Winter camping is a novel way to spend your RV time. If you’re looking for something new to try, winter camping may just be what you’ve been looking for. Boasting stunning views, fewer crowds, lower costs, and different outdoor activities, camping in the winter is sure to be a fun and new experience for you and your family and friends.
If you’re ready to get away from a busy life, camping during winter is for you. There are fewer crowds in the winter, meaning trails and campsites will be less crowded, and you can have more space to relax. Has crowded campsites been keeping you from the camping experience you want? Winter RV camping may be just what you need.
Everyone knows about summer activities, like going to the beach or lake, hiking, fishing, hunting, and sitting around a campfire. But what about things to do during the winter? Winter camping boasts just as many activities for adventure seekers as the summer does. Don’t let the lower temperature keep you from trying something new.
Spring, summer, or fall camping all share similar, stunning views of nature. Everything is bright and colorful. During winter, these views change. Picture the surrounding trees blanketed in snow, casting shadows on snow so pure that they’re blue and not black. Imagine the silence that comes with a fresh layer of snow on the ground. The stillness and peace that settles into a place during winter. Don’t miss out on a beautiful new view this year.
As with all camping, there are always a few things to take into consideration before venturing out.
Prepare for the Weather
The first thing you always want to do is ensure that your RV or camper is properly winterized for your needs. Whether you’re storing for the season or trying a new adventure, don’t let winter ruin your plans. RecPro has you covered with winterizing items here! Insulating your windows with Reflectix is also great at helping your space retain heat, and skirting your RV or camper is a great way to help keep the underbelly, tanks, and pipes shielded. If you are connecting to shore power, you can even add in an electric heater or fireplace to keep your space cozy and toasty during those frigid winter nights. And if you’re at a site without shore power, a propane heater works just as well.
Once your RV or camper is set, it’s time to get yourself ready for winter camping. You want to make sure you pack well for the weather. This is a time when there’s no such thing as overpacking. That extra pair of socks might just be the thing that keeps your toes from frostbite. You’ll want to dress in layers and avoid cotton as it tends to retain moisture, and retraining moisture is not good. Blankets are also great at keeping you warm, not only while you sleep but also while you sit near the heater with a book and enjoy a peaceful evening.
A great extra to pack is a thermos or insulated cup. They’ll keep your warm beverages hotter for longer, so you don’t have to sip an iced coffee when you don’t want one. An ice and snow scraper is also always a must-have when driving in the winter to keep your windows clear of ice and snow. And a shovel can be helpful if you have snowfall while you’re camping. As always, when RVing, make sure your first aid kit is stocked and easily accessible. And keep a variety of shelf-stable foods ready for any emergency. This is another place where there’s no such thing as overpacking. It’s better to be overprepared and not need it than underprepared and stuck in the snow.
A few last things to make sure you pack. Sunscreen. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that the sun isn’t a danger. If anything, it’s a little more dangerous because the snow reflects the sunlight, meaning the UV rays can hit you from more than one angle. And no one wants winter tan lines on their face. Lastly, keep lip balms and lotions at the ready. Winter dries your skin out and can cause cracking and bleeding. You don’t want to be out in the elements with dry, cracked lips when a simple little tube of lip balm will keep you protected and moisturized.
While you’re packing for yourself and your family, don’t forget to pack for your furry companions. If your pet(s) travel with you on your adventures, then you want to make sure that they’ll be just as warm and comfortable as you are. Pack extra food just in case, like you would for yourself. Dogs may have a fur coat, but that fur coat can only keep them so warm when the temperatures start dipping below freezing. A dog coat or sweater can be the perfect addition to keep your furry friend warm this winter. A heating pad in their pet bed or a heated blanket on the couch where they sleep will keep them warm while they rest. And when the temperature dips, but nature calls, a pair of dog boots can keep their toes warm and dry since dogs can lose heat through their paw pads. Just like you need lotion, so do they. Invest in a good pet balm for their paw pads and nose to keep them moist and crack-free. And we all know that we try our best to keep our pets safe, but sometimes they sneak off, so make sure their collar is secure and their tags have up-to-date contact information.
One last thing to prepare before you set out is to check the weather reports. Before you even get on the road, checking the weather for your route and final destination can mean the difference between arriving and being caught in a sudden snowstorm. Preparing for the weather ahead of time can help you with your packing and timing for your drive. And keeping your weather apps updated and your phone charged will keep you up-to-date with any changes to the weather while you’re on the road. Don’t let your trip be delayed because of weather changes.
Choosing Your Camping Spot
The hardest part of your winter camping trip is going to be finding the best place to camp. A lot of RV parks and campgrounds close for the winter, so there will be a little extra planning and research to find the right place to stay this winter. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has an excellent resource of in-network grounds that are open in the winter. GoRVing has also compiled a list of other campgrounds that are open during the winter to save you a little searching time. Another great place to check is national parks. Most national parks remain open all year, and you can beat the summer crowds by visiting in the off-season.
Winter can seem like a time when there’s not much to do. It’s cold and snowy, and you tend to want to stay where it’s warm. But winter boasts a variety of fun activities, some that can only be done in the winter. To best enjoy them, make sure you suit up properly, and the cold won’t bother you anyway.
One easy thing you can do in the winter is go for a hike. A winter hike is very similar to a summer hike in terms of what you take with you. You want to make sure you have a GPS or a map and compass, water, a backpack, trekking poles, etc. The only real difference is you want to make sure you are layered properly and that your hiking boots are properly waterproof and are also good for winter. Hand warmers are also a good thing to pack if you have the space; they fit easily into gloves, hats, or socks and can be an extra boost to keeping you warm. They make reliable single-use ones or you can try a reusable one or even a rechargeable one if you have access to a power source to cut down waste. You may also want to invest in snowshoes or traction devices if you’re hiking in a place that is particularly snowy or difficult and icy in terrain. Try hiking in a place you’ve already hiked in the summer to see how the view is different in the winter or what wildlife comes out in winter versus summer.
You can cross-country ski for an experience similar to hiking. And if cross-country doesn’t sound fun, you can always go downhill skiing or snowboarding. While skiing can easily be done without an RV or camper, your RV can save you from those extreme lodge fees. Skiing is a classic winter trip, and your RV just makes it easier for you to go. Plus, if you have your own gear, your RV has plenty of space to take it with. So there’s no need to try to fit your skis onto a too small car or be forced to get an overpriced rental at the slopes.
For more adventurous people, you can try snowmobiling. If you like ATVing in the summer, then riding a snowmobile might be just the thing to try. Many National Parks have trails specific for snowmobiles.
And for your younger kids or less adventurous people, you can do tubing, sledding, ice skating, or even just have a snowball fight. The National Parks Service website has a helpful page that will direct you to different winter sports at their various parks, so you can more easily plan your trip.
If your idea of relaxation on a camping trip is fishing, don’t let winter stop you from doing just that. Ice fishing can yield a larger catch as winter, and the cold slows the fish's metabolism, making them slower to react. RecPro has you covered with ice fishing gear! Be sure to thoroughly research ice fishing (especially if you are newer to it) and the spot you choose to ice fish at for safety. No catch is worth hypothermia or falling through the ice.
After all the fun you have outdoors, you’ll want to settle into your RV or camper and warm up. Keeping some books, board games, movies, and puzzles will keep your fun going into the evening. A great way to warm up is with food; setting up a crockpot while you’re out having fun is the perfect way to come back to your space for a rich, warm dinner with little effort. Cozy up around a warm fire and a game with the family to really complete your trip.
The Perfect Winter Adventure is Out There
No matter what your winter adventure holds for you, keep these tips and tricks handy to help you plan an exciting new trip. Whether you’re a winter camping veteran or this will be your first winter camping trip, keep yourself warm and safe.
And if you’re thinking that winter RVing still isn’t for you but you want a wintertime trip, you can always consider RVing somewhere warm, like Texas, Arizona, or Florida. Or maybe it’s time to take your RVing international and take a trip to Mexico. So, whether your winter plans involve the sun and sand or the sun and snow, keep yourself and your RV prepared for the elements, and you’ll be sure to have a fun time.