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—everyone needs to wake up to snowy peaks and evergreen trees 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.
The Rockies are a whole new world to explore in the 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. 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 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 Rocky Mountain getaway.
- Winter camping is more of an adventure! From backcountry snowshoeing to backpacking in sub-zero temperatures 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 Kananaskis, Banff, and Jasper parks 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 the Rocky Mountains 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? Plan a winter road trip that you’ll never forget.
- 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.
Wherever you choose to take your Karma campervan, always check the Banff National Park winter road conditions before you go! The Rockies are as unpredictable as they are beautiful.
Mountain View Camping
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.
Fernie, British Columbia, Winter Campgrounds
There are plenty of great winter camping options in Fernie 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.
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
There are so many hidden gems in Banff, Alberta. The real trouble is trying to see them all! It’s impossible to do in just one trip, so we narrowed it down to the best winter attractions in Banff for you to choose from.
- Explore the trails! Strap on some snowshoes or go for a winter hike or fat bike. Always check the trail maps and conditions before you go.
- 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:
Winter Sightseeing in the Rocky Mountains
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!
- Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain for incredible views of the townsite and surrounding peaks.
Must-sees during winter in the Jasper National Park:
- The Columbia Icefields: 25 kilometers across the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia.
- Athabasca Glacier
- 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:
- Fernie Alpine Resort offers overnight parking for RVs.
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort offers one night complimentary RV parking.
- Tunnel Mountain Village II is a short drive to Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise
- Marmot Basin in Jasper – skiers park their RVs and campervans at Jasper’s Winter Whirlpool Hub or Wapiti
- Castle Mountain is a great spot for camping and skiing
- Panorama Mountain Resort located in Invermere, BC has no on-site camping but Fairmont RV Hot Springs is a short drive away
- Kicking Horse Ski Resort in Golden, BC offers on-site RV parking but always check with the administration team
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC is known for amazing snow and terrain. You can stay for one night in the parking lot but must notify staff. Also check out Boulder Mountain or Revelstoke RV Campground for winter camping options
How to prepare for skiing in the Rockies
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!