Dear RV Shrink:
We are in Yellowstone National Park and are finding our RV is too big to camp in some of the campgrounds. We tried to make a reservation today at Madison Campground and they tell us we will only fit into a 40-foot-plus site, but there are none available. They combined our total rig length (motorhome and toad) and say we cannot fit in a 30-foot site.
We purposely bought a 30-foot motorhome so we could camp in smaller primitive campgrounds, but obviously we planned wrong. It really makes me mad. This time we have to travel so much farther to see the sights because we do not meet campground size requirements.
What do most people find a good length that offers them the best choices of sites? —Mad in Madison
The good news is you bought a perfect size. Even if you are pulling a toad, you should fit in most campgrounds just fine. I can say that for a fact because we have been doing it for years. Your only problem is buying into the BS (Buffalo Scat) that you are hearing on the other end of the phone when you try to make a reservation with a concession-run campground.
Unfortunately our government is not capable of running its own campgrounds and have found it more convenient to farm them all out to people who turn them into more of a KOA business plan. First thing they do is double the price, then they farm out their reservations to a company full of cubicles in New York, manned by people who have never camped in their whole life.
So, you do not need a new rig, you need an attitude adjustment. When you are on the phone you need to have a bit more chutzpah. It helps to have some experience under your belt, but until then stop telling them you have a toad. At 30 feet you will fit their requirements, and when you arrive you will find ample parking for your toad.
Let’s use Madison as an example. I am very familiar with that campground. When you call for a reservation you will be given the exact information you describe. You will be told you cannot park your toad somewhere else if you do not fit, you have to combine your total length to fit a site, and if you don’t fit you can’t stay.
You will also notice you are not issued a particular site. When you arrive they are going to give you what they find convenient.
On our last visit we booked a 40-footsite, the only size available. When we arrived we asked if we could get a couple more days. We were given a 30-foot site. We found that all the sites are about the same length, pull throughs and side by sides. If you can’t fit your toad in next to your rig you are told to park it outside the loop where there is plenty of parking. After walking all the loops and looking at all the RV sites, I found few sites I wouldn’t fit into.
So here are your choices. Fudge the truth or buy a shorter rig. My Irish grandmother always said, “A little white lie is always better than a big fight.”
If you arrive and find you truly do not fit, you will have to move on — instead of moving on before you know if you fit.
There is a lot of smoke and mirrors involved in campground reservation systems. It takes some time before you will understand many of the nuances and learn how to weigh fact and fiction. —Keep Smilin’, Richard E. Mallery a.k.a Dr. R.V. Shrink
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