Friday, June 2, 2023


Bucking the trend: Heading north for the winter—something you might consider

Some are tired of the hassle of trying to find open RV sites. Others have snowmobiles they love to ride. Still, other folks love to ski, while many folks simply love winter. Who are these people? They are the cold-loving, hardy outdoor souls in love with snow and cold temperatures. Instead of heading south like thousands of other RVers, they head north for the winter months.

Why go north?

  • Fewer crowds. No kidding! Many RVers travel in the opposite direction (south) to find warmer weather. If you prefer solitude, heading north is your best bet. Northern campgrounds may be able to offer greater chances to “distance” from others, and hopefully avoid contracting COVID or one of its variants.
  • Less hassle. While many campgrounds close down for the winter, there are places that warmly welcome the hearty souls who enjoy a winter camping experience. It may be easier to find winter RV sites than at other times of the year.
  • Conducive to an active lifestyle. Forget shuffleboard and checkers! Winter campers are more likely to seek out active outdoor experiences. Like: snowmobiling, skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, cross-country skiing, and more.
  • Greater adventure. Winter camping, along with its unique challenges, appeals to folks who enjoy out-of-the-norm camping experiences.

Where to go

  • Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, is the hot spot for ice fishing. You can take your RV. Or rent a luxury fishing cabin right on the frozen lake! It comes with a small, heated kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Bonus: There’s a hole in the ice floor for you to drop your fishing line!
  • Hayward, Wisconsin, area. Come for the largest ski race in the Northern Hemisphere (February 24-28) or try out other winter sports for yourself. You’ll discover many great campgrounds for your RV, or you can also rent cabins for your stay.
  • Upstate New York. There are more than 6 million acres of protected lands that are just stunning in the winter setting. Mountains, forests, and waterways abound, and all are teeming with wildlife. Backcountry camping along with RV parks and rental units are available.
  • Great Smoky Mountain area, Tennessee. The Smoky Mountain National Park welcomes winter campers and offers great hiking trails and scenic winter views.
  • And more. Check out other areas of interest, even those places you’ve visited during warmer weather. Who knows? Your favorite summer camping spot may turn out to be your favorite winter site, as well.

What to pack

  • Warm linens. Many winter campers pack flannel sheets and down comforters. Others love their heated mattress pad.
  • Clothing. Experienced winter campers dress in layers. First, next to your skin, you’ll want a snug-fitting, non-plant-based fabric that will wick moisture away from your body. Think: long johns. Next comes a warm, insulating layer made of wool, down, or synthetic insulation, like a fleece jacket. The final layer should be a wind and waterproof jacket along with fleece-lined pants.
  • Wear synthetic socks topped with wool liners in boots. Depending on the temperatures, a parka and snow pants may be layered over the basic three clothing layers.
  • Don’t forget to protect your fingers and head, face and ears, along with your chin and neck. Waterproof mittens or gloves are best. A hat that features earflaps will keep heat in and with your jacket’s hood, provide good protection. A ski mask or balaclava will protect your face and neck.
  • Cautions. Hypothermia and frostbite are real concerns when winter camping. You can prevent a dangerous situation by wearing protective clothing and monitoring the amount of time you spend in cold temperatures.

Let’s go!

Tempting, isn’t it? Who doesn’t love seeing icicles twinkle in the morning sunshine? Or listen to the ice crack while hiking past the lake? While winter camping isn’t for everyone, it does hold an appeal to the outdoorsy folks who look forward to a wonderful wintertime adventure!

Want more info on winter camping?

Watch for upcoming articles with more information about winter camping—specifically winter camping in your RV, where you’ll learn ways to keep pipes from freezing, alternative methods of keeping your rig warm, and much more.

Have you ever camped in cold, winter conditions? Tell us about it in the comments below, or head on over to my forum to talk about your experiences.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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1 year ago

Since I’m Canadian, winter camping is definitely an option. Actually, I’ve camped twice this winter already in temps as low as -29’F. Right now my inside temp is a balmy 19’F! I tried a hot Christmas once, so I understand the draw, but wasn’t a fan. Christmas just isn’t the same without snow. So far, getting around hasn’t been an issue. The extra weight seems to help get through snow & over ice. Of course good tires are a must.

1 year ago

I live in the north. I love winter. Last week it was -19F. I head south because I don’t love 8 months of winter!!!

Jim Prideaux
1 year ago

More like winter lodge vacationing. It like the author had such an article and cut out ‘lodge’ or ‘lodge room’ and inserted ‘RV’ or ‘RV site’. Water is a big issue — is it available? holding it without freezing! dumping it! Anything to augment propane heat? How’s your insulation. Do you need the hook ups or are you fully self contained.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

I live in Dallas Fort Worth. North of me is Oklahoma, Arkansas, and most of New Mexico and Arizona. Sounds like a good idea.

1 year ago

Yes, we’ve camped in the winter, between Christmas and new years we go to mountains and ride rzrs for hours and have a blast. Nothing beats cutting the first tracks through the snow covered trails. The campground turns the water on during the day and we put some In the tank then disconnect the hose and run off the pump. Hydronic heating keeps us and the coach warm.

1 year ago

Last year we headed out to Quartzite then on to visit the grandkids. Stayed a week then on to meet up with friends. The cold set in later that week with ice and sleet. The rear cap of the motor home was two inches thick with lake effect ice. Campground power went out, fortunately the generator performed flawlessly. Later we decided to try to move on only to realize bridges were frozen and travel not recommended, especially with 40,000# and toad. Yes finally made it home safe and sound. Oh, did I mention that we were in South Padre Island, Texas…

1 year ago

Great idea! We are heading North to Oregon. Safety is always a concern so we discovered that drivers must carry chains (or you cannot cross) over some of the mountain passes on the Interstates.

1 year ago

I’ve been in Arkansas Ozarks last 2 months. Lot of COE campgrounds open and virtually empty. Moderate cold by most standards. Most of the time only a few in the park. Like dispersed camping but with power, water and bathhouses. Some private campgrounds that seem fairly full too.

1 year ago

Aren’t most campgrounds closed? How do you find an open campground?

1 year ago
Reply to  Cherie


1 year ago

Yikes! More power to those who chose to swim against the tide. But there are good reasons for heading South in the Winter, (it’s the WEATHER, Duh!). And this article just ignores that. It might be more convincing if it offered some tips for cold-weather camping and driving your RV in the snow.
Personally, I have NO desire to drive a 48,000 lb bobsled… 🙁

Michelle Traynor
1 year ago
Reply to  Don

Haha….this article doesn’t ignore the weather, it’s about WINTER (Duh?!) camping?! It encourages people to embrace winter camping, it didn’t suggest in the headline it was going to tell you how?? It’s easy enough to “google” winter camping. Not to mention plenty of weather apps to assure safe travels.

I have NO desire to go south for constant hot, humid, buggy and over crowded summer-type camping year rpund. It’s all yours! Have at it more peace and solitude up here for fhe rest of us hearty, adventurous (not wimpy and adventureless) souls.

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