At Points Unknown, we’ve been making annual ski and camp road trips for a long time, living the dream of skiing all day and returning to our warm and cozy sprinter adventure van DAPHNE at night to rest, relax, and do it all over again the next day. To that end, we’ve catalogued many of the policies and costs imposed by ski areas across the pacific northwest who allow or don’t allow camping in their parking lot, identified camping alternatives where possible, and put together some fantastic ski road trips.
This list summarizes our experience and research into pacific northwest ski area overnight van and RV camping policies. We’ve personally experienced each of these areas and we’ll twe’ll try to keep it updated as things change (and yes – they are changing), but recommend to call each ski area ahead of time to see if their parking lot camping options are still available. Many years ago, only a few brave RV’s were camped in ski area parking lots and many camping options were free. But these days ski area parking lots are practically little cities at night, packed with RVs big and small, with many charging high fees and some requiring reservations.
Our experience camping is from the perspective of our sprinter based camper van. This is highly recommended as it allows you to fit in a small space, be nimble and easy to move when needed, doesn’t require shore power or other hookups, and still provides all the warmth and comforts of home. Some of these ski area parking lots could not accommodate a giant RVs or trailers and most of them do not provide any services (power, water, sewer, or otherwise). Again, we highly recommend calling ahead to confirm all of your plans and arrangements with each ski area.
Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort
We’ve written a lot about Anthony Lakes – its a great place to ski! Historically, camping has been free at Anthony Lakes, even with power provided to some – but that changed in 2018. But they still allow camping in their parking lot, for a small fee. The parking area is right in front of the lift allowing you to pretty much roll out of bed and onto the ski hill. It’s also relatively flat (depending on where you park) and there is power available at about a dozen of the parking spots. They are very aggressive about making sure overnight users get a permit, so be sure to pick up an overnight pass at the lodge right away.
Anthony Lakes is a very small ski area (one lift only) and in recent years it has become very popular on holidays and weekends, especially with the camping crowd. If you need power to heat your vehicle, be sure to show up early on a weekday and have a backup plan – it gets VERY cold at Anthony Lakes.
Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort
Mt. Bachelor offers some of the finest skiing in central Oregon. There is a ton of terrain on Mt. Bachelor, due to its 360 degrees of lift access to the Mt. Bachelor dome. But the overnight camping situation right at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort is not great. All camping must be reserved in advance and the costs are pretty high.
As a good nearby alternative, there are several sno-parks along the cascade lakes highway (Hwy 372) and many of them allow overnight camping and have a reasonable amount of relatively flat spaces. Kapka Butte and Wanoga sno parks are maybe 15 minutes or so down the road and provide a good alternative to the expensive camping right in the Bachelor lot.
Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort
Mt. Hood Meadows is one of the premier ski areas on Mt. Hood and one of the few remaining ski areas that allows free RV/overnight parking in designated areas of their sunrise lot. But the parking is extremely limited and very quick to fill up – so you’ll have to be pretty early, crafty, and lucky to get a spot.
There are several sno-parks along highway 35 that offer alternatives for overnight camping. Bennet Pass Sno-Park just accross the highway from Mt. Hood meadows is convenient, but very small and often fills up pretty quickly as well. Further up the road, the White River West Sno-Park offers a lot more space, but is not particularly flat. It will work for camping in a pinch, but perhaps not the most comfortable.
White Pass Ski Resort
For a long time, skiing and camping at White Pass ski area was one of Washington’s best kept secrets. Well, the secret is out and now camping at White Pass is complex and expensive – that’s the price of fame.
At White Pass, overnight reservations are required – and they book out quickly when they open the spots a week in advance. But the parking area (lot C) offers very nice flat parking spaces and you can ski back to your camper van at the end of the day (its a bit of a hoof to get to the lift from the lot). There are no hookups for any of the spots.
Bevin Lake Rest Area offers a plausible alternative for camping about 30 minutes west of White Pass – but, like most rest areas, it’s not the greatest setup and parking is limited to 8 hours.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer is a great ski hill offering a ton of varied terrain and some really epic long ski runs – we especially enjoyed the endless courdory on the back side skiing the Stella and Cedar Park lifts. And the terrain out Idyle also looks to be spectacular (conditions permitting).
Overnight parking and RV camping at Schweitzer is apparently free now (who knew it could go that direction??) – but you should confirm that. When we stayed at Schweitzer back in 2018 the cost was $20. But while researching this post in 2020 their website now says that “RV parking is welcome at Schweitzer free of charge at the fire station lot and the parking area on the other side of the round-about.” So that is exciting!
Similar to others there are no services provided.
Whitewater Ski Resort
One of the many jewels of British Columbia, Whitewater Ski Resort has some amazing, beautiful, and steep terrain. The snow here can be fluffy and bottomless. And – after a few nights of camping in the parking lot- you can clean up and warm up at the showers, pool, and hot tubs at the Nelson & District Community Complex (more details here).
Whitewater allows overnight parking for ‘self contained units’ in a designated parking lot for a moderate fee which you pay at guest services.
No services are provided and depending on where you park, not all the sites are particularly flat.
Stevens Pass Ski Resort
Historically, Stevens Pass has been one of our favorite ski areas at Points Unknown. But like so many good things, the corporate interests (Vail) have taken over and Stevens Pass is now most interested in squeezing every dollar they can out of the area rather than preserving the stevens pass experience. All things change and we accept that it’s a business that must be run profitably, but its said to see the culture change. In any case, Stevens Pass has a dedicated RV lot which, like many others, fills up very quickly. Reservations are required and the costs are very high.
Nason Creek Rest Stop is about 20 minutes from Stevens Pass and offers relatively flat parking. Like most rest areas, it’s not the most comfortable and is limited to 8 hours. But it works for the night.
Mount Baker Ski Area
Mt Baker gets a ton of snow annually. Seriously, how many other ski areas can say they average 660 inches (55 feet!!) of snow per year? In fact, during the legendary 1998/99 season, Mt Baker took the world record having received 1,140 inches of snow for the season. The ski terrain and vibe on Mt Baker is also superb. But like so many others on this list – popularity has led to change.
Mt Baker is yet another fantastic ski area that recently switched to a reservation based pay model for overnight/RV camping in their parking lots.
Apex Mountain Resort
Apex Mountain Resort is a hidden gem near Penticton British Columbia. The skiing is fantastic, terrain excellent, and the vibe feels pretty relaxed – even given the insider condo/owner/elite feel of the surrounding village.
There is an RV Park located near Apex Village, but we couldn’t find any information about it when we were there. Guest services also indicated that overnight RV parking was potentially available in the upper parking lot, but was full of snowmobiles and other users at the time we were there. Instead, we drove about 20 minutes up the road to Nickleplate Nordic Centre. There we found nice flat parking and a relatively quiet and peaceful rest.
Brundage Mountain Resort
Ahhhh Brundage. Amazing dry Idaho powder, fantastic terrain, small community feel – this place is excellent.
Brundage is one of the last remaining ski areas in the pacific northwest that still allows FREE overnight camping in their parking lot. You do have to register at guest services, but its just so they can keep track. There are no hookups, electrical, water, etc and I would not recommend it for a large RV or trailer (though, I wouldn’t recommend large RVs in general).
The parking area is nice and flat and its only a short distance to walk to get on the lower lift from the designated overnight parking area.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Revelstoke is an incredible ski area located in the heart of British Columbia’s epic powder highway. Revelstoke is home to some of the steepest most sustained angle skiing I have ever seen.
Revelstoke allows for one night (and one night only) of free overnight/RV camping in a designated parking lot. The lot is fairly flat and no services are provided. You must be self contained.