Escapee Interview: A Ski Road Trip by Campervan
Last spring, Maurizio Vannetti and his buddies from Switzerland picked up their campervan at our new Denver, Colorado depot to begin an epic ski road trip through the Rocky Mountains all the way to California to surf. With many ski resorts opening for the season this month, we had some fun reminiscing about their trip, and want to help future renters plan their own!
Campervan ski trips are a fun time, and easy on the wallet too, especially considering our rates are the lowest of the year until March. Meanwhile, ski resort lodging prices spike during prime winter months. But be warned, skiing road trips may require a little more resourcefulness and creativity than summer ones. Maurizio offered a few tips and tricks about packing, staying warm in the van, finding places to camp, and more.
1. What was your route?
We started out in Denver, Colorado, then moved to Breckenridge and Keystone for a week. Next, we drove all the way to Salt Lake City (with a short stop in the Arches National Park). From there, we went skiing at Park City, Canyons, and Brighton. We stayed around Salt Lake City for a week, then continued to Lake Tahoe. That’s the only spot where we really were cold one night (the vapor from our breath froze on the inside of the windows). After a week there, we headed to San Francisco and then down the California coast to surf.
2. What are your tips for ski gear storage in the van?
We managed to fit the skis on the floor of the van, putting them in perpendicular to the van direction, right below the table. Of course, the feet room becomes a little tighter. Ventilation in the van is not so easy. We cleaned our clothes (ski-socks mostly) as often as possible–dirty clothes stink when kept in a bag for too long.
We showered every day right after skiing (we signed up for a membership to 24 Hour Fitness gyms. After explaining our situation to them, they were really helpful in finding the best option for us. While we were in the gym we left our ski boots under the van to ventilate. Other than that, hanging the socks out of a window while driving to the gym after the skiing session worked great for us.
3. How did you stay warm at night?
We didn’t have any sleeping bags, we just used the duvets we got with the van. But I have to say that being on the road from mid-March to the beginning of May, the weather started to get warmer. And if we felt like it was going to become colder somewhere we would just move a little further down the valley. Still, we almost always had awesome weather, which helped with the temperature as well. And if the cold is getting worse, well, sleeping close does help!
4. Where did you park for the night and how did you find your spots? Did you plan them out ahead of time or figure it out once you were there?
We figured out our camping spots day by day depending on where we were. Actually, we never had any problems looking for a spot a little remote on Google Maps and then heading there. Sometimes even without having to look on Google Maps we found a little spot close to the ski resorts. We always tried to stay right out of town, on the border of the forests. And if you socialize with the locals (on the slopes, at the gym, or in the bars around town) some might even offer to let you park in their driveway and give you tips on where to park out of town. One tip that I think will help everybody is: Don’t be afraid to go explore the secondary roads and talk to the locals!
5. What would you say were the biggest advantages to doing a ski road trip by campervan?
Of course, there is the financial advantage, staying in the lodges around the resorts is expensive (really expensive) and you have already spent a lot for a season pass (or daily ski tickets).
Even better, the freedom living in a van gives you is unmatchable! If you want warm weather, you can drive to a warmer place (like we did after a week in Colorado with our short stop in the Arches National Park). Rain in the forecast for tomorrow? Just chance resorts! If you hear that it’s going to snow somewhere, you drive there.