Do you feel like you’ve been stuck inside during these winter months? It may surprise you but the colder months also offer plenty of campervan road trip opportunities, so don’t let the cold deter you from heading outdoors.
Imagine living your best Vanlife in a comfy campervan and looking out your window each morning to see wintry peaks whilst staying nice and warm. Get your snow chains and skis ready to tackle both icy roads and pistes!
If your idea of a good time is getting away from the cold, we’ve got some suggestions so you can escape to warmer weather as well but let’s start with some ideas for a snowy winter wonderland, which will really showcase the magic of this time of year.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Given its namesake, icy vistas are not exactly far from expectation at this spot. This national park honors the massive glaciers responsible for shaping the land here thousands of years ago.
This park offers scientists the opportunity to study ancient processes and the impacts melting glaciers will have on the environment. If you want to see it in person during winter, the Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is plowed and open throughout the year, so long as the weather allows.
Beyond Lake McDonald Lodge, the aforementioned Going-to-the-Sun Road has unplowed sections of fluffy snow, which make popular winter cross country skiing and snowshoe routes.
Most of the campgrounds in the park are closed this time of year, but you can find a comfortable and cozy spot to camp at Moose Creek RV Resort, located just minutes from the West Glacier park entrance. Full hookups, an on-site general store, as well as laundry services and showers, will make your winter camping experience smooth sailing.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Located at some of the highest elevations in the USA, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a winter haven for nature lovers.
The winter wonderland provides plenty of outdoor adventures. Backcountry skiers can explore the park’s best through trails like Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake, Dream Lake, Mills Lake through Glacier Gorge, and East Inlet Trail.
If skiing is not your thing, try out some world-class snowshoeing or sledding. Snowshoeing is an ideal way to see the hiking trails in a new light as the trails are typically covered in snow. You’ll still be rewarded with mesmerizing views of frozen waterfalls and alpine lakes.
Most camping sites in the area are closed in the winter, however, Moraine Park Campground remains open. It does not provide hookups, so prepare supplies in advance if you’re planning an overnight stay within the national park.
Mount Bachelor, Oregon
Within the Deschutes National Forest, 22 miles outside of Bend, Oregon, resides Mount Bachelor. The imposing mountain provides a total of 101 ski runs over 4,300 acres and has the highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington. The 462 inches of average annual snowfall last for a while so that you can enjoy a long ski season. Perfect for avoiding peak periods!
In addition to great pistes, the Woodward all-mountain park offers up lots of jumps and urban features for skiers and snowboarders alike. There’s even a family-friendly banked slalom for younger ones learning the ropes.
This ski resort is campervan friendly and has electrical hookups available for RVs. Overnight stays here are available from early-December through May, don’t miss the chance to sleep steps away from the slopes.
Arches National Park, Utah
At Arches National Park, you’ll have the perfect chance to see postcards come to life with the contrast of powdery white on red rock landscapes. Even on days without snowfall, clear blue winter skies give a striking backdrop to the formations.
And what better way to see the sights than a nice hike. Most hiking trails remain open year-round. Be careful, though, as popular trails like Delicate Arch can quickly become icy following a snowfall. Keep proper shoes and hiking poles with you, and don’t lose sight of trail markers in snow. The park road may also be closed for several hours for plowing. However, the occasional tricky access is well worth it for the spectacular views.
The park is just north of the town Moab, which has a few RV parks to choose from. Whether you’re looking at a KOA or a locally owned establishment, you won’t be short of options here in the wintertime.
Silver Lake, Washington
Head to Silver Lake, where top-notch hiking, fishing, and boating are all available even when it gets cold. Many enjoy crappie season here near the end of winter, and it’s a good time to give boat fishing a go as most fish are staying further out from the shores.
Plus, one of Washington’s most famous peaks will make the backdrop for all your outdoor adventures. Go snowshoeing right next to Mt. St. Helens.
Silver Cove RV Resort makes a very convenient stay with creature comforts from an in-house boat launch to WiFi, in addition to all the amenities you would expect at an RV park. Its great location means that you will bein perfect proximity to Mt. St. Helens and Silver Lake throughout your stay.
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
Near our previous destination, you’ll find the largest ski resort in the state of Washington. Crystal Mountain houses a total of 2,600 acres and 57 runs in the Cascade Mountains. It averages 486 inches of fresh powder each year.
There is plenty of terrains suited to all levels of snowboarders and skiers here, with numerous bowls, peaks, spines, as well as an abundance of groomed runs. Even if you don’t ski, take in the beauty of the Cascades with the Mt. Rainier Gondola, which will take you all the way to the summit.
Crystal Mountain’s RV lot provides space for 65 RVs, all with electrical hookups, another campervan friendly ski destination. Reservations are accepted online for busy holiday weekends. Most of the time, though, it’s first-come, first-serve, so be sure to come early.
Looking to escape the cold weather?
Being knee-deep in the snow isn’t everyone’s idea of a great getaway, so here are some places to get warm whilst still enjoying the mellower temperatures of winter.
Death Valley National Park – California & Nevada
Located just around 2 hours drive from the Las Vegas strip, Death Valley is typically the hottest zone in North America. It can get unbearable during other times of the year. When planning a visit in January or February, average temperatures hit 65, making backpacking and hiking in the valley’s remarkable geological formations much more pleasant. And, you can ditch the heavy winter coats.
Death Valley offers some of the best traditional camping anywhere if you want to bring your tent along, and you have the chance to do something that would be near impossible at any other time of the year!
The Furnace Creek campground in the park is ideal for RVers as they provide electrical hookups and potable water, flush toilets, and a dump station. Each site has a campfire ring or grill and picnic tables for all your dining needs.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
The combination of cooler temperatures and clear winter skies makes perfect conditions during a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Average daytime temperatures are in the 60s to 70s.
While the air is cool and comfortable, the environment retains all of its desert charm, which will bring to mind the scorching temperatures in summer. A must-do is to take a stroll through the Cholla Cactus Garden to spot some incredible cacti.
Hike the Hidden Valley Trail and admire rock formations all around or explore Lost Horse Mine Trail to escape to a preserved gold mine from another era. Of course, you should always lookout for the signature Joshua Trees.
If you’re really looking to escape from winter, stay at 29 Palms Resort, they’ve got a swimming pool and all the comforts to make you feel like you’re actually having a beach vacation.
Lake Casitas Recreation Area, California
This peaceful and serene lake is just a 15-minute drive from Santa Barbara, making a perfect weekend escape into nature. In winter, it’s almost empty, which means fishing to your heart’s content without jostling for spots. Many recreational trails in the area are great biking opportunities too.
With over 400 camping sites, you are absolutely spoilt for choice and can reserve any location you prefer. If you are looking for full hookups, look at Fox and Angler campgrounds.
Though it’s a bit chilly to go swimming in the lake this time of year, the Gaviota hot springs near Santa Barabara make a perfect excursion. The trail which leads you to the warm, blue sulfur pools is 0.7 miles and overall an easy hike.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Although the Grand Canyon is in the Southwest, its hallmark red ridges still get frosted with snow in winter. A striking contrast worth making the trip for. The south rim is open year-round and is usually far less crowded during the wintertime, making trails (and roads) much more pleasant.
In winter, you can expect typically sunny afternoons. However, weather changes quickly in the Grand Canyon, and visitors should be cautious when attempting hiking trails. Be prepared for the occasional ice or snow, though temperatures usually stay well above freezing.
Make camping a breeze by staying at Trailer Village RV Park, the only in-park RV park with full hookups. Have all your needs taken care of with laundry facilities and hot showers, as well as a small store on-premises.
Be prepared for your next winter road trip.
If you’re looking for a reliable campervan rental that equips you with everything you might need, Travellers Autobarn is the choice for you. Each of our campervans come with a water tank, sink, gas cooker, fridge & microwave, so you don’t have to prepare your food out in the cold. Plus, we provide a Free Winter Pack to make sure you stay warm (includes extra sleeping bags, hot water bottles, and an electric heater) and plenty of storage space to pack it all away.
If it’s your first time going on a winter camping trip, take some time to read up on camping safely in the winter too.
Now that you’re all set, find out where you can begin your road trip with any of our convenient campervan rental locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or San Francisco.
About the Author
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.