10 Tips for Winter Dry Camping in a Travel Trailer 
See how one family enjoyed a cozy, cold-weather RV trip to Banff National Park.

By: Dom Carson

We live in Canada, so it’s winter about six months of the year. One of the keys to enjoying the winter is to keep getting outside and recreating in it. We try to never let the temperatures hold us back from doing things and camping is no different. 

On our recent RV trip to Banff National Park in early December, the temperatures were a high of 30F and a low of -9F (High -1C/Low -13C) with light snow. This made for a cozy winter stay at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court with lots of outdoor fun. (Another favorite option for winter camping is Lake Louise Hard Sided Campground.)

Why We Love Winter Camping

We love winter camping for a few reasons:

  • Quieter in campgrounds. There were only a few other RVs/trailers in the whole campground and it was so peaceful.
  • Closer to winter activities. There is so much to do in the mountains in winter (ski, skate, winter hike, etc.), so it’s great to have a home base nice and close to make the most of the limited daylight each day.
  • Cozy time in the trailer. There is nothing better than hanging up some fun lights and having a cozy night in the trailer playing cards and drinking hot chocolate. 

Top Tips for Winter Dry Camping in a Travel Trailer

We had already winterized our 2022 Winnebago Micro Minnie 2100BH trailer after our most recent fall camping trip, so this trip was a dry camping trip. This means that we didn’t use any water in our trailer, which was totally fine!

Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to take your RV out for a winter dry camping trip this season: 

1. Prepare your RV

Check to make sure that everything is in good working order - like batteries, tires, and your furnace. Also check over your tow vehicle. (Here is a helpful travel trailer safety checklist.)

2. Choose a good camping location

Only certain campsites remain open in the winter, so you’ll have to do a bit of research here. Also consider the distance to the campsite and what the road conditions will be like. Winter often brings icy or slushy roads that might not be safe to tow in.

We love to go to national parks in the winter because we can always rely on the fact that the campground will be plowed. On that note, be aware of the weather forecast and be prepared to be flexible and pivot if you need to. 

3. Select an ideal campsite

While winter camping, we like to choose a fully powered site so that we don’t have to rely on our solar system in case it's cloudy, snowy, or doesn’t have enough power to keep our heaters going all night (more on those later). We also like to select a site that is close to the bathrooms, so we have easy and quick access to that (which is necessary with a toddler). Plus, it is easier to do washing without having to trek through too much snow.

I also like to select a site that will give us the most amount of sun during the day and make sure that we are parked in a direction that lets the sun come in the windows (every little bit of heat and light helps!)

4. Bring the proper gear

In addition to your normal camping gear, make sure you pack these cold weather essentials:

  • Space heaters. Because we only had to worry about keeping the living space in the trailer warm, we set our furnace temperature low and just used the space heaters. You won’t want to do this if you need to keep your water tanks and lines warm, but for us it was fine because we were dry camping. This also meant that we didn't get much condensation inside the trailer because the space heaters give off a dry heat. (Note: Just be sure to take precautions when using space heaters and read up on how to use them safely in an RV.)
  • Winter clothing. Dress in layers and pack base layers, insulated jackets, waterproof boots, gloves, and hats to stay warm and dry.
  • Sleeping bags. Always bring enough to keep you warm in the event of an emergency if you lose power. 
  • Tire chains. Essential for navigating icy roads and snowy terrains.
  • Snow shovel and ice scraper. Handy for clearing snow around your RV and removing ice from windows.
  • Extra rugs and blankets. The floor of the RV will get pretty cold, so it’s nice to lay some rugs or blankets down on the floor so it’s a bit warmer. Also, don’t forget slippers!
  • Winter leveling gear. One thing we didn’t really anticipate was how tricky it would be to get our trailer up on blocks to level it when we got to the campsite. We had our leveling blocks down on one side, but they just kept sliding on the snow and ice when we tried to drive up onto them. So that took some finessing using additional wood blocks and boards to help keep them in place so we could level the RV. Next time, we will DIY some studded blocks to help with traction.

5. Keep your slide free of snow

We brought a tarp to put on top of the slide to keep the snow off if it was going to snow much. We also brought a step ladder and broom to brush any snow off that had accumulated (you don't want that added weight up there) and to make sure it was clear before we put it in.

Another thing you can do is to pull the slide in overnight if you’re expecting snow. We also left the awning in to prevent ice and snow buildup. 

6. Plan activities

Check the area for winter events and activities that you can go out and spend the day doing. We love heading out skating or sledding with our toddler so that when it’s time to head back to the trailer in the evening, she’s nice and tired out! 

7. Bring indoor games

When it’s time to head back and warm up in the trailer, we love to have a variety of things to do. This is especially important if it’s too cold to be outside too much! Our favorites are card games, board games, lots of books, and we always have coloring stuff with us. 

8. Plan easy meals

We didn’t want to cook too much in the trailer and add condensation, so we brought along some easy meals and lots of snacks so things could be pretty simple. Also, so that we didn’t have to set up and cook outside in the cold. 

9. Carry safety devices

Invest in safety devices such as a Garmin InReach or a similar satellite communicator. These devices allow you to stay connected even in remote areas without cellular coverage. Additionally, ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and familiarize yourself with its contents and usage. Emergencies can quickly become very serious in the winter because of the cold. 

10. Make it fun!

Winter camping is so fun and it’s easy to bring some lights and make it such a magical experience. I think decorating for the holidays and having our lights up during our annual December winter camps will be something our daughter remembers forever. 

All in all, winter camping is such a fun experience and allows you to get out and explore in the winter. Have fun out there and stay safe! 


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User commented on February 20, 2024 8:59 PM
Thank you for the information. We are first tmers and are trying to learn all the fun stuff and keep it all safe!!!
User commented on March 12, 2024 7:32 PM
I would also recommend bringing plenty of food and water, as well as a way to generate heat if you don't have full hookups. It's also important to be aware of the weather conditions and to have a plan in case of a storm.