A Beginner's Guide to RVing in Snowy Conditions - Everything you need to know
Does the RV have a heater?
Yes! So you will stay nice and warm as long as you're camping somewhere with an electric hook up! The heater does use a lot of power to work, so hook ups are important. If you're running the heater sparingly, you may be okay without an electric hook up, but prepare for it to be colder inside the RV.
If the weather is going to be 45F - 60F, we strongly recommend a heater to stay comfortable.
If the weather is going to get to below 45 F, you must stay at a place with an electric hook up.
Can I camp in below freezing temperatures without an electric hook up?
Camping in below freezing temperatures without an electric hook-up is not allowed if there is water in the tank. If temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, the RV should be winterized (draining the water from the tanks) prior to your trip. Most campgrounds have bathroom and shower facilities available, so you'll still be able to shower.
Will the water tank and the waste tanks freeze in the cold?
If you are running the RV heater and keeping the RV relatively warm, then the tanks may be alright for as low as 29F. Of course, if it's VERY cold and there is a strong wind, then most likely the tanks will freeze and you won't have access to water.
If you aren't running the heater in the RV (like if you stay at a hotel and leave the RV parked in the parking lot), the tanks and the interior pipes will likely freeze when the temperatures get around 32F.
As you may know, when water freezes, it expands. So freezing water in pipes means that the pipes can burst. This type of damage is not covered by insurance. So if you are planing in camping in freezing temperatures, you absolutely must stay at a place with an electric hook up, or let us know prior to your trip so we can winterize the RV for you.
If the temperatures are freezing or below, but you keep the air heater inside the RV running, your external tanks may freeze, but your interior piping will be okay. You won't be able to use the water in the RV because it will be frozen, but at least there won't be any damage to the RV.
What should I do if the tanks freeze?
As long as your internal pipes don't freeze, and it's just the exterior tanks, (fresh, black and grey tanks), it's not a super huge deal. Hopefully it warms up during the day so that the tanks can thaw out. Our Models J and V have external tank heating pads and can help keep the tanks from freezing over in colder temperatures and thaw them out quicker during the day. The heating pads require an electric hook up to work.
Can I still use the toilet, even if the RV is winterized?
Yes! Even if there is no water in the tank, you can still use the toilet. You'll just need to bring some water bottles or canisters of water for flushing. The shower and water faucets wont work however because there isn't any water in the tank.
Do I need chains to drive in the snow?
If you plan on driving to an area that may have snow, please ask for chains. Most of the time the RV will not need the chains put on; however, if you prefer to have them on or are required to by law, please put them on.
Do I need to have headlights on while driving in the snow?
If it’s snowing or raining, make sure to have the headlights on! Anytime the windshield wipers are on, headlights should be on.
Can I use the RV to drive to a hotel and leave it in the parking lot in freezing temperatures?
The RV cannot be left without a running heater in freezing or bellowing freezing temperatures.
If you’re only using the RV to get to a destination but will be sleeping at another place, you can let us know in advance and we will winterize the unit for you, meaning we will drain it of all the water and make it possible to stay without a heating source.
If the outside temperature will not get below freezing at any point, even in the night, than you can leave the RV parked without a heater.
Okay, now that you know how to camp in the snow, let's talk about where to camp in the snow!
Here are a few campgrounds that are known for offering electric hook-ups and good snow camping experiences:
Mammoth Mountain RV Park (Our Favorite!)
It's always a good idea to check the campground's website or call ahead to confirm their availability of electric hook-ups and conditions for camping in the snow.