Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waning Crescent (35% of Full)


Advanced

Re: trailer camping in winter

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

trailer camping in winter
July 17, 2012 04:23PM
I searched through the site, but really only found the winter driving and chains discussion.

What is it like, usually, during the winter? Can one pull a trailer and camp? Barring a recent big storm, can one pull a trailer in/out easily? I know I am limited to Upper Pines, first come only.

We just got back from a week in site 38 in lower pines. WOW. I am hooked. After 30 years since being there as a kid, I was in heaven all week, and now want to go back in winter. Even with the long drive from San Diego with two young kids, I am ready to return. A buddy works there year round, and says the winter is as amazing as the summer.

Thanks all!
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 17, 2012 04:37PM
First thing to consider, is your trailer setup for winter? Do you know what it takes to "dry camp" in the winter. I don't know what Yosemite is like, but without electricity it is more challenging to keep everything from freezing.
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 17, 2012 05:55PM
Quote
AlpineBrian

A buddy works there year round, and says the winter is as amazing as the summer.

In my opinion, Yosemite Valley is more amazing in the winter than the dead of summer, especially after a fresh coat of snow!

That's said, it will be a lot colder in the winter, especially in Upper Pines which receives a lot less direct sunlight in the winter months. That's why for tent campers, Camp 4 (once called Sunnyside) is the preferred place to camp in the winter (even though you might to share a site with strangers).
.
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 09:24PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
AlpineBrian

A buddy works there year round, and says the winter is as amazing as the summer.

In my opinion, Yosemite Valley is more amazing in the winter than the dead of summer, especially after a fresh coat of snow!

That's said, it will be a lot colder in the winter, especially in Upper Pines which receives a lot less direct sunlight in the winter months. That's why for tent campers, Camp 4 (once called Sunnyside) is the preferred place to camp in the winter (even though you might to share a site with strangers).
.

I've seen Camp 4 in winter, and it didn't look like it was staffed. I think you just self-register and pick your own site like you would at the backpackers' campgrounds.

That being said, I don't think trailers and Camp 4 belong in the same sentence.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 17, 2012 06:12PM
Glad you got site 38, one of the top sites in the Valley, but don't expect to get it again. It's one of the top requested sites. As far as winter goes if you want to pull a trailer in there you'll want to watch the weather and only do it if there are no storms forecast near your travelling days. Take 140 in and out. Winter is pretty but pulling a trailer on snowy icy roads is very un-pretty (dangerous). You'll need to be careful about your water and holding tanks as it'll definitely be below freezing at night.
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 17, 2012 06:46PM
I'm there every winter.
You should have chains aboard for your vehicle and for your trailer.
You may not get in, nor get out, if you don't have them.
Highway 140 is best in winter.
Bring a generator, if you have one. The Honda eu1000 or 2000 is a lifelong friend.
Have full tanks (or spare fuel) for everything.
Last winter was essentially spring weather however the previous year, in mid March, the campground and Valley were evacuated for a full week due to heavy snowfall over 4 days (over 4 feet).
HiTech is right. You need to know what's insulated and what is not on your trailer. Make sure everything works (heater, hot water, lights) before you leave.
Prepare for extreme weather and 9 out 10 times you won't encounter it.
But that 1 out of 10 can ruin your day.
Bring sleeping bags (in case) and normal snow gear ( people show up every year without gloves!)
Bring a shovel.
Having said all that I see people come up in every typ of RV and many tent camp in mid winter.
Upper Pines usually has the first three loops open (124 sites) during the winter and with the exception of the three day holidays there's plenty of sites open.
If you are coming up on one of those holiday weekends try to arrive on Thursday, or pretty early on Friday. The campground is usually full by mid afternoon.

It can be very cold and it's always incredibly beautiful.

This basic info about roads at this site is pretty good:
http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-info/road-conditions.htm
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 08:45AM
We also used to camp there every winter. But, we have had such excellent offers from DNC on rates for the Curry tent cabins, we have switched from bringing our trailer to staying in the tent cabins and driving the Subaru.

Winter is the only time we have needed to use a generator in camp. When it is freezing and below for several days, it takes a toll on the trailer's electrical system. For us, it's the Honda 2000 and when placed in the bed of the truck, it is quiet as possible. ( Yes we are RV'rs but we hate the sound of generators and use it only when absolutely necessary.)

Don't count on using your shower. Not because the water freezes, but because of condensation inside the RV.

If you have the awning out, you can keep an eye on it during the day, but pull it in during the night. One morning, we had trouble getting out of our rig because of a sagging snow covered awning. Not easy to retract either. Also your rig can be bombarded by snow faling out of the trees. You might consider this when choosing a site in wet snowy conditions.

Bring an extra electical heater, just in case...of course a generator would be needed. One late November storm ( not quite "winter"winking smiley brought almost 5" rain in one day. (Big dirty waterfalls! smiling smiley ) Our windows leaked a bit, getting the bedding wet. (We also bring extra towels to put in the window corners. We don't have much of a problem with rain that comes straight down, but when it falls sideways, it sneaks in.

Bring "firestarter" for your campfire. Lighter fluid, or other starter fluid or solid, will help get a campfire going in damp conditions and keep the smoke down. Nothing like standing over the campfire in the snow (20*) and watching the wildlife wander by. One time we even saw a mountain lion.

Sometimes you can hike...we've done the 4 mile trail in the winter...depending on conditions. Just be prepared for any kind of weather possible. Even wind can bring an evacuation of the valley.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 02:10PM
This is why I love this site, within 24 hours I get all great responses! Thanks!

We have a Honda 3000, the thing is so quiet. I really hate those that don't have the quiet ones, and I'm sure those without them at all hate me!

I'll have to learn about my trailer's winter ability to handle winter weather. How often in say January does it get below freezing at night? I live at 2,000 feet east of San Diego, and below freezing is uncommon. 4,000' must be a different animal.

Hikerchick395, what deals do you get for Curry? $140+ a night seems a lot to me, I like $20/night...
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 06:02PM
The Western Regional Climate Center's Yosemite NP Headquarters page is here.

The January average is 47/26. The HQ is in a sunnier location than Upper Pines, I'd expect this means you should expect similar average lows and lower average highs.

Records for Jan. are 72/-6.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 20, 2012 08:08AM
Winter costs a lot less, but they are only available on weekends...3 nights on holiday weekends. In 2009, we stayed for $29 a night...very rainy and snowy. 2010, it was $39 a night and we were offered, if we stayed 2 nights, $10 a night in April that year. This year, we went ahead and paid $50 a night to guarantee getting a heated cabin (the previous years, we reserved an unheated tent cabin but got upgraded to heated.)
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 06:16PM
Winter is the only time I enjoy camping in the valley. I love the cold air, and I really love to visit after a fresh snow. It's really quiet in the campground and most people are experienced snowcampers in tents. I'm a pretty low maintenance person - I usually sleep in the back of my truck or pitch a tent so haven't paid much attention as far as trailers go. The bathrooms are open and heated, if I recall - that's a huge luxury for me, but if you are looking for full facilities you'll be out of luck.

Here's what I usually find in winter in Upper Pines:

If there has been recent snow you'll be lucky to find enough space to pull in a trailer - most spots are cleared barely enough for a car. Hope that someone was parked in a trailer in a site when the snow fell and look for that clear spot. You'll need to dig out the fire pit, bear box, and picnic table on your own, so bring shovels (that is, unless you're lucky and grab a spot where someone has already done this).

If it hasn't recently snowed, but there has been melting, many, many spots will be wet and slushy. I've had a hard time finding a place to put a tent, so that's when I'll just sleep in the car. Bring warm galoshes (I'm serious - that late night walk to the bathroom can be really uncomfortable when you step through the ice into a half frozen puddle of slush).

Or you could run into a winter like this past one and everything will be dry and clear. :/ You never know.
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 19, 2012 12:07PM
Quote
calipidder
The bathrooms are open and heated

I'm not sure I'd call what they do "heated". The small electric heaters are there to keep the pipes from freezing. The seats and the campers are still cold.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 11:01PM
I no longer have my 5th wheel, but I camped in winter in Yosemite in it about 5 times. Yes, you can get your trailer in and out, and if not, you can ask and they will bring a mini loader and dig the snow out of the site you want. Yes, you need chains, that being said, I have never used them with my trailer in the Valley. The one time I was planning to go and it had been snowing, I had enough flexibility that I could wait out the storm. When I got to the south entrance, it was clear, BUT there was still patchy snow in the shaded areas along the 41 leading to the valley. I went really slow through those areas and didn't have a problem with the snow.

As far as actual living conditions inside a trailer in the valley in winter, this really will vary. It is rarely below freezing in the valley, even in winter, so it is doubtful you water lines will freeze. You will need to run the heater, of course, so you need a good battery and maybe a generator to recharge it during the day.

I could go on and on, but I don't have time right now. I miss my 5th wheel, but it was too darn expensive to haul that thing around, pay $400-500 for the gas just to get to Yosemite, compared to $100 for my car.
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 11:19PM
Quote
hotrod4x5

I could go on and on, but I don't have time right now. I miss my 5th wheel, but it was too darn expensive to haul that thing around, pay $400-500 for the gas just to get to Yosemite, compared to $100 for my car.


Have you thought of getting something a lot smaller and lighter. Maybe a pickup with a pop-up camper like those made by Four Wheel: http://www.fourwheelcampers.com/

.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 18, 2012 11:21PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
hotrod4x5

I could go on and on, but I don't have time right now. I miss my 5th wheel, but it was too darn expensive to haul that thing around, pay $400-500 for the gas just to get to Yosemite, compared to $100 for my car.


Have you thought of getting something a lot smaller and lighter. Maybe a pickup with a pop-up camper like those made by Four Wheel: http://www.fourwheelcampers.com/

.
I would love something like that, and eventually I will. Right now I have an F250 V10 gas and get 9 mpg towing and about 13 on the highway. Our car gets 34-36, so nearly 3x as good. We tent it or in winter, stayed in a tent cabin, and still came out ahead.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 19, 2012 11:45AM
Gas costs for towing trailer vs car is a valid point, and may make the difference for me being cheap about spending money for tent cabin or $20 for campsite.

I don't think with two young kids I can get my wife to tent camp in the campground.
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 19, 2012 08:10AM
The AVERAGE low temp historically in the Valley is 29 in Jan..... Which of course means it could be 25 one night and then 34 another night, etc..

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/climate.htm
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 21, 2012 07:47AM
I found this old 90 second video that I made/posted on Youtube that might give you an idea of what conditions might occur.
It's dated 2008 but it was actually 2007.
It snowed 3 feet overnight.
The picture of the camper is in the second loop at Upper Pines.
No snow plow. Had to dig out to leave.
But, I wandered around that morning (26th) and did not see another person for hours.
The Merced froze over.
It was very cold and incredibly beautiful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0sgH5gERow
avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 21, 2012 10:43AM
Quote
Blue Moon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0sgH5gERow


Thanks for the link to your beautiful video.

Just an FYI: you can embed YouTube videos inside your posts on this forum by using a [video] tag by clicking on the video link icon () on the message toolbar and then entering the URL for your YouTube video like I did below.



avatar Re: trailer camping in winter
July 21, 2012 11:01PM
Thanks. There always seems to be a simpler way!
Re: trailer camping in winter
July 22, 2012 01:06PM
Most everything has been answered, but I did notice a few things that may be of some help.

A lot depends on the month you go, but one basic principle for staying in Yosemite Valley most anytime is to be ready for anything (freezing weather or a nearly-unbearable hot spell in May, and T-shirt/shorts springlike weather in February, or freezing snow with the roads icy. I tent-camped in Upper Pines one February and biked around the valley in shorts one week, and then returned a week later to chains-required, frozen-river mornings.

The hot showers at Curry are a welcome thing for winter camping, and you should just be able to go in with your own towel at no cost. If bedding or clothing gets wet, there is a laundromat at housekeeping camp, open all year. Instead of sitting around a cold campground in the evening, you can go up to the Lodge food court for a hot meal, then maybe go to one of the free 7-8PM presentations, indoors and warm, and sometimes interesting. Also, the Ahwahnee sometimes has stories around the fireplaces, which is a warm comfortable break from a cold campground (Curry and the campgrounds are what I call the refrigerated section of the valley)

If you're using the shuttle, be ready to wait 1/2 hour...it can get mighty cold standing out there, and you'll want very warm clothes, gloves, hat, etc. The long wait is the reason I sometimes skip the shuttle at that time of year. They do run late enough to get you back to the campground after the Lodge events, and if you tell the driver, he may drive you right up to the campground gate (sometimes they don't go around the Happy Isles loop after dark, so if you tell the driver, they'll get you as close as they can). Bring a flashlight for the walk back to camp.

They sell some stretchy traction devices for your shoes in the various stores there, for around $10, and they're well worth having, as things get icy especially in mornings and evenings. They're good to have for emergency use on a trail too, as there are snowy or icy sections on most all of them, open or not. They're just metal studs embedded in a rubber framework that stretches over the shoe.

Waterproof hiking boots take a lot of the worry about getting your socks wet when exploring, even just walking around the valley area. If you're up early on a cold or snowy morning, take a walk or ride to the lower falls trail loop...you might see the "frazil ice" flow along Yosemite creek, and even if not, it's a nice easy walk in winter before breakfast. I always bring bikes, although in December or January it may not be worth the trouble, but otherwise it's really nice having them for getting around the valley. (it might have looked silly to some, to see our bikes sitting there in the deep snow, but they don't know that the 2 days before we biked around the valley in light clothing and the warm sun having a great time).

Since someone mentioned Curry as an alternative, I should mention that the Lodge also has some great winter rates, but only sporadically, when occupancy is traditionally low, and during the week, seldom on weekends. There are some real bargains in January and February, often with a hot breakfast included, and if you're lucky enough to get a heavy snowstorm, you can then explore and enjoy the beauty without having to worry about the basic stuff...you get cold or tired, you have a warm place to go with food nearby. Just be sure to get up early and get out to enjoy the valley in winter, as the sun will quickly change things. While I love waking up in a tent in fresh valley snow, for the cold winter stays, the bargain prices at the Lodge are pretty hard to resist.



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login