is the time of year when people often opt to head to the desert southwest – Utah, Arizona and Southern California. The spring time temps in these areas are just too good to pass by and the scenery is even more stunning after wet winters like this one and its early season blooms.
Choosing where to go is the hard part (which is a good problem to have). These are the places we’d consider!
Utah is one of the best places to travel due to the sheer diversity of natural spaces. Besides the dozens of other smaller and more remote parks, Utah has five national parks within half a day’s distance of one another: Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. To choose just one would be nearly impossible, but if we only had a few nights to juggle and needed to optimize our time, we would either choose a combination of heading to either Southwestern or East Central Utah.
Just a few hours from our Vegas hub, is arguably one of the most perfect places for a quick adventure. Zion National Park adjoins one of the prettiest towns in the country (in our opinion) called Springdale which not only serves as the launching point for the most adventurous canyoneers, hikers, and climbers but also as a small mecca for quaint restaurants and an incredible local art scene. Our favorite cafe for our coffee addicted companions is Deep Creek Coffee where you’ll find that smoothies and juices are named after bikes and the town’s local dogs. Bryce Canyon is just a couple of hours up the road but don’t make the mistake we made – go checkout sunrise, at sunset point. Yes, you read that right.
Just a few hours from Salt Lake City sits the town of Moab which butts up against Arches National Park and sits within sight of Canyondlands. Virtually in the middle of nowhere, it’s the “go to” for any kind of adventure you may be interested in – whether in the EPIC climbs up sandstone spires, a mountain bike ride down the Porcupine Rim trail, to relaxing drinks next to the Colorado River. We wouldn’t miss an opportunity to stop by the Fisher Towers in Castle Valley OR miss a meal at the Jail House Cafe – which not only serves a delicious diner style breakfast but does so from a kitchen that operates in what was once a jail cell in the old county courthouse. This area is one of our favorite places to park our vans, whether spending a week or just a weekend. Your packing list will be extensive, but no plan is usually required.
Capitol Reef National park is just two hours from either of the above areas.
Best of all: There is generally PLENTY of free camping options on BLM land in Utah. This not only makes it a beautiful place to travel, but a convenient one as well.
Start Planning now: Utah Insiders Guide
We don’t even know where to start but for simplicity, let’s say within 2 – 4 hours of Vegas which brings you to two of the most stunning and otherworldly looking on the planet. Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks. These two parks couldn’t be more different – Joshua tree feels small and personal, whereas Death Valley seems vast and lonely. These two parks are stunning examples of desert scenery and in years like this year (2023) there is even a chance that they will erupt into fields of colorful wildflowers known as a Superbloom.
This is a rubberneckers paradise – a landscape that seems like it belongs in the movie The Land Before Time with boulders that look like building sized dinosaur eggs that speckle the landscape. If we had had a dollar for every time we turned our heads while driving through the park we’d be able to quit our day jobs (even though we wouldn’t because we love what we do). Joshua Tree is paradise for anyone who loves to hike, climb or scramble, who we think will undoubtedly have decision fatigue from the endless opportunities for macro and micro adventures. It’s also a great place to witness a Superbloom.
Truly a place of extremes when talking about the size of the park, temperatures, or the elevation. Death Valley is the largest National Park in the lower 48, has the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below sea level and is one of the hottest places on the planet. In 2018 they recorded 127 degrees as the high temperature for 4 consecutive days and in 1913 recorded one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in history at 137 degrees Fahrenheit. While it can quite literally be hell on earth, this is one of our favorite places to visit. One of our favorite roadside stops is walking around the Mesquite Sand Dunes near Stove Pipe Wells due to their easy access from the road. Fun fact – the tallest peak in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney is just a couple hours away from the lowest point in North America. Talk about the land of extremes.
Best of all – these are just two of many places to travel to in California in spring, and we haven’t even started talking about the coast…or any of the other parks for that matter. If you’re in need of more inspiration, look no further.
Start Planning now: See our expertly curated California Insiders Guide
For us, the month of May is a world class time of the year to travel in a campervan because of the flexibility it offers you as a traveler. There are some incredible places to explore and we can’t wait to hear about what you think of the places above and to hear more about where else the road will take you.
The Arizona landscape is whimsical at best with its rocky peaks and towering Saguaro cacti extending as far as the eye can see – which is what comes to mind when we think about “Arizona”. But if we’re being completely honest, we’re probably also think about the Road Runner and Wylie Coyote in hopes to catch a glimpse of them on their newest exploits. Some of our favorite parts of the state is the stretch that runs between Tucson, Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff and the most famous of them all, the Grand Canyon. So when we’re trying to keep it simple, some of our favorite spring stomping grounds are:
If you’re not going for the Saguaros or Superstitions, you may as well go for the food. Better yet, combine the two by hiking the Superstitions, photographing yourself with the Saguaros, and then by eating tacos at one of our favorite restaurants called Taco Chelo. We hate to say it, but you’re probably going to have to try every single taco on the menu. You won’t be disappointed, just uncomfortably full.
Grand Canyon via Sedona:
The south rim entrance and the trail heads to the famous Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails that take you to the bottom of the canyon are just a few hours away from Phoenix. On your way there the stop Sedona is well worth it for the vibes (it’s a thing) or for the mountain bike and adventure mecca that it is. Once you get to the Grand Canyon, adventure options are endless. One of our favorite hikes in the area is to take the Bright Angel trail to Plateau Point via Havasupai Gardens. Its a strenuous hiking that doesn’t take you all the way down to the Colorado River, but takes you down far enough to give you an idea of its sheer size of the Grand.
Best of all: This is just the tip of the metaphorical adventure iceberg. This region is most easily accessed from our Las Vegas Hub. What we love is that the adventure possibilities are endless, whether we’re just stopping over for a few days or more than a few weeks.
Start Planning now: See Best Hikes in AZ