Tag: winter camping

My Best States for Winter RV Life

Fall is in the air, and winter is around the corner. For those of us who live in Residential Vehicles, cars, or vans, this time of year means we either winterize or move to warmer weather. I prefer to chase livable temps than to suffer through freezing cold days, snow, and ice. There are a few states I’ve wintered in, that are comfortable and offer plenty of boondocking. Below are my three favorite states for winter RV Life.

#1 Arizona

Arizona is snowbird mecca. Every year, thousands of RVers from the U.S. and Canada flock to Arizona for the warmer climate and plentiful boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Quartzsite which is 128 miles west of Phoenix, is especially popular as it hosts the annual Tyson Wells Market and Swap Meet and the Rock and Gem Show. There are plenty of campgrounds, RV parks, Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs offer designated dispersed camping areas for around $180 for the entire season! So, you don’t have to worry about moving every 14 days like you do when dispersed camping on BLM lands) and vast deserts with ample BLM land for free dispersed camping.

Boondocking in Arizona for Winter RV Living

There are thousands, maybe millions, of acres of BLM land in Arizona. Just use an app like FreeCampsites.net or Campendium to find spots people recommend, or get a BLM map and explore on your own to find your own piece of desert paradise. I’ve explored the state from the Mexican border to the Grand Canyon and have found some gorgeous desert campsites. Just remember, when wintering here, stay in the lower elevations for warmer weather.

Temperatures During Winter RVing in Arizona

Just because you’re in the south doesn’t mean you’re going to be warm. Elevation plays a BIG role in temperatures. Remember, for every 1000’ in elevation you rise, the temperature gets three degrees cooler. So stay low for the warmest temperatures! Winter temperatures in the low elevations of Arizona are comfortable. They generally range from the 60s to 70s during the day and high 30s to 40s at night. It rarely drops below freezing at night south of Phoenix, so you won’t have to worry about freezing pipes.

#2 Southern California 

From Slab City to Anza Borrego State Park, Joshua Tree to the Mojave Preserve you can find some beautiful, quirky, and remote places to boondock in southeastern California.

Boondocking In CA for RV Winter Living

If you’re not afraid of anarchy and have some street smarts be sure to check out Slab City, they call it the last free place on earth (Learn more in the 4 part video series I did: https://youtu.be/Y3oNM53oEtg). You can actually live in Slab City if you want but it gets HOT in the Summer. Many nomads spend the entire winter there, enjoying the freedom and warmer winter temperatures.

If you’re looking for more solitude and less anarchy, Anza Borrego State park has free dispersed camping and it’s gorgeous! It can be a little crowded in some of the designated camping areas, so keep that in mind when you go.

There’s also camping near the Salton Sea which is a fascinating piece of CA history. If you really want to be alone explore the thousands of acres of the Mojave preserve, a pristine, desert with ample boondocking. But be sure to know before you go by checking out the website. You can’t boondock just anywhere within the preserve. There is also some decent boondocking on BLM land right outside of Joshua Tree National Park, which is a must-see if you’re in Southern California.

Temperatures for California During Winter RV Camping

Winter temperatures in the Salton City area are between 70 and 80 during the day and 50s at night. With Anza Borrego being about 10 degrees cooler and the Joshua tree area about 15-20 degrees cooler. The same weather/elevation rule applies here. The higher you go, the colder. Be sure to always check the forecast before traveling to higher elevations so you don’t get stranded in snow!

#3 Nevada and New Mexico Winter RVing

Both are a little higher in elevation than the areas I mentioned above. But, if you want less crowds and can handle cooler temps, you’re in for a winter RV life treat! There is plenty of BLM land in both Southern New Mexico and Nevada, and you won’t find the snowbird crowd in the heart of winter.

Boondocking in Nevada and New Mexico to Enjoy Winter RV Life

Nevada: there is boondocking south of Las Vegas on HWY 95 at the Dry Lake Bed and plenty in Pahrump, just about 60 miles northwest of Vegas. (Remember to check your camping apps!). Going north of Pahrump takes you higher in elevation, where the temps will be colder, and you’re more likely to get snow. BEWARE: And check weather forecast before you go so you don’t get stranded in snow!!! Storms can come out of nowhere and dump inches, if not feet very quickly in higher elevations.

New Mexico: The southernmost part of the state is the warmest. I’ve stayed in the Carlsbad, NM area, and while not pretty, it is warmer and not very crowded. There is some boondocking not far from the world-famous Carlsbad Caverns. New Mexico also offers an annual State Park Pass, which is a great deal! Most parks are open year-round, and they’re empty. You can go plug-in when it gets too cold!

Temperatures During the Winter in Nevada and New Mexico for RV Living

Temperatures in both southern NM ad NV are similar. The days will be in the 50s to low 60s, and the nights in the 20s to 30s. You’re also likely to get snow – oh and strong winds! But if you don’t mind the cooler temps, and you can handle one or two nights below freezing, without worrying about your pipes freezing, you’ll be rewarded with quiet and solitude.

Before you go, be sure to check out my video below for cheap and simple tips for keeping your RV Warmer in winter without a lot of effort or technical know-how. And if your solar doesn’t quite cut it with the shorter days and cloudier weather, check out the Jackery Power Station. It’s been a great addition to my RV Life for running my laptop, charging camera batteries and phones, running my coffee grinder and Nutri-Bullet and more!

What’s Your Favorite RV Living Winter Spot?

There you have it! My favorite Winter RV Living areas! Of course, many snowbirds also winter in Florida and Texas. I like the Southwest and the drier climate, gorgeous desert sunsets, and lack of bugs!! Where do you like to spend your RV life winters? Let us know in the comments below!

Helpful Links:
My Favorite Things for RV Living
Finding Free Campsites
Safety Tips for Extreme Weather

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DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

Freezing Weather RV Living

Freezing Weather and RV Living

Simple and Affordable Ways to Winterize Your RV for Full-Time RV Living | Camping in Freezing Weather Tips | RV Life Blog

RV in Freezing Weather?

If you are a full-time RVer like me, or perhaps a Van Dweller, you know the beauty of this life is spontaneity in your travels. But what do you do when your plan does not include an overnight in freezing weather? Would you be able to survive the night with just the items inside your rig and stay warm? In this blog, I share simple and affordable tips on how you can winterize your RV for winter nights and stay warm while it is freezing outside.

During one of my travels, I stopped over just outside of Winnemucca, which is in Nevada. During my two-night stay, it snowed. It was gorgeous and cold! If you thought it never snows in the desert, you have never visited the desert in November! The nighttime temperature dropped (and quick!) down to about 20 degrees. While full-time RVing, I usually do not have a rigid plan of where my travels will lead me. However, I prepare for environmental unknowns, and you should prepare as well!

(*Note: I have Amazon affiliate links on my website and in this blog. DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this blog and video.)

Winterizing the RV inside to keep from freezing

Preparing the House of Your RV for Freezing Weather and Cold Nights

Here are some simple tricks and tips to help keep the inside of your RV warm and cozy on freezing nights and cold days too.

  1. Start with the Cab of Your RV.  The first thing I do is cover up my windshield with a reflective sun visor or Reflectix. The visor will insulate the cab windshield.  Heat will remain in this area for a while as the engine begins to cool down.  Remember this first step when just pulling into your campsite. You can trap the heat inside longer by placing the reflective visor/reflectix in the window. 
  2. Insulate the House Opening from the Cab of your Class C RV. Next, once the truck cab has cooled to a colder temperature than the house part of the RV, hang blankets. Most Class C RVs have a storage space right above the cab area. I double insulate this area using a heavy blanket and thermal blackout curtains. You do not need to spend a fortune on specialty items. You can easily find these at discount box stores, thrift stores, or Amazon. First, place the blanket on top of the shelf and weigh it down. Next, make sure the blanket covers the entire entry to the cab. It should be as wide as the opening and length should touch the floor. Lastly, using the installed RV curtain clips, hang full-length thermal blackout curtains. When you close the curtains, they should reach from wall to wall in width and touch the floor in length to provide more insulation.

Don’t like to read?  Watch the video instead on YouTube and follow my channel for more tips.

3. Cover the House Windows.  You probably have curtains that cover your side windows. In addition to closing your curtains, you can put up a lightweight fleece blanket that can cover the entire width and length of each window. I hang the blanket by folding it over my curtain rod. A tip for more insulation is to leave some extra blanket at the top when you fold it over the curtain rod. Doing this creates more of a cushion and filler to seal the top of the window and prevent outside air from drafting in. Remember to cover the small window in the kitchen area as well.

Affordable ways to insulate your RV

Doors can be cold air culprits in FREEZING WEATHER!

4. Cover the Door. The door can be a huge culprit for bringing in cold air. If your weather stripping is old or failing, you need an extra layer of protection against the cold air seeping in. I installed a little curtain rod over my door to hang a thermal blackout curtain panel to cover the doorway. Make sure your curtain is wide enough to cover the whole door and can touch the floor as well.

5. House Battery Compartment.   Next, fill in the area where house battery access is. Mine is right in front of the door. If you travel with a dog as I do, you can place your pet’s bed there to create a barrier on the floor. If not, lay a big blanket or pillows from your sofa in the area.

6. Keep the Bathroom Door Closed.  Yes, this should be obvious. Keeping this door closed will trap the cold air in the bathroom instead of seeping out into your sleeping quarters.

Stay warm sleeping in freezing weather

Preparing Your Sleeping Quarters for Freezing Weather

  1. Don’t Forget About the Floors!  If you have laminate flooring in your RV, you will find that they are cold and drafty in the winter, especially if you have an older RV. To combat this, you can place rugs/runners over the floor to provide more insulation. Laying a runner or several runners together along the wall behind the bed can help insulate the seams and keep cold air out. I also use a down comforter to give extra insulation from the floor.  
  2. More Windows.   My RV has three windows in the back in the sleeping quarters. I have two small windows and a large emergency window behind the bed. These many windows can make the sleeping area cold and drafty. Using blankets over the curtains will make a huge difference in keeping the cold out. I suggest using full-length curtains for extra insulation from the walls as well. To insulate the emergency window, you can place a reflective sun visor in the window over the blinds/curtain. Next, place a blanket over the sun visor. I also use extra pillows to line the wall to hold the blanket in place. The extra pillows create a barrier between the wall/window and my head while sleeping.  
  3. Remember Warm Clothes.  If you are in freezing weather, the best thing for you to do to keep your body heat is to wear a hat. Sleeping in a zero-degree sleeping bag is also a great way to stay warm and cozy in your bed.
Alternatives to using a furnace

How to Heat your RV When You Do Not Have a Furnace

Whether you are primarily boondocking or do not want to drain your battery using the furnace, or maybe your furnace quit like mind did, there are other ways to heat your RV.

  1. Mr. Heater Buddy.  The Mr. Buddy is portable and heats up to 200sqft. It runs on propane, so you will need a separate propane tank, hose, and filter to filter the gas going into the Heater Buddy.  I know some of you are gasping: What about CO2?  This heater has a low oxygen sensor shutting it off automatically. The shutoff safety feature keeps carbon monoxide from being produced at dangerous levels. CO2 is the result of not enough oxygen being present in the air. As a precaution, your RV should have a CO2 detector/alarm installed, even if you are not using a portable heater.  My RV is older and very drafty. I can feel fresh air circulating, even with the extra coverings. But, if you do not feel safe with this, keep reading for more options.
  2. Catalytic Heaters.  If you are worried about CO2, a catalytic heater is another alternative.  Catalytic heaters use chemical reactions to produce heat, which means no CO2.
  3. Electric Space Heater.  If you are at a campsite with hookups, an electric space heater is an option instead of using your furnace. Take caution as these can be a fire risk. I suggest finding a model with built-in safety features for shutting off if knocked over or too hot.
Prevent breaks in freezing weather

How to Keep Things from Breaking in Freezing Weather

You will never be able to keep things from freezing if you are indeed in freezing weather, but there are measures you can take to make sure your pipes and tanks do not break. Water in your black and grey tanks will freeze when you are in freezing weather conditions.

  1. Don’t keep your Fresh Water Tank and Waste Tank full in freezing weather.  In case you did not know or did not remember, liquids expand when they freeze. The liquid in a closed container will expand when frozen and create stress on the container and possibly crack it. Foreseeing that I would be spending at least one night in colder weather, I dumped my waste and only filled my freshwater tank about less than half full.
  2. Turn off your Water Pump and Open Faucets.  Water left in your pipes will freeze. Everybody who lives in an RV and dry camps relies on the water pump. Turn your water pump off. Turn your faucets on to empty all of your water, including your shower. Remember to make sure no water is remaining in your toilet. You can pull the toilet lever releasing the remaining water for the flush to drain.
Thawing out in freezing weather

Be Prepared for When Things Freeze

It can take a few hours for things to thaw out. You may not have running water for a while if not hooked up to city water.  

  1. Before you go to bed, fill everything up. I have my Britta Water Pitcher that I I fill up before I go to bed to ensure I have water to drink, water to make coffee and breakfast. 
  2. Keep another gallon of water on hand for the toilet.   You will not be able to flush your toilet if the water is frozen.  Have an extra jug of water on hand to place some water in the toilet for flushing. You can keep it in the cabin with you to keep it from freezing.  

And that is it! Simple steps to survive some freezing nights. Notice I said SOME, as in a few. These are steps I take because I know I will not be in the cold weather for long. The few times that I have had to stay overnight in freezing temperatures, as low as 15 degrees, the steps I’ve shared have worked very well for me. Enjoy your travels! Stay warm, stay safe. And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND.

Check out my list of places you can Remote Boondock in a larger RV.

Curious about Full-Time RV Life? Here are some fun facts >>> Fun Facts of RV Life

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DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.