RV too long for that site? Maybe not.

By Bob Difley

too-longWhen a National Park’s or forest’s campground designates a maximum length limitation, what does that mean? You’ve seen it. In campground guides and on entry kiosks: “Maximum size 27 feet,” for instance. So, driving a 28-foot Class C, or towing a 28-foot fiver, you crossed it off as a potential camping location, and a missed opportunity to visit what might be a wonderful national treasure or a “nesty,” forest campsite beside a tumbling stream.

Unfortunately, that would be making a mistake. The maximum length referred to means that all the campsites in the campground will accommodate that length. But … some will also accommodate longer lengths, sometimes much longer. The people in charge, or at least those that write the rules (probably at the advice of the lawyers), do not want to officially include longer lengths when maybe only three or four campsites will fit longer lengths; and if those are taken but smaller ones remain open, they may get in a tangle with someone with a longer RV urging them to move someone with a shorter rig out of the larger site and into a smaller site.

Not that I blame them at wanting to avoid such hassles. But knowing that does open up some options. If you can fit into the campsite, they cannot tell you to leave. And often, the measurement is made from the wheel barrier at the rear of the campsite to the front. So, when you back in, your overhang extends over the barrier adding quite a few feet to the length that will fit. But watch out for those wood posts that some campgrounds use. Your overhang may not clear them. And there might be several sites that are long enough even without the overhang factor.

When you arrive at a campground that has a stated maximum length, drive around the campground and if you find one you fit into — no extending into the road, into foliage in the rear, or onto other obstructions — take it. It’s unlikely that you will find a host or ranger that will ask your length unless they know exactly which sites are open and whether you will fit in any of them.

In national parks, it’s a bit more difficult, especially on busy holidays and weekends. If the park is filled every day, those that assign campsites may hold to the size maximum to reduce chaos, so plan to arrive early mid-week, before they start to fill up, when you can scout for larger sites on your own.

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3 Thoughts to “RV too long for that site? Maybe not.”

  1. H. Cole

    Based on looking at sites in Acadia Nat’l Park in Maine a site might accommodate 45′ rigs but tree growth, limbs etc render about 35′ or so as max size that can actually navigate to such sites.

  2. Connie Madia

    We are volunteer campground hosts for the National Park Service in Yellowstone. We have a 35 foot TOTAL length limit in our campground which is strictly enforced. We measure from the front bumper to the back spare tire/bike rack, etc. The length limit includes towed vehicles behind motorhomes. There are valid reasons for the limit as stated by the Superintendent. These include damage to the environment and the inability of drivers to maneuver into tight spaces. Our campgrounds are about 50 years old, long before large RVs and trailers were common. Check first!

  3. John Connaughton

    We book in Florida State Campgrounds a lot. They mostly list max length on a per-site basis, since you book specific sites. But I have found their maximums to be such that you can often fit, easily, a slightly larger rig. For example, we have a 26 foot Winnebago Aspect, (which I measure to be closer to 27ft.). Well we have booked sites that say 25ft Max and still had plenty of room. Especially since we travel with only bikes on the back, no tow vehicle to park on the site.

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