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Winter Car Camping In/Near Summit County

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

Was hoping to possibly get some area ideas to winter car camp in Summit County near the ski resorts. Will either be setting up shop near the car or snow shoeing in a bit to get out of site.  Not asking anyone to give up your secret spots just some ideas, hoping to save some cash and be able to stay up there the entire weekend instead of driving back and forth to Boulder. We have all the necessary gear, 4 season tent, -40 bag, and experience camping in the snow growing up in Jackson, WY. Wanting to give it a shot this year in Summit County, I have heard Montezuma Rd has been closed for awhile now. Hoping some of the summer spots I have been to in the area will still be accessible. 

post #2 of 19

I've wondered about camping too...I'm nearly crazy enough to try it.

 

I've heard of places near Winter Park.  I've even seen some on a map, but can't remember where I've seen them.

 

Only thing is where would you take a shower?  And/or are there any corporate campgrounds open in winter?

post #3 of 19
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info, I was hoping to find some closer to Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapaho Basin.  Not too worried about showers will only be up there for a night or two, just trying to avoid some traffic so I can get a full weekend in. Most if not all of the actual designated campgrounds are closed during the Winter so I am looking more for National Forest or BLM spots that are reliable and where I can park. 

post #5 of 19

The Walmart in Frisco has signs saying no overnight parking, but last Feb. I stayed there in a truck camper for 5 nights and there were never less than 6 RVs per night parked there.

 

I also parked for free at a Winter Park parking lot on the free bus route for 3 nights with no one bothering me.

 

Spending the night in the parking lot of a bar or other business' parking lot if you arrive after they close and leave before they open also works.

post #6 of 19

Is your car comfortable to sleep in? 

 

You say we, are you a couple?

 

Stealth is the word if you are sleeping in your car.  You need window coverings and a blanket blind blocking view in from the front.  Keep the windows cracked a 1/4 inch.

 

Slept in my car 40 out of an 80 night trip and always found a spot and was comfortable every night.  

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks all. So when I say 'we' I am referring to my cousin and I. He grew up outdoors as well and is usually my partner in crime when it comes to backpacking and camping. He is a good resource to have around.  We wont be sleeping in the car, I have a 4 season tent and other winter gear we will be using.  Instead of staying in a lot or in town proper we were hoping to find some roads that were more secluded so we could just park and pitch the tent in the woods or in a campground close to the car. Get up and ski the next day and return back to our site with all of our stuff set up. Just like the summer time and any other camping trip but a hell of a lot colder.  

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ma11Man View Post
 

Thanks all. So when I say 'we' I am referring to my cousin and I. He grew up outdoors as well and is usually my partner in crime when it comes to backpacking and camping. He is a good resource to have around.  We wont be sleeping in the car, I have a 4 season tent and other winter gear we will be using.  Instead of staying in a lot or in town proper we were hoping to find some roads that were more secluded so we could just park and pitch the tent in the woods or in a campground close to the car. Get up and ski the next day and return back to our site with all of our stuff set up. Just like the summer time and any other camping trip but a hell of a lot colder.  

 

I am guessing that a lot of the places that you use in summer are closed and unplowed in winter. Trailhead parking lots used by back country skiers is probably your best bet but I still wouldn't leave a "set up " camp inviting someone to steal everything while you are away skiing.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thats correct, ok good thoughts on the back country ski areas. Do you think people would really steal my stuff? I guess it is different in the summer when there are more campers and thus more witnesses...

post #10 of 19

Ma11man, you say that you have a four season tent. I don't really know much about tents buy I am an experienced winter RVer. Most RVs that are marketed as "Four Season" are really four season as interpreted by someone from California who thinks winter is when it gets to just below freezing. In other words they are really just 3 season.

 

My advice: get a sleeping bag that is rated for -40 and have a liner or inner bag and just sleep in your car.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks DanoT, but this bad boy has been well tested. Its a North Face Summit Series VE-25, I have used it for various winter camping trips in way higher altitudes than summit county and it holds up very solid with my -20 degree bag in any conditions. 

 

Do you find that sleeping in an RV or Car is doable up there?  My main concern with all of this is just finding a place to park along a service road where I wont be hassled. 

post #12 of 19

Identify trailhead parking areas in winter-these obviously vary from summer.  Most trailheads have a distance you are suposed to travel before setting up camp, but this is more relative to summer camping as I doubt you will be hassled.  Have a good snow shovel in your car and try to park smartly.

 

Look up making an igloo-there are some commercial box units that help quite a bit.  This way if you choose wisely you could have a place to return to again and again.

 

Find a Paris Sled and put some holes in it for tie downs and to pull the sled with.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post
 

Identify trailhead parking areas in winter-these obviously vary from summer.  Most trailheads have a distance you are suposed to travel before setting up camp, but this is more relative to summer camping as I doubt you will be hassled.  Have a good snow shovel in your car and try to park smartly.

 

Look up making an igloo-there are some commercial box units that help quite a bit.  This way if you choose wisely you could have a place to return to again and again.

 

Find a Paris Sled and put some holes in it for tie downs and to pull the sled with.

 

I wouldn't be so sure. Summit county is pretty hard core about policing un authorized overnight camping to include trailheads. There are some areas you can do it but it's' far easier to get away with car camping in Frisco. There are some places in Vail you can get away with it as well.  

 

You could also probably get away with it out near Blue River but that puts you pretty far from everywhere but Breck. Actually thinking about it now you could probably get away with camping in one of the side parking areas on Loveland pass. I know there are typically RVers there not sure how tents would be looked upon and I certainly wouldn't leave a set up camp there as it will be seen from the road.    

post #14 of 19

@Ma11Man   there are so many great spots that they just close for the winter.   What about Miners Creek?  I can't remember if that stays open all winter.  Other than that, Shrine Pass but that's not very close to where you want to be.  Have you tried the rootsrated website?

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

@Mike78 I have not heard of Miners Creek but after looking at it on Google Maps it seems like this would be a great place to try. Close to town but out of the way. Thanks for the advice!  Will check out rootsrated as well. 

post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 

@lonewolf210 I have heard they can be strict in certain areas but as long as there is a pulloff on a road in National Forest wouldn't that be ok? I don't see how that would be any different than dispersed camping in the warmer months. What gives with the winter time policing? 

post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ma11Man View Post
 

@lonewolf210 I have heard they can be strict in certain areas but as long as there is a pulloff on a road in National Forest wouldn't that be ok? I don't see how that would be any different than dispersed camping in the warmer months. What gives with the winter time policing? 

 

Combination of nuisance and safety. There are so many people trying to do it that the place would be overrun with tents and ski bums. Add to that a couple of people freezing to death and they start policing pretty hard. There is almost always a minimum distance from the road required for camping even in national forest which is how they usually get people. Also most of the property around towns is private property now a days which makes it harder.

 

That being said asking around I hear that Montezuma road can still be camped at.  

post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 

Was hoping to refresh this thread with anymore recommendations as the ski season approaches!

post #19 of 19
The idea of winter car camping or sleeping in the car sounds good to me. I'd have to have a safe place that i wouldn't be hasseled though.
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