How Does Altitude Affect RVing? What You Must Know

How Does Altitude Affect RVing? What You Must Know

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How Does Altitude Affect RVing? What You Must Know.

What is the impact of higher elevation on RVing? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About
If you’ve lived over 5,000 feet in height, you’ve probably become used to taking greater elevations for granted.

It is important to remember that nothing should be taken for granted for RVers who reside at sea level and wish to visit mountains in the 8,000 to 12,000-foot range.

What if I told you that for every 1,000 feet you gain in altitude, you lose around 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature?

The weather may suddenly change from a pleasant day at sea level to a blizzard at 10,000 feet if you go that distance. That is, after all, the key to ascending to a greater altitude: being prepared for the unexpected.

A man stands on the edge of a precipice in the Alps.

What is the impact of increased elevation on RVing? Photo courtesy of pxhere
The effects of high altitude on the body
First, let’s talk about what to anticipate on your own body (and what you can do about it) while you’re flying high in the air.

The first thing you will most likely notice is that you are having greater trouble breathing and even walking around the house. This has a more negative impact on elderly persons. It is recommended that you take your time ascending from sea level as a preventative measure.

Don’t expect to be able to go from Los Angeles to the high Sierra passes in a short period of time. Travel at your own pace, ascending many thousand feet over the course of two or three days. Over the course of many nights of sleep, your body will be able to acclimate to the new environment.

Other aspects of your body may be impacted as well. Because of the thinner air, you will need to drink more water and limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages.

Prepare the cassette toilet in advance, since you will most likely need to urinate more often in the future. Don’t forget that you will be closer to the sun as well. Bring along a nice sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, as well as plenty of water.

Although it only takes a few days for most individuals to adjust to the altitude, some people may not be able to recover. Altitude stress may manifest itself as nausea, headaches, and irritability, among other symptoms.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), on the other hand, is far worse, since it impairs motor abilities and may result in deadly pulmonary and brain edema. Even though this is more of a hazard at elevations more than 14,000 feet, get in your RV and descend a few thousand feet as soon as you notice you are feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or vomiting to bring your blood pressure under control.

At the summit of a mountain, a truck with a rooftop tent

When it comes to gear, high altitude may have an impact on anything from RV equipment to camping gear and even cooking. In high altitudes, boiling water takes longer to complete, and certain fuels, such as butane, don’t burn as efficiently as they could.

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Depending on whether your RV has a 3-way fridge or not, you may have to convert from battery power to 110 volts. At heights more than 5,000 feet, decreasing air pressure may cause refrigerator pilot lights to fail to ignite or refrigerators to lose electricity.

It is expected that the mountains would experience severe heat loss at night in addition to the loss of oxygen. Water pipes and water tanks might be frozen as a result of the extreme weather.

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Consider emptying both your fresh and gray water tanks and bringing some portable water containers inside if you predict nighttime temperatures in the 30s.

If you rely on a generator to power your RV, equipment such as refrigerators and freezers would suffer at heights exceeding 6,000 feet. They will have a more difficult time running and will perform less effectively as a result of the reduced oxygen concentration.

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Some generators are equipped with high-altitude kits, which might be useful if you intend on staying at a higher elevation for an extended length of time.

Class C RV parked in Alaska at a greater elevation than the rest of the country.

What effect does being at a greater elevation have on your engine?
At higher altitudes, whether you’re towing a car or driving a Class A, B, or C recreational vehicle, you may notice a slow engine.

Your engine’s rated power may normally be reduced by 10% for every 3,000 feet you increase in altitude, according to industry standards. Diesel engines perform far better at high altitudes than gasoline engines.

Towing a trailer may be more difficult on hilly roads, as can driving in general. Numerous such roadways go through tunnels, over steep hills, and through severe hairpin bends, to name a few characteristics.

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This increases the load on the engine of your tow vehicle, which may lead to overheating or, in the worst-case scenario, a fire. Many truck engines have caught fire when carrying a high cargo in the Sierra Nevada mountains, something I’ve seen while driving through the area.

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in both your tow car and your trailer in case of an emergency.

The Loveland Pass sign is located at the summit of a mountain pass.

Other issues related to high altitude
At higher elevations, the weather may be quite erratic. The wind is stronger, and summer thunderstorms may produce snow if the temperatures drop below a certain threshold. If you are traveling in the mountains on steep, curving roads, this is a twofold source of anxiety.

Because cell coverage in the mountains may be patchy, make sure you have a reliable weather radio or a pair of 2-way radios with an NOAA channel and an alert in your gear before heading out.

These will notify you if there is a significant shift in barometric pressure or if a storm is approaching. Make sure you are also aware of the National Weather Service’s local radio station, which may be found here.

Typically, while traveling through locations that are prone to bad weather, you will see this information stated on blue road signs.

In addition to a decent RV-safe GPS and downloadable maps for the region, you will be driving through, make sure you have a reliable weather radio with you. While using the RV LIFE Trip Wizard to plan your itinerary, you can not only identify campsites and areas of interest along the way, but you can also get a better understanding of the elevation variations along the way.

As a last resort, paper maps are usually a solid option. Alternate routes, as well as heights, will be shown on these maps.

High altitudes and all of the breathtaking views that higher altitudes have to offer are not something that should be avoided. In fact, because of their difficulties, they are among the most gratifying places to visit…and they have a far lower population density than coastal regions.

Just be aware that you will need to organize your vacation a bit more meticulously.

Typing addresses into a GPS screen may be time-consuming, especially if you have a number of stops scheduled during your day. If you want to avoid this hassle, you could use the RV LIFE GPS & Campgrounds app for your navigation.

With RV Trip Wizard, you’ll never have to input an address again since you’ll be able to access excursions you’ve already scheduled. Simply touch on your route, choose your next location, and press Go, and the RV LIFE app will offer you RV-safe driving instructions to your destination.