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Old 08-25-2013, 07:02 PM   #1
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Best length for using AS trailer in USFS campgrounds with no services

We are looking into buying a recent model used AS trailer, probably 25-28 feet. I have concerns with getting into some of these back country campsites. What is the maximum length for getting in and out of USFS or BLM unimproved campgrounds? We have a lot of these in the Olympics and Cascades in Washington State.

Many thanks for any thoughts.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:22 PM   #2
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I have not stayed out west however i did just stay at USFS campsite in NH. Thee majority at this campsite would take our 25 foot AS and most would take larger. The challenge, at least to me, was backing in the AS. The road was narrow and so was the entrance to to the site.

I would also recommend going on Recreation.Gov web site and look up the campsite you want to stay at. It will give you some idea of the sites at that location
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:23 PM   #3
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I worked for the Forest Service for 10 years. Their improved campgrounds can usually accommodate 40 ft. diesel pushers pulling a towed vehicle. The size of unimproved campgrounds vary from huge loops to dead-end roads with no turn-arounds. Hunting camps are notorious for just ending for no reason with a fire ring at the end of a road. I do know with the National Travel Management Plan started 5 years ago, maps are abundantly available and can be viewed online or given out (free-of-charge) at the nearest district office. Your best bet is to get a TMP map and inquire at the district office that administers the area your interested in. If it is a loop, 98 out of a 100 times, it has a large turnaround area. You can also use Google-Earth and get a good idea of what the area looks like.

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Old 08-25-2013, 07:56 PM   #4
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I have taken a 28' trailer to a forest service park.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:10 PM   #5
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The Best?

I suppose the answer to your question would be, the smallest possible. I prefer forest campgrounds to commercial ones and have camped in many in Washington. I try to reserve spots when possible but am usually able to get my 25 into most places.

Just spent some time at Denny Creek in Snoqualmie pass and also Curlew Lake and Sullivan Lake campgrounds. Had no problems there even though Denny Creek was a bit tight.

All will say they have spots for trailers but most of them have smaller spots for tents and tent trailers. As you move up in size, you start to limit your access. Plain and simple. It doesn't bother me much since I am familiar to most of the places we camp and, as I have said, I prefer to get reservations ahead.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:23 PM   #6
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A lot depends upon where you want to camp. We enjoy National Park Service campgrounds, and many if the sites (if not entire campgrounds) in the wilder parks are not designed for anything much over 21 feet. We were at the B loop in the Fish Creek CG at Glacier NP earlier in the year where this was the case, for example; though we've been in the A loop which has more sites for longer RVs. But in Natural Bridges NM in Utah? Forget it!

In Lake Louise CG in Alberta? You could put two Grayhound buses in their sites end-to-end, with room to spare. But this wasn't the case in Jasper. Also, the plug-in RV sites for long RVs at Fishing Bridge CG in Yellowstone put you so close to your neighbour that you would wonder if you were truly in a National Park.

With NPS sites, you can find on-line their maximum lengths (sometimes only a few sites in a campground for the longer ones) so it would be worthwhile checking out places you intend to visit.

Inreasingly for us, the issue is what sort of camping experience do you really want? We don't much enjoy being hemmed-in by Class A motorhomes, or monster 5th wheels with slide-outs. It is just another kind of city, when you think about it.

With the petite Bambi we can get into places where camping (and "glamping") are more like the reason why we got into camping in the first place.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:29 PM   #7
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I boondock almost exclusively, and usually in FS campgrounds here in the west, but have been in ones in Florida and the NE too.

There is no one answer to the question, but in my experience of mostly boondock camping, there are relatively few FS campgrounds which are impossible to get into with a larger trailer, that is above 25'. Mostly it is the backing and turning radius into the site which are the limits. Once in a while they are so off level you can't use them. But most FS campgrounds in anywhere near populated areas are fine for any rig. The really remote ones, in obscure parts of the west can be a problem, but you probably will never find those ones anyway. Some of the old ones in the East also can be tricky.

Long story short, You can fit in most FS campgrounds. But not every one.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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I think the 25 footer is always a safe bet.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:01 PM   #9
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Just got my trailer, a 25' flying cloud. Visited a dozen or so USFS campgrounds in California that will accommodate trailers and an equal # that are strictly for tents. All the trailer parks would fit a 25.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:03 PM   #10
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If you Google a specific campground or more broadly the National Forest of interest, you should find a link that takes you to a USFS page that lists specifics of the campground; number of sites, size limits and other useful info such as phone numbers and whether the campground accepts reservations or is first come, first served. Some of the more remote locations may have specific road limitations and are often listed here as well. In most cases when they specify a length, there are often sites that can accommodate a longer trailer, but they can't guarantee one will be available. Google Earth often gives a preview of what to expect with visible RVs in some sites providing a hint of what can fit. On the other hand, forests have trees and sometimes only the canopy is visible with a hint of a road here and there. Other web pages may offer reviews, typically for the more popular campgrounds.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
...There is no one answer to the question, but in my experience of mostly boondock camping, there are relatively few FS campgrounds which are impossible to get into with a larger trailer, that is above 25'. Mostly it is the backing and turning radius into the site which are the limits. Once in a while they are so off level you can't use them. ....
This is an important issue for many places we camp at. It is one thing to have enough length for a back-in site. It is another make the sharp right angle needed to back into into a site bordered by rocks and trees.

It occurs to me, too, to ask what-all you like to set up at your site. We prefer to pull the truck a ways away from the front window, so that we view the scenery, not the back of the truck. We've also encountered long pull through sites at Yellowstone, Canyonlands, and Glacier.... that were really uneven. Having the smaller trailer helped to find the level places-- and this is assuming you travel with a batch of plastic risers.

But if you prefer more citified camping, length shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:06 AM   #12
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Hi AS Wannabe:

Fifty years ago many USFS & USPS campgrounds had signs stating a 22 ft. length. Most of those campgrounds have refurbished and improved their sites to accommodate longer vehicles. All campgrounds have varied length sites. Naturally the larger sites are occupied first. Everyone appreciates a spacious site. Many campers reserve the longer sites but it sounds like you may be camping in some no-reservation needed campgrounds. Then you should arrive early and select a site that suites you.

I have watched many determined campers squeeze their 31 footers into very small spaces. You will surprise yourself with what you can do when necessary.

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Old 08-26-2013, 07:30 AM   #13
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If you research the individual CG on the net. The info for maximum length is provided. Some have a max length of 20'.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:54 AM   #14
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One thing to note about federal campgrounds is that they often have a percentage of large sites, but many of the sites will be smaller. The optimum ones may or may not be vacant. Where the parks do offer reservations, it's probably best to get them if you have a "long, long trailer." A quick scan of popular National Parks revealed:

Arches NP: "All 50 sites in Arches' campground are usually reserved in advance during the busy season (March - October).... Some sites will accommodate RVs up to 30 feet in length...."

Olympic NP: "Park campgrounds can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 21 feet in length, unless otherwise noted in the chart below." (Some CGs accommodate RVs up to 35' but only one of these accepts reservations.)

Yosemite NP: reservations or arriving at CG by 7:00 a.m. strongly recommended: max. trailer length varies from 20 to 35 feet, depending upon the CG.

Grand Canyon NP (South Rim): no limits listed for Mather, Trailer Village and Desert View accept trailers up to 30'

Glacier NP: Two CGs take revs. Fish Creek CG has 178 sites but only 18 can accommodate a 35' motor home or truck and trailer combination. St Mary has 148 sites, but only 25 can accommodate a 35' truck and trailer combination.

You kind of get the idea. Best to plan ahead if you opt for a longer trailer in the National Parks.
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