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Old 11-15-2012, 02:07 PM   #21
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We've not snow-camped RVing, but we have done a fair bit of cold weather camping, and did inquire about it at the Can-Am dealership in London, Ontario, where we bought our Bambi. RVing in the snow is actually reasonably popular with skiers and snow-mobilers. We were told that snow-camping is entirely feasible provided you:

1. winterize the trailer. This means having the water system emptied and shut off, and pipes blown out. We're not notably handy, and have this work done by our local RV service center. Our RVing friends and neighbours winterize their rigs themselves, but then one of them ruined his water pipes last year, also.

You can still use water from portable jugs for your sink/s and manually flush the toilet via water bottles, provided you add a little RV antifreeze (or winter windshield washer fluid) with each use, to prevent freezing. This is a hassle, due mostly to the constant need to refill the water bottles, but it does work. Showers are kind of out of the question.

Then you can de-winterize your AS in the spring. After a few camping trips you won't even notice the lingering taste of the anti-freeze in your tap water. But hey, it beats risking wrecking your plumbing if you camp or live in winter country.

2. The big hassle with cold-weather camping is interior condensation on the walls and windows. You have to leave your hatch slightly open, and then keep the heat running. It is just a lot nicer if you have an electrical hook-up so you can plug in a space-heater. Of course, the propane furnace is an option but our dog usually sleeps right in front of our heating vent! In snow country I would make an extra effort to minimize the amount of snow tracked in or clinging to your clothes, because it just adds to the overall dampness.

3. If you have a particular park in mind, hopefully their website will tell you whether their campgrounds are open year-round. The Woodall's guide (but phone ahead, first!) also gives open dates for their listed RV parks.

4. I think a bigger issue is how far you wish to drive on potentially icy roads or unexpected blizzard conditions towing a trailer, notably if you wouldn't normally have beefy snow tires and 4WD on your tow vehicle.

We're heading down to Death Valley from BC in February, having said all this.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:23 PM   #22
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Dearest, it isn't the snowdiot drivers & ice that tempts fate...

Sodium Chloride
Calcium Chloride
Magnesium Chloride
Potassium Acetate
Calcium Magnesium Acetate

All the above are in use in snow belt states to keep roads open & safe.
All the above will corrupt any bare metal overnight with corrosion.
All the above are impossible to rinse away once they've wicked in. (belly pan/seams)
All the above persist in nooks and crannies to attract moisture out of the air and continue burning metals until every molecule has been expended.

Waiting until the thaw is on and retreating before road salts have been washed away by a good rain is about the equivalent of dashing down Daytona Beach in the surf just to say you've done it. Then the usual action is to sell the vehicle quick and let the next guy worry about it

Of things harmful to Airstreams only industrial fallout and agricultural fertilizers are harsher than road salts are . Would you spray your trailer down with Miracle-Grow?
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:26 PM   #23
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Good advice, wabbiteer (from Minnesota!)-- we'll keep it in mind during our trek south. Some states and provinces are a lot worse for road salt than others but then the ones that don't use so much seem to figure you're OK driving on snow-packed highways.

Just one more recommendation for anyone unused to serious winter but willing to try it: and that is to make sure you bring actual winter boots (not city boots) that have some insulation and parkas, along with ski-type or woolen socks, ski mitts, and real winter hats (such as skiers' toques). Buying these items at a ski shop or mountain shop (like REI) is better than your local department store, because the former shops sell stuff designed for people spending time in seriously cold weather. And then bring extras, because socks and mittens will get wet. If you have to spend your trip inside the AS because nobody is dressed for actual snow, it sort of defeats the purpose of camping.
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Old 11-15-2012, 05:27 PM   #24
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Our first year with an AS too. We've done some cold weather camping (spring, now recently in the fall to the Washington coast). Was a ton of fun, but do be warned about condensation.

I'm going to avoid snow camping this year - still too much of a novice to be towing in icy conditions.
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:16 PM   #25
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Lots of good advice already. Ease into it as there is lots to learn with enjoying snow conditions.

I have used my trailer as a studio/office last winter in central Colorado and have been living in it since the summer. I have been thinking about full timing for the winter in it. We've already had a couple of snow storms and temps have gotten into the single digits at night.

I think 4WD is a must with a trailer and a set of chains.

A good set of winter clothes is also a must. It is a safety issue as much as a comfort one. I could be fine without any heat with the clothing I have.

I use portable water jugs to avoid plumbing and freezing pipes. It may be less trouble to go that route and keep the tanks dry.

Condensation is a challenge. A pallet or some kind of raised platform (out of the snow) near the door is helpful.

Being cold at night is one thing. Being cold all day and all night is another. I would look make sure the weather is going to be mild before heading out. There is normally plenty of snow in the mountains in the spring yet conditions are quite mild. T-shirt weather is not uncommon. A sunny day makes all the difference in the world. Things will get wet with snow and the sun is the best way to dry them out.
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:36 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Wabbiteer View Post
Dearest, it isn't the snowdiot drivers & ice that tempts fate...

Sodium Chloride
Calcium Chloride
Magnesium Chloride
Potassium Acetate
Calcium Magnesium Acetate

All the above are in use in snow belt states to keep roads open & safe.
All the above will corrupt any bare metal overnight with corrosion.
Wabbiteer,
Yes, thank you! Something I had not thought about at all! I'm not sure if much salt or the like is used here. But possible corrosion to my AS is not something I am willing to risk.

P.S. Here in Fresno, Ca, it snowed 3 inches in 1998. I was 15. The last time before that was circa 1961.
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:04 PM   #27
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Mrs. Mod

I really admire your adventurous spirit.

I have camped for days at a time while skiing in West Virginia. I did not have to deal with snowy roads because I brought my trailer to the CG around Thanksgiving and did not bring it home until April.

There was a working bathroom at the CG so I dry camped. I really enjoyed this. I just kept bottles of water around, used paper plates and did dishes in a bowel and threw the water out the door.

I had electric power which helped a lot. I never did insulate the windows with plastic film or silver insulation but I thought about it. I heated the trailer with my furnace plus a small oil filled heater in the bedroom (84 Excella 31'). I also used an electric blanket covered by a down comforter. This really made it difficult getting out of bed in the morning. The eb was necessary when I arrived at the cold trailer late in the evening and I was ready to go to bed.

I really enjoyed the adventure and challenge.

Go for it and have fun.

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Old 11-15-2012, 11:41 PM   #28
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We are snow campers here in Montana ... but, we winterize and "dry" camp from late October until the spring "no freeze" / thaw. The larger AS propane tanks take away much of the uncertainty of the weather. It is, indeed, nice to be inside and toasty warm after a day out in the winter cold. We take water in bottled jugs and remove waste via plastic sacks inside of a bowl in the commode. In our avatar you will see that we are parked on about 3" of ice next to a mountain creek.
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:17 AM   #29
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Well, you asked for obvious, so here goes. Snow is caused by cold weather and precipitation, and usually below freezing. Freezing weather causes water to freeze...duh! There's lots of water in your Airstream pipes and tanks.

The furnace will keep most of it from freezing, provided it doesn't get too cold, and you have enough propane. But that does nothing for the water coming into the Airstream, and going out of the Airstream.

You can camp in freezing, snowy weather, but it's a PITA, IMHO.
My airstream came with 2 heating switches in the bathroom that the dealer said were uncommon..heaters for the tanks so they don't freeze. I don't see any comments on this..is it totally rare? Does it work?

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Old 11-16-2012, 07:43 AM   #30
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My airstream came with 2 heating switches in the bathroom that the dealer said were uncommon..heaters for the tanks so they don't freeze. I don't see any comments on this..is it totally rare? Does it work?

Cb
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:30 AM   #31
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I wouldn't pull my trailer over snow/ice covered roads because of the salt, but cold temps don't bother us. As I write this, we're camped in WI, and it was about 30 F last night. We're boondocking, too. The problem is finding someplace to camp as all the State parks and private campgrounds are closed. We came up here early to go to a concert tonight, and found a parking lot near downtown where they would let us park. Beats a hotel!
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:31 AM   #32
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In a few hours we'll be on the road to Three Rivers. The forecast turned on us and it looks like rain for the entire weekend. I figured snow camping...or rain camping in our case, would be a trip my husband and I would take by ourselves when our son and dog could go to grandpa's house for the weekend. Has anyone ever met a child or Labrador that knows how to stay out of puddles?
I considered leaving the dog for this trip, but the poor fellow, he has aluminitus too. We took one trip without him and he got extremely depressed. When the As is home, he sleeps by the door now so we can't get by him without his noticing.
Wish us luck on our rainy weekend. Let's see what kind of a muddy mess we can make out of our TT.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:49 AM   #33
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A few years back, we went out and the the temp dropped below freezing. We brought our own bottled water, trailer was already winterized. Not a problem inside but when we went to empty the black and gray at dump station, we encountered some frozen valves, making for an uneasy time. Finally got things flowing, but only after breaking one of the valve handles. Easily replaced, but it could have been worse: the whole rod thing could have detached. Lesson learned.

I'd either find some way to keep the plumbing that exits the trailer by the dump valves above freezing, or for go camping altogether.

We were thinking of a Thanksgiving outing, since the lowest temp where we would go is 38 degrees.

I'd be curious how any of you keep your exterior valves from freezing up. The obvious thing would be to use a heating coil or hot light somehow, but with all that farting around, that makes staying home seem more attractive.

JL
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:27 AM   #34
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Is it pointless to go snow camping? LoL.
The better question is whether, given all the tradeoffs, it's more enjoyable than the alternatives.

Quote:
Does anyone actualy snow camp in an Airstream?
Yes, there are some people who take them on ski trips. Go figure.

Quote:
Would I be constantly freezing inside my trailer?
You should have enough heat down to at least -10 F with little or no wind. Heat distribution becomes a problem at colder temperatures, because the ductwork in some Airstreams provides uneven heat. This is a nuisance when it's 40 degrees out but is a real problem at lower temperatures. I made fairly extensive modifications to my trailer to deal with this, which are documented in the furnace section of the forum.

Quote:
What kind of prep to the trailer and systems, like plumbing, need to be made for snow camping?
There are two approaches. One approach is to winterize the trailer, and camp without using any of the plumbing. This can work OK for short trips and for situations where you're really just sleeping in the trailer and eating and socializing at, say, the ski lodge.

Quote:
Does anyone know of any camp areas that are even open (California) in snow conditions? With a dump site?
In Minnesota most of the state parks keep a campground loop or two plowed year around, but they shut off the water and close the dump stations. There's only one private campground I know of here that stays open all year.

Quote:
Are there any must-do tips for snow camping? Even if it seems obvious, tell me. I have never camped in the snow.
As others have pointed out, road salt is corrosive so if you value your trailer you would want to travel when road conditions are unlikely to cause salt spray. Some people park an Airstream in a private lot all winter (or all year), for example. I take early spring trips after the road salt season is over.

In general you can't run the furnace unless you have an electric site or a generator.
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:48 PM   #35
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We were camped next to some folks with an Artic Fox in Yellowstone, and they were telling us about how it is good in cold weather. However, I noticed the drain valve setup and dump valves looked just like our Airstream, so I'm not sure what is different there. I couldn't see any obvious heat tape or anything, and didn't see the owner again to ask him.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:00 PM   #36
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In a few hours we'll be on the road to Three Rivers. The forecast turned on us and it looks like rain for the entire weekend. I figured snow camping...or rain camping in our case, would be a trip my husband and I would take by ourselves when our son and dog could go to grandpa's house for the weekend. Has anyone ever met a child or Labrador that knows how to stay out of puddles?
I considered leaving the dog for this trip, but the poor fellow, he has aluminitus too. We took one trip without him and he got extremely depressed. When the As is home, he sleeps by the door now so we can't get by him without his noticing.
Wish us luck on our rainy weekend. Let's see what kind of a muddy mess we can make out of our TT.
I don't think you will have snow in 3 Rivers, too low altitude. But, please watch your child, those rivers are very dangerous, especially when it rains, or during spring thaw. Ask me how I know. (I used to fly fish for trout in the 3 rivers area).
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:39 PM   #37
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We winter camp in northern Ohio every year....it is great fun, but one must pick the weekend carefully to avoid caustic chemicals on the road, snow and ice, and other hazards. But if the campground is open for the winter, and two are in Ohio with another four inIndiana and the bathrooms are heated, the all is ready for you to see the outdoors in a whole new way. Bundle up with lots of outdoor winter wear and fill your propane tanks for the furnace, include an electric ceramic heater if you like, and head on out for a fun weekend...oh and don't forget the firewood...best part of winter camping
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:25 PM   #38
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We were camped next to some folks with an Artic Fox in Yellowstone, and they were telling us about how it is good in cold weather. However, I noticed the drain valve setup and dump valves looked just like our Airstream, so I'm not sure what is different there. I couldn't see any obvious heat tape or anything, and didn't see the owner again to ask him.
Arctic Fox are said to have somewhat better insulation than most SOBs, and they offer double-pane glass windows as an option (or used to). Other than an enclosed belly pan, I don't know if they have any special protection for the plumbing.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:32 PM   #39
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Crater Lake 4th of July

The roads were just opened for the season. One campground was still buried. The average annual snowfall is 40'. That's feet, not inches
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:09 PM   #40
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I have an Airstream and live in Mammoth Lakes, CA (ski resort in the eastern Sierra Mountains.) I have stayed in it with temps down to 10-15 deg. F. You need to take the usual precautions mentioned above. Both Mammoth Lakes and South Lake Tahoe have RV parks open in the winter with full hook-ups. The most important one is electric - take a good electric heater and make sure you have at least two CO detectors if you use the furnace or Olympian type heaters. I have made extensive modifications to my 2012 Flying Cloud for winter camping. Contact me if you want additional info.

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Mammoth Lakes, CA
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