When doing some trip planning in and around California I was struck by the number of campgrounds that mentioned a maximum RV length of 16 feet. I can only think of a microbus or van conversion fitting into that small a space. I went out and measured the total length of my truck and its cabover camper before continuing.
I decided to quantify the availability of campground spaces for RV's of a given length. I know that this is only an indication as I only looked at 211 campgrounds in the areas around Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in the eastern sierras. The campground directory I used by Tom Stienstra, while excellent, only provided the maximum RV length for a given campground and not the number of spaces at that length. A campground with 115 spaces and able to take a 40' RV may be able to do so at 115 spaces or only at 25 or only at 5, and often it is first come first serve and a 30' RV may take the last available 40' space.
In areas surrounding Yosemite and Sequoia there are a little over 220 campgrounds of which 211 can be used by RV's. I looked at the 211 that have RV campsites.
A useful way to look at availability by RV length was to consider the percentage of campgrounds where a RV of a given length might be able to find a long enough space. The results are as follows and with the understanding of the limitations of this approach.
Another way to look at it is that the owner of a 36' RV will not be able to even consider staying at 70% of the campgrounds in this area.
Of the 211 RV campgrounds in the area 19 could take "any" length RV or fewer than 10%. Certainly the longer the RV the lower the odds of success in finding a space at a campground that does not accept reservations.
For experienced RV travelers this is probably obvious but I wonder how many people in selecting an RV for the first time appreciate how the length will impact their options in the future. If I was considering buying a motorhome I would be looking for one that was 30' or shorter in length if I planned on doing extensive traveling with it.
If I am traveling overseas it is easy to use an online search to find a hotel with certain amenities and that has a queen bed, etc. for a given night but if I want to find a listing of campgrounds in an area where I can find a space for a 32' RV that is a pull through and with hookups it will be a very time consuming process where I have to look at each campground and each of their campsites individually.
Tents are a LOT shorter than that The MAJORITY of RV owners seem to prefer RV parks instead of campgrounds and of course there will always be a lot more spaces available for shorter RVS. Truth is most of those larger sites will usually have RV in them that COULD use some of the smallest sites but most people choose the site they LIKE best not based on what they need. Not complaining, just telling what I've found actually happens.
* This post was
edited 04/23/12 02:36pm by skipnchar *
2011 F-150 HD Ecoboost 3.5 V6. 2550 payload, 17,100 GCVWR - 2004 F-150 HD (Traded after 80,000 towing miles) 2007 Rockwood 8314SS 34' travel trailer
US Govt survey shows three out of four people make up 75% of the total population
Sometimes a call to a campgrond will determine what is really the maximum length. For example one of the campgrounds we go to has a site that is long enough and accessible if we drive the wrong way in a one way loop. The rangers allow this if they are available to block traffic. So we call ahead and try to reach the campground on a weekday when it's slow for them.
Not every campground will allow this to happen, but a call is a good way to check your fit. Hopefully you'll reach a nice helpful host.
Have never camped/RV'd in Ca, but just reading on here & a few other sites, Ca seems to have some of the shortest sites anywhere, probably not a problem for small C's, B's, TT, or PUPs, but if you've got a longer C, or an A, you might be pretty restricted.
2007 Forester 2941DS
2005 KIA Spectra
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You can have my RV, when you pry my cold dead fingers from the Steering Wheel
In our experience CA is definitely one of the states with the shortest public campground sites. That said, not all 35-foot sites are exactly limited to 35-feet. We've managed to squeeze our 40-footer into a few of those in the past. Just depends how the campground is laid out.
Personally I do think size is an issue, and if I did it over we'd get a smaller RV. Live and learn....
Lots of national, state and county park spaces were designed a long time ago, when most people camped in tents. And they're usually in spaces that were already clear of trees or other obstructions. Even the newer ones tend to care more about saving the trees. That's not a bad thing.
Commercial RV parks are generally newer and designed for longer rigs, where they can change the landscape, and offer FHU, pull thru sites. That's where I stay, and I've never had a problem with a 34' "C" and toad. I have run into situations where I needed extensions for power, water and sewer, but I carry those with me all the time.
Retired and visiting as much of this beautiful country as I can.