Sunday, December 3, 2023


RV too long for that site? Maybe not.

By Bob Difley

When a National Park’s or Forest Service’s campground designates a maximum length limitation, what does that mean? You’ve seen it in campground guides and on entry kiosks: “Maximum size 27 feet,” for instance. So, driving a 28-foot Class C, or towing a 28-foot fiver, you crossed it off as a potential camping location, and possibly missed an opportunity to visit what might be a wonderful national treasure or a “nesty” forest campsite beside a tumbling stream.

Unfortunately, that would be making a mistake. The maximum length referred to means that all the campsites in the campground will accommodate that length. But … some will also accommodate longer lengths, sometimes much longer. The people in charge, or at least those that write the rules (probably at the advice of the lawyers), do not want to officially include longer lengths when maybe only three or four campsites will fit longer lengths; and if those are taken but smaller ones remain open, they may get in a tangle with someone with a longer RV urging them to move someone with a shorter rig out of the larger site and into a smaller site.

Not that I blame them at wanting to avoid such hassles. But knowing that does open up some options. If you can fit into the campsite, they cannot tell you to leave. And often, the measurement is made from the wheel barrier at the rear of the campsite to the front. So, when you back in, your overhang extends over the barrier adding quite a few feet to the length that will fit. But watch out for those wood posts that some campgrounds use. Your overhang may not clear them. And there might be several sites that are long enough even without the overhang factor.

When you arrive at a campground that has a stated maximum length, drive around the campground and if you find one you fit into — no extending into the road, into foliage in the rear, or onto other obstructions — take it. It’s unlikely that you will find a host or ranger that will ask your length unless they know exactly which sites are open and whether you will fit in any of them.

In national parks, it’s a bit more difficult, especially on busy holidays and weekends. If the park is filled every day, those that assign campsites may hold to the size maximum to reduce chaos, so plan to arrive early mid-week, before they start to fill up, when you can scout for larger sites on your own.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.

#RVT773 ##RVDT1266

Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Donald N Wright (@guest_63686)
3 years ago

As the owner of an Aliner popup, I have been asked politely if I could change to a smaller site so a monster RV could have my site. I had not set up, so I agreed and moved. I always ask for back in sites to leave pull through sites for those who need them. I have also been threatened by folks with the oversize motorhomes and fifth wheelers because they wanted the site I was assigned to and had set up in. “I am calling the ranger” and ” I am calling the police” if I do not move. I pay the same price they did. I stayed.

Sink Jaxon (@guest_63695)
3 years ago

Very good to be considerate, but if you’re already set up, all your gear is out, picnic table set up, maybe a canopy set up…it would be inconsiderate of THEM to ask you to move…right???

Patricia Neuzil (@guest_63959)
3 years ago

Donald, we have a 40′ motorhome and would never ask someone to move. I’m glad you stayed.

Nanci (@guest_63675)
3 years ago

When I was a camp host in Minnesota last year, there was strict length policy by the county. If someone pulled in to register and their unit looked longer than they had noted on the online reservation, out came the tape measure and if too long, they were turned away, even if they had a paid registration. Check with the park on leeway before assuming it will be okay.

Bill T (@guest_63673)
3 years ago

Something else for consideration as well. Even though your rig may fit the requirements and fit in the site, doesn’t mean you always will. Some national and state/provincial park access roads are narrow and littered with site marker posts and other ground level and overhead obstacles, that it can make it difficult or even impossible to back a trailer into the spot. The turning radius of a tow vehicle and trailer may be too big. We had a beautiful spot at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario that would accommodate a 40 footer but the road was so narrow and those silly marker post locations and close tree proximity to the road made it impossible to even back a 28 foot trailer in there. Fortunately with our 32 foot motor home I could do a 5 point turn to get in and out of that spot. We booked six months in advance to get a spot in the park and when you book on line and can only see the spot you want to select and not the “street view” approach to it, you may be disappointed when you get there and can’t get into the site because there is a tree or marker post right across from the spot.

Michael Starks (@guest_63715)
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill T

Will Google Maps or Earth give you an aerial view of a campground in enough detail to assess the approach to a specific site?

H. Cole (@guest_3766)
6 years ago

Based on looking at sites in Acadia Nat’l Park in Maine a site might accommodate 45′ rigs but tree growth, limbs etc render about 35′ or so as max size that can actually navigate to such sites.

Connie Madia (@guest_3740)
6 years ago

We are volunteer campground hosts for the National Park Service in Yellowstone. We have a 35 foot TOTAL length limit in our campground which is strictly enforced. We measure from the front bumper to the back spare tire/bike rack, etc. The length limit includes towed vehicles behind motorhomes. There are valid reasons for the limit as stated by the Superintendent. These include damage to the environment and the inability of drivers to maneuver into tight spaces. Our campgrounds are about 50 years old, long before large RVs and trailers were common. Check first!

John Connaughton (@guest_3676)
6 years ago

We book in Florida State Campgrounds a lot. They mostly list max length on a per-site basis, since you book specific sites. But I have found their maximums to be such that you can often fit, easily, a slightly larger rig. For example, we have a 26 foot Winnebago Aspect, (which I measure to be closer to 27ft.). Well we have booked sites that say 25ft Max and still had plenty of room. Especially since we travel with only bikes on the back, no tow vehicle to park on the site.

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