Winter Car Camping Tips

We all dream of waking up, opening our door, and seeing mountains filled with fresh powder ahead of a day of skiing or snowboarding.

What’s not so dreamy is the price you typically must pay for lodging that provides that kind of experience.

Here at ASO Mammoth we believe that everyone should experience the joy of excellent skiing and snowboarding, which is why we’ve made a guide with our best winter car camping tips below! Read all about it, then visit the ASO Mammoth shop for the best ski and snowboard rentals in Mammoth Lakes!

Warm Your Car Before Sleeping

You can debate whether a tent is better than a car for winter camping, but one advantage a car has over a tent is the fact that they come with their own heating systems.

Take advantage of it before you go to sleep on a cold winter night.

Run your car with the heat on until it’s warm inside before you go to sleep and then turn it off just before you crawl into your sleeping bag. Doing so will give you a head start on warming up your sleeping bag, but make sure you don’t run the heat so high that you begin to sweat.

Don’t Run Your Car During Heavy Snow

Winter car camping is safe with the right equipment and experience, but one serious mistake is running your car while heavy snow is falling.

If snow accumulates around your car as it will during a heavy storm, then the exhaust from the engine will have nowhere to go except back into the cabin. Add heavy snow on top of the car as well and anyone inside will be at serious risk of suffocation.

If you do run your car then do so sparingly, and make sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.

Park Somewhere You Can Drive Out Of

Another big no-no of winter car camping is parking somewhere that you won’t be able to drive out of if there is heavy snow.

While many people want to be as close to the mountain as possible, if you park on a road that goes unplowed or is impossible to cross once snow falls then your car could be stuck in the snow for months after.

Leave a Window Cracked While You Sleep

Although it may seem counterintuitive, leaving a front window cracked open while you sleep will keep moisture from accumulating in your car.

If ice forms inside your car and on your gear then you will wake up wet and cold and could stay that way for hours after. A cracked window will prevent that by keeping air flowing through your car.

Reverse Your Reflective Sunshield

Just like when you’re sleeping in a tent, the name of the game during winter car camping is insulation.

You can insulate yourself from the floor of your car with a memory foam pad or an air mattress for sleeping. You can also use a regular sunshield to get even more insulation and privacy by simply reversing it on your windshield before going to bed at night.