The back story and what to expect from RV Skiing
Or how to get the best powder skiing vacations time after time
I have always dreamed about endless powder skiing or at least skiing powder on every vacation. I have been helicopter skiing a couple times and it was fabulous. But the price tag is not sustainable for me. Also, part of the fun of travel is experiencing the real people and places of where you are and the journey along the way. Helicopter skiing is a bubble experience. A nice bubble to be sure, but a bubble none the less.
Now let’s back up a bit to tell my story. I am 64, happily married to my beautiful wife Jackie and we have three boys. Jackie no longer downhill skis but our youngest son finally took to skiing and now skis faster than me on the groomers. (Bugs me, but I still have the edge in steep powder.) We are campers/hikers and love the mountains. A couple years ago we gave up car/tent camping and bought a small camper. Great fun, but it is not built for winter. So I did my homework on what kind of Camper/RV would be good for winter use and still work well for summer camping in the mountains. Vans are great but a little too small and spartan for our taste. RV/motor homes tend to be too large for small off the beaten path places that we like to go. We stuck with a modest sized tow behind camper and found Outdoors RV to make what we thought was the best quality winter worthy camper and also work well for summer camping. We also like the ability to leave the “home” behind as we go on daily adventures with the pickup truck that tows the camper.
The reason why I, and many others, find the idea of skiing out of an RV (I will use the term RV generically referring to whatever people use to sleep in) is this:
For most accomplished skiers, the desire is to ski powder. Groomers here and there are fine, but the quest is always to ski powder. So, what is your batting average on getting great powder days on your one-week ski vacation every year? 20-30%? What if you could bring that average up significantly?
In general, there are two types of people and life situations where RV skiing may fit:
Those with a bit more time flexibility
Early retired go-go types who crave adventure and are physically fit and active. (I am in this category.)
Those who are still relatively young and have made lifestyle choices that allow more time and flexibility to do extended or at least a bit more flexible time schedule RV based skiing.
For these types of folks, the where is defined primarily by the snow. Chase powder within the constraints of what RV parking is available and how you pay for the lift tickets. (Ikon, Epic, Mountain Collective, or Indy passes. Supplemented by the occasional splurge of paying rack rake when the conditions are just too good.)
Those who work “normal” jobs and have to carefully schedule their precious vacation time off.
The challenge of course is that most people work a full-time job and vacations must be scheduled. Travel and lodging must be booked in advance, so you cross your fingers and hope the ski area you choose gets big snow when you happen to show up.
What if you could still schedule the vacation in advance but decide where to go at the last minute based on which area is forecast to get the best snow? Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Bingo – RV skiing.
Of course you need to own your own RV that is set up for winter use to do this. No one has created a rental market yet to support this. (I might be interested in taking a run at this with the right partner or two. Someone who lives in Denver or Salt Lake.)
Now let’s be clear, this isn’t for everyone. Like everything in life, there are tradeoffs.
1. Much better odds of powder skiing.
2. A unique experience, not just another ski vacation.
3. Dramatic savings on lodging. (If you own the RV.) Many times a beautiful ski in / ski out setting.
1. No 15-minute hot showers. This is a camping style shower. Get wet, lather up, rinse, done. (But in some locations there is access to the pool/sauna/locker room.)
2. No maid services.
3. It is a DIY kind of thing. You need the right equipment; a little know how and a little effort. (Like shoveling all the big snow off the roof and around the RV, keeping track of propane fuel level, filling the water tank and dumping the black/grey water….)
What this blog will try to provide
In doing research I discovered there is very little detailed information the topic. There are many different travel/RV blogs and Facebook chat groups on the different ski passes and RV ski camping in general. These are useful but they really can’t get into the detail one needs to do this right.. I will attempt to blaze the path for my fellow powder hounds, help you evaluate this life/vacation option and shorten the learning curve. I will no doubt make many mistakes and will chronicle those mistakes so you can laugh with me and hopefully avoid some of those mistakes yourself. Here are the topic areas I hope to cover:
What resorts to ski and where to park
I will link to several other blog posts that have decent information on ski areas and RV options. I will also chronical my experiences at the resorts I visit. Web sites and phone calls are a good starting point but there is nothing like firsthand experience. I hope to find places to park that can only be found through in person conversations. At this point my preferences will be:
1. On the mountain for a ski in ski out experience.
2. A quiet scenic place that perhaps offers easy or immediate access to trails for snow shoeing and cross-country. 45 minutes or less drive from the ski area parking lot.
3. The “back parking lot” of a business. A commercial business of some type that doesn’t get a lot of traffic and has room in the far corner for someone supporting the local economy. Bring them bagels or other treats to pave the way for my fellow RV Skiers.
4. A commercial RV campground.
Where to ski and do other fun things in the area
The best things are usually discovered in person. The three spots behind the maintenance shed that can only be had if you talk to “Fred” and catch him in a good mood. The trailhead parking lot where the sign says no overnight camping but if you see “Betty” at the local forest service she might give you permission.
Have you ever skied with a local? They know where the good stuff is. I will try to be your local. Telling you where the good stuff is. Who has the best coffee, the best take out Mexican food, the local guy that does dog sled tours occasionally, the local mechanic that knows RV’s…..
As much as I love powder skiing, it is fun to do other things and experience the real place. This will be more limited in the COVID ski season of 20/21
Plus, I can’t ski first chair to last chair day after day anymore.
The equipment and techniques
The more I investigate and learn, the more I find there is to know. There are a lot of options to this winter RV thing. I am not advertising or getting paid for product but I will make recommendations on what has worked for me.