Are you someone who enjoys spending time outdoors? If you are ready to take your outdoor adventures to the next level, or just looking for a relaxing getaway after the busy holiday season, try winter camping.
Although cold weather camping is similar to traditional camping in many ways, there are several additional things to consider. That is why KOA has created the ultimate guide to winter camping, so you are prepared for the best winter camping experience possible.
Winter camping lets you connect with your loved ones during nature’s most peaceful and refreshing time of year. There are also several other benefits to getting out there during winter:
There are several lodging options available for your winter camping trip. Maybe you want to experience winter in its fullest with tent camping. Perhaps you prefer to watch the snow sparkle from inside the comfort of your RV or rustic cabin. Whether you are seeking simplicity or luxury, KOA has you covered.
Be sure to check with your local campground before reserving your stay to see what specific amenities and lodging units are available.
Cabin camping lets your group enjoy nature from the comfort of log-style cabins equipped with electricity and beds. KOA has both Camping Cabins and Deluxe Cabin lodging options.
Traditional Camping Cabins have enough room for four to six people in one or two-bedroom layouts. Bedrooms have either full beds or bunk beds. All Camping Cabins have access to nearby restrooms and showers and also come with a fire feature for cooking s’mores and warming up next to in the evenings.
Deluxe Cabins provide the same protection from outdoor elements, but with private bathrooms and sometimes other convenient features as well. In addition to comfortable beds and varied floor plans, Deluxe Cabins may include extras like TVs, grills, patios, kitchenettes and fire pits.
Tent camping in the winter is an adventurous choice. Three-season tents are usually adequate for winter camping, but if winds or heavy snowfall are possible, go with a four-season tent instead.
If snow is on the ground during set up, be sure to pack it down at the spot you plan to place your tent. Then, stake your tent to the ground to keep it steady. For sleeping arrangements, bring a sleeping pad along with your sleeping bag. Combining the two will keep you insulated and warm throughout the night.
KOA Tent Sites are spacious and level with a picnic table, fire ring and easy access to clean restrooms with hot water. Tent Sites are also located near waterspouts, so you do not have to haul water.
With proper planning and preparation, RV camping can be the ideal lodging choice for winter camping. KOA RV Sites are clean and level, with Pull-Thru and Back-In sites. Full hookups are available, with 30 or 50-amp service. Some RV Sites also include a KOA Patio™ for the ultimate outdoor experience.
Before heading out, just make sure you winterize your RV:
“Glamping” is a combination of “glamorous” and “camping” and represents a type of camping experience that balances a love for the outdoors with comfort and luxury. KOA offers several unique lodging options perfect for campers and “glampers” alike:
Choosing your location and lodging type are only the first steps in planning a winter camping trip. You also need to pack the right gear, wear the proper clothing and understand how to keep warm in the winter chill.
Although some close during the off-season, many campgrounds remain open in winter. Base your destination on availability, as well as the distance it is from your home. Winter often means hazardous road conditions — select a campground that allows for a safe trip to and from your destination. Keep in mind that, in addition to dangerous conditions, roadways may also be congested during certain parts of winter for holiday travel.
Some of the best places to go winter camping are near national parks, which are full of spectacular views and sightseeing.
Choose which type of lodging is best for you or your group. If your camping trip includes young children or elderly individuals, an RV Site or Deluxe Cabin may be the best option due to the protective shelter they provide.
Alternatively, if your group enjoys the thrill of “roughing it,” Tent Sites offer camping in its purest form. Unique lodging, such as the safari tents or yurts, can also be an ideal choice for those wanting an ultra memorable camping experience. Be sure to check with specific campgrounds to see what they have available.
For the best winter camping experience, make sure you are dressed sufficiently to manage the cold weather. The key is to dress in layers:
Before you head out, here are a few more winter camping hacks to keep in mind.
Because your body burns extra calories to stay warm, hearty, high-calorie meals are the best choice for your cold weather camping menu. Keep in mind, you may be cooking over a campfire or preparing ingredients in the cold, so meals also need to be simple to make.
Store your food and water in freeze-safe containers, inside your duffel bag or camping pack. Store your bag in your car or lodging.
In addition to staying hydrated with plenty of water, bring along your favorite hot beverages and keep them warm in a thermos. Imagine yourself sitting around a campfire, sipping on hot cocoa or apple cider. Sounds pretty cozy, right?
Always keep an eye on the weather before you embark on your camping trip and throughout the duration of your stay. Weather can change quickly, and in the winter, this could mean blizzards or sub-freezing temperatures. Monitor the weather so you can be prepared. In the event of extreme temperatures, it is important you can recognize the signs of cold-weather injury, including hypothermia and frostbite.
If you are tent camping and elect to use a winter camping tent heater, always make sure your tent is adequately ventilated to avoid reaching dangerous carbon monoxide levels.
Hypothermia may present itself as excessive shivering, slurred speech, weak pulse, lack of coordination, low energy, confusion or memory loss or unconsciousness.
Symptoms that may indicate frostbite are cold, prickling skin, numbness, joint and muscle stiffness, discolored skin or blistering.
If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from a cold-weather injury, seek prompt medical attention.
Socks and gloves are two of the most integral layers for keeping your body warm. Bring several pairs of each, so you always have a dry pair to change into when the pair you are wearing gets wet.
You may also want to bring hand warmers. These can be your best friend during cold weather camping. Hand warmers are single-use, air-activated heat packets you can keep in your pocket and activate when your hands get cold.
Although winter sports and snowball fights are a lot of fun, some days can be too cold or rainy to spend a lot of time outdoors. Make sure you bring along some indoor entertainment.
There are several options for having fun while indoors. You could play cards or a board game, listen to music or read a book. You might consider having an all-out movie watching event, complete with popcorn and pillow forts.
You could also pack up the car and go for a scenic drive if the roads are safe for travel.
Many guests enjoy bringing along furry friends to enjoy the outdoors alongside them. Camping with pets is an excellent bonding opportunity, and it can be a lot of fun. However, if you are bringing your pet along for a cold-weather camping trip, you need to exercise extra caution.
Know when to leave your pet at home. If the weather predicts freezing temperatures or your pet is a small-breed animal, it may be too challenging to keep them warm and safe. Instead, leave them with a trusted sitter.
If you decide to bring your pet along for the adventure, follow these tips:
Regardless of your choice of lodging, you want to know how to build a campfire — or at least have someone in your group who does. Campfires are for more than cooking or scary stories. In the winter, they are an excellent source of heat for you and your group of loved ones. You can also use a campfire and campfire grate to thaw frozen water.
Consider bringing along a hot water bottle. Fill it with hot water just before bed and stick it in your sleeping bag for extra warmth.
KOA offers the ultimate outdoor winter camping adventure complete with convenient amenities. When you reserve a stay at a KOA, you know what to expect — friendly customer service, great camping options and everything you need for a memorable camping trip.
While the availability of some features and amenities depends on each campground, every KOA guest has access to a laundry facility, playground, KOA Store and clean bathrooms with hot water.
Not every KOA is open year-round, so be sure to check if your favorite campground is available for winter camping. Make your winter camping reservation at KOA and prepare to experience another side of the great outdoors. Visit us online or download our mobile app today.