We have traveled all around the United States staying in elevations more than 8,000 feet. We have also stayed in temperatures 100+ degrees and below freezing. Based on our own RVing for several years in these extremes, we have more problems due to weather extremes than we have related to elevation. But we have had minor issues.
Let’s look at some of the things that may affect your RV camping in high altitude.
High Altitude Pressure
Everything sealed is going to build pressure. Soda bottles, shampoos, bags of chips, etc. If you are not full-timing, you can save yourself these surprises by purchasing your groceries on arrival. Full-timing, you will just need to very, very, very slowly open everything the first time. I did have a bottle of ranch dressing spew everywhere. Yuck.
Other than grocery items, we did not make any adjustments to generators, water tanks, propane, or refrigerators (large appliances). High altitude hasn’t ever damaged any of our appliances. You have enough time to learn something isn’t working and adjust it. It is in extreme temperatures we find our refrigerator freezer doesn’t freeze well or the burners on our propane stove don’t light as well.
High Altitude Cooking
Cooking is affected because of the pressure. Boiling points are lower in the mountains, so you must wait longer for water to boil. I notice when I bake items it takes about 1/3 longer for them to bake. This is because the moisture is not being released as quickly either. The first time I had this experience was when I was new to using a convection oven in the RV. I thought I had the use of it nailed down. Then my instinct on how long to cook things seemed to go out the window.
Frustrated it took me a while to realize it was the altitude, not my inability to learn a new appliance! I still bake and cook everything but a little differently and with more patience in high altitude. For example, biscuits must be cooked longer and flipped in the middle of baking, and I bake them at a lower temperature, so they have a chance to rise.
High Altitude Sickness
The only problem we have had is getting adjusted to the breathing at the higher altitude. My husband and I have never experienced any sickness. With the breathing, I try and use some yoga breathing techniques every evening in bed. Laying down is the only time I have shallow breathing sometimes.
Our dog Cozy has not showed signs of altitude sickness. As always, if she hears the word, ‘truck’, she gets excited, runs for the truck, and jumps in – it’s her favorite activity and the altitude doesn’t stop her enthusiasm. At one RV park we stayed at, the owner told us about an older couple who checked in and then turned right around and checked back out. The wife was having heart problems at an elevation of 8,600 feet.
RV Appliances and High Altitude
All our large appliances are less than five years old. We perform regular maintenance and testing on them. We also stay in locations for about a month which I ‘feel’ helps them slowly adjust to the altitude without going through constant daily or weekly moves. (No proof – just gut). We are in our 50’s, healthy and don’t take any medications. So, these things may have an impact on how well your rig, and you, make it through high altitude RV camping.
Other High Altitude RV Camping Issues
Being older, not well maintained, or existing issues from being older – both you and your rig – may leave you with more things to watch over. I have also heard if you are bothered by high altitude the first time, you are likely to always be bothered by it. I don’t know if there is merit to this. I know the vice versa has been true for us and our rig.
The whole point of RVing is to have opportunities to escape, visit, travel, and experience. High altitude locations have a lot of new encounters to add to your memories.
The important thing is to know you may have issues with large appliances and have a backup plan in place.
If you notice something not working, know in advance what you may need to do to each appliance to help it work better in high altitudes. You may not need to adjust everything before you make your first trip, but you will learn what you and your rig can handle and what you might need to adjust prior to your next getaway.