Bend, Oregon seems to be an Oasis for full time RVers. They love it, they go back to it and they don’t stop talking about it! If I haven’t mentioned it already, one of the goals of this epic road trip is to scout places to potentially live. Bend, Oregon was at the top of our list. So we knew we needed to stay there during the winter to see if 1) winter was our thing, 2) could we live in a winter again, 3) would we like it there for extended periods of time and 4) did it have all our requirements. So we were in Bend for 2 weeks in the summer and 2 months in the winter. Here is some information that might help you in both situations: Winter and Summer.
Getting the RV ready for the winter was a bigger task than what we believed. The winters here were supposed to be mild. We were winterized so what did we really need to do? Well, more than we thought. We were only going to spend 1 month here so we didn’t want to put a lot of money into extra winter things. A little snow here and there and the temps were usually in the 30s. Well, this winter was not a typical winter. With temperatures dropping under 0 degrees F, and 4 plus feet of snow, it presented a challenge, even for those that were veteran winter RVers.
Here are some tips that you can do to winterize your RV.
Driving: Make sure to get to Bend before any major snow fall. We drove from Portland through Government Camp on the day they were getting their first major snow fall. We made it safely but I was a bit nervous. You will definitely need tire chains or traction tires and 4×4.
In town, there were points during our stay where they actually closed all the major highways getting anywhere. You couldn’t go south to crater lake, north towards hood river or west towards Portland and you don’t really want to go east. The City of Bend actually sold their plows and equipment and so if it doesn’t melt right away, it doesn’t get plowed in a timely fashion. That one month turned into two because the snow dictated that we would be here longer. Since the streets didn’t get plowed fast enough before it would freeze they became ice tracks. Low clearance cars could get nowhere and high clearance sometimes had troubles getting out of the ruts.
I am not going to go into too much detail, these are just things you need to have on your radar if you are going to be in an RV in the winter. Research what is best for you and your rig, but definitely ask any questions that you may have!
1 RV Skirting
We decided not to skirt. It was about 50/50 in the park and all levels of it. At a certain point the snow was high enough that there was a natural skirt. If we were going to be there the entire winter or we knew it was an area that was known for harsh winters we would have definitely skirted. This helps with keeping your under belly warm which means your pipes and tanks hopefully won’t freeze if you don’t have heated pads and you don’t have to run your furnace 24/7. We only had problems when the temperatures got down into the teens.
There are different levels of skirting. Never use hay, it attracts mice, bugs and rodents. Some people use heat lamps or LED strip lights underneath.
Skirting people using: Aluminum Fiberglass, Vinyl, plywood, EZ Snap kit and foam. This can get costly so decide which one fits your budget!
2 Winter Hose for the RV
A good RV park will have the actual spigot protected for you. You however, have to make sure your actual hose will not freeze. Again, since we were not going to be there long term we did not want to buy a $100 insulated hose. We ended up going with a heated cable. In my opinion, all RVers should have electrical tape on hand. We have a bunch so when we bought the cable we taped it to the hose and it worked perfectly. The cable was only $20.
Hint: Do not wrap around, keep it parallel. We learned the hard way.
3 RV Furance
The furnace helped a lot. It takes propane but it also helps keep warm air flowing underneath your RV.
4 RV Propane Tanks
In Bend, we found a place that at the beginning of the winter sold propane for $1.15/gallon. Even when we left they were still cheap at $1.40/gallon. Oregon Feed & Pet. We have 2 – 30lb tanks and one would last us 3/4 days. If you are going to be there for at least a couple months, we would recommend renting a large propane tank. We had friends do this and it lasted about a month and a half.
5 RV Parks
There are a few RV Parks in Bend. We chose Crown Villa RV Resort because of the location and amenities. For a list, check out Campendium for an up to date list: Campendium
If it is a milder winter you can park at Mt. Bachelor for all the ski enthusiasts. You can read more information here: Mt. Bachelor RV Parking
If it snows like it did for us you will have no boondocking options that you do in the summer. Those roads were never plowed. Some people seem to live in the Walmart parking lot, so if you are in dire need for a couple nights it seems to not be a problem.
6 RV Slides
Make sure to keep the top of your slides clear. If there is 0 degree weather, you have the option of pulling them in if you can. Do not do it if there is ice and snow already. Do it if there is none and the forecast at night predicts it if you want. It will keep the condensation to a minimum and guarantee that you don’t freeze open like that. We accumulated a lot of condensation. The cold weather, snow, rain, the fluctuation in temperatures. You can also cover your windows to help keep the warm in and the cold out. Kevin had to continually sweep the snow off the slide outs. The ice was getting heavy along with the slush. This past winter at least two buildings collapsed because of the weight of the snow and ice. It was no joke. Branches and trees were being knocked over, so we were not taking chances that our slide outs would collapse.
Again, back to the budget. Since we were only supposed to be there for a month we didn’t want to invest in one of the $200 dehumidifiers. We tried a small one that did absolutely nothing. We ended up with condensation throughout the slide outs. One of them was our closet. If you weren’t constantly wiping them down they would freeze with the temperatures. We kept our doors open and a fan and that didn’t help. We finally bought Damprid. This helped a little but not enough to stop a little mold. Nothing serious on the actual rig but some of our shoes were ruined. After we got to the dry weather we completely cleaned and dried out. So, if you are going to be somewhere for awhile, I highly suggest a large dehumidifier. Damprid only helps to a certain degree as well. After we left we forgot to grab one and it was full of water after the temperatures evened out.
8 Other RV heating devices
We have an electric fire place which helped a lot, but we also bought a cheap space heater that we could regulate temperature and one that would turn off if knocked over. We also had previously bought a Mr. Buddy when we ended up in cold weather last May in Colorado. This has been a life saver and works incredibly well.
9 RV Tanks
One of the ways that our RV was winterized was that we have heating pads under all of our tanks that we can easily flip on. This was what helped us instead of having a skirt. When buying a new RV ask about this and if it does say winterized, make sure to ask how. Most RV dealerships will not specifically tell you and most don’t think to ask. So if there is even a possibility that you might be in below freezing temperatures, ask.
10 Freezing RV pipes
The part we did have some problems with were with the pipes that were above and outside of the under belly. It wasn’t just our rig there were multiple people. We would realize this when we wouldn’t get hot water or water to certain faucets. Kevin would just open a small part of the RV and use a hair dryer to warm them up. Also turning up the furnace helped as well. It did take a couple hours to thaw out. It is frustrating but it’s part of being in very cold weather. It did help that we were plugged in and had plenty of electricity.
11 Filtered Water
We grocery shopped at Newport Market or we did when we needed water as they had filtered water.
Things to do:
There is a lot to do in Bend in the winter. Ski, snowboard and snow shoe around Mt. Bachelor, hike in the surrounding areas and eat and drink your way through town.
You can read about our hikes here: Hiking in Bend
Check out our food suggestions below.
Don’t let people discourage you if you want to experience RVing in the winter. It’s definitely doable and can be fun. It definitely comes with challenges but that’s how we learn and grow. Some people do it because they need to for their job. I hope this helps you plan your first winter.
We were here in the summer of 2016 and it was a great place. Here are some summer tips for this area.
There were only a few options but we chose FR 4610. It was in the center of the mountain biking paths just west of town. It was an incredible spot. This was our review:
FR 4610, Bend, OR – This could be our no. 1 spot. There are a few negatives. During the summer it’s really really dusty, the road isn’t the best and if you rely on solar there are only a few spots that you might be able to get about 5 hrs of sun. Other than that it’s awesome! Close to town, close to Tumalo Falls, hikes, road biking and one of the best mountain biking circuits we have seen. Phil’s trail is probably the most popular because it’s for beginners but still technical for a veteran. The boondocking spot is right smack dab in the middle of the biking trails so you could pick it up whenever you wanted and go as long as you wanted.
Small warning there are mixed reviews of this area. Some people do not follow the 14 day etiquette and the rangers don’t really enforce. There are also people that are disrespectful on their garbage and a couple spots were littered with tons of it and a lot of broken glass. Just do your part and help clean up a little. It sucks doing it for people who don’t care, but it was our home for two weeks and we wanted it clean.
The RV parks in the summer are seriously expensive. Locals and others either boondock or head to La Pine or Sisters for slightly cheaper rates.
2 Water and Dump
We used the Chevron gas station at: 1745 Northeast Third St., Bend, OR 97701. It’s $5 unless you fill up with gas there. There is also water and air.
3 Filtered Water
We grocery shopped at Newport Market or we did when we needed water as they had filtered water.
4 Grocery Stores (applies in winter)
There is something for everyone. Albertsons, Safeway, Fred Meyers, Walmart, Newport Market, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods, Costco, Trader Joes and Market of choice.
6 Things to Do
When you are there check the local calendar. There are free events all the time and always on the weekends. It’s very family, dog and outdoor friendly. We went to a hot air balloon event, Munch and Music in Drake Park and a bunch of other events that were free. If you don’t have water gear it’s a cheap rental for SUP Boards, kayaks and tubes. You can lazily float down the river and a bus will pick you up at the park and bring you back to the Old Mill District. It’s $3/person but you can ride the bus all day. Check out all the lakes in the area and Sisters is a good day trip.
Some of our favorite food spots!
Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats ** A true Northern Thai menu!!!** The restaurant was so cute and the food DELICIOUS! We went here at least once or twice a week!
Bonta Natural Artisan Gelato *The best*
Looney Bean Bend *LOVED THIS PLACE – Dog friendly is a huge plus*
Fire in Bend Pizza
Strictly Organic Coffee
The Village Baker
Bend Mountain Coffee
Crows Feet Commons
Flatbread Neapolitan Pizza
Bad Wolf Bistro & Bakery
Pho Viet & Cafe
Bend-O-Bento Japanese Kitchen
The Sparrow Bakery **MY NEW FAVORITE PLACE!!!**
Bangers & Brews *YUMMY*
10 Barrel brewing
What was your experience in Bend? Let me know of your summer or winter experiences!
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