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oldbutspry

National Park Trailer Lengths (5th/TT)

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A little background so this makes sense:  I have decided to continue working for another three years before retiring.  We are therefore thinking of buying a relatively small travel trailer to vacation in during that time.  I figure we will get about a 25' TT so that we can stay in national parks.  I know the limits vary but that should enable us to stay most places.

The thing is, it seems like a small 5th wheel (say about 30') would actually be a more compact combination and easier to maneuver than a 25' TT.  I just want to make sure that lengths in NP's aren't measured differently depending on 5th/TT.

If a NP specifies a 27' length, then a 30' 5th wouldn't be allowed even though part of it is over the truck when towing?

Edited by oldbutspry

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I have never been questioned about the length of our RV or measured by the staff at any park, national, state,or county.

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1 minute ago, Kirk W said:

I have never been questioned about the length of our RV or measured by the staff at any park, national, state,or county.

Interesting.  So would you agree with my assessment that a 30' (or so) 5th would be easier to drive & park in confined areas than a 25' TT?  I've never pulled a 5th so it's all conjecture on my part.

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3 minutes ago, oldbutspry said:

I've never pulled a 5th so it's all conjecture on my part.

Neither have I but I have pulled a goose neck trailer and assure you that it will be more easily manuvered and backed. I suspect that you are correct and that owners of fivers will support that view. 

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I have only been questioned about the length of my trailer or total length at campgrounds that assign sites. When you reserve on line, you are often asked for the length of the trailer. If the pad is only 25' long, a 30' trailer or 5th wheel may not fit. As far as fitting on a site is concerned total length only matters if the site is narrow or you are planning on staying hooked up. Shorter sites are often wide enough to park next to the trailer so it is the trailer or 5.th wheel  length that matters not the length when hooked up

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As Kirk says usually no one will measure you. You however Ned to be aware that if you made a reservation and then find out you cannot fit in the spot you chose when you arrive, you may forfeit your payment and they may or may not have another spot that accommodate you. 

If you were looking at 25'TT an equivalent length 5th wheel might be about 32-34' long but each manufacturer measures differently so be sure to bring your tape measure.

Also a 5th wheel will cut corners more than a TT so tight turns could be an issue but overall they are easier to manuever.

Dave

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1 hour ago, Star Dreamer said:

Also a 5th wheel will cut corners more than a TT so tight turns could be an issue but overall they are easier to manuever.

So this is one thing I wondered about.  Are the length restrictions due to the size of the campground sites or the curvy, twisty nature of the roads going into the park?  I guess it would depend on the NP, but I'm thinking if most parks allow 27' TT's then the road shouldn't be too tight, right?

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It is usually the length of the site. A 30' fiver or pull trailer won't fit in a 25  'site. It doesn't matter what kind of rig it is.

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9 minutes ago, oldbutspry said:

So this is one thing I wondered about.  Are the length restrictions due to the size of the campground sites or the curvy, twisty nature of the roads going into the park?  I guess it would depend on the NP, but I'm thinking if most parks allow 27' TT's then the road shouldn't be too tight, right

Usually it is site sizes. We have a 48' trailer and are 75' long with the truck so I do a lot of looking at satellite view on Google maps to see if I think I can make the turns to get to the sites. With your shorter length I doubt you will have an issue but you also need to be aware of your height and low hanging branches as a 5th wheel is typically taller than a TT. That is very hard to see in satellite view.

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Most National Parks have upgraded their campgrounds and can now take longer rigs. However there are fewer bigger sites than short ones, so availability may still be a problem. With a 5th wheel you can often fit in a smaller site by letting the rear behind the rear axel hang over the tire stop if there is no obstruction like a tree. However you may not be able to maneuver thru the campground due to sharp curves and/or trees along the route to your site. 

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I guess it depends on what national parks you're thinking of staying.  I've kept a list and with our 40' motorhome towing a Jeep we fit in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, Arches, Badlands, Big Bend, Black Canyon of Gunnison, Grand Canyon Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Bryce, Canyon de Chelly, Everglades, El Morro (length  stated 27' but we could fit), Craters of the Moon, Curencanti, Denali (Alaska),  Guadalupe, Joshua Tree, Zion, Theodore Roosevelt, Sawtooth, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Rocky Mountain, Organ Pipe and Mesa Verde.

We volunteered in Rocky Mountain and  early morning we assigned sites to reservation sites given by the size the party specified.  We started with the biggest site size needed and worked our way down. We had an old chart to do this.  Big sites weren't plentiful.  We had walked the campground many times and knew there were bigger sites out there.  So we offered to make a new chart. We physically measured the sites and took into account the ease of backing in and trees.  Having a 40' MH ourselves we knew what sites we'd be able to fit into.  We made our new chart and the rangers were amazed at how many additional sites we found where a big rig would fit.

In our travels we found this to be true.  Whoever made the charts either just briefly eyeballed the sites or they were not RVers and didn't know what would fit.

We found this to be true of many campgrounds where we stayed. I honestly can't remember going to a campground and not finding a site and surprisingly, most often, the best site in the place.  Some folks like to be in the middle of things... close to the bathrooms. We always wanted to be in the outer ring and back in the corner - more privacy. We didn't make reservations.  This was true of state parks and national forest campgrounds, also.

I'd recommend you go with the 30' 5th wheel.  We had both a travel trailer and a 5th wheel and the 5th wheel was so much easier to handle and park and didn't have the sway on the highways, especially when a semi passed.

Keep in mind that many times you can back the RV beyond the rear site barrier (if there is no tree behind).  Just the tires need to be on the site.  You can extend beyond with your overhang.

Have fun!

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There are many factors that may be considered when a campground states the length of the sites, but the actual length of the parking pad is the most common one. Occasionally there will be issues of access to the sites contributing, but not always. That same thing is true with state parks. It is true that an RV can often park with the rear overhang extending beyond the end of the parking pad no matter what type of RV you have, but keep in mind that you may also have a rock or tree in the way of doing so. It is impossible for a park worker to tell the public how large an RV can be manuvered into a campsite because the driving skills of the person moving that RV play a major role in doing so. It is not uncommon to have trees, rocks, or other obstructions that are near the place where the RV site meet the access road and the same is true for turns in the roads into the campgrounds. If you have slides on the RV, then the width of the site comes into play as does the proximity of any obstructions around the site. In an area of heavy timber, it is common to have trees very close to the perimiter of the campsites and not uncommon for them to be in the way of a slide, or to require the position of the RV to be adjusted based on where the slide is located in the RV. Using the awning may also be restricted, particularly if you have slides to extend on the driver's side. Many campgrounds in state and national parks were designed before RVs were so large and slides so common, making it very difficult for them to predict what RV will fit into each site, especially if they are not RV owners. 

When we were fulltime in a 36' motorhome we seldom had difficulty finding sites large enough but we also learned to always arrive early, as before 3 pm and if possible earlier than that. If possible it is always a good idea to take a look through the campground before you select your site. 

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8 hours ago, Twotoes said:

With a 5th wheel you can often fit in a smaller site by letting the rear behind the rear axel hang over the tire stop

As others have mentioned, this is not unique to 5th wheels. Some parks want you to keep the landing gear on the pad. Many want all equipment on the prepared parking area, If your door ends up over grass they may not allow even a small mat or rug. The landing gear can sink with time creating depressions in the ground. A couple of years ago after several days of heavy rain the landing gear on one corner sank so deep that it damaged the landing gear as the trailer shifted several inches. If your planning on using sites with parking areas smaller than your RV, I suggest knowing the rules first. 

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Do I need to worry about finding a place to park the truck after I drop the trailer?  It's a 2002 F450 Crew Cab Dually so it's pretty long itself.

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I don't think that I'd worry about it but it will be more of a challenge than would the typical automobile. There are going to be others around and there will be times that you have to pass a spot because you don't fit, but you can deal with it. Just be careful and you can manage. 

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Feels like I am worrying too much about length.  Better to just get what we think we need and then work through any issues that arise.  Thanks for all the advice.

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We have a 40' DP mid-entry. Sometimes we are able to use a "shorter" site by backing up until the rear tires hit the bumper. That works if there isn't a tree right at the end of the pad. The location of the door will affect this, too. Some travel trailers have a front bedroom arrangement, so the main door is at the rear of the trailer. If you hang the tail end of the trailer behind the pad, guess where your door is?

Pay attention to the slope of the site, too. Right now we're on a site that has the rear tires on three 2 x 8 pads and the rear air bags extended all the way, while the front end is resting on the tires, so air bags are completely deflated. With a mid-entry that means that one small step stool outside is plenty. If we had a rear-entry rig we'd probably need two steps before we got to the factory steps.

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