Winter RV Camping is Becoming Popular
Blustery weather and the threat of snow used to signal the end of the camping season. But more and more adventurers are discovering winter RV camping. The first snowfall can signal an exciting time to enjoy your favorite camping activities with your cozy RV as a home base. Winter RV camping offers great wildlife viewing and outdoor activities like skiing or snowman building.
Best Parks for Winter RVing
There are many beautiful RV campgrounds across the country that remain open during the winter. Yellowstone National Park, one of the most well-known winter recreational areas, has tallied an increase in winter visitors and RV campers during recent years. Many of the roads and campgrounds are closed during the winter, which means you can enjoy smaller crowds at this very popular park.
You can dock at Mammoth Hot Springs, the only campground kept open in Yellowstone from November through March. Located five miles south of the park’s northern entrance, the campground’s roads are plowed throughout winter to allow vehicle access, although main road plowing takes a priority after large snowfalls. Mammoth Hot Springs is conveniently located just a mile or two from access to popular cross-country ski and snowmobile trails. You can still get to the park’s popular attractions, like Old Faithful, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, by snowmobile or snow coach.
There are many more campgrounds that can be especially delightful in the winter. For example, you can spy frozen waterfalls at Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park where there are electric sites available for reservation. Bend, Oregon, and North Conway, New Hampshire are a couple more of the many beautiful, snowy winter locations that make great RVing destinations. Wherever you plan to camp, make sure to research the amenities that are available. You may need to take some extra steps to ensure your comfort. And, of course, watch the weather reports. Snow can be fun but a blizzard can ruin your trip.
By the way, some ski resorts will allow you to park your RV in the resort lot. Plan ahead to camp without hookups. Then your RV can provide you with comfortable accommodations while you enjoy a budget ski trip.
Prep Your RV for Winter RV Camping
Self-proclaimed “slightly crazy” RV camping experts The Wynns are pros at winter RV camping. They advise you should add insulation to your windows, doors, skylights and stairway. Heavy curtains with Velcro or snaps around the windows and doors are helpful. A board with insulation added to the bottom makes an insulating stairwell cover.
Skirt Your RV
Skirting will help warm an RV without insulated bays, or a trailer. Made of various materials, it wraps around the base of your RV and attaches to the ground. In cold weather, you can run a heat source under the skirting. The warmth you enjoy will make the investment worthwhile.
Prepare Water and Sewer Systems
Other preparations for winter RVing include emptying your black and gray water tanks and adding RV antifreeze to each. Insulate the pipes draining into the tanks with foam pipe insulation, and consider adding electric pipe heaters if you’ll be camping in below-freezing temperatures for an extended time. (You’ll need an electric hook-up or generator for this.) Wrap your sewer hose in insulation or heat tape. If you have a freshwater hook-up, consider buying a heated water hose to prevent freeze-ups or bursting. A small space heater can help keep your water pump from freezing if it is located in an insulated exterior storage area.
Test and Prep Heating Systems
Test the furnace before you hit the road. If your RV has only a heat pump or heat fins, consider an additional heat source as these systems don’t work well when the outside temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Portable electric space heaters can really help keep your RV interior warm when you don’t want to run the furnace.
If you use propane to heat your rig, it’s likely to last only a few days in really cold weather. Make sure that a propane refill station is nearby and open, or bring a couple of extra tanks with you, safely secured for travel. Some campgrounds offer propane bottles for rent. If you’re staying at a campground, call ahead to find out what cold-weather supplies they have to offer.
When camping in extremely cold regions, it’s best to have an engine block heater installed. Turn on the block heater at least three hours before you start your engine.
Prepare for Personal Comfort
Once you’re RV is prepared for winter camping, you’ll want to make a list of additional items that can add to your comfort. Make sure you bring tire chains. A weather station or weather band radio will keep you informed of changes in conditions that could impact your adventure. For sleeping comfort, bring extra blankets and zero-rated sleeping bags. Bring plenty of clothes to layer and make sure you have plenty of dry clothes if you get wet or need to do laundry. You’ll be glad to have extra food if heavy snow leaves you stranded. So for winter RVing, bring more food supplies than you would for warm-weather camping. Store extra drinking water in a heated space.
With a little extra planning and prep, you’re ready to get out and enjoy some spectacular outdoor spaces. And, you get to enjoy these winter wonderlands when the crowds are light. So enjoy the quiet and the views.
Share your Winter Camping Adventures
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