Life as an RV owner offers a whole new way to vacation and the opportunity to see unique new places and create some fantastic memories. The incredible array of National Parks are home to some amazing gems. But are you too big to stay at the beautiful campgrounds? Choosing the right RV is mind-boggling, and one point to consider is what size RV can park anywhere.
Most RVs do not fit in a standard parking space. Therefore, RV owners need specific RV parking. If your RV is 19 feet or less, most campgrounds will be accessible, whereas most sites will restrict 40 feet or more. Always take note of RV length restrictions before setting out.
To help answer some of your many questions, we will look at the length restrictions in state and national parks and private campgrounds, how to park up correctly, and some valuable tips to determine what size of RV can park anywhere.
Does Size Matter?
Size does matter. The answer is individual and depends on people’s preferences. The size of the kitchen, living space, bathroom, and bed will all affect the overall size of the RV.
To help with some perspective on the size, we looked into many size-related aspects to help you on your journey.
What Is the Average Campsite Size?
The US has over 15,000 campgrounds, consisting of independent, national, and state parks. Determining the average size of a pitch is challenging. However, most RV parks accommodate sizes of 20 – 50 feet long.
Seasonal restrictions can affect the maximum length that RV campgrounds will accommodate. Always plan ahead and book early. Extra-length pitches go quickly.
The width of most pitches is 10 – 12 feet and plenty adequate to accommodate a tow vehicle, a travel trailer, or a fifth wheel outfit. However, setups often require more room to accommodate slide outs or the tow vehicle alongside.
RV Parking Facts & Guidelines
Before setting out on your RV trip, understand the regulations of where you can and cannot park overnight.
Know how many feet in length your rig is. Use manufacturers’ specs as a guide only. Using a tape measure, check for yourself. You may have added a bike rack or back box.
Add the length of the towing vehicle to the trailer length giving the total length. It may be best to hook up to double-check and measure as one.
Residential streets generally only allow overnight RV parking if on a residential property.
Parking lots often have different rules. When RVs are allowed, they must fit in the bayou choose an oversized bay. A class B motor home will usually fit in a standard bay. RV’s must not cause an obstruction.
Key Takeaway: Information boards in the parking lot detail any rules about overnight RV parking. Or, if you need clarification, ask the owner directly.
If your trip includes visiting a big city, it can be much more problematic to park larger campers or large RVs. Always check before arriving and, where possible, read reviews from other RVers’ experiences.
As a rule, always follow local laws and be aware of other users. Generally speaking, if you are unsure, then it is probably not allowed.
Boondocking is not permitted in state parks. However, most offer RV camping options. They range from basic tent camping to a camping spot with full utility hookups.
Best RV Size for National Parks
The National Park Service manages many campgrounds contained within its 63 national parks. Due to the varied landscapes and climates across the US, numerous campgrounds offer different facilities and pitch sizes.
The NPS website provides length limits for each site.
Frequently referred to as the best average size for an RV, is 27 feet in length. The length referred to is the total length, which means that if your rig is a motorhome, then only the size of that vehicle counts. If you have an RV rig with a tow vehicle and travel trailer, measure the combined length to get the total size.
What Are RV Length Restrictions in National Parks?
The length of your RV directly relates to how many NPs you can visit.
- RVs 19 feet long or less enjoy camping in 100% of parks.
- For larger RVs of 41 feet long or more, only 7% are available.
- RVs up to 40 feet long, 53% become available.
- 60% up to 37 feet.
- 73% up to 35 feet.
- 80% RV length is up to 32 feet.
- 84% up to 29 feet.
- 93% if 25 feet long.
List of National Parks & Its RV Size Limitation
RV campgrounds not listed have no limitations.
Acadia National Park
- Blackwoods. Max combined length of 35 feet. The NPS strictly enforces.
- Seawell. 35 feet combined max strictly enforced.
- Schoodic Woods. Max 25 feet combined.
Arches National Park
- Devils Garden. Max 40 feet.
Badlands National Park
- Sage Creek. Max 18 feet.
Bryce Canyon National Park
- North and Sunset Campgrounds have no maximum sizes listed.
Denali National Park
- Teklanika River. Max individual size 40 feet. The combined length may exceed 40 feet.
- Savage River. Max combined 40 feet.
- Riley Creek. Max 40 feet.
Death Valley National Park
- Texas Springs. Max RV 35 feet and trailer 25 feet.
- Sunset. Max RV 60 feet and trailer 50 feet.
- Stovepipe Wells. No maximum sizes. However, difficult access with short, narrow pitches.
Everglades National Park
- Flamingo. Max 45 feet.
Grand Canyon National Park
- Mather on the south rim. Max RV 30 feet and trailers 27 feet.
- Trailer Village RV Park. Max 50 feet.
- North Rim. Max RV size 40 feet and trailers 30 f.
- Desert View. Max RV 30 feet and trailers 20 feet.
- Ten-X. Max 35 feet.
- Demotte. Small trailers and small motorhomes.
Grand Teton National Park
- Gros Ventre. Max 45 feet.
- Signal Mountain. Max 30 feet.
- Colter Bay and Colter Bay RV Park. Max 45 feet.
- Lizard Creek. Max RV 30 feet and trailers 20 feet.
- Headwaters Campground and RV Park. Max 45 feet.
Great Smokey Mountains Campsite
- This site caters to large units.
Joshua Tree National Park
- Black Rock. Max RV 35 feet. No trailers permitted.
- Cottonwood. Max 35 feet.
- Hidden Valley. Max 24 feet.
- Indian Cove. Max 35 feet.
- Jumbo rocks. Max RV 35 feet and trailer 20 feet.
- Ryan. Max 35 feet.
- White Tank. Max 24 feet.
- Belle. Max RV 35 feet, no trailers.
Redwood National Park
- Jedediah Smith. Max RV 25 feet or 21 feet trailer.
- Mill Creek. Max RV 28 feet or 24 feet trailer.
- Elk Prairie. Max RV 27 feet or 24 feet trailer.
- Gold Bluffs Beach. Max 24 feet, no trailers.
Rocky Mountain National Park
- Aspenglen and Timber Creek. Max 30 feet.
- Glacier Basin. Max 35 feet.
- Moraine Park. Max 40 feet.
Sequoia National Park
- Lodgepole and Doset Creek allow larger outfits and do not specify size but follow the advised directions. Many highways are only suitable for outfits less than 22 feet long. Call ahead for advice.
Yosemite National Park
- Upper Pines. Max RV size 35 feet and trailer 24 feet.
- Lower Pines and North Pines. Max RV size 40 feet and trailers 35 feet.
South Yosemite Valley
- Wawona. Max 35 feet.
- Bridaveil Creek. Max RV 35 feet and trailer 24 feet.
North of Yosemite Valley
- Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows. Max 35 feet.
- Hodgdon Meadow. Max RV 35 feet and trailer 30 feet.
- White Wolf. Max RV 27 feet and trailer 24 feet.
Yellowstone National Park
- Bridge Bay, Canyon, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Grant Village, and Mammoth Campgrounds. All have a combined max of 40 feet.
- Madison, Slough Creek, and Tower Fall Campgrounds. Combined max 30 feet.
- Norris. Combined max 50 feet.
- Indian Creek. Combined max 35 feet.
- Lewis Lake. Combined max 25 feet.
Zion National Park
- Lava Point. Max 19 feet.
- South Campground and Watchman Campgrounds. Max 40 feet.
Private campgrounds make up the vast majority of campgrounds across the US, with more than 13,000 available.
Campground Length Restrictions
Length is the most common restriction, as not all campgrounds are alike.
Private campgrounds can often accommodate large RVs as they are independent businesses and want to make money. Therefore they will ensure easy access with extra room accommodating larger RVs. Most parks’ average size tends to be around 40 – 45 feet.
How Do Campgrounds Measure Trailer Length?
While campgrounds all monitor rig size, they do not measure them the same way. Some measure the travel trailer and tow vehicles as a combined length. Other campgrounds measure the trailer without the hitch, while others use overall length, which includes the hitch.
Parking Spaces of Establishments
Business parking lots have spaces around 18 – 20 feet long and 9 – 10 feet wide. Class B motorhomes sometimes fit but lack the elbow room required to exit the vehicle. It may be necessary to find overflow parking.
What Size RV Should I Buy?
Everyone’s needs are different, and the choices can be overwhelming, with many sizes and styles available.
Getting it wrong can be a big deal. Purchasing an RV because it has all the comforts on your nice-to-have list, only to discover your rig will not fit in any RV park, could be devastating.
Standard Measurements of Camper & Travel Trailer Sizes
- Class A – 20 – 45 feet
- Class B – 16 – 25 feet
- Class B+ – 20 – 30 feet
- Class C – 20 – 30 feet
Trailers excluding hitch:
- Popup – 8 – 16 feet
- Lightweight – 13 – 25 feet
- Travel trailer – 13 – 40 feet
- Fifth wheels – 25 – 40 feet
- Toy Hauler – 20 – 40 feet
Factors in Choosing the Perfect RV Size
- Know what you want from your RV, and be prepared to compromise with onboard facilities to enable more freedom to visit more campgrounds. If you are unwilling to give something up, your travels may be limited.
- Try before you buy. Consider renting an RV. You may need to do this more than once to experience the benefits and compromises the different styles offer.
- Do you have parking for your rig, or do you need to rent storage space?
- How often are you going to use it?
- Only buy the size you need for the number of occupants. The idea the kids or grandkids will come seldom happens.
Many RV owners change their first RV within six months because reality does not match their dream.
Tips to Parking Your RV Anywhere
Knowing Your RV Size
Write down the manufacturer’s dimensions and check them for yourself. Know the dimensions with and without the tow hitch and any accessories attached to the rear.
When towing, putting the dimensions in your sun visor is a good idea. Load the measurements into your GPS and obey all road signs.
Booking a Pull-through Spot
Campgrounds provide easy access for large recreational vehicles. They often have pull-through spots available, so no tricky reversing is required. You drive in from one side and exit on the other side.
Minding Your Lift
Be aware of your lift or slide outs when parking. Keep over to the side of the pitch, and book a wide pitch if available. Know the ideal width you require in advance.
Position of RV While Parking
RVs are large vehicles that need the practice to familiarize yourself with them. A suggestion is that every insured family member should know how to drive and park it.
Check Out How to Park your RV the Easy Way:
How Wide Are Most Travel Trailers?
Most travel trailers are around 8 – 9 feet wide, which does not include slide outs.
Does Length of Travel Trailer Include Hitch?
If the length advertised is the overall length, then yes, the hitch is included. However, if just length is displayed, the hitch is not included. Always clarify.
What Is the Maximum Trailer Length for National Parks?
Sunset Campground in Death Valley National Park advertises that it can accommodate 50 feet trailers. Some do not specify anything implying that any size is fine.
How Are Fifth Wheels Measured?
Measure from the rear bumper to the center of the kingpin. This measurement is not the overall length. However, there is no standard way, and different manufacturers could differ, so ask the question before buying.
The Bottom Line
- Knowing how you want to use your RV is vital. Where do you want to visit, how long for, with how many people and how often.
- Make sure everyone can drive or maneuver it. Know the dimensions.
- Be prepared to compromise. You can only have some things.
- Size is very individual, so your research is vital.
Once you have worked out the ideal length for your needs, your low cost adventures begin.