Happy Traveler RV Park: Palm Springs, California

Happy Traveler is an 130-site RV park with tight quarters. It offers full hookups, 30-50 amp service, pool, seasonal activities, shuffleboard and a laundry room. The park does not accept RV’s over 40 feet long. Tall hedges separate each site. We’ve camped here twice but hesitated to write about it because we actually don’t have many positive things to report. We know of people who have been coming here for many years and love it. It was convenient for us and suited out needs during the short times we were there but we won’t be returning. Texas has been good to us but it’s not home. We fell in love with the Coachella Valley and intend to become year round residents in the not too distant future.

Location is probably its primary draw. This is snowbird central and you will hear lots of different dialects from northern climes which makes for interesting conversation, dontcha know, oh ya. The location affords close proximity to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley overall using Highway 111. Desert Regional Hospital and the Eisenhower Medical Campus are within easy driving distance. Hang a right onto the main drag and it will probably take you about 40 minutes driving on Highway 111 to reach Indio. Or hang a left and head to Palm Springs. Interesting places you may want to visit are downtown Palm Springs, the Living Zoo in Palm Desert, the El Paseo shopping district in Palm Desert, Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs, Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, Old Town La Quinta and Shields Dates in Indio. There is an abundance of things to see in-between all these destinations, including casinos, museums, world class golf, tennis and polo. There are lots of great antique stores, midcentury modern consignment shops and thrift stores like Eisenhower, Angel View, Revivals, Discovery Shop, Good Will and Salvation Army right off 111 too.

The tall hedges may afford some visual privacy but many of the “full-time” campers decorate theirs with small Christmas lights all year round and accumulate stuff near or under their rigs. Actually, some occupied sites are all decked out, as they have used creative ways to decorate. As said, the spaces are narrow. Last time we were there our neighbor used their portable washing machine for most of the night. This campground is not gated. Each site has a concrete pad and a picnic table. Pets are allowed but must remain on leash. I guess ours howled for a minute after we left for a quick hop into town. When we came back there was a piece of folded paper under our RV windshield wiper. Someone had scrawled in capital letters that our dogs must cease barking immediately or we would be reported. We’re sure whoever it was messing around our RV set them off even more. Otherwise they bark very little unless they hear a disturbance. Thanks for your concern, Karen.

We were warned by neighbors that the homeless occasionally come into the park at night and will steal camping equipment if it’s not locked up. The restrooms, pool and laundry room are locked up for the same reason. You will need a special code given to you by the office to enter any facility. We never noticed any homeless individuals in the park. If someone recalled seeing a disheveled woman wearing wrinkled clothes and pajama pants while wandering aimlessly, don’t worry. That was probably just me taking a stroll.

Although their website has the motto, “Walk to Downtown Palm Springs,” we don’t recommend that you do. Palm Springs is a sanctuary city and there is a significant homeless problem although it’s a far cry from Los Angeles’ skid row. There was new condo construction across the street from the park but there was very poor quality or absent street lighting. We took the free community bus to downtown and instantly regretted it. Apparently some homeless ride the bus back and forth without disembarking so we were on high alert. Expect most bus stops to have homeless loitering in the immediate vicinity or sleeping on the bench. Have empathy, but don’t be a pushover.

Because parking vehicles is often impossible in the confines of the RV park except for the smaller cars, expect nearly bumper to bumper trucks street parking on both sides, narrowing the street. Hopefully you have the skills to maneuver your rig in tight quarters. We had to loop around twice in order to figure out where our spot was then how to back in. Neighbors may come to your aid but most will look on with amusement.

We joked that Palm Springs homeless are the best dressed homeless we’ve ever seen but it’s true. While some of them may have the requisite shopping cart heaped high with an array of confusing stuff, most of the time they will stash it behind a bush and leave it until they return. A common denominator though seems to be a backpack, although this too is not always an accurate indicator. Homeless like to blend in when they’re not at local soup kitchens and outreach facilities. Once you get to know Palm Springs a little better, they will be easier to spot and avoid. Remember, the underserved are often opportunists. Don’t become a victim by leaving unattended valuables like bicycles, cellphones or cameras lying around.

It was easier for us to use our Blue Ox to hook on the toad outside the park, as quarters are just too tight and traffic too random to block the road near your site for very long. It wasn’t bad; John drove the RV and I followed him in the Jeep and met up. Pardon us for being negative, but we just call them as we see them. We like to keep things all rainbows and unicorns, but it is what it is. Your experiences may differ from ours.

The area outside the park seems popular with joggers and walkers. We even saw homeless while walking our dogs at daybreak. Some people sleep in stealth vans or cars at the curb. The campground’s dog walking area is gravel areas on both sides of their entrance. You can leave their bagged dog poo in a bucket they left for that purpose so you don’t have to dispose of it at your site.

John enjoyed the pool and spa. However, expect the spa to be crowded during peak times. People may not mind sitting almost shoulder to shoulder in a hot tub but we think that’s icky. We noticed the communal talk tends toward politics, which we prefer to avoid. If you come to the pool in the early morning hours, you will generally have it all to yourself. We met the most fascinating man at the pool. Turns out he was in the same line of work as us but lived in San Francisco where he had quite the interesting professional reputation. Happy Traveler was one of his favorite destinations. We later visited with him again near his Airstream trailer and met his partner. We didn’t keep in touch but we wish both continuing success.

You can also cut through the back way using a gate. There is a business area nearby with a restaurant and some stores. The former Steinmart is vacant. We had shopped there for a Hawaiian shirt the first time we camped at Happy Traveler before Steinmart permanently shuttered its doors. You will hear traffic from Highway 111 but it decreases somewhat during the wee hours for a short period. Traffic starts early, so bring a fan or whatever white noise maker you prefer. There are some good sound apps for your phone. The RV park tends to fold up early so it’s quiet by 9 p.m.

The restroom facilities were old but for for the most part, clean enough. You will notice rust around shower heads and other signs of neglect. We’ll just leave these photos with you and you can decide for yourself. For God’s sake, wear flip flops. Maybe there’s a reason we never encountered anyone else in the facilities. This restroom encouraged us to utilize our shower in our RV for the first time, so there is a positive comment after all!

The End.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.