It goes without saying that camping during the winter poses an entirely different set of challenges than summer camping.
Of course, cold weather and snow always play a key role in winter camping plans, but winter days also have shorter daylight hours. And then there are the road conditions to consider, which, even when it's not snowing, can be icy and treacherous.
A good advance plan is an absolute necessity before embarking on a winter camping trip. Here's some good pre-planning winter camping guidelines worth following:
- Don't take a winter camping trip alone. Share the experience with several friends, if possible, who have expertise in different winter skills, such as building a snow shelter, route finding and knowledge about snow travel. Also, coordinate the plan with the group.
- Study maps and research the area. Determine how long travel will take to a campsite, and what emergency services are closest should a mishap occur.
- Check with people who have camped at a winter site and can offer insights and pointers.
- Monitor the weather forecast closely. Make sure conditions are favorable for the camping trip.
- Check the local road and trail conditions in advance.
- Recognize a threat posed at avalanche areas. Avoid an area if avalanche danger is high.
- Leave a trip plan with someone back home. Inform them where you'll be, when you'll be there, when you'll return and the vehicle information and names and contact numbers for members your group.
- Carry some cash for unexpected fees or emergencies.
- Always stay alert for the unexpected. Take along extra food and clothing to cope with weather changes, getting lost or any unexpected detours that come up.