Parking Lot Survival Guide

By: Alex Buecking, Associate Editor

Ski Bumming used to be easy.
If a guy wanted ski-in, ski out accommodations for the weekend, all he had to do was borrow his crazy uncle’s slide-in camper and pick a destination.  Unfortunately, today’s ski areas have a lot more rules than those of the past, and being a ski bum isn’t as easy as it once was.  It can be pretty tough to find a place in a ski town to park your rig overnight without being hassled these days.  In an age of high unemployment rates, $90 lift tickets, and insane fuel prices, who has extra money laying around for a motel room?  Not this ski bum. Even so, car camping is still a fantastic way to enjoy a ski hill.
Just because someone made some dumb rule saying that you can’t camp in their parking lot doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

It’s a dumb rule, break it.  In order to break a dumb rule like “No overnight parking” successfully, there are some rules that you should follow. Don’t worry though, they aren’t dumb rules.Dumb rules are what got us here in the first place and I hate them.

These rules are guidelines that will help you continue down the glorious path of doing whatever the hell you want.

1. Don’t GET CAUGHT.  If you get caught, it’s because you didn’t follow the rules.  It is nobody’s fault but your own.

2. Blend in.  The lenient parking policies that ski hills once had, allowed ski bums to camp in gypsy wagons and no-tell ho-tels without taking camouflage into consideration. These days you need to camp in an unsuspecting vehicle if you don’t want to get popped. I have found that my Minivan makes a wonderful incognito camper, but pickup trucks, station wagons, and SUVs work too. *Curtains are key.  Dumb rule-sympathizers have lots of time to hassle you at night, so the less light your whip emits, the better.

3. Pick prime real estate.  Good car camping sites are either so private that nobody will see you, or so public that no one will notice you. Personally, I prefer to go with the latter of the two options. These sites are typically more plentiful, less stressful, and more central to key amenities. Condominiums and apartment complexes are great options of this nature.  Be weary of those whose residents have parking permits on display in their vehicles though, it usually means that someone is watching you.

4. Keep Moving.  An easy way to get busted is by having some asshole property manager notice your snow-covered rig surrounded by piss stains just sitting there in an empty lot.  If you find a sweet spot to camp, don’t overstay your welcome.

5. Hush.  Don’t tell some local at the bar about the sweet spot that you “found”.  Word travels fast in mountain towns. You want this spot to remain available, and telling people about it certainly won’t help your cause.

6. Play dumb.  If you get caught, simply apologize and explain that you didn’t know the rules. You won’t get anywhere by telling the jerk that’s hassling you how dumb the rules are.  Just be nice, his job sucks and you’re on a ski trip. Who knows, he might have been a ski bum just like you if it weren’t for some dumb rules.

Associate Editor of Bomb Snow Alex Buecking has a rad Minivan that you’d think was some soccer moms. He wishes he had a rabbit. ( Pictured Above.) Illustration: Steve Apple
Photo: Reid Morth, Rider: Kyle Miller.

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