8 Ski Areas Where You Can Camp in the Parking Lot
Pull your van or RV into the cheapest slopeside lodging you can find: an overnight parking space
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With most ski lodges and hotels imposing limited capacity this winter due to COVID-19, why not bring or rent a camper or RV instead? Most resorts don’t allow for overnight parking, but we found eight ski hills across the country that have dedicated lots for your cabin on wheels.
If You Have an Ikon Pass
Crystal Mountain, Washington
Crystal Mountain (ticket pricing to be announced), outside of Enumclaw, Washington, allows overnight camping (from $30) in the resort’s slopeside RV lot. This winter, reservations will be required—book a month in advance if you can, as spots will fill up quickly. The lot offers 66 sites and electrical hookups for RVs. Also new this year, Wi-Fi will cover the entire lot, in case you need to call in for a Zoom meeting mid-ski day. The on-site Mountain Market in the base area will have online ordering this winter, so you can request pickup for groceries or a six-pack of local lager.
If You Live on the East Coast
Gunstock, New Hampshire
Not many ski resorts on the East Coast allow overnight camping, but Gunstock Mountain Resort does (day passes from $84). This small ski area, located in Gilford, New Hampshire, 90 miles from Boston, has a camper lot (from $45) that comes with access to a bathhouse with hot showers and laundry machines. Make a reservation online ahead of time. Some folks even book sites for the entire winter season. If you want to ditch the RV for a night, the resort also rents out two rustic cabins in a forested area along the cross-country ski trails.
If You Have an Epic Pass
Stevens Pass, Washington
The RV area at Stevens Pass, Washington, (day passes from $124, if you buy a four-pack Epic Day pass) will be operating this winter with reservations required. Book one of the 60 free RV parking spots in advance to secure your space. Many of the families and individuals who stay overnight here do so every season, so there’s a real community feel to it. And you can’t beat the location, right at the base of the ski hill, which is two hours east of Seattle. The T-Bar Market, in Granite Peaks Lodge, has espresso and to-go items to bring back to your camper.
If You Want Uphill Access
Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana
It’s a few minutes’ walk from the Willow Tail Lot—where RVs are allowed to park for up to three nights—to the base lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort, in Montana. No reservations are required for RV parking—it’s first come, first served—but there is a $15 fee per night, and you’ll need to fill out registration paperwork at the main lodging check-in. From the base lodge, it’s a couple lifts to the top of the mountain, where you can enjoy views of Glacier National Park before dropping into powder stashes through the trees of North Bowl. If you like skinning, Whitefish allows uphill access on designated routes throughout the day, but this year, you’ll need to buy a ticket or pass (from $85).
If Your Season Pass Is Part of the Powder Alliance
China Peak, California
China Peak, 65 miles northeast of Fresno, California, doesn’t bring in the same destination travelers who flock to the ski resorts closer to Lake Tahoe, so you’ll find few crowds at this locally owned resort (day passes from $104). Plus, there’s plenty of room to spread out, with seven chairlifts and more than 1,400 skiable acres. The best part? You can pull your van or RV into one of 16 spots (from $49) in a designated overnight lot not far from the slopeside Inn at China Peak. The resort is part of the Powder Alliance—if you have a season pass to any of the participating resorts, you get three free days of skiing here. Reservations are required for overnight parking.
If You’re with the Family
It’s free to park in the designated camper lots at Schweitzer Mountain Resort (day passes from $89) in Sandpoint, Idaho, but there is a three-day limit. You’ll come for the empty glades—this independently owned resort in the Selkirk Mountains has some of the best tree skiing around—and an average of 300-plus inches of snow per year. Road-tripping families will find many conveniences here, from resort daycare to kids’ nights out to snow tubing and entry-level terrain parks.
If You’re a Backcountry Skier
Grand Targhee, Wyoming
The nicest thing about the overnight parking (from $25) at Grand Targhee Resort, in Alta, Wyoming, is that there are different lots for different rigs. If you’re coming in a Sprinter van, park in the Meadow Campground. If you’ve got a big pull-behind trailer, Lot 4 is for you. Need a rig? Teton Backcountry Rentals, located over Teton Pass in Jackson, Wyoming, rents four-wheel-drive truck campers. As for the skiing, there’s coldsmoke powder, resort-operated cat skiing, and great backcountry access (with options for guided outings) through designated gates (day passes from $103).
If You’re an Intermediate Skier
Sipapu, New Mexico
Not many ski areas also operate their own year-round campground, but you’ll find one at family-owned Sipapu Resort, outside of Taos, New Mexico (lift ticket pricing to be announced). Park overnight (from $40) in designated lots a short walk from the ski area’s base lodge. You won’t find the same steep terrain as nearby Taos Ski Valley—most of it is more intermediate than advanced—but the snow quality can be just as good. Sipapu also boasts one of the longest ski seasons in New Mexico—typically from November through April. Plus, kids ten years old and under get to ski free all season long.