Driving in the snow


New Member
Hi all,

New RV owner here. We have taken two trips in our 27 foot 1990 Winnebego, and are loving it so far. We are considering using it as a base camp for snow boarding this winter. Possibly driving it to around 5000 ft and camping in Arnold CA, then driving to and from the slopes in our 4Runner from there. My question is what are your thoughts on driving it in mild snow conditions on well maintained roads? Are we crazy or does that sound like a possibility to you?

Thanks Laura


New Member
Driving in the snow


Here is some information that you might find useful:

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.


Have a mechanic check the following items on your RV.

Wipers and windshield washer fluid
Ignition system
Flashing hazard lights
Exhaust system
Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)

Install good winter tires.
Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.

Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.

Plan long trips carefully.
Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person.

If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation.

Dress warmly.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.

Carry food and water.
Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water.

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving.

Winter RV/Car Kit

Keep these items in your RV:

Flashlights with extra batteries
First aid kit with pocket knife
Necessary medications
Several blankets
Sleeping bags
Extra newspapers for insulation
Plastic bags (for sanitation)
Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
Rain gear and extra clothes
Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels
Small shovel
Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
Booster cables
Set of tire chains or traction mats
Cards, games, and puzzles
Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
Canned fruit and nuts
Nonelectric can opener
Bottled water



Stay in the RV.
Do not leave the RV to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost is blowing and drifting snow.

Display a trouble sign.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.

Occasionally run engine to keep warm. (Obviously, if you have a heater and/or generator, use what you can. Watch your fuel!)
Turn on the RVs engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the RV is running. Also, turn on the RVs lights when the RV is running.

Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.

Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the RV, take turns sleeping.

For warmth, huddle together.

Use newspapers, maps, blankets, and even the removable floor mats for added insulation.

Avoid overexertion.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a RV can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Wind Chill

"Wind chill" is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.

Winter Storm Watches and Warnings
A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way.

A blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.

Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Stay Safe! Stay Alert! Stay Healthy!


New Member
Driving in the snow

Thanks Suljer,

I watched the videos which were informative. Have you ever driven your motorhome in mild snowy conditions or had to put chains on for a few miles?

Thanks for your help,



New Member
Driving in the snow


I never took the chance to ride on snow or use chains with my RV. RV's are very unpredictable on wet leaves and ice, especially black ice, and chains can damage the brake lines if installed incorrectly.

The thought of attempting a drive on snow is not in the forefront, especially with the money I have invested in my Motorcoach.

I did drive on snow for almost 10 years, in Maine, when I owned a 3/4 ton Chevy van that I converted into a camper. If I didn't have enough momentum before approaching a hill, climbing it on snow was sometimes completed at an angle before reaching the crest. To assist me in completing the distance, I would often place my right rear wheel (drive wheel) into the breakdown area for more traction or deflate the rear tires 5-10 pounds for more surface area. I did use chains a few times, making sure they were extremely tight. Any excess chain was secured with large plactic tie-wraps to prevent it from getting caught in my brakes or from damaging my brake linings or wheel well, etc., while driving or spinning in place to get traction. I would always remove the chains when I knew I'd be on flatter ground or gravel roads for a long period of time. It helped extend there lifespan.


New Member
Driving in the snow


You have some received some good advice on survival, etc. However, I have driven all 13 of our motorhomes over the past 40 some odd years, all year around in considerable snow and in mountainous areas. Along with most folks I know that have done the same. They provided us a comfortable place to stay while ice fishing, snow machining, hunting etc. And I have used chains but much prefer the radial type traction aids which are the cable type. They give a smoother ride and and provide almost as much traction. One other item is that we always carried a hank of rope to wind around the tires in case of an emergency and couldn't install the chains for one reason or another. Though we no longer spend Winters in Alaska, I would not hesitate doing it all again. The whole family enjoyed getting out in the snow for Winter activities. And was especially enjoyable when practically the whole neighborhood would show up in their rigs. The wife and I kind of miss that...