Where We Live: The San Luis Valley in South Central Colorado near the New
Mexico border. The Rio Grande River runs through this valley. The Continental Divide and the San Juan Mountains are on the West and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains on the East. We are up at about 7900 feet above sea level, and the space between the mountains is a flat, dry desert of about 8000 square miles. We are surrounded by these majestic mountains. It’s very beautiful, and many days soul healing. Plus, the best part… there are hundreds of miles of trails from mild to wild within an hour’s drive with some even closer.
There are so many to explore it is a little overwhelming. In the winter the temperatures drop and there typically is a lot of mountain snow. This year's snow has been mild, but the temperatures are bitterly cold. We have learned some tough lessons dealing with the cold and camping in our camper.
Cold weather camper life tips from lessons learned.
There is a saying I learned while my kids were in Boy Scouts. It’s “Always be prepared”. Being prepared means to have a plan for every contingency you can think of, even if the possibility is low. Not only have a plan and a back up plan, but a back up plan to the back up plan. There are 4 major musts when living the #Camperlife in the cold temperatures: Good shelter, Water, Food and Heat. These are essential to basic survival in the cold weather.
Good Shelter protects you from the elements. Most Campers and #VanLifers put a second layer of protection on their homes in the cold winter months. This would be a tarp over the top or some sort of “skirting” around the bottom of the RV or Camper. This helps keep the inside warm.
We have used tarp around the bottom of our camper, but here in the valley it gets very windy, so this is not a good idea. The foam board is definitely the way to go. Just make sure it’s secured good. All the tarp does is blow off and makes scary noises at night while blowing. Sometimes I would wake up wondering if those mountain lions were trying to get into the camper.
Investing in rugs and slippers is a good idea too. And plenty of blankets.
Water Most campgrounds have water hook ups. In the winter these hook ups need to be insulated. Not just the hook ups, it’s a good idea to have a back up hose that you could plug in to keep it warm. A regular old hose will freeze up if the temps get low enough. You still need a back up plan to that back up hose. Not all campgrounds water hook ups are insulated well. Ours froze in the ground. So no water for us. That meant lots of water jugs. I am sure learning the art of perseverance living the camper life in the mountains of Colorado.
Food The good thing in the winter, if you lose power your cold food won’t go to waste as you can just store it outside. Just make sure it’s in an animal proof container. One day last year before we upgraded our camper with a bigger fridge, I needed extra space for cold food. I put it in a vinyl type cooler. One day when I got home, my roast, pack of chicken and pork chops were gone. The animal chewed right through the vinyl cooler. There are several containers on the market that are bear proof.
propane stove to a charcoal grill to a campfire which means you need some sort of cooking grill for over the fire. There are several varieties out there. We go with simple and easy and a grill that doesn’t take up a lot of space as we take ours tent camping. You may even want to consider having your propane stove upgraded to be able to use a bigger propane tank.
Heat So important in the winter. We have many sources: propane, electric portable heaters, electric blanket that can plug into a battery and lots and lots of blankets and layers of sleeping clothes. Not only the propane heater in the camper, but a portable propane heater like the buddy heater. These are the kind that use the smaller green propane bottles. If you use these camping the little bottles, if using on high, only last about 4 hours. Another good idea is to have the capability to use a bigger propane bottle. That way at three in the morning you are not getting up in a cold tent or camper to change the bottle.
Deciding to leave your home and life a simpler life in a camper is not for everyone. If you like the creature comforts of a home you may want to rethink #camperlife. But if you don’t mind NOT having to spend a whole day cleaning your house or even ever vacuuming again and instead relaxing by a campfire or taking a leisurely walk through the mountain side you might want to consider #Camperlife. It has taught me so many lessons. It has taught me perseverance, and removed a lot of burdens from my shoulders.