I love the little good things in life. A breath of cool air on a hot sweltering day. A cup of hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows, delivered to your hand, as the storm howls outside. The guy in the line in front of you paying your bill. A tip at a restaurant when you weren’t even the waiter. The news that camping season is not officially over. Huh? What? Seriously?
Yes I know the feeling! That last one almost blew me away as well! But, more and more, I’m learning that’s the situation. I’m hearing of Halloween parties in trailer camp grounds. I’m seeing pictures of RV trailers, covered in snow. I’m reading of four-season camp grounds, where snowmobilers head to for the weekend, camp in their cozy RV’s, winterize them again at the end of the weekend, and they go back for more.
So I decided it might be worth investigating. Of course, we could start with all the folks wanting to head to Arizona for the winter. What? Was that a spelling error? Nope, it’s real. It’s not Florida that was supposed to be inserted into that sentence. Florida is becoming old hat. It’s crowded. It’s full. It’s what the previous generation did. In short, it’s no longer all that cool to go to Florida for the winter. It’s still warm. But Arizona! Now that’s different. It’s warm, and cool. Cool, because it’s the new hot spot for winter camping! Add to that the health benefits of Arizona air, which is touted to be good for anything from asthma and allergies to arthritis.
We could start with Why. Why camping in February is better than you think. Yes, it does get down to freezing at night sometimes, but it warms up quickly in the morning. Some days in February, it’ll reach the mid 20 degrees Celsius. Maybe I should clarify that Why, Arizona, is a small town south of Phoenix. It’s known as the town without an answer. But answers or no, it does have a year round campground, with widely separated, private sites, and hot showers. It’s not far from the Organ Pipe National Monument, for anyone inclined towards some non-musical exploring. It appears the Organ Pipe name comes more from the amazing cacti in the area then from any real musical sounds.
For anyone looking for a little more seclusion, there are some great boon-docking sites on BLM land in the area around Why as well. BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) is open to free camping in the wilderness (boon-docking), for up to 14 consecutive days. Or you can choose a little more sophistication, and purchase a $40 permit for up to 14 days camping at a serviced LTVA site (Long Term Visitor Area). If you really like it, you can pay around $200 and stay from September to April. You know, this RV’ing thing could really be a quite profitable venture. Rent out your house, and boon-dock near Why for the winter!
There are many other more luxurious Arizona winter camping options, for those that have reached the mature age where they realize they no longer have to prove anything to anyone by trying to make life as miserable as they can for themselves. For those, I would recommend visiting www.snowbirdtrailer.com. This site is dedicated to, in their own words, “55+ers retirees, who seek an affordable and healthy way to escape the northern winters and enjoy life to its fullest”. It lists various upscale Arizona RV resort parks and their options, amenities and activities.
But winter camping does not need to mean heading south for the winter. No indeed! Heading north can be just as cool! Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville offers year round campsites, with central “winter comfort” stations with heated toilets and showers. The park maintains and grooms more than 33 km of cross country ski trails. It offers a variety of hiking and snowshoeing trails, a skating rink, a skating trail, and a tubing hill. There are two warm-up shelters and an open fire pit as well!
Mew Lake Campground in the Algonquin Park is also open year round, as well as some campgrounds closer to home, like the Milton Heights Campground and the Valens Conservation Area near Hamilton.
As someone stated, camping in sub-zero temperatures can be an exhilarating experience… but it can also quickly become a challenging experience!
There are a variety of 3- and 4-season RVs on the market today. Generally these come equipped with a standard winter package that includes extra side wall and ceiling insulation, heated and enclosed under bellies, heated water lines, holding tanks and dumping valves, and snow-load rated roof trusses. These trailers are rated for comfortable living, with no frozen water lines, for as low as -25 Celsius.
However, many of the mid level RV’s, tho they have the insulation and enclosed underbellies, do not come with the heated water tanks and valves. Canadian winter camping is still an option with those, as there are many things that can be done to make camping a warm and pleasant experience. Under the “tips” heading on the website www.camping-canada.com you will find a page about winter RV’ing. It contains loads of helpful hints, such as to how to heat and insulate your holding tanks, how to winterize windows and doors, and how to park your RV in the best possible way for winter camping. It even has practical advice on matters such as having enough clothing and blankets along to live through a furnace failure!
As owning RV’s becomes more and more the norm, more people are realizing that it makes sense to get their money’s worth out of them and enjoy them for more seasons. After all, nothing beats the quiet stillness of a secluded forest, covered in a soundproofing blanket of white. And hey, if we’re going to live in Canada, why grumble and complain for 6 months of the year? Embrace the winter! Enjoy the white!
Darren Frey is the Sales Manager at LongHaul Trailer Sales. Contact him for your RV & Trailer needs!