Rv size

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oldwildman

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Butler PA
Ok, this may seem like a dumb question. What is the real size of RVs and how do campgrounds etc determine it? I've noticed in ads that a 40 ft rv may say that the real length is 41+. If I reserve a spot for say, a 40', do they actually measure it or do they go according to what the model number says? Also, storage areas around here charge by the foot. Do they go according to the model or the actual size?
 
"They" rarely even look at the RV size, spec'ed or actual. It's the RV operator's responsibility to know their RV length, width, and height and to act responsibly. If you can fit it in the site without harming anything, it's ok. It's quite common that the site size refers to the prepared parking pad and that a skilled driver can safely put a larger rig on that site (but at their own risk).

A few parks know they have practical limits, either site length or their roadways and may warn the guest if the rig appears (by eyeball) to be outsized for the park. If the park says they have sites up to 30 ft and you show up with one that is obviously nearer 40, the office may say "don't even try". A very few parks may have strict length limits to even enter the park, usually because of interior road limitations. They may have an actual measurement of the overall length (physical bumper-to-bumper) if past experience has shown that oversized rigs have caused damage to themselves or others. Those parks will have warnings about max length in their website and usually at the entrance too. They may have lines painted on the pavement at the gate or office apron so they can quickly judge whether you meet the stated restrictions or not.
 
Mather campground at the Grand Canyon has a 30 foot limit. There are lines in the parking lot that are 30 feet apart. It is not the campsite that limits the length, it is the roads that were built in the 30s that modern long RVs cannot make it through the campground.
 
If I reserve a spot for say, a 40', do they actually measure it or do they go according to what the model number says?
Both answers above are valid and in more than 50 years of RVing I have never had anyone measure the length of it or of my rig. The only time that I encountered the lines on the pavement to judge length, it was there for the RVer's use along with a caution if you didn't fit between the lines. In an OR state park I watched an over length fifth wheel get hard up against a tree when attempting to make the turn to leave the campground after he had managed to get it in the site assigned several days previous. It took 2 wreckers to get the trailer moved sideways and he also had damage, all of which was his problem alone. I also saw a travel trailer hung up on a rock outcropping in a national park and he was pulled off of the rock with a park service tractor to clear the road for others to use, which did more damage to the RV. When in Corps of Engineers parks, you are expected to get the RV into the site to clear the road and it is common for an RV to overhang the rear of the site with no objection from the staff about the length exceeding the state site length but the do expect you to be completely clear of the road with all vehicles and I have seen them make someone part the tow vehicle in a different parking area to do that. We were once refused entry into a commercial park as we were too small for the class of customers that they catered to. That was a minimum RV size, not maximum.
storage areas around here charge by the foot. Do they go according to the model or the actual size?
That too depends on the storage facility. Most of them rent the space by the foot and you are required to get entirely inside of the space but they do not care how so long as you fit. While they do not measure your RV, they do require that it be entirely within the assigned site. Where we last kept our travel trailer there were several of the larger sites that were used to keep 2 smaller trailers in one site.
 
Here is my answer, in general if you book a given length RV site, it will be at least that long, sometimes much longer, h, owever if you have a 31 ft long coach, book a 30 ft site and you don't fit it is your problem. Our coach is a 28 ft model, and measures in at 29'5" bumper to bumper, there have been a couple of times where we have booked 30 ft sites, and they have been tight enough that I felt the need to put our orange safety cones, and have been worried someones towing mirrors might clip the front of our coach (2 campgrounds at Yellowstone come to mind), both of which had saplings growing up at the very back edge of the paved site allowing no rear overhang. Having said there there have also been times that we have fit into sites that were officially 25 - 27 feet with room to spare. I suspect a lot of campgrounds are rather sloppy about measuring actual site length, or round up / down to the nearest 5 feet, which has the potential of turning a 29'6" site into a 25 ft site not counting potential rear overhang.

p.s. when we stayed at Mather campground in 2019 the stripes in the parking lot were gone (we were on Aspen loop, which had just been repaved the month before), though the 30 ft max length sign was still there at the entrance.
 
I agree, particularly at national parks where they like to put wooden posts and knee high boulders lining the RV sites. See this photo of our "27 ft max" space at Mather campground at the grand canyon, the site was actually about 75 feet long, however it was lined with knee high rocks, as well as trees just off the edge of the pavement and was curved, plus the entry was a left turn while going around a left bend in the lane. I had to back and cut once in order the get into the site in our 28 ft (29'5" bumper to bumper) class A coach. A 31 ft coach might have fit in there, but I doubt anything longer could have made the entry turn. See how close our left front corner was to that rock, and how close our right side mirror was to that tree, I was worried I would have to back out of that site when it came time to leave, but I was able to inch forward while turning and not hit anything, (these are the sorts of sites where you have to be very aware of off tracking and tail swing)
 

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Have learned to fudge my length after getting a few sites that my nose was right next to the road. I add 3 feet when making reservations of my 5th wheel. Like was said above, you give them 30 feet length of your rig but it’s actually 31 or more feet and don’t fit, that’s on you.
 
I agree, particularly at national parks where they like to put wooden posts and knee high boulders lining the RV sites. See this photo of our "27 ft max" space at Mather campground at the grand canyon, the site was actually about 75 feet long, however it was lined with knee high rocks, as well as trees just off the edge of the pavement and was curved, plus the entry was a left turn while going around a left bend in the lane. I had to back and cut once in order the get into the site in our 28 ft (29'5" bumper to bumper) class A coach. A 31 ft coach might have fit in there, but I doubt anything longer could have made the entry turn. See how close our left front corner was to that rock, and how close our right side mirror was to that tree, I was worried I would have to back out of that site when it came time to leave, but I was able to inch forward while turning and not hit anything, (these are the sorts of sites where you have to be very aware of off tracking and tail swing)
Odd that they would do that to the site. That is very narrow. Wonder what their reasoning was?
 
Mather Campground was built in the 1930's as a public works project, my guess is those knee high rocks have not moved since then, and the trees at the edge of the pavement have grown up since the campground was built. Also camping trailers back then were a lot narrower even if cars were longer. Just for reference I looked up the dimensions of a Buick Series 40 Sedan built from 1936-1949, they had a 204 inch overall length and 58.4 inch track width (I did not find overall width), a 1957 Chevy 4 door sedan had similar dimensions with a 74 inch overall width, by contrast my coach is 96 inches wide wall to wall, and most newer class A's are 102.5 inches wide. A quick google search shows that a 1960 28 ft Airstream trailer was only 7'4" (88 inches) wide at its widest point, body was 25 ft long which came to 28 ft including hitch. Apparently Airstreams went to 8 ft wide in 1969 and 8.5 ft wide in the 1990's, it also appears some pre-1950 models may have been under 7 ft wide, with at least one model built into the 1960's which was only 6'10" overall width.

p.s. I am not sure exactly what year during the great depression that Mather campground was built, but a model A Ford built in the early years of the great depression was only 67 inches wide and around 168 inches long depending on trim
 
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You can't generalize any rules of thumb about RV site sizes or access roads. Each was laid out to meet what ever seemed reasonable at the time to accommodate the terrain, a time & $ budget, and the vehicles that expected visitors likely had. The convenience of the RVer wasn't always the top priority either, especially in state & federal parks where coexistence with Mother Nature often trumped other goals.
 
It doesn't matter what the manufacturer of the RV lists, what matters is the actual true length. So, before purchasing any RV, always measure the true length, from tip of nose to farthest extremity in the rear to the highest item on the roof. Now you have the true dimensions.

When booking campsites, always book a site that will accommodate your TRUE length, width, and height. If your camper is exactly 40 foot long, then select a campsite that advertises 40 foot or longer. You will not have problems most of the times. Very few consider the length of tow vehicle PLUS trailer in their posted campsite sizes.
 
Very few consider the length of tow vehicle PLUS trailer in their posted campsite sizes.
Right. The stated site size is for the RV alone, not any accessory vehicles. You may even be required to park a tow vehicle, towed car, or dolly elsewhere.

The exception would be a designated "pull-through" site. It's safe to assume that can accommodate whatever vehicle combination fits in the total length given. If the site is listed as a 60 foot pull-through, you have 60 feet of straight-line space to work with.
 
To me, it's a crap shoot. Some of CGs that have been posted about is the rule of fit. At other times you may find a CG with say a 30ft. max fit, and a 45ft. 5'er would fit easily, including roadways or obstructions leading to the campsite and being able to back in.

We booked a Florida State Park site in Ormand Beach, FL a couple of years ago that stated 30 max size RVs. However, I found pictures and a great YouTube video showing rigs about the size of my 36' class A. My wife didn't want me to book it, but I took a flyer on it. We got to the park, the ranger at the check-in booth was super friendly and fast check-in. As we started around the sandy one-way one-lane loop road to the site I now understood the 30' limit. We got to a sharp right turn, and Here was the biggest length obstacle. I barely made it around, without my rig rubbing against any vegetation. Pulling up to the site I was somewhat easily able to back in and tuck it in simultaneously. Pulling out was more difficult with different angles going forward. Great stay, one of the most enjoyable campsites we've stayed at in 16 years camping. The moral of the story, I took a chance and this time it worked.

Probably the best campsite we have ever enjoyed was in the Michigan UP. Again, another state park shows only one site left with a 30ft limit. Michigan Parks does a great job showing the site dimensions so again I took a chance based on pics and size. Wow, waterfront on a bay off Lake Superior. Why it showed a size limit was because of a big ol' tree in the center of the site. But we had plenty of room to back in our then 34' motorhome and have this incredible perfect waterfront sight.

The moral of my story is how much of a chance you will take because there is No Standard means of size. Private campgrounds are much more accurate in their sizing because land space is money space. Government campgrounds tend to be older in their sizing and less exact. Many will use Google Earth to take a look at perspective sites, some even using the measuring tool to measure the site length. From my overall experience, not counting any National Parks most camp sites are a little bigger than posted.
 
That is very narrow. Wonder what their reasoning was?
Very likely the obstacles are placed to keep people from driving off of the pavement. Having been a volunteer in numerous public park campgrounds over the years, I have seem many ruts, run over vegetation, and assorted other damage from drivers who had wheels track off of the pavement.
At other times you may find a CG with say a 30ft. max fit, and a 45ft. 5'er would fit easily, including roadways or obstructions leading to the campsite and being able to back in.
One factor that plays a major roll in the size of RV which can use many campsites is the driving skills of the person who is using the RV. Very often the limiting factors in who can fit into an RV site are things like the width of the roads, the obstructions that are very close to the roads, and even the angle at which a back-in site is to the road. I have seen some RV drivers put their rig into sites that I'd never attempt and I have also seen drivers who had great difficulty geting parked in the mose accessable site. We were once in a campground that had two deep dips that the road passed through which could cause a longer RV to get hung up. In one of them the park rangers brought in a ramp to place into one of the dips when a host arrived or departed so that they could get larger RVs into the amply large host site, then removed and stored it. That campground had a maximum size of 30' and the host (who we spoke with) had a 42' fifth wheel in the host site which he indicated was not difficult with the provided ramp in the dip that he had to pass through. The wash involved was dry most of the time but had water during any rain storm and prevented flooding in the campground.
 
We recently stayed at Natchez Trace State Park, Cub Lake Campground 1. From a review I wrote:

“The reservation page warns that campers longer than 25 feet are not supposed to come here but the camp host and a couple of other people were here in something much longer than that. I missed that detail when I was making reservations and started to panic as we drove in. Its a very narrow 1 lane road. It would be perilous to drive if raining or snow. There are a lot of sites where a rig 25 ft or longer wouldnt fit. Many tent pad types of sites and theres not much room to maneuver. Theres no real loop to turn around at the end of the road.”

Newbcake mistake missing the length requirement, but it was there. Someone mentioned the skill of the driver and I agree. This campground had spots where rigs longer than 25 ft would fit, we got lucky, but you would really have to be good to get in. It was dumb luck for us, and when the campground emptied out we could maneuver as we needed.
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When mentioning state parks, please let us know what state the park is in.

Another state park that takes some degree of skill to get into some sites is Traverse City SP in Traverse City, Michigan. This huge state campground has I believe over 300 sites. Some are easily maneuvered into, and others, good luck. The campground roads are tree-lined which can get in the way of backing in. We stayed there once at this huge site with our prior 34' motorhome. Backing in I think I may have had less than a half inch of clearance on my mirrors to make the cut back. Lucky for me my wife is excellent on watching and directing.
 
I've been through a couple like that, guessing that back in the '50's or '60's when some of these campgrouds were originally laid out the notion of a 35+ foot bus or especially a 50 foot truck/trailer rumbling through wasn't a design criteria. I've had DW hop out and spot me for clearance but generally you can work it if you're careful. But judging by the scars on the trees and paint marks on the concrete bumpers some aren't as careful.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 
Yeah, you see quite a few rutted lawns and such from big rigs, especially 40' + fifth wheels navigating around campground roads. One Finger Lakes NY State Park, Sampson, has you sign a waiver that you may be financially responsible for rutting up your campsite, and the one across from you as you back into your site.
 

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