Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Quick way to verify a campsite length from afar

Do you camp often in public campgrounds? Maybe you find the maximum length restrictions listed in campground directories unreliable? Do you wish there was a way to visit the campground to determine the length and width of the typical campsite before you spend time and energy to drive the RV there? Well, there is a way to look at campgrounds to verify a campsite length. It’s called Google Earth and you can download it on your computer or mobile device for free.

With Google Earth, phrases like “will accommodate RVs to 35 feet,” “maximum RV length 22 feet,” and “40 feet combined vehicle length” will no longer leave you guessing if your RV, tow vehicle and/or dinghy can be accommodated. By zooming in on the campground in question, you have a bird’s-eye view of the campground.

How do you use Google Earth to determine campsite length?

There are a couple of ways to determine the true length of the spaces using Google Earth. First of all, look for a scale displayed at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. That will quickly allow you to determine the length of the space. If you don’t understand how to apply a scale, there are still several clues to assist you. Many times there will be a common item in the campsite that will help judge the size of the spaces. For example, a pickup truck (18–20 feet long) or picnic table (average about 6-8 feet long) will help determine the size.

Looking at the two examples, we can see how this works. In the first example (labeled Quarry Pond), the maximum RV length is listed as 35 feet. By referring to the scale we can see each hash mark of the scale is 40 feet in length. By applying the scale to the two visible campsites circled in red you can easily determine there are campsites in the park that will handle rigs from 50 feet to 60 feet (60 feet being a hash-mark-and-a-half) in length.

In the second example (labeled Mormon Gulch), the stated max length is 16 feet. By using the pickup truck for reference, you can clearly see the site would hold an RV at least twice as long as the truck, which equates to somewhere from 36 to 40 feet in length.

Employ Google Earth when planning your next RV outing and take the guesswork out of length restrictions.



Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson has been around travel trailers his entire life. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership long before the term “RV” had been coined. He has served in every position of an RV dealership with the exception of bookkeeping. Dave served as President of a local chapter of the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association), was on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college and was a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. He and his wife Cheri operated their own RV dealership for many years and for the past 29 years have managed RV shows. Dave presents seminars at RV shows across the country and was referred to as "The foremost expert on boondocking" by the late Gary Bunzer, "The RV Doctor". Dave and his wife are currently on their fifth travel trailer with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications on his own unit.


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Bill Byerly
22 days ago

Great info, thanks Dave !

22 days ago

There’s even an easyier way using earth to measure a campground.
At the top of earth you’ll see a ruler. Click on it and you’ll get a window that lets you pick miles, feet, meters, etc. Pick feet then click and drag from the back to the front of the campsite and it will give you a very acurate measurment. You can do the same for the width.
Been doing this for years. But the width of the road to the campsite will alway be a factor as to wheather you can get in that site, depending on if you are towing, and what your towing.

22 days ago

Sometimes the maximum length is influenced by tight turns in the campground and into the site.

Warren G
22 days ago

Like the idea and tried it just now on a NF campground we recently stayed at. To figure out a specific site it seemed to take quite a bit of toggling back and forth between the CG map and Google Earth to feel relatively sure I was looking at the right site. Am I missing something?

Neal Davis
22 days ago

Thank you, Dave! Good idea!

Rally Ace
22 days ago

What Google Earth will not tell you is how much the site slopes. Many times this is the limiting factor for rig length.

Rick F
22 days ago
Reply to  Rally Ace

Agreed. Also, just because the site is long enough to accommodate a rig, doesn’t mean you can maneuver into it. Yosemite is just one example.

22 days ago
Reply to  Rally Ace


Actually you can determine slope of the campsite by zooming in on the site and looking at the elevation. By moving the cursor on your computer from end of the campsite to the other end and noting the change in elevation, if any, you can determine how level the site is.

22 days ago

Rather than just comparing items you can use the ruler icon on the left hand menu bar to do an actual measurement. It’s pretty accurate.

22 days ago
Reply to  Jim


You are correct. This is a recycled article from many years ago. Since then I have learned about the ruler tool. Thanks for sharing.

22 days ago

Google Earth is extremely useful. I was curious about a house behind a massive tree line. Google showed me the overhead view.
Also very useful if you are property hunting.

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