Why Car Camping During Winter

Summer is the busiest season in America for camping. Most national parks and state parks campgrounds remain full the entire season. The campground becomes full almost six months in advance in many national parks such as Yosemite, Arches, and Yellowstone. 

However, even though summer camping is better because most attractions, parks, roads, and shops are open, the weather becomes too hot in some places. For example, visiting Yosemite is better during summer but visiting Death Valley National Park or Las Vegas during the summer month is the wrong idea. So, it’s better to see Death Valley, Arches, and many other national parks during the fall season or winter months. 

It’s best to car camp during the winter season. This article explains some of the key reasons.

Campground Is Closed

Most of the campgrounds throughout the USA remain closed during the winter season, especially in those areas where it snows. However, most campgrounds remain open in many areas, such as the sunbelt region, which includes Florida, Texas, Alabama, and other states. 

However, most national and state parks close all their campgrounds. Moreover, many national forests and recreational areas close their campsites too. Therefore, the only way to camp in those parks and recreational areas is in an RV or a car during the winter months. 

Easy Vehicle Maneuver 

During winter, many forest roads and park roads are unplowed. Sometimes, the plowed road becomes dangerous due to black ice. Driving an RV in a wintery condition isn’t ideal. A 4-wheel drive can drive in many areas, even on snow, but an RV can’t. Therefore, it’s better to make a winter road trip on a car or truck than with an RV or trailer. 

Comfortable Night Sleep

Tent camping during the winter months is impossible. Even though there are tents that are insulated and rated for subzero temperatures, those tents are heavy, costly, and take a lot of time to set up. 

A regular tent which we can buy from Walmart isn’t suitable for winter camping. It only works as a windbreaker and prevents ice or rain, but it doesn’t prevent cold air. Therefore, sleeping in a tent is very painful in a subzero temperature.

Moreover, if someone wants to sleep in a tent during winter, they must bring their insulation pad. Without an insulation pad, the ground will absorb body heat which will cause severe discomfort and may also cause health problems.

However, sleeping in the car during winter camping removes all these problems. The vehicle protects from all types of inclement weather. Moreover, cars are better at insulating a camper from outside cold air. Furthermore, as the camper sleeps off the ground in the car, they don’t need any insulating pad.  

Most tents aren’t rated for high heat. Therefore, propane or electric heaters can’t be used on cold nights inside a tent. It will damage the tents. Moreover, heating a tent with a heater is impractical.

However, sleeping in a car is comfortable because, during cold nights, one can keep the car heater on. It’s why car camping is the best approach during the winter season.

Related: Benefits of Car Camping

Different Beauty

The Summer and Winter season has diverse beauty. Many shun winter camping, saying that it’s too cold to enjoy nature. However, the same can be argued for the summer season. Many national parks in the midwest become too hot in the summer. Therefore, the season doesn’t matter; purpose matters.

Nature presents itself with unique beauty in the winter month. The Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Death Valley, Arches, and other national parks offer their otherworldly beauty in the winter months. The only way to enjoy these is car camping because RV camping isn’t ideal in this season. 

Fewer People

Most people only go camping during the summer season. Many never even think about going camping in the winter. Therefore, most tourist attractions that remain open in the winter months get less crowded. Even during the fall season, most places remain empty. Hence, it’s the perfect season to enjoy nature. 

However, there are several drawbacks to car camping during the winter months. Here are a few key ones.

Most of the attractions in nature throughout the country remain unpassable during the winter months. Most roads aren’t plowed; thus, access is impossible. 

Moreover, most campgrounds remain closed. Thus one has to boondock most of the time. However, access to a flushing toilet and running water is essential for comfortable camping. As in most places, the water is shut off during the winter season, so getting water could become challenging. 

Cooking is also challenging. As the outside temperature could remain near the sub zero, it will be tough to stay outside to cook for a longer period.

How to Stay Warm During Night

Staying warm during the night while car camping is easy. Here are a few methods that work for everyone.

First of all, don’t leave the car on for heat the entire night. It poses a potential carbon monoxide poisoning hazard. It’s better to turn on the car to make the interior of the vehicle toasty, and after 15 to 20 minutes, turn off the car. 


It’s better to keep a window a little bit open. It will allow the fresh breeze to come inside the car. Even though it could be chilly, it will prevent icing inside the vehicle due to excessive humidity. When we sleep, our outgoing breath contains a lot of water. If we don’t keep the windows open, the inside of the car will fog up. 

It’s also better to purchase a portable power station from Amazon. This power station and a heated blanket can keep you toasty all night while you camp in your car in the winter.  

Never use an air bed mattress. Air bed mattresses are terrible for winter camping. There is no insulating power, and it becomes very cold overnight, making a sleeper very uncomfortable. 

Always use good sleeping bags that are rated for subzero temperatures, such as this one.

Never use a propane heater inside a car. It’s not safe. First, it’s never a good idea to keep a fire running inside the vehicle, which can start a fire. Second, a propane heater can create hazardous carbon monoxide. 


Winter camping is very rewarding if planned ahead. With the right gear, car camping in the winter season is easy and doable. Everyone should try it at least once in a lifetime.