Ryan Robinson takes you for a ride in the passenger seat of his RV, off the grid, deep among the dramatic rock formations of the Utah Desert. Robinson and friends chill by the fire, tell stories, and of course, rig a one of a kind highline over the Looking Glass Arch in Moab, UT.
Winter is the time when most campgrounds across the northern third of the U.S. shut down due to snow and subfreezing temperatures. There are, however, at least a few campground operators in snow country that keep their parks open in winter to accommodate skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, snowmobile, and ice fishing enthusiasts. While most of these parks in snow country are only able to offer dry camping, park operators say they are able to keep at least a few RV sites plowed and offer their winter guests restrooms and hot showers.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has an online listing of its campgrounds that are open in winter. But outside the KOA network, it requires a lot more research to find out not only which campgrounds are open in winter, but which ones are suitable base camps for winter recreation enthusiasts.
To streamline your winter vacation planning, GoRVing.com has identified nearly 40 campgrounds across the country that can serve as base camps for your winter recreation pursuits. We’ve sorted them by state to make them easy to find. They include:
Coachland RV Parkin Truckee: This park is located only a few minutes away from world-class ski destinations including Northstar California Resort and Palisades Tahoe, formerly Squaw Valley. The park offers a complimentary breakfast every Saturday, and a large pancake breakfast the last Saturday of each month. The park also has several activities in December, including Christmas gift making for kids and a Christmas Bazaar with free food and vendors.
High Sierra RV & Mobile Home Park in Oakhurst: This park is located just outside the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park and is just over an hour’s drive from the Badger Pass Ski Area, which offers downhill skiing in addition to being next to several trails suitable for cross-country skiers.
Mammoth Mountain RV Park & Campgroundin Mammoth Lakes: This park features plowed RV sites with electric hookups as well as a water filling station and dump station. Other amenities include restrooms with hot showers and an indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Activities in the Mammoth Lakes area include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.
Tahoe Valley Campgroundin South Lake Tahoe: This park offers RV sites as well rental accommodations, including park models and convenient access to Tahoe area ski resorts, including Heavenly Valley.
Yosemite Lakes RV Resortin Groveland: Located just outside the western entrance to Yosemite National Park, this campground offers a variety of RV sites as well as furnished park model rentals for visitors seeking winter recreation activities in Yosemite. There are also more than 15 fishing lakes within an hour’s drive of Yosemite Lakes, including Don Pedro Reservoir, Cherry Lake, and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite Pines RV Resort & Family Lodging in Groveland: Located just outside Yosemite National Park, this campground can serve as a base camp for day trips into Yosemite to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and other winter activities.
Base Camp at Golden Gate Canyon in Black Hawk: Located at 9,230-feet, this campground has no running water for RVers at this time of year, but restrooms and shower facilities are available. The campground also offers 12 cabins. Nearby winter activities include skiing and snowboarding at the Echo Mountain and Eldora Mountain ski resorts, scenic winter drives along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, and gambling in the nearby communities of Black Hawk and Central City.
Canyon View RV Resortin Grand Junction: RV enthusiasts can use this park as a base camp for downhill skiing day trips to Powerderhorn Resort or to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing atop Grand Mesa.
Garden of the Gods RV Resortin Colorado Springs: This park, which has views of Pikes Peak, complements its RV sites with rental accommodations. Nearby attractions include the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, which offers scenic 300-foot sandstone rock formations, hiking and mountain biking trails as well as a wide variety of organized activities for people of all ages, including arts and crafts activities, nature and history hikes and geology hikes for kids. The campground can also be used as a basecamp for visits to downtown Colorado Springs and to the scenic and historic mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor as well as Manitou, which is famous for its hot springs. The road to 14,115-foot Pikes Peak is also open in winter, but sometimes closes briefly based on weather conditions.
Lake John Resort in Walden: This 8,200-foot, family-owned campground has an ice fishing contest every January. The park also rents out ice fishing huts in six-hour increments. The ice huts can be rented with or without ice fishing equipment. Portable heaters are also available for rent, although no overnight sleeping is allowed in the units. The resort offers RV and tent sites and furnished rental cabins with varying numbers of beds. The cabins also feature kitchen and bathroom facilities. While ice fishing is a big attraction here, other nearby activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The resort is close to Delaney Butte Lakes, Big Creek Lake, Cowdrey Lake and the many alpine lakes of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness as well as the Grizzly Helena Trail. The Steamboat Ski Resortis about an hour away.
Middlefork RV Park in Fairplay: Situated at 9,900 feet, this campground is only 23 miles from Breckenridge and within an hour and 15 minutes of several other major ski resorts at Keystone, Copper Mountain and Vail. A dump station and water are available during the winter months, but no water and sewer service is available at that time at individual campsites.
Oasis RV Resortin Durango: This park was recently acquired by Roberts Resorts and plans to host breakfast on weekend mornings for guests headed to Purgatory Ski Resort.
Ouray Riverside Resort in Ouray: Winter visitors include
RVers and park model campers wishing to attend the annual Ouray Ice Festival and Competition, which is slated for Jan. 19-22. The event takes place at the Ouray Ice Park, a site in the Uncompahgre Gorge where more than 250 sprinklers are used to create awe-inspiring walls of ice. The Ouray Ice Park contains over 100 manmade ice and mixed climbs, 11 distinct climbing areas and more than three miles of vertical terrain. The Ouray Ice Festival features interactive and educational climbing clinics and ice climbing competitions as well as food, music, and nightly dance parties. Skiers and snowboarders also use Ouray Riverside Resort as a base camp for excursions to Telluride Ski Resort or to enjoy backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.
Palisade Basecamp RV Resortin Palisade:This campground with frontage along the Colorado River complements its RV and tent sites with rental cabins and cottages as well as two country home suites. Unlike many campgrounds, this park offers winterized RV sites with water.
Red Mountain RV Parkin Kremmling: This campground attracts its share of skiers, snowshoers, and ice fishing enthusiasts. While the park does maintain some full hookup sites even in winter, many winter recreation enthusiasts like to dry camp in their RVs and use the park’s restrooms and showers.
River Run RV Resort in Granby:This resort maintains a small number of RV sites during the winter months. The resort’s park model vacation rentals are also available year-round. Winter activities include skiing and snowboarding at Winter Park, 25 minutes away, and the annual 3 Lakes Ice Fishing Contest,
Jan. 27-29, at Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake. The annual contest is the longest running ice fishing tournament west of the Mississippi River.
Tiger Run Resortin Breckenridge: Winter recreation enthusiasts in Colorado often stay at this 9,600-foot resort near the historic mining town of Breckenridge, which is close to several popular ski resorts, including Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, with Vail being about an hour away, depending on road conditions.
Colonial Mast Campgroundin Naples: Winter guests at this park can snowmobile right from their campsite or spend the day ice fishing or cross country skiing on the lake or downhill ski at nearby Shawnee Mountain. The park also offers a swimming pool and hot tub.
Wilderness Pines Campgroundin Monticello: This park maintains five RV sites in winter for dry camping for travelers as well as ski, snowshoe, snowmobile and ice fishing enthusiasts who want to enjoy the snow trails and lakes in the area. This campground is also a popular venue for snow sledding enthusiasts.
Mt. Hood Village RV Resort(https://rvonthego.com/oregon/mt-hood-village-rv-resort/) in Welches: Located outside of Portland, this resort is a popular winter basecamp, with the Mt. Hood Skibowl just 13 miles away and the Mt. Hood Adventure Park being just another two miles down the road.
Hart Ranch Camping Resort (https://www.hrresort.org/) in Rapid City: This park keeps about 130 sites open during the winter months. Winter activities include hunting, snowmobiling, and skiing.
Rush No More RV Resort (https://www.rushnomore.com/) in Sturgis: RV enthusiasts can use this park as a base camp for skiing and snowmobiling in the Spearfish and Deadwood areas, both of which are about 20 minutes away.
Park City RV Resortin Park City: This park, which is owned by Roberts Resorts, is only five minutes from the Olympic Park ski jump and 15 minutes from downtown Park City. “We are giving out a select number of Roberts Resorts mugs filled with cocoa mix, chocolate marshmallows and candy canes as a thank you to our winter guests,” said Scott McGee, Roberts Resort’s vice president of operations. “For the week between Christmas and New Year’s, we have a food truck scheduled with coffee, espresso, and pastries that our guests can enjoy before hitting the slopes. We also plan to have complimentary donuts and coffee in the office each weekend.”
Salt Lake City KOA in Salt Lake City: This campground caters to ski and snowboard enthusiasts who enjoy the slopes outside of Salt Lake City in the winter months.
Leavenworth / Pine Village KOA Holidayin Leavenworth: This park offers RV sites and rental accommodations for campers wanting to visit the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, Stevens Pass Ski Resort or to enjoy additional winter activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing, which are available at Fish Lake, just a few miles from the resort.
Terry Bison Ranch in Cheyenne: This ranch has a 43-site RV park that’s open for dry camping in winter. Activities include horseback riding and a train ride across the ranch to view a bison herd in the snow.
Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.