While lurking past closing hours in the mountain resort parking lot has always been the domain of the dirtbag, more ski areas are bringing the practice of overnight stays out of the shadows—and some are downright embracing the car-bound camp movement. This focus on ski resort winter camping, which accommodates visitors of lesser means—as well as nomadic adventurers—is a refreshing step back from the luxury demographic that the ski industry habitually targets.
As the #vanlife movement has grown, so too has the network of ski areas, mainly across the West, enhancing and promoting slopeside winter camping. The accommodations can range from reservation-based RV spots with power hookups to merely a distant corner of the dirt lot set aside for overnighters. For safety reasons, ski resorts don’t allow tent camping, but many are generous with their definition of what constitutes an RV, to include most hard-sided vans and campers.
In contrast to the hotel experience characteristic of a typical ski resort, winter camping inspires camaraderie among campers who gather around outdoor gas firepits, enjoy night skiing, or set up impromptu ski-waxing parties in the lot. If you don’t mind a bit of cold discomfort, can tune out the hum of snow removal machinery, and can orchestrate drying your gear in time for the next day’s lift opening, this just might be the lifestyle for you. The payoff is right out your front door.
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