Extending the Short RV Season in Alaska

Extending the Short RV Season in Alaska

Alaska’s summers are shorter than the Lower 48’s.

The prime summer months in Alaska are June – August.  If we stuck to these 3 months we’d hardly use our motorhome.  So far, we’ve been pretty lucky and haven’t been too inconvenienced by the weather.  Although, one time our tanks froze and what went in couldn’t get out…

Temperatures won’t put a kink in our plans, but ice will.  Our part of Alaska experiences freezing and thawing periods throughout the winter.  The Seward Highway resembles a luge track after one of these weather events.

Our motorhome isn’t an “All Season” machine, it doesn’t have built-in winter insulation and the summer tires are not safe on glare ice roads.  We put studded tires on our SUV to safely drive the highway in the winter.

Our first trip of the season is in the middle of April.  Every year, we head up to Anchorage to participate in a trade show for our business.  Spring weather can be very unpredictable but it’s usually still dipping below freezing at night.

The furnaces do a great job of producing heat but with the lack of insulation our RV does not hold the heat well.  I took an idea I saw at an Anchorage RV Park where people live in their motorhomes all year and modified it for our mobile motorhome.

I purchased reflective insulation, it’s essentially shiny bubble wrap and it works great!  The folks who live in their RV’s year around put it on the outside of all their windows and tape it on.  We need to stay mobile, so I cut it to fit all the windows and used Velcro to hold it in place.

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It’s amazing how much heat you loose through your windows.  I have labeled sheets for every window in the RV including the ceiling vents.  When you close the curtains it does not look tacky.  I’ve always wondered if this technique would work well in really hot climates to keep the RV cool.

A few years back we were hunting the Denali Highway in the fall and the wind really picked up.  We noticed a significant draft coming from under the kitchen part of our slide out.  It didn’t take long before we stuffed a few towels under there and sealed things up.  When we got home we sacrificed an old fleece blanket and cut designated strips to solve the problem.

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The weather is a roller coaster in Alaska.

Sometimes winter doesn't want to let go, this dusting was on May 18th.
Sometimes winter doesn’t want to let go, this dusting of snow in Anchorage was in the middle of May.
It's not unusual to get our first snow at the end of September.
In Southcentral Alaska it’s not unusual to get our first snow at the end of September.

Every fall and winter starts off a little different.  Most years we can use the RV until the end of October.  If we’re lucky we can make it into November before the roads ice over.

Here’s a few more tips for RV’ing in colder temperatures

  • Park into the wind.  Your RV drives forward and that’s where they have the best wind sealing.
  • Check for leaks around your RV and seal as necessary.
  • Keep some heat tape on board.  This comes in handy if you need to thaw your dump valves.
  • Know where your water lines are located.  If there are waterlines exposed in your basement compartments they might be subject to freezing.
  • If you’re not hooked up to city water with a heated hose turn your water pump off at night.  Crack the faucets to allow for expansion and to prevent bursting water lines.
  • Heated water hose.  I only recommend these hoses for short term use, most of them won’t last a whole winter.  For an entire winter folks up here wrap their regular hose with heat tape and insulate around that hose.
  • If you’re going to be in one location for a long period of  time consider making some type of portable skirting to keep the cold air blowing under the RV.
  • Don’t leave your grey and black water valves open when on hook ups.  They will slowly ice up your drain hose and you won’t be able to close the valves when you’re ready to leave.  Just open the valves to dump as necessary.

Safe Travels!





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