GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted August 25th, 2021

RVing 101: HOW and WHY to Choose the Right Size Campsite for Your Rig

Happy Camper Blog

Even if you’re new to RVing, you’ve probably already learned that RVs come in many different configurations. There are motorized RVs that range in size from Class A (21-43 feet) to Class B (16-21 feet) to Class C (25-35 feet). Then there are the “towables” that require the use of a tow vehicle and include travel trailers (20-36 feet), 5th wheels (21-40 feet) and teardrops (13-20 feet). Some RVs even include a “toy hauler” which serves as a garage for carrying recreational equipment like bikes, kayaks and ATVs.

No matter which one of these you choose to buy or rent, it’s essential that you book a campsite that has been designed to accommodate your type of rig. Here are a few helpful tips:

DO familiarize yourself with your rig’s actual dimensions. You may be surprised to learn that you can’t just go by the size printed on the vehicle’s door. That number actually relates more to the RV’s floor plan. John Tinelli, owner of Triple R Camping Resort in Franklinville, N.Y. offers several examples.

“A camper that says 39RBDS on the door is NOT 39 feet long and you should NOT book your sites that way,” he says. “If you have a fifth wheel that says 39 something on the door, you are typically 43.5 feet long. If you have a travel trailer and it says 39 something on your door, you are most likely 43 feet long. If you have a motor home and it says 39 something on your door, you are most likely 42 feet long—or longer. And if you have a toy hauler and you have a rear deck and it says 39 something on your door, you are most likely over 50 feet long.”

Before you book your campsite, be sure to measure your RV from front to back, bumper to bumper, including the trailer hitch, if applicable. You should also know the side-to-side measurement, including any slideouts, since those can add up to six feet in width. If you don’t have time to measure it yourself, you can go to your manufacturer’s website or the website for the National Automobile Dealers Association (nada.com) and look up your specific model.

DON’T book a site that’s intended for a smaller unit. Let’s say you have a motorhome that’s 45 feet long, but all of those sites are sold out at your chosen campground. So you decide to book a campsite designed for a 37-foot rig because the site looks big enough to fit your rig anyway, right? Not so fast. There are good reasons campground owners state the maximum size that any site can accommodate. One of them is the turning radius needed to get into the site. Another is that the infrastructure of the site (how deep the utilities are buried) may not be able to handle a heavier vehicle. The third reason is there may not be enough electrical power available at the site to handle all the demands of a larger rig.

The consequences of trying to fit into the wrong-sized campsite are not pretty. Campground owners have reported having their sewer or water lines crushed, gates torn out, utility pedestals hit and even pool fences ripped out. No one, not campers or campground owners, want to see these things happen. And if you do cause damage, you (or your insurance company) will have to bear the cost.

Also keep in mind that if you book a site that’s too small and don’t realize that you can’t fit into it until you arrive, you may still be liable for the cost of your reservation, since the campground won’t likely be able to rebook the site on such short notice.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to avoid booking the wrong size site for your type of rig. Enter your destination now and you’ll find many great campgrounds ready to help you choose the right site for your needs.