The Ultimate Guide to RVing in the Winter

The Ultimate Guide to RVing in the Winter


Have you made your winter RVing plans yet? If you’re wondering where full-time RVers go in the winter, or how to make your RV livable in the winter… Let Harvest Hosts help!

When winter is bearing down on RVers, the emotions range dramatically. For some, this is the time to pack it in for the year. Other RVers see it as the season to transition to Florida or the desert southwest. And for some, this is the season they have been waiting for. 

Regardless of which of these persons you might be, this is your guide to you, your RV, and the cold winter season coming up. If you are still open minded about this winter season, perhaps Harvest Hosts can provide some insight and help as you make your winter RVing decisions. 

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Is It Hard to Live in a Camper or RV in the Winter?

If you love nature, a slower pace, and fewer people, winter is a season custom-made for you. When you camp during the winter months—in colder climates—you will get a break from the summer busyness and have a chance to take a deep breath. 

Perhaps the lone downside to camping in the winter is the few extra precautions you’ll need to take. Keeping you, your family, and your RV safe during the winter RVing season takes a little extra work. But at Harvest Hosts, we believe it is absolutely worth it! And here is why.

 

Why You Should Consider RVing This Winter

Camping in the winter allows you and your family to experience nature in a more intimate way. The air might be colder, but there are plenty of reasons to get out there and enjoy it. And here are some of our top reasons for you to be on the road this winter.

 

Quiet Moments and Still Nights

In the hustle and bustle of summer activities, we can lose track of the connection to nature’s patterns. Winter is a reminder to pause—or at least slow down—in life for a season. Sitting outside during a cold day with the warmth of the sun hitting your shoulders is a brief reminder to enjoy what nature provides. 

 

The Views

When RVers are gone and the clouds leave the sky, you might be amazed by the stars. We don’t realize the light pollution we experience while camping in an RV park or with other RVers around us. Depending on your location, you might even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way. 

It isn’t just the sky that provides amazing views either. When the leaves have given up, fallen to the ground, and the trees are bare, there is nothing in the way of our eyes from seeing a little further. Plus, those vistas are more likely to be enjoyed without the crowds. 

 

Fewer People

While schools are filled with kids and a lot of RVers are afraid of the cold, you will enjoy everything with fewer people. If you find camping a lot more enjoyable when there aren’t a ton of people, this is a great time to be out and about in the campgrounds. 

 

Off-Season Pricing

With fewer people comes lower prices. Campgrounds are typically running lower rates and not nearly as competitive to get in. Fuel prices aren’t inflated because of peak season pricing. And there is a freedom of movement in the winter that doesn’t exist in the summer because of how much easier it is to find campgrounds. 

 

Different Outdoor Experiences

Winter RVing offers a different kind of experience. If you RV near the slopes, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or even tubing. Perhaps you enjoy backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or even snowmobiling. Or maybe you want to do some winter hiking. All of these options are available. 

If you are traveling with kids, you might have some amazing snowball fights, giant snowmen, or even sledding. And after all of this, you come inside your warm RV for some hot cocoa. How is this not an amazing opportunity?

 

Winterizing Your RV & Helpful Winter Maintenance

If you are still determined to put your RV in storage, there are some steps you will want to take prior to putting it away. Winterizing your RV is the process of protecting your RV from the cold, freezing temperatures and protecting it from critters entering inside too. Along with preparations for storage, there are some maintenance items you might want to check off this time of year too. 

 

All about RV’s does an excellent job of explaining basic winterization in his Youtube series on the subject.

 

 

Keys To Winterizing Your RV

Winterizing Your Van

The biggest goal for winterizing is eliminating water from your RV. By following these guidelines, you will be ready for spring in no time. 

 

Remove All Water

Removing water from your RV’s house system protects your RV plumbing pipes from potential cracking. When the water freezes it expands and can cause these major problems and ruin your spring travel plans. 

 

Remove Water Filters

In the process of removing all the water from your RV, you will want to make sure your filters are included in this process. Water can remain in the filters and crack the housing or even develop mold in your filters. This will help make sure they are ready to be replaced come Spring. 

 

Drain the Hot Water Heater

Another area that needs to be drained is your hot water heater. In your RV hot water heater, you will see a drain plug. This drain plug should only be removed after the pressure has been released via hot water lines inside—or the low points for each RV water line. The low points can be found in your RV manual. 

 

Drain Your Gray and Black Water Tanks

For the last dump of the year, you will want to take your time. Hook up and allow it to drain everything for an extended period of time. After you have allowed it to drain, it is time to flush the system with your cleaning wand or you can use an external system to clean the tank. 

 

Protect Your RV From Rodents

This is often overlooked in the winterizing process. Your best defense against rodents is to simply not allow them in—which is way easier said than done. Here are some places to look to close up your RV a little better.

Fill any gaps, holes, or cracks from underneath with spray foam or a silicone caulk

Block the basement space from the living space

Check around electrical lines, plumbing lines, and other wires

Exterior lights with wires running inside may leave gaps too

Once you ensure there aren’t spaces for mice to get through, you’ll still want to take other precautions like removing all food from the RV. Never store food in your RV over the winter months—especially if you are putting it in storage.

If your RV is a motorhome, you’ll want to start your RV weekly—or at least bi-weekly—so animals don’t make nests in and around your engine. It also helps eliminate rodents from seeing RV wiring as lunch. 

Finally, you can use deterrents like moth balls, essential oils, or other natural deterrents inside your RV. This will help deter them from finding your RV as a winter retreat, and will hopefully push them down the road somewhere else. 

 

Other Good Winter Maintenance Ideas

This is also a great time of year to take care of other routine maintenance. During the winter storage season, you might want to get your oil changed in your motorhome or generators, give the outside a good cleaning, and even care for the roof of your RV. 

 

Preparing Your RV for the Cold

There are some people who choose to hunker down in one location and enjoy the winter season in their RV. Here we will look at some of the best ways to prepare for the winter in your RV—even if you are deciding to keep driving your RV in the winter conditions.

 

Winter In One Location

It is popular for people to maintain living in their RV during the winter months—they just stay put to help make controlling the temperatures inside a little easier. If you stay in one location, there are several things you can do to help stay warm and enjoy the season. 

 

Use Portable Heaters

Using an electric or propane space heater is a great way to help conserve propane, utilize campground amenities, and direct the heat where you want it most. Putting one in the basement of your RV can help keep your floors warm and protect your pipes from freezing. 

 

Insulate Your RV Windows

This applies to staying in one location and traveling down the road. Insulated windows help more than you might think. Get yourself some insulated curtains or get extra plexiglass to help create barriers. If you choose plexiglass, you can simply use double sided tape to attach it. 

 

Control Moisture

During the winter months, you will notice a lot of condensation on your windows. When the water drips down, you can get a lot of mold around your window sills and in other areas of your RV. 

Along with the condensation, your RV is a lot tighter and doesn’t get the advantage of open windows to allow air to flow through your RV. Showering and cooking also contributes to your moisture in the RV—you might find your towels and dish towels getting that lovely mildew smell. To help prevent this, there are several steps you can take to reduce humidity. But one of the best ways to address this is to get a dehumidifier. 

 

Use a Heated RV Water Hose

This applies to any winter camping, you need to use a heated RV water hose when you are winter camping. Water pipes and hoses can freeze very quickly in severe temperatures. 

 

Use an RV Skirt

RV Skirts are barriers to the underpart of your RV. It helps prevent wind from getting under your RV. Some RVers will even utilize a heater under here because it is insulated by the earth below, the RV above, and your skirting around the outside. This is especially useful for people who are going to hunker down for a longer period of time in one location. There are several types of skirts you can purchase—or create yourself. 

 

Traveling During The Winter Months

When you travel during the winter months, you’ll want to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and track potential inclement weather patterns. 

 

RV Winter Tires and Chains

Just like your vehicle, having good tires come winter is imperative. The rapid change in weather can cause a lot of varying weather and you won’t want to get stuck in a bad situation. If you are deciding to try your hand at going over a mountain pass, you might find out tire chains are legally a must. If you are determined to make this journey, be sure you are prepared with tire chains and you know how to put them on and take them off in a timely manner. 

 

House and Car Batteries

The cold winter weather can cause—or reveal—issues with batteries. It is somewhat common for people to discover their batteries go dead during the winter months. By checking your batteries before this is your reality, you can save yourself some headaches. Another thing you can do is use a battery warmer to help regulate the temperature of your battery for optimal usage. 

 

Driving Your RV

Whether you are driving a motorhome or pulling your RV, there are some things to remember this time of year. But reducing your speed, breaking earlier, and being aware of icy conditions goes a long way for the safety of your travels. 

Best Winter National Park Destinations

You’ve decided you are going to enjoy the peace and quiet of winter RVing. Now where are you heading? Well, there is nothing like enjoying the beauty of a national park come winter. And we aren’t just talking about those warm weather locations either. Check out some of our favorite national parks to enjoy during the winter.

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This is the most visited National Park in the United States, but winter is a little less hectic, and the temperatures aren’t extreme. With peaks reaching up to 6,634 feet—Clingmans Dome—you can enjoy mountain hiking without all the need for snow shoes. If this interests you, you can stay inside the park at Cades Cove Campground.

 

Shenandoah National Park

Not too far away from the Smokies, you can visit this gem in Virginia. While this park gets a little colder, they are still open year round—even the famous Skyline Drive is open year round. This park has plenty of hiking, photography, and even has the opportunity for snowshoeing. 

 

Big Bend National Park

A park that is quite remote, but quite pleasant come winter is Big Bend National Park. This park is located in south Texas, and has a January average low of 39 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes this a great destination come winter. There are plenty of hiking trails, OHV trails, and plenty of overlooks for photographs. In this National Park, you can actually take a boat across to Mexico for lunch. It is a unique park and perfect for desert outdoor lovers. 

 

Other Great Cold-Weather National Parks For RV Camping

  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Acadia National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park

Cold Weather Destinations

If you are looking for cold weather destinations for RV camping, our assumption is you are looking for some adventure. Otherwise you’d probably head south. With that in mind, let’s take a quick glance at some other places to RV camp—especially if you’re looking for places to ski this winter.

 

Lake Tahoe Area

There are several great places to ski around Lake Tahoe and the area is very RV-friendly. There are several great campgrounds for you to enjoy with FHU—full hook ups. Plus, you can find Harvest Hosts locations in the area as well. 

 

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

In southern Colorado, you can find the town of Pagosa Springs. With several campgrounds in the area and a ski resort not  far away, this town is a great place come winter. The river that runs through town has natural hot springs, there are great coffee shops, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities. 

 

Lake Placid, NY

In and around Lake Placid, NY, you’ll find tons of things to do and several campgrounds with winter hookups. This area gets a ton of powder and thrives in the winter months. With skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and so much more, this is a great place to enjoy beautiful views and plenty of winter activity. 

 

Warm Weather Destinations

Some RVers prepare for the colder temperatures by escaping them all together. They head south or southwest where the winter temperatures are much more mild and the sunny days still exist. By doing this, you avoid the need to do a lot of the winterizing we have previously mentioned. 

If this sounds like the winter you want to experience, you’ll need to decide where to go and what kind of winter travel you want to experience. A lot of RVers like to be on the move with their RV, and some check out new areas every couple of weeks. Others like to stay for an entire season—these are called the snowbirds. Let’s check out some favorite warm weather destinations for you this winter. 

 

Favorite Snowbird Destinations

If you are done with the cold and want those warm sunny days, there are a lot of great places to go like Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California come winter to escape the cold and enjoy warmer days. 

Snowbirds often return to the same place over and over again. By doing this, they can create their family away from home, catch up with friends, and get familiar with an area. By living this lifestyle, you get to chase the warm weather, and still have those comforts of being home. Here are some favorite snowbird destinations. 

 

Yuma, Arizona

Dubbed the “Sunniest Place in the World,” Yuma gets an average of 308 days of sunshine per year. This winter paradise boasts warm sunny days, cool evenings, and tons of outdoor activities. An extra bonus to Yuma in winter is its easy access to Los Algodones—Mexico’s medical tourism hub.

 

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs has become an oasis for a lot of snowbirds. With the ridiculous number of golf courses, beautiful weather, and other outdoor activities, you can easily figure out why this is a hotspot come winter. The added bonus of being here is that the town moves at a slower pace in comparison to other southern California cities like San Diego and Los Angeles. 

 

Tampa, Florida

This coastal city has really grown over the past several years and offers everything a major city in the United States offers. If you aren’t into the major cities, you can score great RV campgrounds in surrounding towns and have easy access to Tampa. Here you’ll get to enjoy the Gulf Coast, beautiful white sand beaches, and the joy of a moderate climate. 

 

Other Top Destinations

There are plenty of other locations to consider in these states and more. Check out some more locations in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and Florida here.

 

Consider South of the Border

If you are wanting to head south a little further, you might check out some of these spots in Mexico. By crossing the border in Arizona or California, you can access some really great RV campground destinations in Mexico. 

If you want to continue boondocking, there are a lot of great boondocking locations in Baja Mexico too. With plenty of sunshine, your batteries will stay topped off. The weather is comfortable during the day and cools off in the evening, so you don’t need to use too much heat or air conditioning. Plus, there are enough people that boondock in Baja Mexico that you’ll find some community along the way. 

 

Winter Camping in Arizona

There are plenty of reasons to consider Arizona this winter. The sunny days, cool nights, and beautiful sunsets set this place apart from anywhere else in the United States come winter. While Yuma, Phoenix, and Quartzite are popular locations, there are plenty of other attractions and destinations to visit in Arizona.

 

Experience the Florida Difference

Florida grows by nearly 5% each winter with the earliest snowbirds heading down in mid-October. There is a reason Florida is the most popular destination come winter. With nearly 80% of the population in the United States living in the eastern part of the country, Florida is an easy destination for many cold weather dwellers to get to. 

On top of the accessibility, Florida offers fresh citrus during the winter months, warm sunny days, beaches galore, and plenty of things to do. With your Harvest Hosts Membership, you can enjoy plenty of Harvest Hosts locations in Florida that can help you discover more of the Sunshine state. 

 

Your Destination Awaits

There are some pluses and minuses in the RV life, but chasing your ideal situation isn’t up for debate. Whether you head south and enjoy some sun in Florida, or try to catch some fresh powder on the slopes, you can bet you aren’t ever very far from some great Harvest Hosts locations. With 4,000+ Harvest Hosts locations across North America, any Harvest Hosts Member can enjoy and discover some of the best small businesses while chasing that perfect winter scenario. 



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