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Old 04-22-2013, 10:42 PM   #1
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30' plus Airstreams at Western National Parks

We are in the Black Rock camp ground of Joshua Tree National Park. It was a very snug fit to wind around the trees to our reserved spot pulling our 25FB behind the Dodge. The camping spot provided challenges getting the proper access angle to go between trees. Today we drove around within the park without the trailer and besides the scenery, we checked several of the other camping areas that would take reservations to determine if a trailer our size would be able to access a parking space. We were lucky that we selected this specific camp ground as none of the others would have allowed us to drive through them with the trailer attached as the roads were barely one vehicle wide with big rocks for borders and no space long or deep enough to accept our trailer.

We had visited the new Mesa AZ Airstream dealer the day before (I had gone in earlier to ask for some help with an issue on our unit) and he had an amazing 2011 34' Classic tri-axle on the lot. I wanted my wife to see this beauty. My wife really liked the Hickory interior. The conversation moved from that unit to current Classic models that did not have carpeting.

I have heard that size does matter when considering access to National Parks with trailers over 25' or 26' in length.

Our 25FB is actually 25' 11" long. Since the 27FB Classic is really 27' 9" long and the two 30' models are really 31' long, have any of you with these longer units had issues accessing other western National Parks?

Have any of this forum crowd downsized because of the access issue? For just two people, have any folks found the longer units an issue on shorter trips?

The size and weight of the Classic models would pose no towing issues for my TV.

I would appreciate reading about your thoughts and experiences.

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Old 04-22-2013, 10:56 PM   #2
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We just moved from a 2005 AS Interstate Sprinter RV 20 footer to a 2013 International 19. We found that with the Interstate we were very close to the 21-23 foot limit in some state and national parks' camping spaces. We decided on the 19 foot trailer for that reason. We happen to value mobility and access over the comfort that may come with a larger unit.

Black Rock was even pretty tight for our 20 footer. We found an area of Black Rock that was a little more open.....away from the really rocky area.

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Old 04-22-2013, 11:06 PM   #3
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Having had a lot of experience in the western parks, I'd say that each park is different and each campground may be different in the park. In Yellowstone, for example, the campgrounds that take reservations have limits on length of both trailer and TV, together. We had to call to get one at Bridge Bay where we could back ours in, then un-hitch (while in the road) and park the TV beside our trailer. On the other hand, at Mammoth in the northern end of Yellowstone, it is a first-come CG and there were a number of sites where we had plenty of room to pull through with both trailer and TV and leave them hitched. What you'll find is that the older parks, with older 50's-60's-era campgrounds, have smaller sites, but still may have a few large enough to accommodate longer rigs. At Many Glacier and Avalanche, for example, in Glacier there are spots where we'd be tight. At Apgar and St. Mary (also Glacier; the latter which takes reservations) there was plenty of room. Yosemite is similar, but since the '97 flood many of the campsites were washed away, and the current Merced river plan proposes to cut down even more, so it's hard to say which ones will work, but there are some that I know will - but that's such a popular park that a campground may have spaces large enough for longer rigs, but not a space big enough for you on the given day one might be there - because someone else got there first. So - there's no pat answer.

Last time I was at Joshua Tree was in tent-camping days but the campgrounds are beautiful and it's a great park in which to camp.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:06 PM   #4
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All3 of my Airstreams have been 25 footers and some times I would like to have a longer trailer but I have stayed with the same length. I have been able to get my Airstream into some really tight spots andjust barely getting it to fit. I can go places with my package that you cannot take a larger trailer. You learn to adjust to lack of storage space.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:23 PM   #5
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This question comes up quite a bit. Here is one link...
Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
and a 26' '63 Overlander, Dolly
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:25 PM   #6
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We, too, love the "old" parks. We just find a nice CG outside of the park, and drive in with the truck during the day.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:23 PM   #7
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We like to visit the National parks, state parks and BLM parks and thats why we chose the 20 footer. We can park it anywhere and just about any campsite we are given.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:32 PM   #8
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Switz, what is the total length of your combined rig? And take into consideration the turning radius of your TV. Those two things tend to mean more than a campground, per se, as the "swing" of the TT is, IMO, the limiting factor. I can get a TT in about anywhere, but that "swing" [the length past the TT axles] is what makes it difficult.

Up to a 28' TT is generally no problem. But a rig with the extra VPP hitch length, 4WD TV turning circle, and TT "swing" can make for a lot of work. How far forward is the "breaking point", is the question.

That last six feet of a 34' TT is a change in planning backing maneuvers over the difference from 22' to 28' (where it almost doesn't exist; no real change in the problem to be solved). The tail has to have room to both sides that the smaller trailers aren't bothered by.

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Old 04-25-2013, 09:59 PM   #9
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We moved from a 20' to a 25', which is a pretty nice balance for ease of travel/fueling/parking and comfortable camping, as well as affordability. We like it and travel in it six months a year.

I'm sure you had good reasons for getting your 25', shopping is always tempting, but give that nice Int'l some time. Your new two-year factory warranty is also good to have.

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Old 04-25-2013, 10:52 PM   #10
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Switz, we haven't "downsized" but have never "upsized", either.

Some of the older National Park campgrounds appear to have been made during the CCC days, or at least back when most trailers were a lot smaller.

But we do see a lot of big rigs in the National Parks as well-- and truly feel dwarfed by them! It depends on the park and how recently they built or remodeled their CG.

For those parks that take advance CG reservations, either by phone or on-line, they do require you to indicate the length of your rig, which means someone has previously figured out where you will fit, and where not.
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Old 04-28-2013, 01:20 PM   #11
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Common Sense and Courtesy

It would seem that common sense would dictate that the older parks were built at a time when most auto-camping was done with a tent or a small tag-along camper.

The more heavily visited parks have, for the most part, upgraded their roads and campgrounds. Most of the not-so-visited gems have not. If you're traveling in areas that are mountainous or heavily forested, figure on tight turns and branches.

Also, it's well to figure in the experience of the driver. Nothing generates ill-will more than an inexperienced driver with a long rig inching his way up a loooong, single lane, curvy mountain road.

It would be best to call the Park and ask.

From my experience, anything over 26' would best be moored at a facility outside the park.

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Old 04-28-2013, 01:52 PM   #12
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We have a 27' Classic and have experienced a mixed bag of camping site challenges. Arches has some large but mostly smaller sites. We did find a couple we could fit in. Capitol reef did not present much of a problem but some sites would require you to disconnect. Craters of the Moon had mostly small sites but a few large ones that were already taken when we arrived. Canyonlands had many large sites to choose from. Mesa Verde's original campground was geared mostly towards tents and pop ups but the new campground will accomodate almost anything. Colorado National Monument could be very challenging but we were still able to find a site to park in. Great Sand Dunes Natl Mon in Colo was restricted to smaller units so we camped elsewhere. Bandelier is currently in the process or may have finished by now, rebuilding there campground so don't know what the situation is there. We camp in a lot of Natl Forest campgrounds and have been able to find camping spots to accomodate us in most of them. Hope this is of some help.

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