Winter Camping with Karma Campervanskarmacampers2021-09-27T22:29:05+00:00
WHY SHOULD YOU PLAN A WINTER CAMPERVAN TRIP?
Have you ever tried winter campervan camping? If you haven’t yet, you should! It’s an entirely different experience from the busy summer months, especially in the Rocky Mountains or on Vancouver Island — everyone needs to wake up to snowy peaks, evergreen trees or ocean at least once in their life.
We know cold weather camping might sound overwhelming and uncomfortable at first, but with the right gear and a campervan equipped for winter weather and cold temperatures (like ours!) it’s an experience you won’t forget.
It’s a whole new world to explore this winter. Swap hiking boots for snowshoes to explore the trails or hit the slopes during the day and enjoy a little apres ski fun at night. Escape the snow and become one with a rainforest. Trust us. You’ll love it.
WINTER CAMPING WITH KARMA CAMPERVANS
We make winter camping just as good as the summertime. When renting a Karma campervan there’s no need for sleeping bags, our campervans come with all the bedding you need including a super warm duvet to stay cozy, as well as a built in heater to really warm things up. Of course, you’ll need to pack more layers than you do for summer-season camping, but our campervans have ample storage to keep everything tidy and tucked out of the way.
We might be biased, but our previous guests agree that Karma has the best winter campervan options. All you need is hot coffee to start your day—oh wait! We provide that too.
WHY CHOOSE A CAMPERVAN OVER ROCKY MOUNTAIN RESORTS, HOTELS OR AIRBNBS?
With so many great options, how do you choose? We’re avid outdoors people here at Karma, so it’s an easy decision for us to make. If you’re on the fence, here’s some reasons why you should choose a campervan for your Western Canadian getaway.
Winter camping is more of an adventure! From backcountry snowshoeing to exploring island hiking trails to chasing the mountains best snowfall Karma guests love a variety of winter activities and a good adventure.
Save money if you’re going skiing. You can still hit up the Rocky Mountain ski resorts, just save money by sleeping in a campervan nearby. Banff hotels are nice and all, but it’s even cooler to wake up on a mountain than looking at them through a window!
There are a handful of RV campsites open for winter camping in Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Whistler and on Vancouver Island and they are usually less expensive than staying in more traditional winter accommodations.
We offer special rates for Karma campervans in the winter season because we want to show more people what camping in the off season is all about. Check current rates here.
It’s really quiet. Most resorts and hotels in Western Canada will be jam-packed all winter, while campgrounds are a little less popular. If you’re looking for a quiet time, choose a campervan.
You get the entire place to yourself! While you have to share hotel common areas and maybe even airbnbs with other travellers, you get the entire campsite (if not more!) to yourself when you choose a Karma campervan for your winter getaway.
You’re not stuck in one spot. When your accommodations come with 4 wheels and an engine, you can keep moving from view to unbeatable view through your entire trip. Why stay put when there’s so much to see in the Canadian Rockies? We’re your mobile chalet!
Get close to nature. In the winter months, so many of us get stuck inside—we work from 9 to 5 and hardly see the sunshine. If you choose to rent a campervan for your winter trip, you’ll get a fix of nature and sunlight that hotels can’t offer, and a winter campfire is a special experience.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN CAMPGROUNDS AND CAMPING SPOTS
We love that our home base is so close to the Rocky Mountains in the big city of Calgary and we’ve made it our mission to show Karma guests what all the hype is about. Choose from one of these many winter campgrounds just a short drive from Calgary. You won’t want to head home at the end of your road trip.
Finding a campground that’s open (and good!) in the winter might seem a bit tricky, so we’ve made a list of our favourites. Take your pick!
Banff Winter Campgrounds
Enjoy Rocky Mountain camping at its finest in Banff National Park! A classic Canadian experience. There are a couple of great winter camping options in Banff perfect to visit with a Karma Campervan.
Tunnel Mountain Village II
Tunnel Mountain is a go-to Banff campground. With 188 campsites in Village II open year round with running water, electrical hookups, and with way more space than in the summer months, you know they’re always going to have a campsite for you. NOTE: While our campervans run off-grid, we do suggest having access to electrical hookups when temperatures dip below -10º C in the event of a heater malfunction when you may need a battery boost.
Park your Karma campervan, strap on your snowshoes and enjoy the winter wonderland trek back down the hill into Banff’s townsite. It’s just far enough for an afternoon hike and back. On your way down the hill, check out the Surprise Corner viewpoint. It’s a quiet spot to take a break tucked along the river.
Lake Louise RV Campground
Park your Karma campervan in Lake Louise Trailer Campground if you want to beat the rush to the frosty lake! The Ice Magic Festival is a favourite of both locals and visitors. Bring your ice skates, snow shoes, and grab some hot chocolate for a quintessential Canadian winter vacation.
Extra perks for winter camping at Lake Louise… hot running water is available, flush toilets, showers and electrical hookups.
If you want the best of both worlds—a quick drive to the mountains, but all the amenities of the city—park your Karma campervan at Mountain View Camping just a few minutes outside Calgary. Head to the ski hill one day and the downtown core the next!
Kananaskis Country Winter Campgrounds
When travelling to Kananaskis, check the road reports and annual closures. Highway 66 and Highway 40, along with other offshoots close each winter and extreme weather conditions may affect other routes. Despite this, there’s a few great winter camping options in Kananaskis to park your Karma campervan.
Maclean Creek Campground, Bragg Creek
Maclean Creek Campground in Bragg Creek is open year-round and the town sits in the foothills of the Rockies just outside Kananaskis Country. The hiking trails double as snowmobile paths in the wintertime. Soak in the scenery along the Elbow River or check out one of the easier winter hikes, like Troll Falls Trail. Pop into Bragg Creek to fill up on food and supplies, but spend the majority of your time enjoying the winter wonderland.
Mount Kidd RV Park and Campground
Explore Kananaskis Country from the comfort of Mount Kidd RV Park and Campground. This year-round, privately-owned campground has all the amenities you could want, including hot tubs. Did we mention it’s right next to Nakiska Ski Resort? You might want to reserve your spot here in advance!
Sheep River Provincial Park
If you like wildlife, Sheep River in Turner Valley is for you. The wildlife sanctuary is located near Sandy McNabb Campground where campers can explore the 37 kilometres of trails by ski or snowshoe. The park is known and named after the plentiful bighorn sheep, but if you’re lucky, you’ll catch some moose roaming the area too!
Fisher Creek Campground
Kananaskis camping is a snowmobiler’s delight! Park your campervan at Fisher Creek Campground and spend your days hiking the snow-covered trails. It’s just a short drive west from Bragg Creek.
Jasper National Park Winter Campgrounds
Camping in and near Jasper National Park is a must-do any time of year! It’s a dark sky reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest park in the Canadian Rockies. Just be sure to always check the latest bulletins for closures and warnings in Jasper before you go.
There are a couple great winter camping options in Jasper perfect to visit with a Karma Campervan. Here are a few worth checking out:
Wapiti Campground sits close to town and is open year-round. In the winter, there’s no need to reserve your campsite and there’s still running water and power hookups. The best part about Wapiti Campground is its location. Enjoy easy access to both cross-country and downhill skiing while other skiers drive in to hit the slopes.
Whirlpool Winter Hub and Camping
The Whirlpool Winter Hub is only open in the winter months! It’s farther from the Jasper townsite, but offers all the fun you could expect from a Canadian winter: 25 kilometres of skiing trails come to a head here. Keep in mind there’s no power or water at this campground.
British Columbia, Winter Campgrounds
There are plenty of amazing winter camping options in British Columbia perfect to visit with a Karma Campervan. Here are a few worth checking out!
Fernie RV Resort
Experience winter camping at Fernie RV Resort! Direct access to cross-country skiing trails from full-service sites and only a short drive to the downhill runs at Fernie Alpine Resort. Pay for a week or a month for a great rate.
Fernie Alpine Resort
Winter campers love the ski-in access at Fernie Alpine Resort. Strap on your skis at your Karma campervan and make your way to the Timber Quad.
Mount Fernie Provincial Park
In the winter season, Mount Fernie Provincial Park offers free camping. The trade-off is that the sites are user-maintained and unserviced. If you’re okay with roughing it a little bit, this campground is an outdoors person’s paradise with nearby trails and the Elk River.
Hartley Lake Recreation Site
If the road has been maintained, a great free boondocking option is Hartley Lake Recreation Site located just east of town. This recreation site is first come, first serve and has three available campsites. There is no power or running water.
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Surf Grove, Tofino, BC
Satisfy your inner storm surfer with a winter camping stay at Surf Grove campground. Located right on Cox Bay, this campground boasts 135 full-service and 64 semi-service campsites, surf packages and a spectacular beach!
Crystal Cove, Tofino, BC
Offering complementary hot showers and power at every site, Crystal Cove campground is located right on MacKenzie Beach in the heart of Tofino. It’s one of the only two year-round campsites in Tofino!
Jordan River Regional Park, Vancouver Island, BC
About an 1.5 hour drive from Victoria, see why the locals love Sandcut Beach at Jordan River Regional Park. The long cobbled beach boasts an impressive waterfall at its south end that you need to check out. The Jordan River Regional Park campground operates year round on a first-come, first-served basis, and serves up spectacular ocean views.
Elk Falls, Vancouver Island, BC
Make the large campground at Elk Falls Provincial Park your base camp for day tripping around central Vancouver Island, with Gold River, Rock Bay, and the parks of Quadra and Cortes Islands nearby. You’ll find 122 vehicle accessible campsites bordering the Quinsam River in a great forest setting.
Salt Spring Island, BC
A vibrant island community, Salt Spring island is a relaxed, ocean-side getaway. With lots of independent shops and restaurants to choose from and plenty of beaches, camp at an RV resort of go off the grid at Ruckle Provincial Park.
Lower Mainland, British Columbia
Golden Ears Provincial Park, Maple Ridge, BC
A popular summer destination, off-season camping is also available at the Gold Creek campground in Golden Ears Provincial Park. Named after the twin peaks of Mount Blanshard, the beautiful mountain setting is a welcome retreat from the city, but is still an easy drive from Vancouver. Relax by Alouette Lake or explore the park’s extensive system of hiking trails.
Fort Langley, BC
A gem in the lower mainland, Fort Langley is a small village community full of great restaurants, boutiques and antique stores, and situated beside the Fraser River. You’ll find year-round RV sites at Fort Camping in Brae Island Regional Park, within walking distance of all that Fort Langley has to offer. Less than an hour away from the Vancouver, it makes a good base camp for exploring the lower mainland.
PorteauCove Provincial Park, Squamish, BC
The coveted ocean-side campsites at Porteau Cove Provincial Park are open through the winter, with beautiful views over Howe Sound to the mountains beyond. The campground is not far from both Squamish and Whistler and the endless winter activities they offer.
Whistler RV Park, BC
We love whistler in the winter. Days on the hill and exceptional entertainment and dining at the village in the evenings, the area is packed with things to do. Stay at the nearby Whistler RV Park, where you can rent snowshoes and hit the trails right from the campground.
Riverside RV Resort, Whistler, BC
Riverside is a Parkbridge RV Resort so you’ll know it’s a guaranteed great spot to spend a few winter nights. They even have “comfort stations” with heated floors and hot showers! Plus access to cross country ski trails. Bonus!
Manning Park Resort, BC
An easy road trip from Vancouver, Manning Park Resort is a winter playground in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. Located in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, there’s both Alpine and Nordic skiing, as well as snowshoeing, skating, tobogganing and more.Winter camping is available for $13 a night at the Lightning Lake Day Use Area parking lot, with pit toilet facilities.
Sun Peaks Resort, Kamloops, BC
The second largest ski area in BC, check out Sun Peaks Resort, just outside Kamloops. You’ll find both alpine and Nordic skiing, and a convenient place to park your campervan for the night. The resort has 12 unserviced RV sites in Parking Lot #5 that are available on a first come, first serve basis, for $25 a night.
SilverStar Mountain Resort,Vernon, BC
Find tranquillity on the slopes of SilverStar Mountain Resort. From skiing and snowboarding to fat biking and ice skating, you’re in for some winter fun. No overnight camping is allowed on the mountain, but they recommend staying at the nearby and nicely equipped Cedar Falls Campground. The campground also puts you in close proximity to the bustling Okanagan cities of Vernon and Kelowna, and the many local wineries.
Big White, Kelowna, BC
Known for it’s epic power days, Big White Ski Resort is the perfect place to point the campervan. Overnight parking is allowed and will require an RV/camper permit which you can purchase at Central Mountain Check In for $50/per night. Just down the road you’ll also find MacDonald Acres RV Park which offers lake-view camp sites for $45/night, but after a long day on the hill, who really wants to drive anywhere?
Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Revelstoke, BC
There are year-round campgrounds in Revelstoke, BC, but if you’re only stopping for a day on the hill, Revelstoke Mountain Resort allows one complimentary night of camping in their parking lot. Just visit The Sutton Place Hotel front desk to grab your complimentary overnight permit.
Winter Activities and Sights to do and see in The Rocky Mountains
Karma Campervans provides the perfect RV rental experience for anyone looking for a vacation in Banff or the Rocky Mountains. Our home base in Calgary makes it easy to pick up your campervan rental and head out on the short and beautiful drive to the Rocky Mountains and Banff.
Not sure what to do on your vacation? We have lots of suggestions!
An Affordable Winter Vacation in the Canadian Rockies
We know one of the biggest hurdles when looking for a Banff adventure is the cost. Karma Campervans offers you an affordable and comfortable Banff getaway.
You can rent one of our exceptionally equipped campervans for as little as $124/night and find a campground in Banff National Park for as little as $30/night. If you’re looking for even more affordability when camping in the Rockies, we have plenty of tips about boondocking and free camping in the Canadian Rockies. There you have it! An affordable, comfortable, and beautiful Banff giveaway.
An Affordable Winter Vacation in the Canadian Rockies
Dust off your skis! There are plenty of places to cross-country ski in Banff. Just brush up on your skiing etiquette before hitting the trails. If you prefer downhill skiing, the Rockies are the place to be! Ski the big 3 in Banff National Park.
Rest and relaxation is so much better when it includes a dip in the hot springs! The Rockies are known for the plentiful hot springs, a warm winter oasis surrounded by snow. Check out the world famous Banff Upper Hot Springs, which is still open to the public. The natural springs are filled with water that pushes up 3 kilometres from the earth’s crust and the temperature varies seasonally.
Go for a scenic drive in your Karma campervan. A few of our favourite drives in the Canadian Rockies are:
What about sightseeing? If you want to take it easy on your winter vacation, there’s still plenty for you to see in the Rocky Mountains.
Points of interest in Banff National Park in the winter season:
Try outdoor ice skating at Lake Louise. The view is incredible! Another good spot to ice skate off the beaten path is Lake Minnewanka in the winter. It’s not as busy as Lake Louise, but the snow is usually shovelled off a portion of the lake. The road signs all say the loop to the lake is closed, but one half is still open granting lake access.
Go snow tubing if you aren’t a skier. Mt. Norquay near the townsite of Banff offers tubing day passes!
Crowfoot Glacier: A stop along the Icefields Parkway with a scenic view of a melting glacier.
Bow Lake: The source of the Bow River that flows 587 kilometres, through and past Calgary. All visible from this pullover: Mount Thompson and Crowfoot Mountain, as well as Wapta Icefield and Bow Glacier. A challenging 6 kilometre hike leads to Bow Glacier Falls. Explore at your own risk in avalanche season!
Peyto Lake is accessible via a short uphill stint from the highway and uniquely recognizable from photos of the area.
Saskatchewan Crossing Viewpoint is a scenic stroll from the highway overlooking the Howse and Saskatchewan River Valleys.
Tangle Falls is a must-see pitstop along the Icefields Parkway.
Sunwapta Falls and the view of the canyon is accessible via the Icefields Parkway.
Athabasca Falls is a classic destination near Jasper that’s beautiful all year round!
What should you pack during a winter camping trip?
Winter camping is exactly like summer camping, just a little colder. When packing for your winter road trip, here’s a few items to consider.
Layers! You’ll want a fitted base layer to protect from any wind, fleece for extra insulation, and waterproof jackets because no one wants to deal with wet cold.
Extras of all the basics: socks, sweaters, gloves and hats. Wear one set adventuring during the day and swap for the clean and warm counterparts in the evening.
Drinking water that won’t freeze. You may want to bring insulated bottles to keep your water from freezing. Note: a large water container is provided for your trip
Lots of easy snacks. Any time you’re camping, you want to stay hydrated and healthy. Pack lots of nutritious snacks you can easily grab on the go.
A hot water bottle. You know the feeling of crawling into cold blankets even at home in the winter and how it takes a few minutes to warm up? Skip that chilly bit by tucking a hot water bottle into bed before you’re ready to hit the hay for the night.
Fire starters and more wood than you think necessary. It’s a bit trickier to start a campfire in the snow, but fire starters help get the job done.
A sled and snowshoes to carry your supplies around the campsite and pick up wood from the pile a little easier.
PLAN YOUR CAMPERVAN SKI TRIP
If you love the adrenaline rush of skiing down a mountain and looking to chase the POW, you’re going to love the hills in the Rockies. Here’s everything you need to know to plan a campervan ski trip this winter.
What should you pack during a winter camping trip?
Karma Campervans are perfect for Rocky Mountain ski trip! They’re much more affordable, especially if you want to stay directly on the hill. You can park your campervan in the parking lot or some hills have their own dedicated winter camping. Don’t worry about all your gear—our campervans have plenty of storage!
RV and Campervan Parking at the Ski Hill
Which ski hills can you park your campervan at? Some of the best ski destinations in the Rockies allow this. Here’s the rundown on the big hills:
If it’s your first time skiing in the Canadian Rockies, you better be excited! The skiing is unlike any other. Here’s a few things you should know to prepare yourself for the experience.
You will need layers. With frequent chinooks, some days there’s fresh powder while you might only need a light jacket instead of a full parka. Skiers love thermal underlays and hand warmers.
You will need water and snacks. Lots of people ski with small backpacks so they don’t get dehydrated while on the long runs. All the resorts have full restaurants somewhere on the hill though.
Spare socks! There’s nothing worse than damp feet.
Don’t forget your helmet. You need a bucket to protect your dome!
Goggles with lenses for varying visibility. Sometimes the weather changes on each side of the mountain and you don’t know what you’re going to get until you’re up there.
If you haven’t skied in a while (or ever), schedule a quick lesson on the mountain and to get acquainted with the runs. With their professional help, you’ll feel much more confident going on your own.
If you do know how to ski, but haven’t in the Rockies before, be prepared for a learning curve. The ranking of runs is a little different in the west. What you might consider a blue is probably ranked a green run in the Rocky Mountains.
Make use of the warm-up huts on the hill. It can get cold up there!
Spend time skiing on easier hills before you go if you can.
Study the trail map before your trip and bring one with you to refer to as needed. There are so many runs open on all the Rocky Mountain ski hills that it’s impossible to remember them all.
PLAN YOUR CAMPERVAN SKI TRIP
We’re often asked: Where can you park your campervan overnight in Banff National Park? We wrote an entire blog post with all the details, but here’s the Spark Notes version.
Technically, you can only camp overnight in designated Parks Canada campsites. However, with parks as big as Banff or Jasper, you have a few other options as long as you don’t set up a real camp, like your fire pit and picnic table. If you want to save some money and are okay with an unserviced parking spot, look for roadside stops, parking lots, or overnight street parking. Always check for signs before you tuck in for the night! Read all the details about parking your campervan in Banff here.
CAN WE HELP YOU PLAN YOUR ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROAD TRIP?
Have any questions? Ask us! We’re happy to help you plan your winter camping trip in the Rocky Mountains. Above all, we want you to have fun and stay safe when camping! Especially in the winter months.
Ready to hit the road? Share your Karma camping trips with us on social media by tagging us @KarmaCampervans and using the hashtag #GoodCamping. Need some winter camping tips? Our staff are avid campers and are always ready to help. See you out there!