RVing through the Seasons: Tips and Considerations

Traveling in an RV is an unparalleled experience. There’s almost no bad time of year to travel.

Some consider RVing to be a seasonal activity. Many part-time RVers de-winterize their RV as things warm up in preparation for the summer vacation season. After a fun season of RVing, they winterize and store the RV again when the weather turns cooler.

But RVing can continue throughout the year. Each season has its beauty and unique draws. There are special things to see and do in each season that can only be experienced during that time of year. But along with those fun experiences also come some considerations to keep in mind. Various tips and tricks can enable you to get the most out of RVing through all the seasons.

Whether you are a full-timer or take your RV out on a part-time basis for fun adventures, I hope the information below helps you enjoy RVing throughout the year.

Spring wildflowers in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spring

Ah, springtime. When the warmer weather comes, the travel itch isn’t far behind.

Spring is an amazing time to hit the road in your RV. The bugs aren’t in full force yet. The days are warm and the evenings cool—which is perfect for campfires. The waterfalls are at their most powerful. And the campgrounds aren’t packed yet. 

Springtime is a time of growth and renewal with a lot of exciting things to see and experience. As many RVers leave their winter destinations or bring their RVs out of storage if not full-time, it’s an excellent time to do some inspection and care of your RV and continue to hit the road for more adventures.

Spring wildflowers in Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spring tips & tricks

Spring is a time to de-winterize your RV if applicable and check for any new leaks that have potentially formed over the winter. Even if not, it is an opportunity to do some spring cleaning inside and out and take time for routine or annual maintenance.

Watch out and be prepared for the severe weather that occurs in some areas in the spring. With winter thawing and springtime rains encountering mud or flooding is more common.

Mexican poppies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road trips & destinations for spring travel

View Mexican poppies and other wildflowers in southern California and Arizona, bluebonnets in central Texas, tulips in the Skagit Valley of northwestern Washington, and cherry blossoms in Washington, DC.

It was 1947 when the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants first decamped to Arizona for pre-season warm-ups in spring, kicking off a tradition that now brings 15 MLB teams to take up temporary residence in the Phoenix area.

After Washington, DC’s famed cherry blossoms have peaked, you can still get your flower fix with a trip to Virginia’s stunning Shenandoah National Park with its 850 species of wildflowers.

Prairie dogs, white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, elk, and bighorn sheep roam free in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. Come spring, you may even cross paths with the newest additions to the park—baby wildlife.

>> Read more on RV travel in spring:

The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer

Summertime means summer travel, especially among the RV-loving set. These three bright, beautiful months offer some of the very best motorhome and travel trailer adventures possible.

Summer is all about hitting the road with your friends or family to explore somewhere new.

If you’re planning an RV getaway with family, summertime may be the best option. After all, the kids are on vacation and the warm weather gives you and your family more opportunities to have fun. How does a water-themed RV vacation sound? 

Taking an RV vacation during the summer months also gives you and your family a great chance to visit fun amusement parks during the journey. Also, if you plan well, you can prepare a travel route that also includes stops at concerts, music festivals, or sports events that the entire family can enjoy.

If you do plan to camp in your RV during the summer be prepared for crowded campgrounds and RV parks. Be sure to plan your trips early and make reservations before the campgrounds become full.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer tips & tricks

It’s always a good idea to make certain preparations ahead of time including a basic itinerary, securing camping sites, and ensuring you’re up to date with your regular maintenance schedule.

Once you’ve got the maintenance out of the way, move on to your packing list. What do you need to bring aboard? Summer heat means fun activities like paddling, cycling, or hiking. Be sure to add whatever gear you need to make it happen to your packing list whether that means big equipment like a kayak or bicycle, or just your best pair of lightweight trail shoes and a wide-brimmed hat. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

A consideration for summer is that humidity can be very high during this season depending on where you recreate.

Don’t underestimate the power of a fan which helps to move the air around. This can make you feel cooler as can a cold drink. Keep the ice cubes stocked in your freezer or buy a countertop ice maker. A cool beverage can do wonders.

To maximize your outdoor shade space you can add an awning screen or room. This helps when you want to be outside at a time when the sun may be shining at an angle that your awning doesn’t block.

Kemah Boardwalk, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road trips & destinations for summer travel

Take your family for a swim at a beach and play in the sand or get in a kayak or on a paddleboard.

Summers in Texas can be hot and humid but the cool waters of the Gulf of Mexico are inviting all year long. Galveston Island features 32 miles of beaches for those looking to relax in the sun. But the barrier island is also home to historic architecture, a vibrant art scene, excellent seafood restaurants, and fun, quirky shops.

Pigeon Forge is a family-friendly destination with something to offer visitors of all ages. Options include off-road trail rides, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and go-karting. And when you’re ready to stretch your legs and take in some scenic views, head over to Great Smoky Mountain National Park where you’ll find hundreds of miles of hiking trails and endless roads to explore.

West Virginia is an underrated summer RV destination. The town of Fayetteville is a great place for RVers looking for outdoor adventures. One of the biggest attractions in the area is one of America’s newest national park, New River Gorge.

Banff and Jasper National Parks in Western Canada offer some of the most breathtaking scenery and impressive hiking in the world.

>> Read more on RV travel in summer:

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall

While summer is the peak season for most campers and RVers, fall might be a better time to hit the road. From mid-September through early November, temperatures are milder, humidity is lower, campgrounds and RV parks are less crowded, fall foliage is ablaze, and pesky bugs like mosquitos and black flies are not as prevalent.

Additionally, water temperatures are still warm and fishing conditions improve. The weeks after Labor Day (the unofficial end of summer) are an excellent time to travel in your RV. Also, Halloween presents some very attractive options during this season. 

For many RVers, autumn is considered the perfect season for RVing. During this well-loved season, the leaves change colors and fall to the ground as the air becomes crisper with cooler temperatures that are just right for traveling in an RV. It’s also typically less busy than the summer travel season allowing many to avoid crowds and long lines. If you’re looking for a great time to take your family on vacation, fall is definitely it!

Stowe Community Church, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall tips & tricks

Fall can best be enjoyed by just making a few adjustments to maximize your enjoyment of RVing during cooler weather. Get out your cooler weather clothes as the season changes.

A couple chairs, a cozy blanket, and a campfire are all you need to sit outside for hours.

Some may say it’s not a campfire if it’s not a wood fire but a propane fire pit can be a game changer. A propane campfire can be turned on or off at a moment’s notice and campfire smoke is never a problem.

Slow cookers are useful for RVers year-round but are especially handy in cooler weather when we have the urge for warm soups and other hearty meals. After a full day of exploring the fall foliage come back to your campsite and an RV already smelling amazing from an almost ready slow-cooked meal.

Be sure to check ahead on any campgrounds you plan to stay in as fall progresses. Make sure they remain open and haven’t turned off the water if you are planning on needing that.

Whitehall, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road trips & destinations for fall travel

The northeast is an easy answer for where to RV in the fall with its vibrant fall leaves in all colors. Not only does the northeast do fall colors right but the covered bridges and maple syrup farms and products feel quintessentially fall.

Head to Acadia National Park in Maine but leave enough time to sufficiently explore Vermont and New Hampshire as well. Visit a sugar house such as Sugarbush Farm to try their maple syrup. Come back in the spring to see the full maple season production but the sugar house is open all year. Read exhibits and take a walking path through the woods. Here you will see how the trees are tapped and the sap lines are run.

Colorful falls are certainly not exclusive to the northeast. You could follow the colors south along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains for more fall colors.

Whereas the above mentioned areas showcase leaves of all colors, there is just something about the bright yellow aspen leaves of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. You will be treated to a sea of gold as the hillsides are blanketed in golden leaves.

Wherever you travel, there are apple or pumpkin orchards, farms, and farmers markets with fall’s harvest bounty, corn mazes, and other fall festivities to be enjoyed.

>> Read more on RV travel in fall:

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter

Snowflakes falling, blanketing the landscape in white, puffy coats, warm hats, and hot chocolate all come to mind when thinking of winter. There is a reason for the term winter wonderland. Winter can be beautiful but in an RV it can often present the most challenges.

Winter tips & tricks

In winter, all things are made easier if you can avoid the extremes and have an RV that is at least somewhat capable of cold-weather camping.

If you camp in the cold, you’ll need to prepare for it. If you’re hooking up to city water, you’ll need a heated hose that plugs into an AC outlet at your campsite. A heated hose keeps water from freezing at the source while it’s flowing into your RV. 

Because hot air rises and cold air sinks, floors often feel extra chilly, especially in the morning. Fortunately, there are several ways to insulate under your feet such as interior rugs and runners, carpet tiles, and floor mats.

Your propane furnace is the most efficient way to heat the inside and underbelly of your RV. Another option is a portable electric space heater. Electric heaters can supplement your RV furnace if you’re plugged into AC power. They can conserve propane and lower your energy bill depending on the electric costs in your location. 

And many RVers escape the cold like a snowbird and have some fun in the sun.

Snowbirds head south for winter. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road trips & destinations for winter travel

Winter favorites for RVers include Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas. Each snowbird destination has pros and cons. For example, during winter the Southeast enjoys a humid, warm tropical climate but in return for that shorts and sandals weather you will get to deal with humidity and fire ants. On the other hand, Western snowbirds will pay for sunny afternoons with prickly plants, wind storms, dust, and chilly nighttime temperatures.

Before choosing a destination, consider the type of climate and landscapes you enjoy as well as the environmental conditions you are most and least willing to tolerate.

>> Read more on RV travel in winter:

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

 General tips for all seasons

There are a couple of additional tips for RVing throughout the year that apply to all seasons and not already mentioned above.

A weather app that you can have access to on your phone is useful year-round to be aware of weather and be notified of storms and any severe weather. This can help you decide whether to travel to an area if it is time to leave or even immediately seek safe shelter.

Make sure that your RV and other vehicles are up to date on their maintenance and care ready for the season and safe traveling. You don’t want your home-on-wheels or mode of transportation to break down on the way or present safety issues to you or your family.

Check out the seasonal and regional food in the areas you travel. Each time of year brings in-season fruits and vegetables that are fresh and flavorful and special dishes and treats are often available to enjoy local and seasonal specialties.

Look for season-specific and themed festivals and events as you travel. This may help to determine which time of year to visit a place so that we are there in time to enjoy a certain experience.

Conclusion

I could go on and on about the benefits of RVing in each of the seasons, ways to maximize your RVing throughout the year, and list out wonderful places to visit. Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas for your RV trips or maybe made you want to see a part of the country in a season you hadn’t previously considered.

Worth Pondering…

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Life Threatening Winter Blast: Dumb Winter RVing Mistakes to Avoid

Even the best home on wheels can only give limited protection from cold weather. The rest is up to you. Don’t learn winter RVing mistakes the hard way. If severe weather is approaching, it’s time to get serious about keeping warm, safe, and enjoying this year-round lifestyle.

RVing is now a year-round activity. Many RV owners are bypassing the RV storage lot to take part in winter camping.

According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), “RV ownership has increased over 62 percent in the last twenty years with a record 11.2 million RV owning households.” A University of Utah study reflects these findings by revealing that more visitors are exploring the state’s national parks in winter than ever before.

Here are some helpful resources:

Can you be comfortable RVing in winter? And safe?

Winter RV camping doesn’t have to be brutal. But even snowbirds that travel south for winter can get caught in unexpected snow storms. You can be warm, safe, and comfortable in cold temperatures if that happens to you. Just don’t wait to learn how to do it the right way. If you’re planning an RV trip during the winter but are unprepared for winter weather you may never want to do it again.

12 dumb winter RVing mistakes you want to avoid

Wherever you travel in your RV, make it your goal to avoid these common cold weather blunders. Don’t learn them the hard way so that you can enjoy four seasons of fun.

Clean snow off slide toppers before retracting © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

1. Not clearing snow off the slide-out roof (before retracting it)

In winter, carry a ladder and something that easily removes snow from RV rooftops. This lesson will hit home if a sudden snowstorm catches you by surprise. Don’t forget to look up before retracting your slideout. A massive pile of heavy snow accumulated on the slide-out will cause the motor to stall, sometimes with disastrous results.

2. Delaying RV generator maintenance

Is your RV generator prepped for winter weather? Make sure it operates efficiently before your comfort depends on it. Even starting a well-maintained generator can be tough in freezing weather. Generator starting is especially rough if you have an external model.

Understand your RV maintenance needs. A well-running machine may be the only thing between you and freezing temperatures inside the RV.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

3. Keeping the fresh water hose connected

Don’t wait for the first hard freeze to teach you the agony of thawing your drinking water hose with a hair dryer. When the weather starts to go bad, fill your RV fresh water tank with water and disconnect and stow your RV drinking water hose. You’ll be glad you did when you can still use water from your water tank and not the campground bathroom.

Alternately use a heated water hose available at most RV dealers and stores selling RV supplies.

Read more: Winter RV Camping Must-Have: Heated Water Hose

4. Forgetting to check propane levels before departure

Use a propane safety tool like the GasStop to alert you when your RV propane supply runs low. Always carry two full tanks especially if you’ll be cold weather boondocking in remote areas. If not, you could end up getting stranded in a remote campsite without fuel to keep you warm.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

5. Not carrying an alternative heat source

If your RV’s propane furnace isn’t keeping your RV comfortable enough (or if you’re running low on propane), it’s time to purchase another heat source. Just be sure to choose a space heater that is safe and practical for your situation. Some can be dangerous if knocked over and will require electric power. Be sure to review the safety risks of using electric heaters before making your purchase.

Check this out to learn more: How to Prevent and Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV

7. Skipping extra insulation

You aren’t throwing money down the drain by purchasing extra insulation. Add it to your rig and you’re already better off. The RV insulation most commonly used to retain indoor warmth during cold temperatures is Reflectix insulation material.

This lightweight stuff can be cut to the size of your RV windows and ceiling van vents. Lay it over them and you have one more way to keep cold out. Many RVers also use Reflectix in summer to keep the heat out.

8. Plugging an electric space heater into a 20-amp circuit

Using electric space heaters inside an RV is not inherently dangerous. But not being smart about how you use supplemental heat sources can sometimes end in an RV fire. Don’t leave a space heater turned on when you’re away from your RV or overnight. A pet could easily knock it over and burn your RV down. Or an electric cord can overheat and start a fire. That’s why we never use the high setting on our space heater.

Read more:

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

9. Not opening cabinet doors on freezing cold nights

Keeping RV cabinet doors open at night is one of the best tricks to prevent frozen water lines.

Leaving your cabinet doors open allows for warm air from within your RV to circulate exposed pipes under sinks and vanities. When you keep your cabinets closed, you prevent air from warming them, essentially keeping them isolated in cooler air.

By keeping cabinets that contain pipes open whenever possible and maintaining adequate heat levels throughout your RV, you’re taking crucial steps towards ensuring that your plumbing system remains intact even during winter’s worst conditions.

10. Check your seals and furnace vents

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to help prevent a cold RV is to keep up with your maintenance! Make sure there are no cracks or gaps in the seals around your windows to avoid unnecessary drafts in your RV. You can repair the seals with some caulking or completely replace the seals if needed. 

11. Blindly following Google trip directions without checking road conditions

We’ve all read about drivers who don’t invest in an RV trip planner and end up paying the price by getting lost, or worse. Don’t tempt fate by blindly following your GPS as it can lead to deadly consequences. Always verify that road conditions are safe for us before heading out.

Here are some articles to help:

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

12. Don’t learn RV lessons the hard way

Create enough camping checklists and soon the list of summer and winter RVing mistakes grows shorter. The positive side of learning from common mistakes is that you will have plenty of great campfire stories to share with friends and family.

Cold climate winter camping is not the best time to attend the RV school of hard knocks. It pays to talk to more experienced RVers about winter camping. Learn from everyone else’s mistakes, so you can avoid them in your awesome RV travels.

Worth Pondering…

No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.

—Hal Borland (1900-1978)

Winter Woes: How to Stay Safe in an RV as Arctic Blast Hits US and Canada

Over 150 million Americans are under a winter chill advisory due to life-threatening temperatures. Every state besides Hawaii has issued some form of caution to residents as nearly 80 percent of the nation faces below-freezing weather.

The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

—Ray Bradbury

More than half of U.S. states have experienced some sort of winter weather warning over the past few days with an Arctic blast bringing subzero temps to even Texas. Amid the cold snap, it’s important to keep yourself—and your pets and RV—safe and warm. 

Winter RVing comes with its own set of challenges. Cold temperatures, snowy roads, limited daylight, and extreme weather events can all make for a more difficult and dangerous trip.

However, with proper preparation and knowledge, you can safely navigate the winter roads and enjoy all the beauty and serenity of winter camping.

In this blog post, I’ll share tips on how to prepare your RV for winter, plan your winter RV trip, and drive safely in cold weather conditions. I’ll also provide tips on staying warm and comfortable in your RV during your winter trip.

Angel Lake RV Park, Wells, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV winter driving tips

It’s important to know how to safely navigate snowy and icy roads. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while winter RVing.

How to safely navigate snowy and icy roads

When driving on snowy or icy roads, patience is the key to staying safe. Following the 330 Rule will help set a good pace for your road trip and the following tips will help keep you safe:

  • Slow down and increase your following distance (it’ll give you extra time to stop)
  • Use your headlights and turn signals (rule of thumb: If your wipers are on your headlights should also be on)
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating so you don’t lose traction
  • Steer in the direction of a skid
  • Familiarize yourself with your RV’s heating and defrosting systems before you drive to keep your RV windows clear
Diamond Groove RV Park, Edmonton, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to handle skidding and sliding on winter roads

Never take black ice for granted! Just because you can’t see ice on the road doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mentally prepare yourself by imagining what you will do if you start to slide.

If your RV starts to skid or slide it’s important to stay calm. Steer in the direction of the skid and avoid braking or accelerating.

If your RV has anti-lock brakes, make sure to use them correctly by pressing them consistently and firmly. If your RV does not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently to slow down (pumping the brakes helps give you traction).

Sun Outdoors Salt Lake City (formerly Pony Express RV Park), North Salt Lake City, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Always carry an emergency kit for winter travel

It’s also essential to prepare an emergency kit for your RV road trip whether winter camping or en route to a warmer snowbird retreat (in our case, Arizona). This should include items such as blankets, warm clothing, a first aid kit, flashlights, warning triangles or flares, and a tool kit.

It’s also a good idea to include a small shovel, a bag of sand or kitty litter (for traction), and a bag of salt or de-icer.

Additionally, make sure to have a fully charged cell phone and a way to charge it while on the road.

Know how to properly use snow chains and tire chains

If you’re planning to travel on snowy or icy roads, it’s important to know how to properly use snow chains or tire chains. These devices can be a lifesaver in snowy conditions but they must be used correctly. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and practice putting them on before you hit the road.

If you’re going to be traveling entirely in snowy weather consider putting snow tires on your motorhome or tow vehicle and travel trailer.

Be aware of rules and regulations for winter driving in the states and provinces you plan to drive through. Know where and under what conditions snow tires and snow chains/tire chains are required.

Fort Camping, Fort Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to do if your RV is stranded in winter

If an emergency arises while winter RVing, it’s important to stay calm so you can think clearly. Call for help immediately and stay with your RV if possible. If you must leave your RV, make sure to take your phone, emergency kit, warm clothing, water, and a snack with you.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Stay with your RV: An RV provides shelter and protection from the elements; it’s also much easier to spot an RV from the air than a person on foot.
  • Stay warm: Dress in warm layers, use a good-quality insulated mattress pad, and keep a duvet and extra blankets in the RV for added warmth. Use a space heater to supplement your RV’s heating system and make sure to keep your furnace or heating system serviced and maintained.
  • Create a signal for help: Place a brightly colored cloth or flag on the roof of your RV or on a nearby tree to signal for help. Keep a small light or lantern on at night (preferably one that is battery-operated and will not drain your house battery).
  • Conserve fuel and power: To conserve fuel and power only run essential systems such as the heating system and refrigerator. Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and nourished: Ration your food and water to last for at least a few days in case you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Keep your phone on but preserve its battery: Turn on “battery saver mode” and only use it when trying to contact help.
Fort Camping, Fort Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangers of carbon monoxide

This is must-know information to make sure that you are safe in your RV. Since carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, it can be an immediate danger to your health and, yes, some of your RV appliances do emit it.

How to Prevent and Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV

We need to know how to detect carbon monoxide in our RV. This is serious if you want to stay safe.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that you don’t expect to encounter when traveling the great outdoors. However, some RV appliances emit carbon monoxide which can be dangerous to your health. It’s important to be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it while enjoying the RV lifestyle.

Read more…

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in your RV?

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. Protect yourself and your family by learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to prevent it.

Read more…

The Ultimate Guide to Cold Weather Camping

Whether you do winter RV camping by choice or by necessity, there are steps you’ll want to take to stay warm in your rig. When temps dip below 32 degrees, that’s when you have to worry about freezing pipes, increasing heat needs, and cold—and complaining—family members. 

Read more…

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Insulate your RV

Another important step in preparing your RV for winter is to insulate it against colder temperatures. This can be done by adding insulation to the walls, floor, and ceiling of your RV as well as around windows and doors. You can also use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside and the cold air out.

How to stay warm while camping

While it is difficult to combat extreme cold, there are some surprisingly simple and inexpensive ways to help you stay warm when RVing in chilly temps. Taking these steps is also important for protecting your motorhome or towable from damage.

  • Keep windows and doors closed and use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside
  • Use a space heater to supplement your RV’s heating system
  • Add weather stripping or door sweeps to your RV’s doors and windows to prevent drafts
  • Insulate your RV’s underbelly, pipes, and tanks with heat tape or foam
  • Use an RV skirt to reduce heat loss from under your RV
  • Keep the windows clean to allow maximum sunlight in during the day
  • Use a good-quality duvet and blankets to keep you warm during the night
  • Dress in layers and keep extra blankets in the RV for added warmth
  • In severe cold, confine yourself to one room and focus on heating that small space
Heated water hose and faucet protector © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check weather forecasts and road conditions

Before hitting the road, it’s essential to check the weather forecasts and road conditions for the route you plan to take. This will help you prepare for any potential winter weather such as snow, ice, wind, or freezing temperatures.

Know the winter driving restrictions by state

Some states and provinces restrict RV driving in certain weather conditions just like commercial motor vehicles.

For instance, Pennsylvania DOT puts motorhomes in Tier 1 (the most restrictive tier) when it comes to “winter weather events.”

It’s always a good idea to Google “winter driving restrictions in (state)” before you leave. This might spare you from getting stopped at a state border with different restrictions.

Also, check out the link to ALL the State Driving road conditions below.

It looks and feels like winter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose the right route for winter driving

When planning your winter RV trip, it’s best to choose a route that is well-maintained and has lower elevations. This will help you avoid steep and winding roads that can be dangerous in snowy or icy conditions.

Avoid mountain passes and remote areas if possible as they can be more difficult to navigate in winter.

Many state Department of Transportation have interactive road maps that will show you which ones have ice and snow like this one from the Iowa DOT. The blue lines are roads that are partially covered.

And here is the link for road conditions for each state: Winter road conditions

There is a list of phone numbers and websites for each state. Select the website link to see each state’s road conditions.

I have a series of RV winter camping guides that links to valuable information and life-saving advice. Be sure to check that out.

Worth Pondering…

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

—Roy Bean

How to Keep Mice Out of your RV

Avoid a mouse problem in the first place! Here’s how to keep mice out of your RV for good.

Mice may be small and cute but they can cause big damage and an ugly mess.

I have heard horror stories through the years of how mice chewed through wires, insulation, and walls. Not to mention the nests they build that can clog vents and wreak havoc on your appliances and engine. And NOW I have my own direct experience with this—more on that in a moment.

Even a dead mouse can cause a stink-up! Anyone who has returned to their RV after storing it for winter months only to be confronted with a terrible smell knows what I’m talking about.

So, whether you have a rodent problem or want to avoid one in the first place, here are some tried and true tips to keep them away from your RV.

Cool-weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preventative measures to keep mice out of your RV

The best way to prevent a mouse infestation is to keep them from getting into your RV at all. That means blocking off any potential entry points a mouse might use to infiltrate your rig.

There are several methods to do this. Chances are you’ll need to use more than one depending on the type of holes and entry points you’re dealing with.

Cool-weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Know how mice get in

You’ll see in the next section that the first step to preventing mice from getting into your RV is to search for entry points. But that means you need to know what to look for!

When searching, remember that mice have collapsible rib cages. Why is that important? Because that means if their head can fit into a hole, so can the rest of their body. A good rule of thumb: if a pencil can fit, a mouse can fit.

When looking for potential entry points, you have to look for even the smallest holes and cracks that a flexible mouse can take advantage of.

Cool-weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Scour the exterior of your RV for possible entry points

Now that you know what to look for, the first step is to scour the exterior of your RV for any small cracks or small openings.

Use a flashlight and brightly colored tape to help you find and mark every possible entry point. Then you can determine what materials you need to cover or fill the openings.

Since mice most often enter your RV from the ground, you’ll need to crawl under your RV to search there as well. Or employ someone else to do the job—even if that someone is a grandkid. (By the way, I say most often because I’ve heard of mice dropping down from tree branches to RVs).

If using jacks or jack stands to search under your RV follow every safety measure and use backup safety measures so the RV can’t crush you! Unlike mice, you don’t have a collapsible rib cage!

Cool-weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Seal all holes and cracks

The easiest way to seal off openings is to use spray foam, RV sealant caulk, or steel wool—or a combination of the three. You simply fill or cover the small holes with these materials to make sure mice can’t get in.

It’s a good idea to carry a rag with you and wear gloves since these materials can get messy (or scratchy in the case of steel wool). The last thing you want to do is make a mess of yourself and your RV when you’re trying to improve it.

Note that steel wool is a good choice if you want to remove it easily later on. For instance, you might want to use it while your RV is in storage and then remove it before your next camping trip. Just be sure to mark these areas with brightly colored tape so you remember to remove the steel wool.

As a bonus, ultra-fine steel wool is also great for cleaning, polishing, and buffing. You can use it to clean your RV’s windshield and much more.

Cool-weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Use mouse deterrents

Another effective way to keep mice away from your RV is to make it unattractive to them. You might wonder what in the world can deter creatures that revel in garbage but there are quite a few options.

Granted, there is debate on how effective some of these are but there’s not always a perfect tried and true method. Individual mice have their preferences (and detractions), I suppose. But the following are supposed to help deter the majority of these little critters.

Here are some mouse repellents and deterrents some people swear by:

  • Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil
  • Peppermint oil spray (apparently, mice don’t like peppermint!)
  • Dryer sheets (fabric softener sheets)
  • Mothballs
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent

There’s a long-standing old wives tale that bars of Irish Spring soap will deter mice but it seems that myth has been busted. From my experience, they actually relish gnawing away at the green stuff.

Note that any deterrent that uses strong smells or essential oils will lose effectiveness over time. You’ll need to replace these fragranced repellents regularly.

Cool-weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Burn all bridges

Mice can jump quite high (13 inches) but they prefer to climb. So, you need to make sure there aren’t any bridges that give easy access from the ground to your RV. This includes any tubes hanging down and your tires.

While you can keep any tubes from hanging down, what in the world are you supposed to do about your tires?!

In short, you wrap sheet metal around your tires. Mice can’t climb up the slippery surface.

Our recent experience with mice…

Last winter we bagged three mice with glue traps only after a little critter disabled our toad by gnawing the fuel line. It was a costly repair that necessitated the need for a tow and rental car.

Also, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Mice Out of an RV.

Worth Pondering…

I have a very bad relationship with mice.

—Casey Affleck

How to Keep Your RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping

Going on a winter camping trip? Here are some easy, affordable ways to keep your RV pipes from freezing while camping.

Camping in the snow is an entirely different experience and a great way to enjoy typical summer destinations in a whole new way.

However, RV owners must take the necessary precautions to protect their RV from the cold weather. One of the most critical issues to be aware of is the risk of frozen pipes which can cause serious damage to your RV’s plumbing system. And don’t forget about your RV holding tanks. In severe cold, these can freeze, too.

In this article, I’ll discuss the steps you can take to keep your RV pipes from freezing while camping in cold weather.

Cold weather camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ultimate RV winter camping tips

One trip to the hardware store can get you most of the things on this list.

These tips should help protect your motorhome or trailer through the winter months. That way, you can enjoy your winter camping trip to the fullest.

1. Insulate your RV pipes

Properly insulating your RV pipes is the first step in preventing them from freezing. Insulation materials such as pipe sleeves or foam insulation can add an extra layer of protection. Or, try pipe insulation tape. These materials can be cut to fit any size pipe and can be applied to the exterior of the pipes.

Be sure to pay attention to all the pipes including those under the sinks and in the bathroom and kitchen.

2. Consider using heat tape

Another effective way to prevent your RV pipes from freezing is to use heat tape or heat cable. Heat tape is an electrical heating element that can be wrapped around pipes and plugged in to provide heat.

Make sure to choose a heat tape specifically designed for use on RV pipes and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use.

3. Skirt your RV

Skirting your RV is another way to protect your pipes from freezing because it increases the ambient heat beneath your RV. Skirting is a material that surrounds the bottom or underbelly of your RV to block cold winds.

This can be a DIY project with various materials such as insulated foam, vinyl, or heavy-duty plastic. Or you can purchase pre-made skirting kits.

EZSnap Skirting and Fabricover skirting are very popular in the RVing community.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Insulate your RV storage bays

Your RV storage bays are also vulnerable to freezing temperatures. To protect the pipes in these areas, be sure to insulate them as well. This can be done with foam insulation, foam boards, or fiberglass insulation.

5. Heat your RV storage bays

In addition to insulating the storage bays, you can also heat them to keep the pipes from freezing. Electric heating pads can be placed on the bottom of the storage bay and plugged in to provide heat.

Or, you can use a portable heater like a propane or electric space heater. Just keep in mind that these portable heaters can be dangerous if not used properly. So carefully read their manuals and check them often when in use.

6. Open your cabinet doors

One simple way to keep the pipes in your RV from freezing is to open the cabinet doors under the sinks. This allows warm air to circulate around the pipes and keeps them from freezing.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Strategically place electric space heaters

Another way to keep the pipes in your RV from freezing is to strategically place electric heaters around the RV. This can be done by placing a small electric heater under the sink or in the bathroom to keep the pipes warm.

8. Use your tanks instead of hookups

If possible, use your freshwater tank instead of using a freshwater hookup. Your fresh water tank is insulated and protected from cold temperatures (or at least it should be). Your water hose on the other hand has a higher risk of freezing.

If you need to use fresh water hookups, buy a heated water hose. This heated hose connects to your water source and RV just like other drinking hoses. It’s easy to use and is one of the best ways to keep fresh water flowing to your RV.

On that same note, do not keep your sewer hose open. You shouldn’t leave your gray water tank and black water tank valves open while camping (common newbie RV mistakes) but it’s especially bad to do it in the cold. You certainly don’t want THAT liquid freezing in your sewer hose (aka stinky slinky).

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Choose a sunny campsite

When choosing a campsite, look for one that’s in a sunny location. This will help to keep your RV warm and can also help to prevent your pipes from freezing. It’s a simple tip, yet very effective.

If you don’t think it will make a big enough difference, think about when you’re driving up the mountains. You’ll start seeing snow patches beneath trees much sooner than on open ground. So, try to park in a campsite where you’ll have as much direct sunlight as possible.

10. Install RV holding tank heaters

Finally, consider installing RV holding tank heaters. These heaters are specially designed to keep the water in your holding tanks from freezing and can be a lifesaver in extremely cold temperatures.

Bonus tip: Keep a heat gun or compact hair dryer on hand just in case you end up with a frozen pipe. You can defrost it and add pipe insulation or one of the other above tips to prevent it from happening again.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know the signs of frozen pipes

Even if you take all the necessary precautions, there’s still a risk that your pipes may freeze. It’s important to know the signs of frozen pipes so you can take action before they burst. Some common signs of frozen pipes include a lack of water flow, strange noises coming from the pipes, and frost on the pipes.

If you suspect that your pipes have frozen, you should first turn off the water supply to your RV. Then, open the faucets and turn on the hot water to allow any remaining water to flow through the pipes.

If the pipes are still frozen, you may need to use a hair dryer or heat lamp to thaw them. Never use an open flame such as a propane torch, to thaw pipes.

Where to find more support…

The Ultimate Guide to Cold Weather Camping

Whether you do winter RV camping by choice or by necessity, there are steps you’ll want to take to stay warm in your rig. That’s why I put together this Ultimate Guide for Cold Weather Camping. 

I want you to know exactly how to use your RV in the winter—how to shield it from Mother Nature, how to winterize and store it if you want to, and even how you can make money renting your rig to others in warmer parts of the country.

Keep reading…

Worth Pondering…

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

—Roy Bean

13 Tips for Winter RV Living

Your RV need not be in storage during the cold months. Get out there! Here are 13 winter camping tips for RVers.

Most RVers in northern states and provinces leave their RV in storage from the first frost until spring. Some, like us, are snowbirds who head out for warmer temps in the southern Sun Belt states. But many others winterize their RVs and leave them sitting there all winter.

Other RVers love camping in the snow.

First, decide whether your RV needs to be winterized and learn what that means. Winterizing your RV means you’ve taken steps such as:

  • Emptying water tanks
  • Draining the water heater and water lines
  • Disabling plumbing to prevent the pipes (which run along the undercarriage of the RV) from bursting or being destroyed
Winter RV living © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But winterizing your RV is not always a must-do especially if you plan to spend considerable time in your rig or temperatures at your cold destination won’t get below freezing. If a vehicle has been winterized you won’t be able to use the sink or bathroom inside the RV as usual (unless you take extra steps like using antifreeze).

Bur, you can absolutely use your RV for camping in the winter provided you prepare adequately to keep yourself and your RV safe from harm.

It’s not easy to camp in winter but many people do it with joy and very little stress and that’s because they’ve learned how to prepare their RVs for winter RV living. They know how to keep the plumbing system from freezing and bursting, keep the temperature inside the RV at a safe and comfortable level, reduce or prevent moisture accumulation, seal out intruders with little paws and big whiskers, and many other important winter camping preparations.

Anyone who’s lived in an RV for any duration of time in cold and snowy climates is likely to have a list of things to do—and a list of things to NOT do—to stay safe and warm while keeping the RV from winter damage.

Here are 15 of my top tips for winter RV living.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 1: Fill your fresh water tank and/or use a heated water hose

Water is very important for a multitude of reasons but when the temperature falls below freezing, water turns to ice. And when it does this, it expands—potentially bursting/damaging hoses and plumbing. For this reason, if you plan to winter camp you need to put water on the top of your list of things to prioritize.

If you’re winter camping for a short duration (say a week or less) you can simply fill your fresh water tank and plan to use that water for washing, cooking, and drinking. If you’re parked near a city water source of any kind, you can connect your fresh water hose and refill your fresh water tank as needed. This technique avoids the issue of your fresh water hose freezing.

However, if you’re planning to be winter camping in an area where ambient temps are likely to hit freezing or below regularly, you may wish to invest in a heated water hose.

Check this out to learn more: Winter RV Camping Must-Have: Heated Water Hose

And while you’re at it, be sure to always use a water pressure regulator when connected to any city water source including in the winter in which case you may want to wrap it in some type of insulation.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 2: Fill Propane or connect to an external propane tank

Before heading out on a winter camping trip (or before settling into a long-term winter campsite), be sure to fill your propane tank/tanks or obtain the necessary materials to connect to an external propane tank.

If you’re going to need propane for heating your rig and water and for cooking you’ll need to prepare ahead of time so that you don’t run out (I recommend having a couple of different options for heating your rig if you’ll be camping in sub-freezing temperatures because you can’t risk losing a single heat source).

If you are boondocking, bring a snow shovel and clear off the area.

Tip # 3: Keep sewer hose off the ground and flowing downward

If you connect to a sewer outlet during your winter RV living, you’ll want to keep your sewer hose off the ground and running on a downward slope. An easy way to achieve both of these goals is to use a Slunky sewer hose support.

The Slunky elevates and supports your sewer hose (off the frozen ground) and provides the slope you need for proper drainage. The Slunky is a 20-foot support that’s 7 inches tall at the RV end sloping to 4.5 inches in height at the sewer end.

Keep valves closed when not dumping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 4: Keep gate valves closed during winter RV living

Along with using a sloping sewer hose support, you’ll want to keep your gray water and black water gate valves closed (you should ALWAYS leave your black valve closed) opening them only when you want to dump your holding tanks.

When left open, only small amounts of gray water will drain out through the hose at a time; that small flow could freeze as it flows through slowly building up (like the layers of a pearl) until the hose is blocked.

Here are some articles to help:

Tip # 5: Seal off sewer hose entry

Another way to tend to the warmth of the basement or water compartment during winter RV living is to seal off the sewer hose entry. If you’ve got your sewer hose connected then you’re probably running it through a hole provided in the bottom of the bay. That hole allows cold (and potentially rodents) into the water compartment.

You can use steel wool to seal around your sewer hose opening when camping in the cold. This serves two purposes—to keep the cold from entering the bay and to keep mice from entering as well! If staying in a damp climate or for the longer term, consider brass/bronze wool instead since it won’t rust.

Tip # 6: Use steel or brass wool to seal small openings

To keep mice from seeking warmth inside your RV seal all small openings using steel wool. Brass wool also works. Also, use mouse traps and glue sticks in the basement and interior just in case they foil your attempts to seal them out. We’re not mean-spirited and we do love animals. We just don’t like stowaways that reproduce at warp speed and love to gnaw on everything in sight (and lots that ISN’T in sight) ending an otherwise wonderful winter RV living experience!

That’s why I wrote this article: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Mice Out of an RV

Dehumidifier for moisture control © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 7: Moisture control for winter RV living

Moisture control is essential in an RV to prevent mold and mildew from causing potentially serious issues. In winter, it’s especially important to keep moisture at bay. The three greatest producers of moisture in an RV are showering, cooking, and breathing. Since we generally need to do all three, I suggest keeping moisture at bay using a few simple methods, especially during periods of winter RV living.

Even though you’re probably inclined to want to seal everything up airtight to keep heat in and cold out, DON’T! You’d just be trapping in all of the moisture you’re creating in your RV. First, run your vent fans—yes, even in winter. You need to be able to run your roof vent fans in any kind of weather. This is why I recommend the installation of RV roof vent covers. They allow vents to be open without letting rain or snow enter the RV.

Vent covers aren’t expensive and are well worth the minimal effort to install.

Second, I recommend using a squeegee to pull the water off of your shower walls and toward the drain after each shower. If you don’t do this, your RV absorbs a significant amount of moisture while the shower is drying on its own because the water is evaporating.

A shower squeegee is also inexpensive but is an important tool in keeping moisture at bay. We use it all year long—not only when winter camping.

Finally, you can opt to use a small electric dehumidifier (if you’re connected to shore power) or a dehumidifying product like DampRid or something similar positioned throughout the interior of the RV.

Here’s a helpful guide to avoiding moisture damage in your RV: How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV

Dehumidifier for moisture control © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 8: Use holding tank heating pads

If you’re winter camping in sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period, you may need to warm your holding tanks by using holding tank heating pads. Some RVs come from the factory with tank heating pads (we opted for them when we bought our Newmar Dutch Star and ultimately we’re glad we did).

Tip # 9: Insulate RV windows

You may also want to consider insulating your RV windows depending on how long you plan to winter camp in very cold temperatures.

You can insulate windows with heavy curtains or you can create DIY storm windows using ⅛-inch plexiglass or PETG panels which you’ll custom cut to fit your windows. You can adhere them to your windows using clear double-sided mounting tape.

Many RVers choose to use Reflectix, heavy-duty foam board, or even bubble wrap to insulate windows. The problem with these products is twofold. First, they seal out the light and need to be removed and installed daily to allow the sun in (unless you like living in a dungeon). Also, they tend to allow moisture to accumulate on the windows.

You can also use a combination of choices to cover your windows such as your choice of window covering combined with heavy-duty curtains. Although we often think of them as insulation from the sun, high-quality windshield covers can also be helpful in cold weather.

Winter RV living © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 10: Insulate your skylight

You may also want to insulate your skylights using a pre-made skylight cover. These are inexpensive and serve to insulate your RV from the cold that can come through the relatively thin plastic of the skylight. You’ll need to measure the inside of your skylight frame to obtain the proper dimensions for your insulator.

Some RVers use these in their roof vents as well but if you do this remember not to cover them all as it’s very important to run a roof vent fan to prevent moisture from accumulating in the RV.

These skylight/vent insulators are also good to keep the heat out in summer.

Tip # 11: Cover AC unit/units

Cover your roof air conditioning units. This is important from the perspective of keeping the cold from entering your RV in winter and also as a means of protection from the elements.

Of course, you don’t want to do this if your RV air conditioners are also heat pumps and you plan to use them as a source of heat while you’re camping. Just be aware that they’ll only work in outside temperatures above freezing so they won’t be of much use when the temps begin to drop.

Be careful where you park your car and RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 12: Dress in layers

Dressing in multiple layers including base layers, mid-layers, hoodies, and shell jackets gives you greater control over regulating your body temperature. As you move through the activities of the day, you’ll work up body heat. As you do so, it’s important to avoid sweating because as it dries, sweat cools, wrapping you in a cold cocoon. Managing your body heat by constantly adding and subtracting layers helps you prevent sweating as much as possible—a key component of staying warm on winter adventures.

Tip # 13: Snow shovel and ice scraper

You might need to dig out your RV and scrape ice from your windows when it’s time to drive. Driving an RV in winter requires the same common sense you need to drive an RV any other day: Slow down and avoid being on the road when it’s dark.

Driving an RV in winter presents its own set of unique challenges: You’ll need to make sure your RV is set to handle winter conditions and you’ll have to track down additional winter gear and take extra precautions when driving and camping that a warmer destination wouldn’t necessarily require.

Read more: Don’t Get Stuck in the Cold: RV Winter Driving and Survival Tips

Worth Pondering…

The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

—Ray Bradbury

Don’t Get Stuck in the Cold: RV Winter Driving and Survival Tips

Don’t get stuck in the cold in your RV. Here are ESSENTIAL RV winter driving tips and other helpful information including the link to all the road condition maps for each state.

Winter RVing can be a unique and exciting experience but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Cold temperatures, snowy roads, and limited daylight can all make for a more difficult and dangerous road trip.

However, with proper preparation and knowledge, you can safely navigate the winter roads and enjoy all the beauty and serenity of winter camping.

In this blog post, I share tips on how to prepare your RV for winter months, plan your winter RV trip, and drive safely in cold weather conditions. I also provide tips on staying warm and comfortable in your RV during your winter road trip.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter camping tips

Make your winter campout a lot more enjoyable with these quick five tips. It’s all about staying cozy so you can focus on enjoying the beauty of winter around you. 

  • Cover your windshield to keep heat in and cold out
  • Invest in a battery heater (batteries work less efficiently in the cold)
  • Have a backup heater (i.e., space heater)
  • Put Reflectix on windows
  • Bring your fresh water in jugs and flush your toilet with antifreeze

Preparing your RV for winter

Before hitting the road for a winter RV trip, it’s essential to properly prepare your RV for the colder temperatures and inclement weather. Here are some tips to help you winterize your RV and prepare it to drive and camp in winter conditions.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Insulate your RV

Another important step in preparing your RV for winter is to insulate it against colder temperatures. This can be done by adding insulation to the walls, floor, and ceiling of your RV as well as around windows and doors. You can also use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside and the cold air out.

Winterizing your RV plumbing and water systems

One of the most important steps in preparing your RV for winter is to winterize the plumbing and water systems. This process usually involves draining the water tanks, adding RV-specific antifreeze to the plumbing lines, and protecting any exposed pipes from freezing.

If you’re unsure how to winterize your RV plumbing and water systems, it’s best to consult your RV’s owner’s manual or have a professional do it for you. But, the following articles will help:

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maintain and inspect your RV tires, brakes, and batteries

It’s also crucial to maintain and inspect your RV tires, brakes, and battery before heading out on a winter RV trip. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread to handle snowy and icy roads. Check your brakes to ensure they’re in good working condition and consider investing in winter tires or tire chains. Also, make sure your RV battery is fully charged and in good condition as it will have to work harder in the colder temperatures.

Planning your winter RV trip

Once your RV is prepared for winter, it’s time to start planning your trip. Here are some tips to help you plan a safe and enjoyable winter RV adventure.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check weather forecasts and road conditions

Before hitting the road, it’s essential to check the weather forecasts and road conditions for your destination and the route you plan to travel. This will help you prepare for any potential winter weather such as snow, ice, or freezing temperatures.

Know the winter driving restrictions by state

Some states restrict RV driving in certain weather conditions. For instance, Pennsylvania DOT puts motorhomes in Tier 1 (the most restrictive tier) when it comes to “winter weather events.” It’s always a good idea to google “winter driving restrictions in (state)” before you leave. This might spare you from getting stopped at a state border with different restrictions. Also, check out the link to ALL the State Driving road conditions below.

Choose the right route for winter driving

When planning your winter RV trip, it’s best to choose a route that is well-maintained and has lower elevations. This will help you avoid steep and winding roads that can be dangerous in snowy or icy conditions.

Avoid mountain passes and remote areas if possible as they can be more difficult to navigate in the winter. Also, be aware some roads close for the winter.

Many state Department of Transportation have interactive road maps that will show you which ones have ice and snow like this one from the Iowa DOT. The blue lines are roads that are partially covered.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter road conditions for every state

And here is the website link (and phone number) for the latest road conditions for each state.

Always carry an emergency kit for winter travel

It’s also essential to prepare an emergency roadside kit for your winter RV trip. This should include items such as blankets, warm clothing, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a portable charging device for your phone.

It’s also a good idea to include a small shovel, a bag of sand or kitty litter (for traction), and a bag of salt or de-icer.

Additionally, make sure to have a fully charged cell phone and a way to charge it while on the road.

Know how to properly use snow chains and tire chains

If you’re planning to travel on snowy or icy roads, it’s important to know how to properly use snow chains or tire chains. These devices can be a lifesaver in snowy conditions but they must be used correctly. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and practice putting them on before you hit the road.

If you’re going to be traveling entirely in snowy weather, consider putting snow tires on your motorhome or tow vehicle and travel trailer.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV winter driving tips

Once you’re on the road, it’s important to know how to safely navigate snowy and icy roads. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while winter RVing.

How to safely navigate snowy and icy roads

When driving on snowy or icy roads, patience is the key. Following the 330 Rule will help set a good pace for your trip and the following tips will help keep you safe:

  • Slow down and increase your following distance (it’ll give you extra time to stop)
  • Use your headlights and turn signals (rule of thumb: If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on)
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating so you don’t lose traction
  • Steer in the direction of a skid
  • If your RV has anti-lock brakes, press the pedal firmly and consistently
  • If your RV doesn’t have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently to help gain traction while slowing down
  • Familiarize yourself with your RV heating and defrosting systems before you drive to keep your RV windows clear
Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to handle skidding and sliding on winter roads

Never take black ice for granted! Just because you can’t see ice on the road doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mentally prepare yourself by imagining what you will do if you start to slide.

If your RV starts to skid or slide on a snowy or icy road the most important thing to do is to stay calm. Steer in the direction of the skid and avoid braking or accelerating.

If your RV has anti-lock brakes, make sure to use them correctly by pressing them consistently and firmly. If your RV does not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently to slow down. (Pumping the brakes helps give you traction.)

What to do if your RV is stranded in winter

If an emergency arises while winter RVing, it’s important to stay calm so you can think clearly. Call for help immediately and stay with your RV if possible. If you must leave your RV make sure to take your phone, emergency kit, warm clothing, water, and a snack with you.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Stay with your RV as it provides shelter and protection from the elements: It’s also much easier to spot an RV from the air than a person on foot.
  • Stay warm: Dress in warm layers, use a good-quality insulated mattress pad or sleeping bag and keep extra blankets in the RV for added warmth. Use a space heater to supplement your RV heating system and make sure to keep your RV furnace or heating system serviced and maintained.
  • Create a signal for help: Place a brightly colored cloth or flag on the roof of your RV or on a nearby tree to signal for help. Keep a small light or lantern on at night (preferably one that is battery-operated and will not drain your battery).
  • Conserve fuel and power: To conserve fuel and power only run essential systems such as the heating system and refrigerator. Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and nourished: ration your food and water to last for at least a few days in case you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Keep your phone on but preserve its battery as much as possible. Turn on “battery saver mode” and only use it when trying to contact help.
  • Know How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your RV to ensure your heating appliances don’t poison you!
Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to stay warm while camping

When you’re not on the road, it’s important to stay warm and comfortable inside your RV. Here are some more tips to help you do just that.

  • Keep windows and doors closed and use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside
  • Use a space heater or portable electric heater to supplement your RV heating system
  • Add weather stripping or door sweeps to your RV doors and windows to prevent drafts
  • Use a generator to power your RV heating system
  • Insulate your RV’s underbelly, pipes, and tanks with heat tape or foam
  • Use an RV skirt to reduce heat loss from under your RV
  • Keep the windows clean to allow maximum sunlight in during the day
  • Use a good-quality insulated mattress pad or sleeping bag to keep you warm during the night
  • Dress in layers and keep extra blankets in the RV for added warmth
  • In severe cold, confine yourself to one room and focus on heating that small space.

Worth Pondering…

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

—Roy Bean

Top 3 Winter RV Camping Must-Haves

Staying comfy starts with these three winter RV camping must-haves

After a long, hot summer, the first cold front of the season recently arrived. These three winter RV camping must-haves will help you be ready for the drop in temperature.

Heated RV water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heated RV water hose

A heated RV water hose will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. These hoses cost over $100 depending mostly on length but will save you a lot in frozen pipes and related issues.

A heated water hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Made with food-grade materials, a heated RV water hose comes in several lengths. Rated for use in temperatures down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit just plug it into a 110-volt outlet at the utility pedestal. It stays on to prevent a frozen water hose.

Heated RV water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The material remains flexible down to -20 degrees which makes it easy to coil and store. A 25-foot hose typically uses about 2.5 kWh of electricity a day and will cost about 25¢ a day to keep water flowing to your RV in the coldest of temperatures.

Heated water hoses have long heat strips that run along their length. These prevent water from freezing when it travels through the tube. These hoses need to be plugged into electrical outlets to function and they have a variety of sizes and energy requirements.

Heated RV water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heated water hoses are an essential piece of gear for anyone who plans to use their RV in cold areas. You always need to be sure that your sinks, showers, and toilets are working when you’re living in an RV.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electric space heater

Ceramic convection heaters are the most popular type of portable space heaters for good reason. Not only are they affordable (you can get a good one for under $50) but they are also efficient and quickly take the chill out of the air. Ceramic heaters work by heating the air and circulating it around the room.

When shopping for a portable electric space heater for an RV, consider the safety features of each model. When using high heat to warm small spaces it is paramount to use a heater that has safety features. Also, be aware of the amount of space the heater will cover. There is no use buying a heater that does not have enough power to warm your rig. 

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These little units are powerful and can easily warm up a small room. However, they’re also a fire hazard because they produce heat. Therefore, it’s important for every RVer to know some small space heater safety tips.

Never leave a space heater unattended. If things unexpectedly malfunction you won’t be there to deal with the situation. It may be tempting to turn on the heater and do some chores while it warms up. This is a dangerous thing to do.

In addition, you are wasting electricity if you run a space heater in an empty room. When you plan to leave the room, turn off the heater, unplug it, and store it somewhere where it will be out of the way. 

Dehumidifier © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Dehumidifier

Cold and wet is bad. Not just for you, but for your RV, too. Insulated RVs can quickly fill with moisture and humidity especially when frequently showering and cooking inside. The moisture and condensation can cause damage and promote mold and mildew growth.

When winter camping it’s advisable to use several dehumidifiers in the RV (bathroom and kitchen are particular problem areas). Moisture absorbers such as DampRid will help reduce damaging condensation. Applications for RVs include disposable absorbers (10.5-ounce tub), refillable absorbers (10.5-ounce tub), hi-capacity absorbers (4-pound tub), and hanging absorbers (14-ounce hanging bag).

Dehumidifier © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

DampRid’s crystals absorb excess moisture in the air to create and maintain the optimal humidity level in your RV.

Other articles you may want to read:

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

The Ultimate Guide to Cold Weather Camping

Looking to go winter camping, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

 ‘Tis the season where the mercury starts dropping and RVers the world over begin to hunt for warmer pastures. After all, one of the best parts of owning or renting an RV is the fact that you can chase 70 degrees as it gets colder up north.

But what if cold weather camping is your jam? Or suppose you want to be close to a ski hill or other place that’s great for winter RV camping? Or do you live in your RV full-time but work still requires you to be in a cold-weather spot?

Whether you do winter RV camping by choice or by necessity, there are steps you’ll want to take to stay warm in your rig. That’s why I put together this Ultimate Guide for Cold Weather Camping. 

I want you to know exactly how to use your RV in the winter—how to shield it from Mother Nature, how to winterize and store it if you want to, and even how you can make money renting your rig to others in warmer parts of the country.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is cold weather camping?

Cold weather camping can be defined as any time you camp in your RV in the winter when the temperature is consistently below freezing. That’s because temps above freezing don’t usually bring with them the same problems and considerations that winter camping brings with it.

When temps dip below 32 degrees, that’s when you have to worry about freezing pipes, increasing heat needs, and cold—and complaining—family members. 

Another consideration with cold weather camping in an RV is wind. Even if the temps are above freezing, winter weather can still bring cold winds. Cold winds can make RV camping in winter a tough proposition because the winds more easily penetrate RV windows and doors than in a house. 

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why cold weather camp?

Cold-weather camping can get you into some of the best places to hang out in your RV. You could stay close to a ski hill for a fraction of the cost of a condo, you could hang right by certain national parks and have them nearly all to yourself, or you could just stay in an area you want to stay in despite the wrath of Mother Nature

None of this means that RV camping in the winter has to be uncomfortable. There are ways to explore the outdoors in a place you enjoy and still come home to a home-on-wheels. 

Heated water hose for winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to keep an RV warm in the winter 

Each RV is unique and some are better equipped for cold weather. Despite the marketing sticker on the outside of your RV saying something like “Extreme Weather Package”, very few RVs are ready for freezing temperatures without some modifications.

It is important for you to know specifically what is installed on your RV such as a heated and enclosed underbelly, holding tank warmers, or insulated pipes.

You can take the following steps to make sure you’re ready for cold-weather RV camping:

  • Add to your insulation
  • Use clear marine vinyl or Reflectix to create an additional insulation barrier on your RV windows
  • Cover your RV with area rugs for an extra layer of floor insulation
  • Insulate your RV roof vents
  • Install heavy drapes that insulate your windows against the cold
  • Check to ensure all doors and windows are well sealed and replace old seals/weather stripping as needed
  • Purchasing or fabricating an RV skirt to seal your RV’s underside
  • Use multiple forms of heat—furnace, heat pumps, electric space heaters
  • Blankets, thermal undergarments, and thick socks go a long way in keeping the family happy while cold weather camping.
Electric space heaters help to keep the interior warm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV camping in winter: Maintain your furnace BEFORE it gets cold

RV propane furnaces haven’t changed much since the early days of RVing but they can still be a pesky appliance to keep running efficiently. And you can be pretty much certain that it won’t be on a 60-degree day in the middle of the week that it dies. It will be on a cold holiday weekend when you’re hundreds of miles away from civilization. As part of preventive maintenance have your furnace tested and serviced by a certified tech before the winter season.

Keep water flowing with a heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping

Keeping water flowing—and unfrozen—is your most important winter camping mission, apart from staying warm yourself. 

You should take these precautions to keep RV pipes from freezing:

  • Use a heated water hose: This will keep water flowing through your city water connection
  • Use the RV fresh water tank: If you don’t want to use a heated hose or aren’t connected to city water, your fresh water tank is a viable option
  • Practice strategic dumping: Leaving your black and grey tanks open is never a good idea; instead, dump only when your tanks are about 70-75 percent full
  • Use low-temp heat tape on hoses: Heat tape can be easily wrapped around external hoses to keep them thawed while using your RV in the winter
  • Let your water drip: I don’t particularly like this one because it wastes water but if you’re in a pinch this will keep your water hose from freezing because sitting water freezes before running water
  • How to pack for cold weather camping
Faucet protector and heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now that your RV is ready for winter camping, it’s time to prepare your family for the adventure. Here is what you want to pack in your RV for cold-weather camping: 

  • Sleeping bags and thick blankets
  • Breathable underlayers such as thermal underwear that wick away moisture
  • Thicker mid-layers like fleece or wool sweatshirts
  • Toque, warm socks, and waterproof boots/shoes
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof outer layer
  • Headlamp and lantern 
  • Snow brush/ice scraper
  • Shovel
Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to go

Many RVers opt for winter camping in southern destinations because their winters are far less harsh. While you may still need to take certain precautions to keep your RV warm, most snowbirds find southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida comfortable during the winter months. Other states that attract snowbirds include Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Nevada.

On the flip side, if you plan to chase the snow, consider Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and even northern New Mexico. If you’ve decked out your RV to be the ultimate cold-weather camper, ski resorts can be a great place to winter camp.

To experience the snow in less harsh conditions consider Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina. Since winters here are relatively mild, you’ll get snow without the extreme cold (usually). Explore Smoky Mountain National Park when few people are there and enjoy southern hospitality as you cold weather camp.

The Pacific Northwest is known for mild winters, light snow and rain, and ocean fun. Even during the winter, the Oregon coast is a fun spot for cold-weather camping. And north of Washington State in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, you’ll experience Seattle-like weather.

The Springs at Borrego Golf & RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to stay safe while cold weather camping

Cold weather camping brings with it a few extra precautions.

First, keep an eye out for icy conditions—especially black ice. Ice is a sticky situation for any vehicle but it can be especially problematic when driving an RV. Second, be sure to have an emergency RV kit with you at all times in case you get stuck on the side of the road. Finally, be sure you always have extra water, food, and blankets on board at all times in case you get stuck in cold weather. 

How to winterize your RV

While cold-weather camping is appealing to many RVers, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes you just want to tuck your RV away for the winter until spring arrives. Storing your RV for the winter can be a great option. If you choose to do this, you should take the following steps to prep your RV for cold-weather storage: 

  • Drain your water lines via your low point drain: Consult your owner’s manual to find the location of your low point drain. Once you find it, open it to drain all the water from your lines.
  • Drain your water heater and bypass it. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to do this. It’s very important that you allow the water in your water heater to cool before you do this so you don’t get burned.
  • Pump non-toxic RV antifreeze through your water lines.
  • Store your RV batteries in a climate-controlled location: You can extend the life of RV-deep-cycle batteries by storing them in a temperature-regulated place.
  • Pour a bit of non-toxic RV antifreeze down your sink drains: This helps to protect the P-traps. Also leave some in your toilet bowl to protect those parts.
  • De-winterize your RV in spring before you head back out. 
Sea Breeze RV Resort, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want to rent out your RV this winter?

Winter RV camping can be a fun journey if it’s your jam. But what if you’d rather make money with your camper during the winter? Many parts of the U.S. still experience high demand for RVs during the winter and there are many ways you can connect with individuals who want to rent RVs in these climates. Moving your RV south for the winter could be a great option for you if you were otherwise planning to store your camper for the winter.

While it might seem intimidating to have your RV rented out to strangers in a faraway place, there are many ways you can have peace of mind while your RV makes money as a winter camping rig. 

Hit the winter roads

Cold-weather camping is a tried and true path that many have trod. While it’s not necessarily for everyone, the bottom line is that you have many options for your RV in the winter from storing it to camping in it to making money with it. No matter which way you choose to use your RV in the winter it’s good to know that cold weather doesn’t need to stop your camping plans.

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

Winter Can Be a Great Season to Explore National Parks

Don’t wait until summertime to explore these National Parks

Even the best preparations and the most insulated RV may not be enough to survive harsh winter conditions. Anything can happen and anyone hell-bent to visit a remote destination in cold weather will do well to follow a few common sense winter RV camping guidelines.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why go RVing to National Parks in winter?

Summer is by far the best and easiest time to learn how to go RVing to National Park Service (NPS) sites. Whether you travel in a motorhome coach or a teardrop trailer, as long as you pack a little food, adequate water, and your favorite creature comforts, even the most novice RVers have everything needed for a successful visit. But all this easy camping comes at a cost—less campsite availability, crowded facilities and trails, road traffic, and an ongoing din of humanity.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter RVing to national parks is an entirely different experience. Visitors brave enough to set up camp during colder days and even chillier nights are treated to an authentic experience with scarce crowds, more wildlife, and maximum solitude. It’s worth the effort but just don’t go in with that same laid-back approach you might take during summer. Winter RV camping in national parks requires more prep work and common sense—especially when heading to isolated destinations without cellular coverage. 

During any given winter, about 38 NPS sites have campgrounds that stay open for off-season RV camping. If you think you’re up to the challenge of winter RV camping in national parks, here’s what you need to know to make the most of the experience.

Pinnacles National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The dos and don’ts of winter RV camping in National Parks

It doesn’t matter what type of RV you drive, the same basic winter camping rules apply to anyone heading to a NPS destination.

DO keep an eye on the weather: Having a roof over your head at night can give you a false sense of security when you’re RV camping. Our cozy homes on wheels make it easy to forget that chilly weather is about more than wearing bulky layers of clothing. Winter storms and cold winter weather generates a host of problems specific to RVs like frozen plumbing lines and bitter cold blowing through slide-out openings.

El Morro National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even if you are lucky enough to have an electrical hookup at a campground, cold-weather RV challenges still happen. Don’t go into a national park RV destination without keeping a close tab on the short and long-term forecast. And if your camping destination lacks internet, take a daily walk to find the latest forecast posted at the entrance kiosk. Don’t let the weather surprise you and be ready for anything.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

DON’T expect camping conveniences: Many national parks with winter RV camping technically are open but that doesn’t mean the usual camper services will be available. In most cases, essential facilities like RV dump stations, bathrooms, water spigots, and campsite utility hookups (where available) get shut off before the first hard freeze. Conveniences like camp stores and even gas stations may also be closed. Amenities like visitor centers and laundromats are likely to be shut down too. Come with all the food and provisions you need and check the park’s website to see what’s open before heading out.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

DO arrive with camping essentials and working RV systems: Don’t leave home without allowing enough time to conduct a thorough check on your rig such as checking your RV propane levels and fuel reserves. Verify that your solar electric power system and generator work as expected and get your RV engine fully inspected and ready to roll on good tires. That way if sudden, severe weather moves in and you need to depart, your RV has everything it takes to roll away without issues.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

DON’T forget to bring cold-weather RVing gear: The downside of cold-weather RVing in national parks is the need to carry bulky items to keep you and your RV warm. The upside is that if ominous weather is on the horizon, you’ll be ready for anything. Essential cold-weather RVing gear includes things like:

  • Pre-cut squares of Reflectix foil insulation to keep cold air from seeping through windows, ceiling vents, and other drafty areas
  • Heated water hose (or water hose heat tape or a length of foam insulation hose to wrap around your water hose and prevent freezing)
  • Full tank of fresh water in case hookups are shut off for the season
  • Adequate battery jump system strong enough to start your RV
  • Cold-weather clothing and footwear for you and your dog if you travel with one
Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t let all of this preparation scare you. Cold weather camping in national parks can be a blast if you’re fully prepared. Create a thorough RV travel plan filled with contingencies for alternative places to camp, fuel up, and find groceries. Let people know where you are headed and when you’ll return. Do all that and you’ll be well-prepared for anything that might happen.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Parks open for winter RV camping

Searching for the best winter RV camping national park destination with cold, sometimes snowy weather? Here’s an abbreviated list of national parks with at least one campground open for winter RV camping. 

Note that in several of the following parks (Big Bend, Pinnacles, and Organ Pipe Cactus, for example) you can expect warmer weather and will not require the above cold weather preparation.

Keep in mind that campground status can change depending on weather.

Worth Pondering…

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden