Quick way to verify a campsite length

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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.

Related:

Readers’ tips for picking out a campsite

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Geoffrey R Baker
5 days ago

Good idea. However, sometimes the length restriction applies to the access road rather than the site itself. Worth asking.

Bill Richardson
5 days ago

If your campsite is blocked by trees, use the history button on the toolbar to scroll back through previous year’s photos. You can usually find a year when there are no leaves on the trees. Won’t work for evergreens, of course.

Deborah Mason
5 days ago

Some parks have listed limits so they don’t get more reservations for long units than they can handle. Others have a hard length rule, even if your rig *could* fit in one or more of their sites, they won’t let you stay there.

Diane Mc
5 days ago

Thanks! Use Google Earth, but not any of the functions🤷‍♀️. Mostly for checking out truck stops as all are not created equal & we don’t bend where trucks do😬. Had some tight turns and can’t back up with a toad. I’m on an iPad & clicked on the “ruler”. Left hand lower corner you can select unit of measure. On the right hand lower corner select ‘add a point”. Move the screen from start point to end point and the length tallies as you move. Haven’t totally figured it out as far as selecting a start point. I’ll figure it out. I’m sure you can use mouse on a laptop.

Neal Davis
5 days ago

Thank you for this great tip. I only recently learned that Google Earth has a scale, but would never have thought of this application. A shortcoming of this suggestion is that it does not incorporate a measure of how much the site inclines (or declines). Our RV is 43′ and we have found in our travels that although some sites long enough to fit into, they far too inclined to level the RV. However, this is a great tip and one that we will incorporate into our search for suitable sites for our RV. Thank you!

Billy Vitro
5 days ago

Using Google maps from a computer works, too. Zoom in as far as it will go, then right-click on a point, and select “measure distance” at the bottom of the menu. Then left-click another point on the map to see the distance between those two points.

Herb & Kathy Baldwin
5 days ago

Can you accomplish the same result using the satellite view in Google Maps or is it necessary to download and install Google 🌎?

Billy Vitro
5 days ago

You can use Google maps – see my other answer for the method.

Nanci
5 days ago

Wow! Never thought of that! I use Google Earth for looking at campsites but had never thought of using to measure the site lengths . Thank you!

Keith Maternowski
6 days ago

It might not be the site size that limits the length of allowed RV’s. Sometimes the roads are narrow with very tight turns that a longer RV can’t navigate through.

Last edited 6 days ago by Keith Maternowski
Lee
6 days ago

Google Earth: Click the Tool Menu, select Ruler then select Feet. This is very accurate for measuring a campsite width and length or entry road. The ground elevation is at the bottom of the page. Move the pointer along the campsite to see is it’s level. That is critical for our 40 ft Class A. If trees cover part of the site you may still get a good estimate. This is the first thing I do when searching for campsites. Coordinates are found on Allstays at the top of the popup window when you click on a campground. Copy and paste the coordinates into the Search bar on Google Earth and search. Allstays is another highly recommended tool for finding the best campgrounds.

Philip Sponable
5 days ago
Reply to  Lee

Exactly. I’ve been designing Traffic Control Plans on AutoCad from home/RV/boat for fifteen (15) years using all the google earth tools. As with ALL things electronic digital the stars must align for it to work to perfection. Love It

Sue
6 days ago

This is good if you have internet so very limited in use.

Dr4Film
6 days ago

Hard to judge most sites where we like to go with Google Earth when the sites are blocked by the tree canopy.

Tom
6 days ago
Reply to  Dr4Film

Agreed. Most of our stays are at state parks. Most are densely covered with trees. Some so much that it is hard to tell where the campground even is, much less an individual site.

Lee
6 days ago
Reply to  Dr4Film

We stay away from close trees, too many limbs falling and causing damage, especially during storms. Ask me how I know….

Dave Helgeson
5 days ago
Reply to  Dr4Film

Trees cover and shadows can be a problem at times, sometimes a different sun angle shown on the historical images will provide you with a better view in and around evergreen trees. Here’s an article I wrote about it.