Winter RV Preps and more – RV Life in Anaconda, Montana
46.12 degrees North. Far enough north so that at the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21st, the sun barely rises 20 degrees above the horizon at midday! Many of the surrounding mountains ensure the sun is even less effective as north facing slopes are in the shade all day! Which mountains? I’m surrounded by them! There’s a map below naming the numerous mountain ranges that cross this region. Collectively, these mountain ranges are known as the “Northern Rockies.”
The map below offers a more detailed view local to Anaconda. Note the 10,000 ft+ peaks nearby and the proximity of Discovery Ski Area (which REALLY impresses me) just to the west.
Approaching Winter in SW Montana
Late Autumn and Winter here is a time of limited sun, short days, and normally very cold temperatures. Until the past few days, this year has been a notable exception. For several days in December, I lived in shorts as afternoon temperatures reached well into the 40’s and even on a couple of days, the 50’s.
The warm weather has also been accompanied by a distinct lack of precipitation. This combination has delayed the start of the ski season at Discovery, where I’m now working as a ski instructor. The dry, warm conditions have impacted much of the western two thirds of the nation (until recently.)
The eastern ski areas have had their own issues as well. Recently there was a massive rainstorm that impacted New England (of course just before Christmas vacation!) As I write this (in early January), much of our nation and its ski areas are waiting for the snow to arrive and for winter to get started! (Read on for my Jan 16 update!)
UPDATE (1/14/24): Things have changed BIG TIME! Keep reading and be sure to check the video below for some startling information.
The need for snow is not just for skiers to have fun!
Having traveled throughout the intermountain west for much of the past 12 years, I’ve learned that a lack of snow during the winter also means real trouble for the entire region come summer. A lack of winter snow means more forest fires and water shortages for ranchers and residents when summer arrives.
What’s happening is perfectly natural and may be about to change… (update: It JUST changed!)
We are experiencing an El Nino winter. El Nino is a periodic phenomenon that occurs in the tropical Pacific ocean. This oceanic phenomenon impacts weather patterns across the globe. Often El Nino winters produce similar conditions to what we’re currently experiencing. Again, as I write this, there appears to be a pattern change coming. This change will spell colder weather and a return of more snowfall.
Consider this a “public service” message… Would you rather have “greenbacks” (dollars) or Goldbacks? Which do YOU think is going to hold its value over time? Goldbacks are a way to use GOLD in everyday commerce in the kind of quantities that are easily exchangeable for coffee, dinner, and many other purchases.
Winter RV Life in Southwestern Montana
Anaconda is located in Southwestern Montana. It sits at an elevation of 5300 ft. The town is surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains you’ll ever see. Check the maps above for some detail regarding where I am now.
It CAN and DOES get quite cold here. It is not unusual at all to experience overnight temperatures that approach -40F. As many of you know, I’m in a camper that is fully prepared for those temperatures should they materialize. (Read on to learn and hear what DID materialize starting on Jan 11th.
Winter 2023-2024 Preparations for Extreme Cold and RV life in SW Montana
The following video details a few of the preparations I’ve made. RVAcrossAmerica.net has a growing series of posts that share how I’ve not just survived, but thrived in the EXTREME COLD of ski country.
Over the next few posts, I will detail more about where I’m skiing (and instructing.) Why I chose “Disco.” What this region (the towns encompassing it and the natural surroundings) have to offer and how long I plan to remain here.
Preparations highlighted in the Preparing your RV Camper for Winter Video
No Freeze Water Hose – Click HERE and use code rvacrossamerica to get the best price (guaranteed to -40F and I HAVE put it to the test!)
Small Mini Portable Heater for RV Fridge (and many other uses) – Click HERE – 200 watts, again – its tiny and will fit in the outside compartment of many RV (gas absorption) fridges
3m Window Film Insulator Kit – Click HERE – one package will do several windows in your camper
Additional Recommended (and tested) RV accessories are HERE
Jan 16, 2024 UPDATE: Extreme Cold ARRIVED!
Mother Nature put my preparations to the test. On Jan. 11, after a chilly ski day with my new ski colleagues at Lost Trail Ski Area (more about this place in an upcoming post), the temperature fell through the floor. We skied at about 7500 ft. in 12 degree weather. Cold but tolerable.
On my drive home, over a 3 mile stretch, temperatures fell from 17 to -3 and then kept falling. The following day, Jan 12th, our HIGH temperature was about -19F. Jan 13th arrived and it was -39F – see the video above.
How did I fare in this bitter cold weather?
Well, I skied each day. Even taught a lesson in -20F conditions! I’m about to publish this post on 1/16 as I write my latest thoughts to share with you. It is currently 0F and this is the FIRST time temperatures will get ABOVE 0F since Jan 11th!
Casualties of the Arctic Outbreak…
In my camper – NONE. The fridge has performed like a CHAMP. Propane held up. NO freeze-ups! BUT… my poor 2022 F350 DIESEL truck suffered from diesel fuel gelling and did not make it home on Saturday the 13th. As I write this, it is at a local repair shop to get thawed out and running again. Hopefully I’ll have it back in the next day or two.
Final Thoughts on Winter RV Camping
This is my 10th winter in very cold conditions. Honestly, I enjoy it. There’s something exhilarating about a -20F morning. Yes, -40 is pushing it and I didn’t enjoy the past few days to be honest. But, with the temperature expected to reach over 20F today, and PERHAPS over 40 in a few days, life goes on and recovers – hopefully even my truck!
In the coming posts, I will share this region with you in greater detail. Expect to hear more about Anaconda, its history, opportunities, and more. I have also discovered “Uptown Butte”, more on this as well. And of course, more about Copper Court RV Park and Discovery Ski Area.
Quick, late update on 1/16/24… my truck was thawed out today by a local auto repair shop in Anaconda (A&A – strongly recommend.) It is now running just fine and with minimal damage to my wallet!
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