Saturday, November 26, 2022


Campsite “site length” restrictions. What do they really mean?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Ah, those wonderful mysteries of RVing. When you’re first starting out, there must be hundreds of them to be resolved. Here’s one: “We are transitioning from tent camping to towing a travel trailer this year. We will be towing a 19.5′ travel trailer with a 19′ pickup truck, the overall length being approximately 38.5′. Does the RV length limit listed for a campground (especially national parks) include the tow vehicle and the travel trailer?”

RV scholars, how do you reply? If you’ve been on the road for long, you know this is a question that, sadly, often has more than one answer. Really, what does “site length” or “length restriction” mean in a campground or RV park listing? There’s no universal definition, but we can give you some ideas.

When “site length” is listed, it often means the number of feet for the RV unit to park in. For our questioner, his “combination” length is almost 39 feet. If the site length listed was 40 feet, surely he’d fit. But there’s more at play here. Many RV sites have a “stopping block” at the end of the parking pad that prevents the rig from backing up any farther. In many cases where we’ve traveled, there’s actually space behind the stop block. If we back our trailer right up to the stop block, we have another ten feet or so that overhangs the block, provided there aren’t trees or other obstructions behind the block.

Here’s a snippet from the campground information page at Yosemite National Park. “Many more sites exist in Yosemite Valley and elsewhere in Yosemite that can take RVs up to 35 feet or trailers up to 24 feet.” What’s the difference here? Same site, two different lengths? The differentiation might be more clearly made by saying “motorhomes up to 35 feet,” while the trailer length itself could be 24 feet, and the balance of the space is allowed for the tow unit. On the other hand, in some cases this problem applies: “Please note that many campsites have different maximum lengths for RVs and trailers. This is because many of the campsites are back-in sites with limited turning radius.”

In some cases you may find you can get a longer trailer into a site than you might think, provided you can unhitch and park your tow vehicle elsewhere in the same site, or in a different vehicle parking location.

Best advice? Call ahead wherever possible and ask just what the limitations really mean. Yosemite warns visitors, “If you reserve a site for equipment other than what you bring, and the site can’t accommodate your RV or trailer, we will not be able to find a different campsite for you.”



Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ronald Hiemann
2 years ago

We travel in a 45ft motorhome and towing a 25ft trailer. So this makes us 70 feet long and we always try to book a long pull-through site. In about 6 years of full-time travel, we have had to unhook 5-6 times, only. which we can do but prefer not to.
We also learned that many, really many campgrounds, parks, resorts do not really know the length of their sites and often times, we found the sites to be considerably longer than what they said they were. We stayed in one park where, upon seeing us pull-up to the office, we were told that we would never fit into the site. I asked to go and see it and found out the site was 125 feet long and wide open. So what we do and have done for years now is at least 2 of 3 things. Book online, if possible, and add a comment about our length. Follow-up with a phone call to confirm that they have the reservation and that they read the comment and, finally, walk to the site before we actually pull-in to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises.
This has worked well for us.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ronald Hiemann

How do you do this with state parks? All is on phone? Also what apps or websites do you use most in Southern California. Thank you so much I have a 28′ travel trailer and some sites say max 25′ do I dare try it I do not have a problem to unhook and park.

2 years ago

Many years ago we made the transition from tent camping to a pop up. Our first outing was to a state park on the coast where I was lucky enough to get a reservation. I booked a 16′ site because 16′ trailer +16″ site +Camelot!!!! Yeah, not so much, The site was 16′, and the pop up fit nicely….ish. Fortunately I was able to squeeze my truck in crosswise and out of the road.
Yes, there was some side eye and head shaking from other campers and a couple snickers from the Rangers, but we had a great time and I learned a valuable lesson about site length.

Andrea Elkins
2 years ago

We are nearly 69′ when hooked up (45′ 5th heel towed by a full-size, double-rear-axle semi truck). I always use Google satellite view to measure the actual length of a site. Here’s how:

1) Change to satellite view. Zoom in on the map about as far as it will go.
2) Using the mouse, click on one end of the driveway/site. A small grey dot should appear.
3) Mousing back over the little dot, right-click and choose the last option on the little pulldown, “Measure distance.”
4) Click again on the other end of the driveway/site, and it will tell you how long the space is. Very helpful for those of us with long rigs!

2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea Elkins

Andrea, I would like to personally thank you for all your hard work you amazing wonderful person. I’m personally submitting you for a nobel prize. In all my years of using google maps I had no earthly idea you could measure points of distance. My hat is off to you. I hope you live a long and prosperous life.

8 months ago
Reply to  Andrea Elkins

OMG, thank you for this bit of advice !!!

John T
2 years ago

I’ve stayed at 2 state park campgrounds that listed every site as the same length, but when I got there I found many were shorter than the “generic” length they listed.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  John T

Since it’s a government facility, don’t expect any correction. Why, simple, they don’t really care. Unless your camping at the beautiful state parks in Florida. They know how to manage!

2 years ago

I like what we encountered at a Minnesota state campground where they list sites as “combined” overall length. We asked if they had additional parking since our 45 ft. DP with towed exceeded this number. They said yes but, if our towed would fit, we could park diagonal across the site. I have parked in the visitors parking lots in state parks but don’t even try most National parks.

Jeff Arthur
2 years ago

Not always length that matters, the approach is critical

Lorraine A Gehring
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

Yes! Tight turns, narrow roads, awkward back-in angles. It’s not just the driveway length.

2 years ago

Nice thing about being only 28′ 8″ long. Can fit in most State campgrounds without any problem.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tom

Have you went into sites that say 25′ max? I see so many tent primitive spots like this, I do not mind unhooking truck and parking in lot. San Clemente and Crystal Cove had that. Suggestions?

Donald N Wright
2 years ago

I have asked this question at campgrounds before. it is usually a trailer length as the TV can unhook and park elsewhere. Always walk your site before pulling in, ruts, potholes and tree limbs may block your slideout. I have also been at campgrounds with length and height restrictions, they are not going to cut down tree limbs for your RV.

Bob p
2 years ago

Last year we were in Rockport, TX at Lagoons RV resort and they routinely trimmed low hanging branches to accommodate a tall 5th wheel.

2 years ago

Was at a USFS campground in Utah last year when a behemoth trailer (not a 5er) was towed into the site. They took the only available space and backed the trailer in, but the spot only accommodated the trailer. What did they do with the pickup truck? Parked it on the narrow access road causing all kinds of trouble for other vehicles.

Don’t be that guy.

Unfortunately there was no campground host.

Ralph Pinney
2 years ago
Reply to  Will

I agree!! We have been to several parks with narrow roads and tow vehicles blocking you from making the turn needed to back your TT or 5’r into your site. I’ve had to ask people to move their car/truck several times. At least 1/2 the time a better job of parking that car/truck would have been ok.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.