What’s It Like To Run A Snowbird RV Park In Southern California?
Are you tired of the cold yet? Maybe it’s time to start thinking of heading south for the winter. Snowbird RV parks are campgrounds that specialize in spaces or long-term rentals for RVers who want to escape cold, snowy climates. One of the best places to do this in the dry, warm deserts of Southern California.
Desert Sands Vintage Trailer Park
Desert Sands Vintage Trailer Park is located in Borrego Springs, a small community with no stoplights, located inside the Anza-Borrego State Park. The 71-space, 1960s-style, snowbird RV park has views of the desert and the mountains and accepts RVers who own vintage-inspired or vintage trailers.
The park also has a pool and several glamping trailers for rent. One of the glamping trailers is a 1956 ABC vintage trailer named “Zulu”.
If you visit during the winter you may need to rent one of the glamping trailers because Desert Sands is one popular park. According to co-owner Warren Frank, the RV park is pretty full during the winter and spring months.
A vintage trailer park
The success of this park most likely comes down to the easy-going and community-oriented attitude of both the owners and the tenants. With so many high-end RV parks not accepting older RVs, Desert Sands is the exception.
“Since I bought the park in 2015 all new tenants need to have a vintage trailer to live in the park and it has to be approved by our manager, Tom,” Frank says.
“We allow tenants to individually artistically customize their spaces with different color paints, creative fence panels, shade structures, decks, landscaping, walkways, rocks, and more. We are also very affordable and below market rents for something similar.”
“All of our residents treat the entire park as if it’s their own,” Frank adds. “They are always helping out and volunteering with things like sweeping streets, covering and uncovering the pool when the manager is out of town. Not to mention, the weather is amazing year-round. We have one of the best and warmest winter climates in the U.S.”
Frank runs the park with his wife, Tammy Grassi, his father Charles, and the managers, Tom and Deb. Since he was a child he loved RVs, campers, trailers and other small spaces in the outdoors.
He lived for years in RV parks around San Diego and always noticed that neighbors were so friendly and helpful to each other. He also wanted to have his own business where there seemed to be more demand than supply.
Buying an RV park
Frank found the Desert Sands Park by searching all the RV parks in the country on Google Maps. He then sent letters to the parks he liked asking if they were thinking of selling. The vintage-style park in Borrego Springs answered.
After checking on the park’s financials, Frank and his wife decided to purchase the park, but it was not easy. With seller negotiations, a large down payment, working with property inspectors and appraisers, and months working with lenders and insurance companies, the deal was finally done.
Owning an RV park
“This is the only business I’ve ever owned that had a waiting list from what we have created,” Frank says. “Ever since my earliest memories I’ve wanted to own a bed and breakfast. So over the four years of owning the park we slowly added trailers for the purpose of renting them as overnight glamping experiences.
We now have ten trailers from tiny teardrops to huge campers with all the amenities of a hotel. It’s been really fun meeting people from all over the world and enjoying their appreciation for the trailers, the trailer park, and Borrego Springs.”
Frank says that compared to running other businesses, Desert Sands is very easy to run. It’s almost stress-free and they try to make everything run like clockwork. He says this would never happen without long-time managers Tom and Deb—who also own a space at the park.
Oh yes, these snowbird RV park owners might need their own vacation away from work as well. Frank and his wife travel around the American West in their 1999 Lance 1030 truck camper and a 2001 Ford F350.
Soon their children will be off to college and they plan to travel full time. They will be able to run much of the RV park business online but still plan to come back to Borrego Springs.
“The weather in Borrego Springs is great in winter with a few golf resorts,” Frank adds. “There are some very fancy RV parks and there are simple and plain RV parks. There are hundreds of miles of free boondocking in the desert all around the town. The mountains and views are amazing and the local restaurants are very good for such a small town without even one traffic light.”