Where to Campervan in a Colorado Winter
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
One of the benefits of choosing #vanlife is that it extends your camping season from summer to year-round. A foot of snow in the forecast? No problem. There are a few important things to remember when opting for freezing nights on four wheels. We’ve got those tips, along with some of the best places to winter camp in Colorado.
- Winterize your van. This means insulation (we choose wool for all our van builds), snow tires and a heat source. Make sure you do your homework when it comes to heaters as there are plenty of options out there. All of these components are key to staying warm and safe on the road during the cold months, so make this your foundation.
- Lots of layers. Even with a heat source, it’s going to be chilly in between that time when your van warms up and you’re de-icing the windows. Invest in a good down coat and warm boots. For bedding, consider a very warm down comforter or a winter sleeping bag.
- Plan your water source. Unlike the summer, when water is readily available at campsites, during the winter it’s harder to replenish your water supplies. You’ll need to decide on whether you should try and worry about pipes freezing, so you may choose to use a big blue water jug instead. You’ll probably lean on gas stations and commercial operations if you’re on the road for several days. If it’s just a few days, make sure you have enough back-up.
- Stay entertained. Winter days are short and nights long. You may not want or be able to get a campfire going each night, so be sure to have good books, board games and movies downloaded. Or go elaborate with cooking great meals. Just remember it’s a bit more difficult to clean with limited water (see above).
Colorado Winter Camping Spots:
Camping in Colorado National Monument outside of Grand Junction is open year-round at Saddlehorn Campground. That means you can drive the iconic Rim Rock Road, snap photos of the sheer rock walls, and settle in for a quiet evening in Western Colorado no matter the weather.
The Moraine Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park is the park’s only campground to remain open year-round. From Oct. 14 to May 30, it’s first-come, first-served. But those lucky enough to nab spots have access to the one of the country’s most spectacular wild places during its quietest months. (Roads and access may be closed depending on weather.)
There are a handful of campgrounds open throughout Colorado during the winter that can be booked ahead. You can search dates on recreation.gov for availability and details.
Van Life and Skiing:
For the ultimate skier move, pull into a ski resort, sleep in the parking lot and be ready for first chair in the morning. While many Colorado ski resorts frown upon this sort of thing (or just make it impossible), there are a few that still encourage the ski-bum vibe. Silverton Mountain Resort, Wolf Creek Ski Area, Sunlight Mountain Resort and Loveland Ski Area all have areas where you can park overnight and watch the lifts start spinning with your morning coffee.
And finally, a fun part of campervan-ing is discovering places along the way. We don’t encourage illegal parking or camping, but there are lots of options in unexpected places that make perfectly good places to rest your head for the night. Just keep your eyes peeled and your mind turned to creative.