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RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

Ulladulla, Australia
Level Contributor
40 posts
43 reviews
21 helpful votes
RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

Hi!

We 2A + 12yo son are travelling to San Fran in Jan 19 and would love some ideas on what and how to see the area, we have around 10 days to make our way to Steamboat Springs.

I've wanted to see the Yosemite and death valley areas for years however not sure this is a great idea in Winter? and wonder if we skip this area and look at it in a better season in years to come and spend more time ?

I am really looking for ideas so a little about us to help with your opinion...

From a beautiful part of Australian coast, have experience in Driving trucks and Rv's in Aus, new Zealand and the USA, love camping and not afraid of driving big miles for a great reward at the end??? Some areas to mention we Have seen and loved to further help with your thought process and opinions: some of Canadian Rockies between Whistler and Banff, South CA (Pismo to LA) coast in August, Daytona and Orlando over December/January and Colorado rockies in the winter, South and North NZ in different seasons.

Is it a bad idea to travel in RV in Winter with poor road conditions and limited entry to places???

We can change to a car for the trip but obviously plans for accommodation are more specific rather than travel in RV where plans can be modified along the way.

A very rough plan with no particular order:

San Fran 3 days

Napa valley

Muir woods

Lake Tahoe

Mammoth mtn (Ski area)?

Yosemite? (which parts as I understand Tioga pass closed in winter)

Death Valley

or

skip the YNP area and do the coast a little north and south

head inland to Vegas and fly rest of journey to Colorado?

We are open to any suggestions and really appreciate any ideas and opinions!

Thanks in advance!

Regards

Mick

5 replies to this topic
LA
Level Contributor
11,689 posts
1 review
6 helpful votes
1. Re: RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

The problem with winter and RV's is cold cold freezing the water and sewer lines. And RV's are a disaster on snowy and icy roads. Any rental company will strictly prohibit putting chains on your RV and on that trip in January there is a very big chance chains would be needed. So, first off, drop the RV idea.

So get a passenger car, probably an SUV instead. See what it takes to get one with real snow tires. January in Tahoe, Mammoth, and Steamboat is a very high likelihood of bad winter driving conditions . Winter of 2016 you wouldn't have been able to do this trip because the Sierras got 64 feet of snow.

If you really want to ski. Visit SF for 4-5 nights. Fly to Salt Lake City and ski Alta, Park City and venture out to Sundance or Snow Basin. They get good powder there. Then fly to Denver to get to Steamboat.

Pacifica, California
Destination Expert
for Pacifica
Level Contributor
11,874 posts
4 reviews
8 helpful votes
2. Re: RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

Yeah, you don't want to be driving an RV in the snow and mountains. Pretty much everyone I know who has an RV parks it for the winter unless they're heading to the snow-less, southern part of the US.

You could drive around Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada with an RV, and then turn it in for an SUV when you want to head to the mountains.

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
23,142 posts
80 reviews
51 helpful votes
3. Re: RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

>>We can change to a car for the trip but obviously plans for accommodation are more specific rather than travel in RV where plans can be modified along the way.<<

Actually, I don't think this is true. You have to book RV parks or hotels in advance (or be open to 'winging it' in either case). As long as you book something that can be cancelled, you're no more locked-in to a hotel booking than you are to an RV park booking.

>>I've wanted to see the Yosemite and death valley areas for years however not sure this is a great idea in Winter?<<

Yes, you will be limited as to what you can do in Yosemite in winter (both in terms of closed roads as well as driving and hiking conditions). But Death Valley (any desert park, really) is fine in winter, and in fact, that's usually the most comfortable weather.

LA
Level Contributor
11,689 posts
1 review
6 helpful votes
4. Re: RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

Another RV in winter issue:

Many of the RV sites are closed for winter.

However those that are open in warmer areas like Arizona are full of snowbirds ( people from Canada and northern US areas that come to the warm areas to spend the winter), so there's a lot of competition for sites in nice areas.

And boondoccking with an RV in the US Is just not a good idea and becoming more restricted every year. You used to be able to stay in Walmart parking lots overnight, but not any more. Too much abuse and crime.

Ulladulla, Australia
Level Contributor
40 posts
43 reviews
21 helpful votes
5. Re: RV trip San Fran to Steamboat Winter 2019 ideas & highlights

Ok, Sounds like we will have to come back in warmer weather and more time to investigate this area further!

I will look into an SUV.

Thanks everyone!

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