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Winter Camping in your RV

Summer time camping is great fun but camping in the winter season is sublime. It is a great time to go camping, if you want to reconnect with your pioneering spirit. Winter camping in a recreational vehicle (RV) is similar to those early camping days when you had only a Coleman stove and a sleeping bag but now you don’t have to worry as much about staying dry.

Fred and I aren’t experts at winter camping in an RV but we are learning. Here are some things we have learned. Even with these suggestions, the most important thing is using your common sense. FYI: A couple days after this photo was taken, a snowstorm brought enough of the white stuff to bury the picnic table’s seats!)

1. First, call to check on the weather, roads, and campground. Confirm the campground is open, it’s rate, surcharges, restrictions, and what facilitates are available. If the water is shut off, you need to know it.
2. Many RVers were once “true” campers with tents, sleeping bags, and such. Remember those days and enjoy the luxury of your RV.
3. Check road conditions before you leave. Every state has a website or telephone number were you can check road conditions, which is a good idea anytime of the year.
4. Give your rig a thorough check, for such things as full propane tanks and properly inflated tires, to ensure it is road-worthy.
5. Don’t forget to stock the pantry especially with “feel good” stick-to-your-ribs meals such as soups, chili, and stews. If you have shore-power, this is the perfect use to take your crock-pot.
6. Find a sunny camping spot so nature can help warm up your rig and bring a few extra throw-rugs to ward off chilly floors.
7. We have a little ceramic electric heater and recommend such a device to help to take the chill-off in the morning and to supplement the furnace.
8. If temperatures are going to drop below freezing, close your “shore” water spigot and the valve for your sewer hose. Consider placing water hose in RV; we put ours in the shower. If fresh water tank is above floor, fill with water. Wrapping hose with electric heat tape may make this procedure unnecessary but . . . Some people just leave a faucet dripping all night, catching the water in a pot. Another idea, although pricey, check-out electric heated hose.
9. Unless grey and black waste tanks are heated (good idea if you can do it), treat both tanks with RV anti-freeze to prevent freezing. We cut a little doorway, about 6 by 6-inches, into the fresh water tank compartment to allow heat to circulate in there.
10. Don’t forget to close your window  with drapes or covers to hold some of the heat inside. It helps to cover overhead vent openings too. We use fleecy pillows we call “Ear Muffs.” – available at
11. Leave cabinets or drawers open where water lines are located to allow heat to circulate around plumbing, or wrap the interior plumbing with insulation.
12. Don’t forget the electric blanket. It can be a delight at night. Besides the one for us, we even have one wrapped around our fresh and gray water tanks, too.
13. Watching snowfall from inside the comfort of your warm RV is one of the best parts of winter camping but don’t let it block vents or cause damage to your roof. Keep vents clear so the “bad” air can get out and fresh can come in. (We also leave a window open a crack for ventilation.) And brush off some of that beautiful snow to reduce weight on the roof, especially the canvas over slide-outs.
14. Snow is beautiful but it melts and melted snow is wet. Have a plan for getting things dry: a clothesline in the shower; a folding umbrella-style clothesline; or, know where the nearest drier is located.
15. And don’t forget a snow shovel, a few extra blankets, maybe some De-Icer (for frozen locks), and either road salt or kitty litter. And, maybe some campfire wood for an outside firepit, of course.
16. Taking chains for your tow vehicle or motorhome might be a good idea.
17. Also keep tabs on the weather. It can be an unforgiving season so plan ahead and take home only fond memories from your winter camping trip.

Winter camping is great fun. No crowds and no bugs are two attractive features of camping this time of year but for us it is the opportunity to ski. Many ski resorts (like Sunrise Resort in Arizona and shown in these photographs) not only offer parking forRV and some even have developed campgrounds with full hookups. And I’ve heard there are some great deals being offered.

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Fred and Suzi Dow