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Skiing while traveling in motor home

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Does anyone travel in a motor home/travel trailer to various ski resorts? We have sold our house and are living in a motor home and I have bought the mountain collective pass and am wondering how realistic this lifestyle combined with skiing would be. Does anyone else do this? What resorts work best for it and what problems have you had? We are retired so will have the ability to drive on bluebird days. Would like advice on parks to stay at that are open year round and are near to ski resorts.
post #2 of 26
The most relevant recent thread I could find is from 2014. The Mountain Collective list has grown a lot since then. Where are you planning to go first?

http://www.epicski.com/t/130668/mountain-collective-tour-with-rv-overnight-stays-allowed
post #3 of 26
We have an active member here, DanoT, who has done this for lengthy periods each winter for many years. I believe he lives in Western Canada, but gets down to many ski regions in Western US too. Travels with a cute dog. If he doesn't see this thread you might send him a private message with your questions. Definitely some areas are more accessible/accommodating for this than others and they tend to be the smaller resorts rather than the giants on MCP, but DanoT would know. He's been using that pass I believe.
post #4 of 26

Most resorts of any size with hotel accommodation actively police the no sleeping in vehicles rule that gets posted.

 

These are places I skied with the RV.

 

Mnt Hood was OK with us staying.

 

Squaw security directed us to the workers car park and made it clear that this as not to be a regular occurrence.

 

Walmart in SLC was OK with us staying overnight but had signs up banning overnight stays.I believe they have had problems with some people making  long stays.. 

 

We also stayed at A Basin unofficially and Wolf Creek officially. 

 

We had a 28 ft class A with a generator and a basement heat outlet. 

 

Uselful info here http://ski.curbed.com/maps/ski-area-overnight-parking-map

post #5 of 26

I've debated this before as I'm on the road for weeks and months at a time.   As noted above your options are quite limited, especially with the MCP.  

post #6 of 26
I believe this is not more popular because the standard RV is not designed or insulated to deal with winter conditions. We have lots of snowbirds here in AZ who store their RVs in the winter months and only use them for travel in the summer, spring and autumn. Sunrise Ski resort in the White Mountians has RV hook ups but they are not used in the winter months.

Not saying you can't do it, just make sure your RV can handle the conditions.
post #7 of 26

Taos Ski Valley has a lower lot which allows campers.    

post #8 of 26

It is possible and people do do it.  I did it last year in a subaru.

 

One problem is that propane heaters make moisture, plus all the moisture from you can make it steamy inside at times.  Take every opportunity to air it out.

 

Make sure your rig is in good driving order.  Spend the money on snow tires.  Get chains.

 

Your rig is going to be real hard to drive in bad conditions.  Plan ahead.  Your rig is going be tough with less room due to snowbanks in parking lots-be smart.

 

Make sure you have a good ladder to your roof so you can clean the snow off from around the roof vent.

 

Do not plan on your rigs holding tank.  I think they have portable ones that can work.  Obviously use other facilities as much as possible.

 

Almost all Walmarts in Colorado are no rv overnight parking.  Check online, but Walmarts are very good to park at.  Safe, facilities, food, anything you need. .

 

There is no way getting around your being an rv.  You are awkward to park and if it is an area they want kept clear for snow removal you probably will be asked to move.   This will take some strategy. .

 

If you are serious pm me and I will share some parking spots for the MC.   

 

A car and cheap hotel/hostel could be more cost effective.

post #9 of 26

I posted this a while back in response to the same question from someone contemplating renting an RV for a ski trip.

 

 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 #10 of 26

Saw a few RVs in canada last winter that were rentals and seemed ok in the cold.  Not sure of the rental company.

post #11 of 26
Calling @DanoT
post #12 of 26
We really need to have a tag for RV Camping. It comes up enough.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Castle Dave View Post
 

I posted this a while back in response to the same question from someone contemplating renting an RV for a ski trip.

 

 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. 

 

This is exactly why we do the car/hotel route.  I'll also add it is much easier to change your location (chase a storm) when your vehicle can average 80 mph at 25 mpg vs 50 mph at 10 mpg 

post #14 of 26
Yes, we have a 1991 Sportvan Coachman "skilift" that we use to travel to ski resorts. It fits in a parking space (22'ish) and has decent room for 3 people, 2 cooking burners, a toilet, fridge, and lotsa closet space. We bought snow tires for it and have never been stuck or needed chains.

CONS: if it's real cold, the propane heater dies in the middle of the night and can't be restarted until am. I think it's because of the extreme cold/lack of oxygen but I'm not sure. We bring drinking water. I pumped the water system with (human-grade edible) antifreeze so if there's water in some tube it won't freeze and burst. We use the toilet system in a reusable fashion (I.e. Large plastic bags to capture waste and throw away rather than liquid/gross/frozen solids in the black tank). Also it can be hard to sleep at altitude, no matter if you're in a van or a hotel.

PROS: it's super nice to have a van with a comfy couch, tv shows/ podcasts, beer, hot food for lunch in the middle of a ski day, instead of fighting for a seat at the overpriced cafeteria. I love the family closeness that we get from our skivan days.. Even if we didn't camp in it, I would love having the "skilift" around for just normal ski days to have a comfortable home base.
post #15 of 26

Castle Dave's post #9 sums things up nicely. The OP would also benefit from a forum search as this topic has been covered before so I will just add a few points.

 

Large motor homes with dual rear wheels do not preform well in snowy conditions. Thin tires that cut through the snow are superior to the flotation that you get with dual wheels. So it is best to avoid mountain passes and switch backs.

 

Most RVs including RVs that are sold as winter capable do not work well when it gets really cold. I do not use my water system in winter. I keep the heat on 24/7 due to my dog staying in my truck camper (mounted on a 4X4 pickup) while I am skiing. I use a porta-potti with RV antifreeze instead of water in the flush tank.

 

20lb propane tanks that can last a month or two in summer, will last 2 or 3 days in winter. I carry 2 20lb tanks as will as a 2000watt Honda generator. The forced air 12v fan on my 16k BTU furnace (electric space heaters are 5,200 BTUs) draws around 4.5 amps and will draw down my 2 AGM batteries in about 2 days or less depending on outside temperature. I turn the furnace off or down very low and then run an electric space heater when charging the batteries.

 

My portable, primitive shower has a low flow shower head, pressure release valve, and when filled with 2 gallons of water heated on the stove, works very well:

 

As far as staying at MCP resorts, again there have been threads about this in the past so do a search. But here are a few highlights:

 

The drive from Calgary is via a well maintained 4 lane section of the Trans-Canada Highway to Lake Louise where the Government Campground ($35CDN/night) keeps a few spots plowed out. Electric only, no sani dump, washrooms/showers open 24/7. Potable water available at the washroom.

 

Sun Valley: Easy drive from Twin Falls, Meadows Campground, 13 Broadway Run Ketchum ID. 208-726-5445 has a few sites plowed with electric only, no water, no washrooms, $35US/night.

 

Alta/Snowbird: BCC does not allow pets so I take the bus and stay at the Park and Ride in Sandy UT, across the street from the Alta Canyon Sports Center where there are saunas, jetted spa, swimming pool for around $5. I would not want to drive a big RV to Alta/Snowbird even if I didn't travel with a pet.

 

Mammoth: $50US/night campground in Mammoth Lakes, plug ins but electric heaters not allowed, showers and jetted indoor spa, 2 blocks from free shuttle bus. Snowy roads not that likely.

 

Aspen: I stay at the Aspen-Basalt campground in Basalt. Mostly year round RVs with a few overnight spots, showers, laundry and right on the free for seniors bus route to the skiing. I don't remember the cost. Electric plug in but I think water/sewer is only available for year round campers.

 

Revelstoke: I think there is a KOA campground that is open year round. There is no RV parking around town but I have stayed in the ski area parking lot without problems but that was a few years ago.

 

For the Whistler Gathering I have booked a site from March 5-11 for $43CDN/night at the Whistler RV Park, 55 Hwy99 604-905-2523. Easy mostly 4 lane drive from Vancouver. There are switchbacks to get up to the campground but the road is well maintained and once at the campground there are shuttle buses to the skiing.

post #16 of 26

Does any one own an RV with Diesel Heater?

post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin Azia View Post
 

Does any one own an RV with Diesel Heater?

I have never owned one but sold hundreds of coaches with the system and used it many times.

 

Hydronic heat is great in a diesel coach. It has long been considered the best you could get in a diesel coach. 

 

Advantages:

You can't run yourself out of LP or fuel for your coach.

Zoned temperatures.

Unlimited hot water.

Not nearly the moisture in the coach.

While traveling the engine heat maintains the temperature in the house (older diesel coaches had a problem with driver compartment heat in cold weather).

 

Negatives:

Requires more service.

Expensive system to purchase.

post #18 of 26

I checked out these marine units for our RV that wouldn't need a battery and use fresh air from the outside. Dickinson makes absolutely beautiful stainless and brass stuff but they are pricey. In the end I decided to just use the RV furnace with generator and Intellipower smart charger.

 

http://dickinsonmarine.com/product/newport-p9000-propane-fireplace/

http://dickinsonmarine.com/product_cat/diesel-heaters/

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin Azia View Post
 

Does any one own an RV with Diesel Heater?

I have never owned one but sold hundreds of coaches with the system and used it many times.

 

Hydronic heat is great in a diesel coach. It has long been considered the best you could get in a diesel coach. 

 

Advantages:

You can't run yourself out of LP or fuel for your coach.

Zoned temperatures.

Unlimited hot water.

Not nearly the moisture in the coach.

While traveling the engine heat maintains the temperature in the house (older diesel coaches had a problem with driver compartment heat in cold weather).

 

Negatives:

Requires more service.

Expensive system to purchase.

That reminded me I knew a trucker who traveled the Prairies in the winter and stayed in his sleeper using one of these units. Amazing technology

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Castle Dave View Post
 

I checked out these marine units for our RV that wouldn't need a battery and use fresh air from the outside. Dickinson makes absolutely beautiful stainless and brass stuff but they are pricey. In the end I decided to just use the RV furnace with generator and Intellipower smart charger.

 

http://dickinsonmarine.com/product/newport-p9000-propane-fireplace/

http://dickinsonmarine.com/product_cat/diesel-heaters/

 

I added a second camper battery and found that I can usually squeeze an extra day between running the generator but then it takes longer to charge 2 batteries.

 

What i wonder about diesel heating systems is how much BTUs are produced. For comparison, a typical electric 1500watt space heater puts out 5200 BTUs, while my propane furnace puts out 18,000 BTUs, so diesel heat=???BTUs.

post #21 of 26


Thank you so much for your helpful response.

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

 

I added a second camper battery and found that I can usually squeeze an extra day between running the generator but then it takes longer to charge 2 batteries.

 

What i wonder about diesel heating systems is how much BTUs are produced. For comparison, a typical electric 1500watt space heater puts out 5200 BTUs, while my propane furnace puts out 18,000 BTUs, so diesel heat=???BTUs.

Aqua Hot is probably the most widely used system as memory serves the typical system put out about 60,000 to 65,000 BTUs. Those are split up trough 3 or 4 zones throughout the coach. The boiler heats the belly of the coach, that gives you a heated basement in place of a crawl space, it helps a lot.  

 

As people start spending $500K+ for the machines that come standard with hardware like this, everything goes up in quality, better windows, water systems, electrical (Prevost come with braided copper wiring), insulation and so forth. They also start getting much more complicated, and there is virtue to the KISS theory. A very old standing joke in the big coaches is: why do they come with such big tool boxes; because they need them.

 

I am not dissing any motorhome or systems. The real difference between a good RV and a bad RV is very simple; good RV's get used, bad ones don't.

post #23 of 26

We camped in the winter in Mammoth Lakes in the RV park using our Arctic Fox 990 truck camper.  Only got down into the low 20's so not a real test but the rig performed perfectly.  The RV park there has electric hookups in the winter.  We ran a small space heater to supplement the propane furnace so it didn't come on as much.

 

The interior moisture doesn't come from the furnace which is vented outside -- it comes from the occupants and cooking mostly.  Crack the roof vent and with double-pane windows it's not that big of a problem for a few consecutive days of use.  Run the fan if you have to.

 

In general, 4-season truck campers like the Lance, Arctic Fox, Bigfoot, and Northernlite are probably the best option.  Even the dump valves are enclosed so don't freeze.  

 

Our AF 990 ended up leaking pretty badly so we got rid of it and have an Escape 17B on order from Escape Trailers in BC.  These are all fiberglass, have spray foam insulation under the trailer, heated tanks, insulation, and double-pane windows (all options).  The furnace is an Atwood AFSD12 which draws only 3.4 amps.  Dual 6V batteries provide enough power to run it for 30 hours continuously.  We will lose the excellent drivability of a truck camper in the snow with this rig, but gain the ability to drop the trailer in an RV park for the trip up to the ski area.

 

In general, I think it's better to stay in a nearby RV park rather than in the ski area parking lot.  Having lived next to a large parking lot in Crested Butte, when it snows the plows are out there for hours at a time starting very early in the morning.  I don't think you will get much sleep.

 

Although this rig should be fine down to 0F, we will avoid anything below 15F, which means March and April for the colder parts of North America.

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinorthamerica View Post
 

 

In general, 4-season truck campers like the Lance, Arctic Fox, Bigfoot, and Northernlite are probably the best option.  Even the dump valves are enclosed so don't freeze.  

 

 Escape 17B on order from Escape Trailers in BC.  

As an aside, Bigfoot and Northernlite are both manufactured in the BC Okanagan and Escape is made in Chilliwack BC. Canadian manufacturers know winter and how to make a rig that works.

post #25 of 26
I took a lot of factors together and decided a truck camper was the route for me. I bought an ultralight pop up truck camper for the lower profile and weight. I found I loose 3mpg with the camper on and save $ on gas by staying 2-3 nights at a time instead of driving back and forth each ski day. I use that $ most often to pay and plug into power for the night. That ultimately saves me $ on blowing through propane and with the small electric space heater, there is less condensation in the camper then when using the propane.

The Titan I haul it on is the rig I take to the hill anyway, so I save on insurance, licensing, etc as apposed to a separate RV or van style rig. I also am fortunate to have room to store the camper in my shop to keep it away from the dreaded camper rot. The added weight, 4wd and 4 studded tires make it a solid driver in the snow, that and the fact I don't drive like an a-hole, 4wd doesn't mean 4 wheel stop.

I made a few changes to the camper. I added a yakima rack on the roof to hold skis and mount my auto satellite for Directv. The skis come off before I raise the camper roof. I put a 12v heating bad under the fresh water tank, but I usually get by with just 3 gallon jugs of water for the weekend, mainly for coffee and cooking, to cut on weight. The fridge is 3 way so my food is good to go. I upgraded to 2 deep cycle batteries and that jacked up my amp hours massively. I opted away from a camper with a 'bathroom' to cut weight on the blackwater tank. I have a small chem toilet in a cabinet that is much easier to find a place to empty, just need a local toilet as supposed to a specific dump site. The hill I stay at most of the time has 24hr bathrooms w showers anyway. I use a 5gal Scepter can in the bed of my truck as my sink water drain, I can pull the can when it is getting full and empty it. I have only experienced the fitting betwin the hose and can freezing up once in a while, I remedy this with a little extra boiled water from my morning coffee down the drain. The roof load rating is not an issue, I brush any snow off before I go to bed and when I wake up. Sense the space heater is going inside on low all the time, I have not experienced big issues with the soft sided walls freezing up. I keep a heat gun in the rig in case in have to defrost anyway. WA OR resorts don't experience sub zero temps anyway.

The mattress topper and flannel sheets keep it more cozy then most resort area hotels I have stayed at. I like to be able to rest, read or nap between runs, make my meals at will, not pay for lodge beer, yadda yadda. I can use the lodge areas for eating areas anyway when I feel cramped. I buy my season pass when they are preseason, usually close to half price. I also buy the RV hookup package that takes the nightly hookup rate form 30 a night to 15. I save $ on an alarm clock by getting up when I hear the groomers coming down off the hill, or the plow maintains the lot (6am ish).

When I head to a place with no power, my batteries are solid for a days, but I charge them each evening with a Honda 1000i while I watch TV. I have used it to push the space heater too and can get 5 hours run time on 1 tank under this load, 8+ if I'm just watching TV and charging.

I ran some numbers based on ski weekends at hotels, driving to and from, restrain food and day passes, etc. I seem to save 80% with my routine! it works for me. I paid cash for my camper, but with the savings would have easily justified a monthly payment if I chose that route. This has been one of the best investments I have made since my son started snowboarding.
post #26 of 26

If you want a pick-up truck camper, you might want to consider an Alaskan.

 

The Alaskan is a hard-shell pop-up. It's heavy and expensive, but has a good reputation. It is designed for winter use, but I've never owned one, so I can't offer any direct experience.

 

As noted in some of the previous posts, a pick-up has some advantages over a dedicated conversion van or motor home for winter driving on mountain roads. The living space will be smaller, however.

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