SKIING AND RV’ing – PERFECT TOGETHER!
It was a deal breaker. Yep, I had to know if I bought a RV that there would be a place to “camp” (aka – park it) at or near great skiing out west. And… YES THERE IS! In fact, there are MANY campgrounds that are OPEN ALL WINTER in the mountains, located within about 15 miles (or less) of PHENOMENAL SKI RESORTS and this is key…
Winter 2021-22 update – looking towards ’22-23…
After 10+ years of ski instructing, I may be moving towards a different way to enjoy winter. I’m likely to purchase an Ikon pass and set myself up in Draper Utah (starting Nov. 2022) with the plan to ski Solitude OFTEN and other Wasatch areas – and even a trip to Squaw Valley, Steamboat or even JHMR during the winter (without the camper!!)
With Ikon (and Epic and Mountain Collective) passes growing in popularity (and saving the ski industry in the process), there ARE some of us (RVers) who WANT to travel through the mountains during the winter. If your plan is to make SHORT TERM STAYS in each region, AND if you’re willing to DRY CAMP (ie – no water in the plumbing, power via your own generator, self-contained) many ski areas will allow you to stay in their parking lots. Some are detailed below, but if not, I suggest you call the ski area and ask if they allow overnight parking/camping in their lots – and whether there’s a charge.
If you’re thinking of purchasing or upgrading a camper, here is my latest post which details how the industry is changing rapidly (as of March 2022) and what this means to you – it is an IMPORTANT update that all rv’ers need to be aware of (along with my sharing how the winter of ’22-23 went!)
LASTLY – PLEASE LEAVE ME FEEDBACK! There’s a section at the end to “leave a comment” – I’d WELCOME hearing from you about the info within this post and/or sharing your findings about places for RV’ers to stay near great ski areas.
Winter 2018-19 UPDATE (and a bit more in Aug 2019)
I have added several ski resorts to the list but remain open to adding more with YOUR input! If you like what you’re about to read, please do provide feedback and/or subscribe to my list to receive notice of new postings (you can do this at the end of this post.)
If you’re looking to find me on the slopes this winter (’19-’20), look no further than JHMR (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort), in fact I’ve even booked my first ski guests for the winter as I serve as a ski instructor at “Teton Village”. My winter home will be near Jackson – but this year it may be on the Idaho side of the border – a bit too soon to know for sure though.
Winter Camping? You may want to check out… “Recommended RV Accessories” – including some IMPORTANT winter equipment to have with your RV.
RV Parks that Provide FULL SERVICE (full hookups) all Winter – Near Phenomenal (I’m not kidding!) Ski Resorts
My focus in this article is ski areas in the western states – specifically ski areas with RV parks near enough to make it realistic to live in the park (or stay for a few days) and travel to and from the mountain daily. I chose western ski areas because well, let’s be honest, while some eastern mountains offer good size and challenge, the weather simply does not support good skiing on a consistent basis, hence the Rockies (and neighboring ranges) it is!
Please do check the comments below as some folks have shared their experiences and added to my list!
Idaho, one region in California, and one in Washington is as far west as I’m covering as the snow quality is generally regarded as better as you approach Utah, Wyoming and parts of Colorado. Areas farther west, particularly in central and southern Idaho have their days, your best bet for great snow is in the 3 regions I just named.
Unless otherwise noted, you can expect each of the following RV Parks (linked throughout the article) to provide running water to your site. Whether YOU keep it running from the hydrant into your rig is up to you! – And I have posts that advise you on what you’ll need to insure this IS the case. At all campgrounds, you’ll have full sewer, water, trash, snow plowing (you have to clear the immediate area around your rig), and typically cable and wifi (though this can vary.)
If you plan to spend the winter at any of these campgrounds, I strongly recommend renting a 120 gallon propane tank (contact me privately for recommendations as to who to rent from) over using your 30 pound (7 gallon) tanks in your RV. A 7 gallon tank can run dry in as little as 1-2 days in very cold weather AND you’ll pay top dollar to fill it. When you fill a 120 gallon, you qualify for a quantity discount.
As stated above, I wanted to see which RV parks are truly NEAR great skiing, so unless otherwise noted, your site will be within 15 miles of the slopes – and often less – and in some cases, the town or mountain provide mass transit between the campground (or near it) and the ski hill. In each case, I try to provide a summary of each park/ski area and have stayed at several or at least visited each of those listed below. I have also created links to most of the ski areas from within this article to open a new page.
The parks/ski towns are in no particular order and if I have left out an important park/ski area, please DO let me know and I’ll be glad to include it – and perhaps spend a winter (or several) at it!
This was my winter playground from 2015-Feb 2018. McCall is home to Brundage Ski Mountain. I was an instructor there for 3 seasons. More of a “less developed” resort than some of those that follow, it has a loyal following here in the Central Idaho Mountains. I have some significant updates below on Brundage & McCall RV Resort…
Idaho is an interesting state as Southern Idaho (Sun Valley, Grand Targhee) has “drier” snow than northern Idaho (Schweitzer). Brundage is in the middle and gets a good blend of dry and wet snow. As such, it has the ambiance of the Pacific Northwest without the “wet cement” often found in Washington and Orego
A real benefit to McCall RV Resort is the indoor pool, hot tub, steam room, workout equipment! Monthly rates are reasonable, staff is great! The park is about 10 miles from Brundage & 20 miles from Tamarack.Brundage itself has no slopeside lodging, Tamarack DOES have slopeside lodging. I should also point out that you CAN “tailgate” in the Brundage Mountain parking lot with your RV, BUT, there are NO hookups (not even electric) This is also true of several – BUT NOT ALL in the list below. Call the mountain if your interest is to “dry camp” (boondock) in the ski areas parking lot – and be prepared for some VERY COLD nights.
The winter is ending – but I continue to wear my SCOTTeVEST almost every day! I’m on my second now and I think this new one is constructed even better than the Fireside Vest I purchased about 4 years ago. This is an incredibly versatile garment as SCOTTeVESTs “claim to fame” is providing great storage within each garment without making the garment wile still looking stylish.
Steamboat Ski Resort speaks for itself! Its a GREAT resort and a great town with over 12000 full time residents, it has all the amenities (good restaurants, services) that you’d expect. Steamboat is famous for “champagne powder” and yes, it often gets dumped on when most of the rest of the state of Colorado misses out.
One of the premier KOA companies recently (2015) took over this somewhat run down RV park and I am certain they are busy upgrading it (and unfortunately raising the prices!) It does have a PREMIER location on the west end of town and you can literally park your vehicle and ride the Steamboat bus transit to get to town and the mountain (and its free – and runs often – and into the evening!) The park is only 6 miles from the slopes, but the buses are easy to run and it can take as little as 20 minutes from Steamboat KOA to the ski area (and no more than 30 minutes).
I personally spent 3 winters teaching and skiing at Steamboat and may return someday in the future. I have generally fond memories of the ski area and its people. I will say, I highly recommend Steamboat for the intermediate or advanced skier. As a beginner, there is limited terrain and other choices may prove better.
**An IMPORTANT item to have when traveling in your RV Camper in the winter cold is an RV Skirt! It will help to prevent you from freezing up. Here’s my experience with one that is WELL MADE and HAS stood the test of time. My post features several videos that show the making, fitting, and application of this skirting to my 5th wheel.**
Caution: This IS high altitude camping – about 9500 ft!! It is COLD and WINDY in this region. You’ll burn through PLENTY of propane in order to keep warm (and keep the plumbing warm). Tiger Run is a PREMIUM campground located less than 10 miles from the slopes – and they DO charge accordingly!!Breckenridge itself is a MASSIVE ski resort and amazingly, it is just MINUTES from several others (Keystone, A-Basin, Copper, and even Vail). All offer high altitude skiing (lifts up to about 12500 ft). Summit County is only about 2 hours (or less) from Denver so expect holiday and weekend crowds!! Snow quality at this altitude is both consistent and quite dry. Due to the proximity of GREAT skiing in this region, it is a definite WIN if you want variety. DO however expect to pay top dollar if you ski one day passes at each area unless you’ve sought out a deal – often available pre-season, especially in the Denver area ski shops.
Taos Ski Resort is definitely on my bucket list! The rv park is about 20 miles from the slopes – just over my comfort limit, but, hey, sometimes you gotta compromise! I have not visited this park, but Taos the ski area is known for tough slopes and lots of sun. If you visit it, let me know your thoughts!
Located about 1/2 way (6 miles) from the AMAZING Jackson Hole Ski Resort and the town of Jackson, this park only provides electric during the winter. So, show up with a full fresh water tank. They do not have a long term rate and daily rates in the winter are $59. with a max stay of 29 days. (I recently learned that this policy is thanks to the county politicians – they don’t want rv’ers who intend long-term stays.BE AWARE: Jackson is a MASSIVE and TOUGH ski resort. It takes LOTS of snow to get it fully operational, so early season is NOT the time to show up. Personally, I’d wait until January or February. Speaking of January, Jackson is well EAST of the Continental Divide and since it is fairly far north, it can get VERY COLD there – especially in January!!I have personally skied Jackson on several occasions (update: I now work there as a ski instructor!). It was a favorite for my ski club to fly to back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Fond memories, great skiing and a first class resort are some of the top thoughts that come to mind.The town of Jackson is worth a visit but for this traveler/RV’er, its a bit touristy for my taste. If you go there though, be sure to visit the “Million Dollar Bar” (hey, once is ok).Grand Targhee is about an hours drive (over a mountain pass) and is a powder hound haven and is much less visited than the world renowned Jackson Hole. There is a RV park on “that side” of the pass, but its close to 25 miles from Grand Targhee (in the town of Victor) and I don’t believe they have full services either during the winter. For anyone who wants to spend more than a week, not having access to water hydrants at your site is a real issue.There is a campground on the “other side” of the pass in Idaho – Teton Valley Resort that welcomes RV’ers for long term (monthly) stays (and nightly). It is 27 miles from Jackson’s slopes and about 23 miles from Grand Targhee. (updated 10/2018)
IF you DO engage in “short term” RV travel, here’s a MONEY SAVING deal I have personally used…
Boondockers Welcome is a program that offers FREE stays (many with electric hookups now – a nominal fee is encouraged for using the hosts electric!) for up to 3 days (and in some cases 5 days.) Use my code when enrolling “RVAcrossAmerica15” to save 15% AND know that they are having a significant membership rate increase on May 1 – so, take care of this soon! Boondockers Welcome recently merged with Harvest Hosts, so you’ll have the option of adding the HH access once you join. Personally, I find BW to be plenty! Again – I LIKE this program and the entire philosophy behind it, and I’ve personally used it.
Personally I’d LOVE to spend a winter (or several) at Sun Valley Ski Resort, BUT this is another park where water is NOT available at your site! And, the true shame is the park is just about 4 miles from Sun Valley’s slopes!! It is honestly amazing to me that the owner does not update, but that’s how they run their business.Sun Valley is a world renowned ski resort with typically great snow quality (though not as much as is received by Brundage to its north or Grand Targhee/Jackson Hole to the east).If you’re traveling to ski country for just a few days, this may be a great destination and a rv park to consider.
The park and its location are nothing too exciting, but its proximity to Silver Mountain is great – less than 5 miles to the parking lot and the lift to the mountain. Rates are VERY reasonable (last time I checked in 2015, it was $325 per month.)Silver Mountain (like Brundage above) is (in my view) a “tier 2” resort. Not as big as Steamboat, Jackson Hole or Sun Valley, but potentially a great value with exceptional skiing on uncrowded slopes. Silver is unique in the sense that from the town of Kellogg (not far from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho) you take a lift up to the ski trails and then (typically) ride the lift down. In the “base village” is an indoor park featuring a full water park experience AND an opportunity to learn skiing indoors! (Look into this when you visit the Silver Mountain Website).
Edgewater RV Park is one of two in town (Sandpoint, Id.) that can serve as a launch point for Schweitzer Ski Resort. Edgewater is frankly a small park, next to the town lake and is VERY pricey for what it is. That said, it IS walking distance from “downtown” Sandpoint (look for a great Mexican restaurant there!) and is not far (less than 10 miles) from the ski hill (less from the parking lot at the base of the access road that is serviced by a bus running up to the hill.
Schweitzer is a fairly large mountain with good terrain BUT it is in the moist flow from the Pacific and often is foggy or experiences very wet snow (or even rain). There is also a substantial climb from town to the ski hill (perhaps 2000 ft). Personally, I prefer to live at about the same altitude as the ski area base. This is the case for most of the rv parks listed here EXCEPT for those in Utah – all of which are in towns or cities and you must climb (in some cases 4000 ft) the mountain base.
That said, Sandpoint has character and while I’ve never personally skied Schweitzer, I’ve heard lots of good about it – if you’re willing to deal with the fog. Sandpoint is also within “striking distance” of a few GREAT ski resorts across the border in British Columbia, Canada (perhaps the subject of a future post?!)
There is another park just north of Edgewater (which is associated with the Best Western). I recall you cross the bridge and its next to a RV repair center. Perhaps Lake RV in Ponderay. Either way, they’ll know if any rv parks are in the immediate area, are open all winter, and have better rates than Edgewater! For my money, I’d rather ski Silver Mtn or Brundage anyway!
A few thoughts about the winter just ended – and some suggestions for TOP FLIGHT equipment to have…
I’ve made 2 key changes this winter. I’m using a “no freeze water hose” (really the worlds BEST winter water hose) – designed to work to -40F. It is by FAR the best water hose I’ve ever owned. (Use the code “rvacrossamerica” to get the best price.) I’m also using a new, SMALL, and innovative heater in my outside compartment behind my Norcold fridge. So far, my fridge survived several mornings near -20F where my neighbors fridges failed – and a fridge failure in this weather is a big deal as the fix is NOT easy.
This heater is just 1″ thick, easily fits near the control board and cooling coils, and draws just 200 watts to produce power. I will continue to use it until daytime high temperatures exceed freezing. The reason for using it is to keep the ammonia mixture from gelling (thus causing fridge failure) in extreme (sub-zero) cold. The risk is FIRE which is why when days really start getting longer, and the sun gets higher in the sky, I discontinued its use. This was during the first “milder” days in mid-February. I still used it on a few cold nights into March. For the minimal cost, it literally saved me LOTS of aggravation and money in the event my gas absorption fridge failed on nights that readily dropped to -20F and even one night at -24F in MID-MARCH!!
More great ski areas to travel to in your RV Camper…
Purgatory – Purgatory is a great ski area, particularly for learners, intermediates and families. Westerly RV Park is located about 18 miles south of the ski resort (and about 12 miles north of Durango.) Their monthly rates are quite fair at $835/mo INCLUDING electric. (updated 10/2018)
Note: I’m still looking for a good rv park near (5-15 miles) Aspen* (any of their 4 mountains), Telluride – let me know if you know of any!!
Aspen – Aspen used to have the Aspen-Basalt Campground – it is no longer available for public camping. The few sites that remain there are designated for Aspen employees. (updated 10/2018)
Join in on the conversation! Let’s talk RV’ing. Share your thoughts and ideas – get your questions answered…
I now have 3 “RV Across America” Social Media Groups…
Continuing with more parks…
Skiing the Salt Lake City Region (deserves its own heading!)
There are several parks in, around or just north of Salt Lake City (SLC). SLC is a major city (and airport hub). Located at about 4500 ft elevation, you will need to climb to the ski areas. Most have base elevations of 6000 – 8500 ft. In 2011-12, I stayed at Mountain Shadows RV Park (highlighted below).
If you opt to stay in the SLC region, you’ll be in a MUCH more moderate climate than staying at a RV park which is at a similar altitude to the mountain you’re skiing. The bad news? You’re going to have to climb between 2000 – 4000 ft to get to the slopes and at best it’s a 30-45 minute drive – and if there’s a storm, it can be much longer than that to get to the slopes.
To get situated, the nearest ski resorts to SLC are located in 3 canyons – Empire (Park City, Canyons Resort, and Deer Valley – no snowboarding!!); Big Cottonwood (Solitude (aptly named) and Brighton; and Little Cottonwood (Alta, Snowbird – these 2 are the most challenging of all!)
Park City has its own RV Park (see notes below). Pony Express RV Park is the closest RV park in SLC to ski areas in the Empire Canyon; Mountain Shadows RV Park is closest Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons.
Farther north (less than 1 hour), the city of Ogden serves as the gateway to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain Ski Resorts. Ogden has at least 2 rv parks providing full services, again at lower altitudes so it’s not as tough to set up camp in the winter – and keep your RV in good working order. You STILL need to know nights get cold and you must make preparations! You can find a series of articles I’ve written that will help you prepare for winter camping in your RV HERE.
Layton, Utah is about 1/2 way between Ogden and SLC. If your intent is to spend some time skiing the “Ogden resorts” (Snowbasin, Powder Mtn) and then the SLC resorts, Layton may be a great middle ground.
Pony Express is a large urban park with many sites. It is centrally located in Salt Lake City and is near to much shopping (including Sams Club). You can reach all the SLC ski resorts within an hour or so from Pony Express.
Aug 2019 update: Pony Express is now accepting – if only on a limited basis – Passport America. I wrote them up when discussing DISCOUNT RV MEMBERSHIPS several weeks ago.
I have personally spent a winter here. Mountain Shadows is located in Draper, about 15 minutes south of downtown SLC. Draper is somewhat suburban and has much retail and coffee shops. There is a diner nearby with great breakfast food and Camping World is just 1/4 mile north on the same access road the rv park is along (just east of I-15). There is an indoor hot tub in the park and a small playground area.
The Park City RV Resort is literally minutes from Park City Ski Resort, Canyons and Deer Valley. You’re nearly at the same elevation as the ski resorts. It is definitely colder here than in the Salt Lake valley rv parks. Because of the nature of the canyons in this region, getting to Big and Little Cottonwood requires traveling back towards SLC before turning into either canyon. It will take well over an hour to reach any of the ski areas in those canyons.
Wasatch View is the closest RV park in Ogden that provides access to Powder Mtn. and Snowbasin. It is near Ogden Canyon Rd. which leads to the ski areas about 20-25 miles and 2000 – 3000 ft. away. Ogden is not as big a city as Salt Lake City, but it still has access to all the services and amenities you’d expect from a reasonably large urban city.
Layton is about 1/2 way between Ogden and SLC. While it is not “near” any particular ski area, it is a central location and none of the ski areas are too far. It is again in the Salt Lake valley so winters are much more moderate than staying in the mountains. I’ve personally stayed here. This rv park is actually a real community and has many families living in it full time. Rates are reasonable and the managers on site are very friendly and accommodating.
Leaving the Salt Lake City / Utah ski resorts. A few more to share in Montana and California and now Oregon…
***Wherever you go to ski – don’t forget SKIRTING –
you’re going to WANT and NEED a great RV skirt!***
Whitefish Ski Resort, formerly known as “The Big Mountain” is a large ski resort with a wide variety of terrain. The town of Whitefish is a medium sized town with lots of good restaurants, retail stores and more. The ski area is in a similar climatic zone as Schweitzer in Idaho, winters are typically not too cold (due to their location west of the Continental Divide). This is a stark contrast to the much colder and drier resorts of Big Sky and Bridger Bowl near Bozeman east of the Divide.The big downside to this region is the frequency of fog and wet snow (compared to dry powder east of the Divide at resorts like those in Summit County, Steamboat, and Jackson Hole). Dry powder is also found in Utah in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons – courtesy of their high altitude.
Mt. Bachelor – Oregon
I’m writing this in October (2018) as I spend a week near Bend, Oregon, home to Mt. Bachelor – a MASSIVE ski area (4300 acres) that even now has snow on the mountain – snow that has been there since last spring! The base is about 5600 ft, and the town is 4100 ft – an elevation that sees very little snow – so snow removal at your campsite will not be a major issue. The road to get to Bachelor is an excellent road and it will take about a half-hour to get to the slopes from town. The town is big – over 80,000 residents, but from what I experienced, its overall upscale and easy-going.
Aug 2019: I ALMOST ended up teaching there last winter. Who knows what the future will bring – but – Bend is a nice town.
CrownVilla RV Resort is one of the closest parks (22 miles) to the slopes. (There is a shuttle system from town to the mountain.) Scandia RV Park is another option – about the same distance to the mountain. Mt. Bachelor itself has a rv parking area – no hookups, but hey, its ON the mountain.
Coachland RV Park is a large park situated just outside the town of Truckee. Just off I-80 and on the north side of Lake Tahoe, this is an ideal location to setup “basecamp” to ski Squaw Valley, Northstar at Tahoe, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose (high altitude, 25 min from Reno), Donner Ski Ranch (smaller, family oriented resort), and Boreal Mtn. Resort.
Skiing in this region can be quite variable – sometimes great powder, sometimes real thick “Sierra cement”, and other times nice, groomed to hard pack trails. I last skied this region in April 2016 and hit 70F weather (and spring conditions), it was amazing!My personal favorites in this region are Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl. Between the two, Sugar Bowl is definitely a better value with more affordable lift tickets and still plenty of terrain and variety to keep you going for days!Coachland itself is your basic RV park with location being its number one feature, and Truckee is a bit touristy as a town but the ski shops are helpful and there is a good diner with some interesting history to it in the downtown area. Look for the free parking otherwise it can get pricey just to park your car, but hey it IS California!
One thought about Washington skiing…
After meeting with a couple of journalists from the west coast, I decided to include Crystal Mountain. Crystal is within 2 hours of the Seattle metro area and can expect in a typical year tons of snow – but much of it of a very wet or thick variety. This is likely just fine on the groomers (groomed runs), but very challenging for any un-groomed (off piste) terrain.
Crystal has RV Parking on-site with electric available. There is a 14 day limit, but heck, you can’t beat the location! Here is the link to their RV Parking page – https://crystalmountainresort.com/arriving/rv-parking/
The ski area itself is quite large – over 3000 ft. vertical rise from base to peak and 2600 skiable acres. I’m sure Crystal attracts a local crowd from all over western Washington and even Northern Oregon.
**Like reading about skiing history? Here is a GREAT article about Mt. Hood, Oregon Written by Vicki Hoefling Andersen, I had the privilege of skiing with her earlier this winter at Brundage!
RV Winter Camping near Ski Areas in CANADA…
Whistler – Believe it or not there is a campground open all winter just about 2 miles from the slopes of Whistler- Blackcomb! Riverside RV Resort has a website – check’em out if you head that way.
Red Mountain (Rossland, BC) and Whitewater (Nelson, BC) –
The interior of BC features a better brand of snow than the coast and lower chances of any rain. Pine Springs RV Park is situated about 1/2 way between these two great ski areas – approx. 30 miles from each on good roads.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort – World class skiing! A bit farther north than Whistler or Red Mountain, Revelstoke is a reasonably new (and massive) resort worthy of a close look. Boulder Mountain Resort is just about 8 miles from Revelstoke’s slopes and is open all winter.
In closing, RV camping and skiing in the mountains can be a VERY rewarding and fun family experience – but planning and preparation are KEY. Be sure you review my posts on how to prepare your rig for winter living (particularly extended winter living) – my site RVAcrossAmerica.net has an entire section dedicated to what I do and what I’ve learned in my 5 winters in the mountains. Go prepared!! Take note of the heated hose and dashcam I shared earlier. If you stay for an extended period, you may also need a skirt. Further, a good road service provider is ESSENTIAL – refer to my banner for Coachnet above (with a special offer who go through my banner). Lastly, I encourage you to subscribe to my periodic messages (enter your email in the space provided – likely above this post) and please do leave me feedback below to what is becoming a 4000 word message in this mega-post!
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