By Bob Difley
Not all RVers are full-timers, and not all full-timers head south to warmer weather in winter. If you are one of those that does not snowbird — or maybe skips a year now and then — it can also be an opportunity for some new and exciting camping experiences.
There are definite advantages to camping in normally popular areas in winter over summer — such as no crowds, wonderful solitude, and a lot more wildlife to see.
Sometimes, campgrounds remain open in winter but shut off services such as hookups, which, along with the winter weather, discourages many RVers.
But it can be a terrific time to visit state parks, forest service campgrounds, and boondocking locations. There is a bit more challenge camping and boondocking in cold weather, but depending on where you are located, you may not have to deal with temperatures dropping well below freezing at night or getting caught out in a snowstorm.
Check your local campgrounds to see if they stay open — they may even stop charging when they shut down services. Check the weather forecast for the area where the campground or boondocking area is located, and if it looks clear and not too cold — go for it. And take extra blankets so you don’t have to run your furnace all night depleting your batteries.
The solitude and quiet is a pleasant respite from summer crowds, and you will find the wildlife likes it too, as they aren’t frightened away by all the humans. Keep binoculars handy and carry them whenever you go outside for a walk or hike. Look for telltale signs of wildlife like tracks or scat, and practice your tracking. Pick up a book of animal tracks if you don’t already have one.
Keep your campground noise to a minimum and wildlife just might come by to check you out. On one such trip my wife and I made to a campground on a popular boating lake in Central California that was normally crowded and noisy in summer, just before dusk we placed our chairs outside, wrapped ourselves up in warm blankets, didn’t build a campfire, and waited quietly.
Within a short time a great horned owl silently flew in and landed on a nearby tree, a covey of quail strolled through the campsite pecking at the ground, several wild turkeys wandered in, a raccoon moseyed by, and a coyote watched us from several yards away.
Try hanging a bird feeder to attract the resident birds. But also be alert for the unusual, like the mountain lion in Colorado that decided the vacant campground was a perfect place to stash his kills, frequently returning to eat over several days.
Yes, authorities did close the campground — Split Mountain and Green River at Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County — on this occasion for two weeks. But wouldn’t that be a terrific experience? You would be unlikely to see that in a campground in summer.
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.