Travelling in Oregon, Washington & Idaho in Winter. Good or bad idea?


Hi guys,
I’m seeking advices as we would like to travel in our van at winter time through Oregon, Washington, and Idaho states.
We have heating in the van though, but maybe one of you did it and would share their experience with me ?

Thanks in advance,

Have a look to @rhinothevan


Greetings & Welcome!

I’m a cold weather camper, and it’s currently -15°f where I am. Aside from the possible icey/snowy road conditions, you need to figure out your plans and whether you want to heat the van while parked. Running your engine while parked is a poor idea.

Any time it’s below freezing I heat my van with a kerosene heater. Some people use propane, but it’s just to dangerous in my book, plus it can be finicky in cold weather. I also have 12v heated blankets and seat cushions. Between them, I can stay comfortable regardless of the weather.

Even with all these things it’s important to have clothing and bedding to keep you comfortable without any of them. That includes head wear, footwear, and gloves. Have plans, backup plans, more backup plans, and an emergency plan. I have multiple heaters/cookers, and months worth of kerosene. I could get snowed in until spring and still live comfortably and eat well.

West of the Cascades stays warmer, and doesn’t get too much snow. The high desert can get pretty cold and windy. The mountains can get snowy, and most lesser used roads are likely to be unplowed. Most of the parks and campgrounds will be closed. Many of the roadside amenities such as rest areas, gas stations, restaurants, and even grocery stores might be closed for the season. Stock up well while in towns.


"Screw the insulation, give me HEAT!" ~ Hobo Henry


Its a great Idea! As long as you’ve built the van to handle it :wink:
What kind of heater do you have in the van? Best option is probably a gas/diesel fired unit that pulls right off the fuel tank and has a thermostat.

Many parts of the PNW really don’t get that cold (other than a rare storm that you can probably avoid with some flexibility), but if you’re planning to seek out the colder areas or chase snow from ski resort to ski resort and sleep in freezing/sub-zero temps, than prepping the van becomes really important (life saving)!

We spent the last two winters doing just that, slept on mountaintops and chased the best snow from resort to resort. We braved temps down to -28 and loved every second of it…
But we also built our van fully prepared for comfortable all 4 season travel.

For this type of weather, you need to ensure that you’re really well insulated, have good ventilation options, and that any systems (water, batteries, etc) are on the inside of the van in heated/conditioned space to prevent breaking pipes and or damaging your batteries, etc



I can’t believe that anybody who has ever witnessed the horrors behind vehicle insulation could ever recommend it.


"There's a huge difference between popular choices and proper choices." ~ Road Warrior


Not all things are black and white…
and having lined in vans (both summer and winter) without insulation, I can tell you neither I, the wife or the dog thought that was a very good or sustainable idea. :wink:

I only use and/or suggest one type of insulation (3m Thinsulate), which happens to be hydrophobic and mold/mildew resistant… and even then we always build with adequate ventilation to behind the wall panels and make no attempt at a “moisture barrier” of plastic as those never seem to do anything but trap the moisture behind/inside the walls anyway…

“water always wins” as they say…