By Dave Helgeson
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 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.