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Powder Hunting RV Trip tips

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

A few of my friends and I were throwing around the idea of getting an RV trip together and doing a tour of a bunch of west coast resorts that are on our bucket list. It seems a lot cheaper than driving/flying/hotels, but it's really the adventure that has us into it.


Any advice from anyone who has done this before? Where do you park? Should you trailer a car? It seems as though buying a used RV is cheaper than renting (for a 6 week trip). Is it easy to keep it warm at night?

post #2 of 10

Don't have any personal experience, but sounds awesome. Do it!


If it were me, I can't imagine any advantage to towing a car. Unless you're camping in the forest and driving to the resort each day? It seems like it'll just eat gas money and make for an annoying logistical problem. If you stay in town, you really shouldn't need an extra car.

post #3 of 10

I am a ski RV veteran with many years experience. I have also seen many unhappy RV renters frozen solid in ski resort parking lots.

It seems like a wonderful idea to wake up, walk across the parking lot and get on the lift but

- Unless you have 4 or more people it isn't cheaper if you add up rental charges, insurance and fuel (8 imperial MPG would be typical)

- You better be really good friends because after a few days in a tiny RV you may want to kill each other

- Most RVs (ie the ones made in the USA) are not made for winter. Their plumbing freezes solid meaning no water, shower or toilet, condensation soaks the interior and they are just generally miserable. Three Canadian built RVs can handle the cold - Triple E, Citation, and Travelaire. My Triple E has been in -25c with no problems. If you want something that works fly to Calgary or Vancouver and rent a Triple E from Go West RV.

- Once you get the RV you have to drive it on snowy and icy mountainous roads. They aren't like driving a car. A 24 foot Class C weighs in at almost 15,000 lbs., it doesn't have real snow tires and is like driving a bill board down the road. The first time you have a 30 km side wind on a white ice road you will see God.

- Yes they have a furnace but it draws at least 7 amps and you batteries are much less efficient due to cold meaning you have to be plugged into 110 volts at least every second day or you kill your batteries. No heat = everything frozen solid. Most ski area don't have plugins and most RV resorts are closed in winter.

- Even if the plumbing in the RV works where do you dump the tanks? Most sanidumps are buried under snow and frozen. Getting water is even more difficult as all outside taps are shut off and you can't drive the RV into a typical heated garage.


Having my own RV means I know where to go and how to avoid problems but for a newbie it is a recipe for ruining a perfectly good ski vacation. Renting an RV in winter is certainly an adventure but so is a root canal. 


post #4 of 10

I forgot to mention towing anything in winter in the mountains on snowy, icy roads is a bad idea. Also the logistics of tow bar systems and remote brake systems on the towed vehicle can be daunting and expensive. You can't flat tow most vehicles which means putting them on a trailer and even more likelyhood of the tail wagging the dog.

post #5 of 10

Personally, I discovered I was not an RV kind of gal when we moved cross country, using the RV.  Had three Siberian Huskies with us.  Rained the whole time.  Rented, so naturally shower and sanitation ended up having "issues".  Thought this idea would make for a great thing to do once I retired.  Discovered after 2500 miles I'd rather live in Manhattan (just shoot me) than live in an RV.  


That being said, there are folks who park campers (pickups with a room in the bed) in the parking lot here all winter.  Due to the plumbing issues, I'm assuming they are using the lodge for toilets and not taking a whole lotta showers.  

post #6 of 10

Wow that really ruined the romanticism of the RV road trip, lol. Great info, though!

post #7 of 10

I've done it a few times and would not recommend it to anyone. First night is o.k. it's just a place to sleep but the second day requires a working shower and toilet. By the evening of a second day even on the west coast at ski resort altitude expect both to be getting frozen. Third day is worse. Combine this with the fact that ski areas shut down by 4pm so unless your camping out in the bar or whatever might still open at the base it's a long time to sit in those cramped quarters with your buddies. Can't even say it was too much better on trips with just the gorgeous girlfriend. Rent a vehicle and share a room off hill it won't cost more money than using a rv and will be much easier to hit multiple areas anyway.      

post #8 of 10

Sold motorhomes for 30+ years.  Have done a fair amount of wintertime wandering in one.  


How many are going and how well you know each other is a factor.  Most motorhomes were designed to sleep two, feed four, and drink six.  Class C motorhomes will often sleep more comfortably than a class A.  Class A is often easier to drive and is the same width.


You do want a HEATED basement system.  Live on the top 1/2 of your LPG system and fuel tank, not the bottom.  Ceramic heaters are good.

Towing a car or small SUV, if you are in an RV over about 28', do not trailer it (major PITA).

A lot of Wal-Marts will let you stay in their parking lots overnight while traveling; watch out for the "no no signs" in the parking lot. Cheap overnight.

Drive your inside dually up on a couple of 2X4's for putting on chains, and practice with them before they are needed.

Carry lots of tools and duct tape; RVing is a participation sport.


If I were doing what you are talking about would buy  a larger older diesel pusher without a slide out and have "ONSPOT CHAINS" on it.


Have fun and watch "RV" before you drop the hammer on this deal.  It really is fun, but it really is not for everyone.


post #9 of 10

There's a pretty exhaustive thread on this topic over on TGR. Search for "sleeping in parking lots" and you should find it.


I've thought a lot about doing it once my kids get through college.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for the insight. That answered so many of our questions. Looks like like the RV takes over the experience of the whole trip instead of the skiing and riding.

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