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Post Info TOPIC: Current size restrictions?

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Current size restrictions?

This topic hasn't been discussed for a while and we're not supposed to bring back old threads so here goes.  As many of you know I'm in the process of going full time in a little while.  I've seen that there are theoretically size restrictions on every National Park of 35 ft.  However, when I go to the NPS.gov web site I get maybe a dozen parks that have length restrictions.  Granted many of these are parks I would like to be in but that won't drive my decision.  My question is what size motorized RV is allowable in most parks.  I believe that this would be somewhat longer that a TT as the TT has a tongue and a MH does not.  As to 5ers they would be the same as a MH if I'm thinking right.  Any real firsthand knowledge out there?

-- Edited by arcaguy on Monday 4th of March 2019 09:32:02 PM


RV-Dreams Family Member

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We are full time and live in a 42+’ fifth wheel.  Since we are in a big rig, we have to carefully research every campground and campsite.   We primarily like state parks and Corps of Engineers campgrounds, although we occassionally stay in private parks.  We always research the specific campground and specific sites to make sure we will fit.  A lot of the campsites at state parks are listed on Reserve America, so we use that website to look at photos and site specifications for size/length.  You can do the same at Recreation.gov for national parks.  Just open up the campground map and click on the campsite to open up the details for each site.

I don’t think there is a perfect answer to your question about length.  There are some national parks that can accommodate a 40 foot rig, and there are some parks that cannot accommdate a 35 foot rig - each park is different.  If I had to buy a new fifth wheel today, I would go smaller, probably in the 38’ to 40’ range.   A smaller size RV opens up more opportunities for campsites.  

Good luck.


-- Edited by Barb and Frank on Tuesday 5th of March 2019 09:34:44 AM


Barb and Frank

2016 Landmark Key West

2016 Ram 3500/Cummins Diesel/4WD


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This question comes up a lot, and it's debated all over the internet. Certainly, smaller is better for getting into more campgrounds and finding more places to boondock (especially in the east). However, when living in an RV full-time, length may be less of a priority than comfort and convenience.

Anyway, I just did an experiment on the Federal camping reservation portal Recreation.gov.

In the "filters" section, under "Allowable Equipment" it showed 2,218 campgrounds for the "RV/Motorhome" selection. In other words, there are over 2,000 federal campgrounds that have RV sites. At the bottom of the page, I put in the following vehicle lengths to further filter campgrounds and got these results:


  • 25 - 1,978
  • 30 - 1,921
  • 35 - 1,763
  • 40 - 1,613
  • 45 - 1,257
  • 50 - 1,046
  • 55 -   897
  • 60 -   838


What does that mean? Well, as you go up in length the number of campgrounds that have longer RV sites decreases. But we already knew that.

It shows that there are a lot of federal campgrounds that have sites to accommodate some pretty large RVs. But there are no filters that allow you to search just on "National Parks", so that's probably not helpful to your specific question on National Parks.

Again, this question regarding National Park campgrounds comes up over and over and our response is:

1) Even when you can find length restrictions for a specific National Park, you can't always believe what is printed. Call and talk to someone at that specific park who knows the campgrounds. We've found we can often get into campgrounds that have shorter printed restrictions. 

2) Don't purchase a full-timing rig based on National Park length restrictions. The percentage of time actually spent in National Park campgrounds will be small, so purchase the RV based on budget, living comfort, and where you would intend to park the vast majority of the time. You can always park just outside National Parks in commercial campgrounds or in boondocking spots that actually may be better than the park campgrounds. You may still come to the same conclusion, but it would be based on a wider set of criteria.

Going from a 40-foot fifth wheel to a 30-foot motorhome in 2018, we can say that we are definitely able to get into more campgrounds now, BUT our home on wheels isn't nearly as comfortable, we have smaller holding tanks, and due to the limited storage space, we are constantly having to move things out of the way to get to items we need. It's nice to be more nimble, but there are trade-offs, and everyone has to decide which trade-offs they are willing to accept based on how they will live their life on the road.

I can tell you that if we were starting all over again with 10 - 15 years of full-timing ahead of us, I think the 35' - 38' range would probably be our best compromise of comfort and campground access.


RV-Dreams Family Member

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Ask follow up questions of RV parks.  We were in the process of moving from Utah to Oklahoma via Colorado and Kansas and was scheduled for a site in a KOA near Pueblo, CO over the 4th of July weekend.  Wife had done an extensive search of the park's sites and found one site left that had 50 amp and was big enough for our RV.  No other RV sites in the area could accommodate us.

As we are driving across part of Utah, she gets a call from KOA stating that the site we booked was NOT 50 amp and was too small for our rig.  Needless to say, it being for the 4th of July period, she was freaking out and trying to call other parks.  While looking at one or two other possible parks, she gets another call from KOA.  The camp host had sent her husband down to check that site.  Sure enough of 8 sites in that section, only two were 50 amp and big enough; the rest were all 30 amp and smaller.  So, she booked us back into that site and called us back.

So, lesson is that even the camp hosts can be wrong.  The lady thought that whole row of 8 sites were all 30 amp sites, even though their own site map indicated the two 50 amp sites there.

Needless to say, the wife was very relieved.



Terry and Jo

2010 Mobile Suites 38TKSB3
2008 Ford F450
2019 Ford Expedition Max as Tag-along or Scout

Our photos on Smugmug

RV-Dreams Family Member

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We have a 38ft 5th Wheel and have found that during slow times at a National Park or other campground with size restrictions we have been able to get into spots big enough for our trailer. A lot of times the size restriction isn't due to no spaces large enough for a 35 ft plus RV it's the roads inside of the RV park/campground. Tight turns, obstacles and narrow roads create a problem. There have been several times where a ranger or campground host will allow us to go backwards on a one way road to get to a spot that will accommodate our RV.

That being written we usually prefer to stay in Full Hookup sites so we usually choose a private RV Park near to the National Park we want to visit. We drive into the national park during the day and go home to our RV in the nearby RV Park. We have found there are full hookup RV Parks within an hours drive (usually much closer) to most of the National Parks we have visited nationwide.

I would much rather have a comfortable sized RV rather than a small one just to be able to get into some campgrounds.


"Small House, Big Yard "

"May the FOREST be with you"
Alfa See-Ya 5'er and 2007 Kodiak C4500 Monroe

RV-Dreams Family Member

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I've begged, smiled and I've assured park personnel I'm a careful, slow backer and I've gotten into some parks that initially wouldn't take me.


Winnebago TT 2101DS & 2020 Silverado LTZ Z71. 300 watts WindyNation solar w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county camps. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.

RV-Dreams Family Member

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" A lot of times the size restriction isn't due to no spaces large enough for a 35 ft plus RV it's the roads inside of the RV park/campground." Very true. We went to one COE park that had campsites on both sides of a single road, with a turnaround at the far end. Fortunately, we had unhooked the towed before we got there, as I had to back up a couple of times to get around the tree in the middle of the loop. We've seen other places where trees have scrape marks on them from the coaches that got too close.


David, kb0zke

1993 Foretravel U300 40'

Build number 4371

For sale

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