Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Absolutely DO NOT try to squeeze a 40-foot motorhome into a tent site!

Do not do this! Absolutely do not squeeze a 40-foot motorhome into a tent site. In all fairness (to me), the website didn’t say that Site 74 was a tent site or that b-i-g RVs were not allowed. It was the last 40-foot site at a state park with two days. It did mention low branches, but how low could they be? Well, they were LOW and very close together.

Upon check-in, the ranger looked back and forth between the motorhome – that all of a sudden looked absolutely gargantuan – and the site number on her screen. She said, “You might not fit even if the site length is over 40 feet long. We will refund your money.”

At three in the afternoon in pretty much the middle of nowhere in northern Minnesota close to the Canadian border, where would we find another campsite? I had just that morning watched my husband back up the motorhome at least two solid blocks down our deeply wooded cottage driveway.

How bad could it be? I said, “Oh, I will take the tow car and check it out.” This was the first mistake. I should have said, “My HUSBAND and I will take the tow car and check it out.”

After driving up the narrow uphill entrance, I found the correct loop. Hmmm. There was nothing bigger than a tent, popup or teardrop trailer in the loop. That in itself should have been a warning.

I diligently drove around the loop, noting that the tree trunks were far enough apart to get through. I forgot to look up to see where the branches actually were, though. Mistake number two.

I whipped our little Kia around a sharp corner surrounded by what looked like big old-growth trees with no problem. I didn’t consider that a big and long motorhome could actually wedge itself between those trees.

Finally, I happily returned to the motorhome where my husband was waiting. “No problem, Honey! It’s no worse than the cottage drive. You can drive this anywhere!”

Well, he can drive it anywhere. He was able to push the motorhome through the thick trees with the sound of the branches scraping against delicate fiberglass. He can even inch it forward and backward when wedged between trees at a tight turn.

Getting into the narrow site was a breeze after that. Calming down my husband was not quite a breeze. Leveling on wet mud was another issue. But the view is great: We’ve got forest in the front and forest behind and only a few people nearby, all in tents.


New to RVing or want to improve backing up hand signals? Read this


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Donald N Wright (@guest_217842)
10 months ago

Yes, the COE campsite for popups and little trailers, with trees next to the blacktop, and the turn not shown in the photograph. I also hit the concrete table built on the blacktop. What a fun campsite. The other guy backed his RV over the edge…

Sandi Pearson (@guest_217815)
10 months ago

Our first summer full time was spent along the North Shore and Gunflint Trail of MN. I can well relate to Nanci’s story! We are only 36 feet but some of the sites are tricky. Going back this year to include Voyagers NP…but we know the ropes now…or so we think..lol.

TerryH (@guest_145708)
2 years ago

Yup, just ONE single THUMB SIZED LIMB in a gravel alleyway cracked by skylight and refrig roof vent. Worse, I am starting to fear driving down my own street or around the block from neighbors’ low overhangs.

Paul S Goldberg (@guest_145677)
2 years ago

I have lived the description in this story. In Fort Desoto County Park – Pinellas Country FL – our site was huge, over 80 feet long and well over 25 feet wide. The entrance on the other hand was bracketed by several large trees and the turn was off a narrow campground road lined with trees. It seemed like hours, but it was more like 30 minutes of very careful backing filling finally got the coach lined up with the entrance and into the site where we had plenty of room. Fortunately it was a pull through and the exit was moderately more accommodating and only took 4 or 5 minutes to negotiate. We stayed the planned week and filled the grey tank on our appointed departure date. We have been back, but not on that site!

Jewel (@guest_217793)
10 months ago

We had a site that was like that but back-in at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin.

Huge tree branch angled across the entrance to the huge, open site. We made it in our travel trailer but it would never work with our 5th wheel.

Another time, we stopped at Loretta Lynn’s Family Ranch RV park and got a nice long pull through site…that had a huge drop on the exit end of the drive! We had to maneuver trees to get in but most of the upper branches were cut high enough. The site was beautiful. When we left, we decided to back out to avoid the drop off.

Adventures never end!

wolfe (@guest_145647)
2 years ago

I admit I approach PAID campsites the opposite viewpoint — if they say my rig will fit when I pay, it WILL fit without hitting tree limbs 10 minutes after I arrive. I *do* ask permission first, but carry a pole-saw, bow-saw, and hatchets and will not be scraping branches (or allowing them to bounce from “almost” touching). For more “wild” sites, I will trim trees less in respect for the original nature — you shouldn’t see I was there after I’m gone.

Jim Prideaux (@guest_146482)
2 years ago
Reply to  wolfe

How many campground actually guarantee or even tell you your rig will fit? As I recall making reservations there is a description of the length, and width, how level it is, shade or not shade and maybe a picture. With that info you decide if your rig will fit. I’d be very wary about cutting branches without asking. It is good that you do. But what if they say no?

Tim Pittman (@guest_145607)
2 years ago

I had a similar experience when google maps sent me down a road with a 5 ton bridge limit. Luckily I had not completed the turn down this road when I saw the sign. Looking at my google maps I saw an alternate road that would get us to the main road and on our way. To my surprise, google maps does not differentiate between gravel/dirt roads and paved roads. So we ended up on a farmers corn field single wide gravel access road. I wish I had taken a picture. So here we are in the middle of a corn field not able to see above the corn plants about to be harvested. Fortunately as the google maps had shown, the gravel access road led to a paved road and then to the main road and we were on our way.

Ran (@guest_145593)
2 years ago

Good story! I can relate to your issues. I hope you were behind the rig, backing him in, so you couldn’t hear what he was screaming…..! My wife always knows what the first thing to do when we are are stopped in our site, get a cold one out to cool me down!

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