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Old 01-01-2016, 10:00 PM   #1
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2005 31' Classic
Garner, , North Carolina
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27/28 or 30 footer better for national Parks camping

Looking at buying a nice 27/28 or 30 ft but wanted to make sure which size would be better for the NP campgrounds especially out west.

I had read on another forum in some parks it hard to get a 30 footer around and other have said it possible you have to be careful and go slow.

just looking for more input on length.

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Old 01-01-2016, 10:35 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by carl2591 View Post
Looking at buying a nice 27/28 or 30 ft but wanted to make sure which size would be better for the NP campgrounds especially out west.

I had read on another forum in some parks it hard to get a 30 footer around and other have said it possible you have to be careful and go slow.

just looking for more input on length.
Another thing is the availability of spots for longer trailers is often slim in NP campgrounds. Even parking your tow vehicle can be a bit of a challenge. In a campground of 100 sites you might have just a handful that can fit a 30'. Those will all be occupied. Until 2040.

We failed to get our 28' into a couple in Colorado but, in hindsight, they were packed campgrounds anyway and really actually quite awful.

In those cases we generally stayed at a nearby state park (generally better) or enjoyed some National Forest boondocking.

If NP campgrounds are the thing, go as small as possible. Good use case for an Interstate.

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Old 01-01-2016, 10:42 PM   #3
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27/28 or 30 footer

Hi Carl,
We took our 28' Flying Cloud out to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and the Big Horn Mountains this past summer. We encountered some tight camp sites, but mostly at private campgrounds where the goal was to pack as many campers in as possible. There are some nice campgrounds other than the national parks to consider also, the National Forest campgrounds such as, Tie Flume, in the Big Horn Mountains and Buffalo Bill State Park in Cody, WY. We also spent the night one night in the Powell, WY city park. Each of these campgrounds had large sites that were not a problem for a 28 or 30 footer.

Buy what you think you will enjoy camping in the most, and you will find sites to accommodate.
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:59 AM   #4
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Most national forests and parks in the west have websites that will have detailed campground maps along with info as to how many sites there are and the max length. As mentioned on an earlier thread, boondocking is no longer allowed in certain national forests due to over use.
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Old 01-02-2016, 08:26 AM   #5
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Out west smaller is better for the National Parks, and even the 28' will encounter some limitations. Don't know how sensitive you are to the "qualities" of campsites, but more sites available means more choice of "better" sites.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:07 AM   #6
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Like most issues, there is no pat answer for the OP's question. Some NP campgrounds have small and difficult camp spaces (many in Glacier NP are that way, but not all) and some have room for most any rig. Same with forest service campgorunds, some are fine for large rigs, some are very difficult. Smaller, that is under 20', is always the rig which will give you the most options for camp ground space, but I certainly would not make my trailer decision on that basis. Buy the trailer which fits your space needs, then find the campgrounds which will accommodate it.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:09 AM   #7
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With respect to the 27/28 vs. 30 foot decision, sure the smaller the trailer the more places you will fit (at the extreme, a tent will get you in everywhere.) On the other hand there really is not that much difference between the 27/28 and 30 foot trailers when it comes to fitting into a campsite so I would lean towards getting the trailer that fits your needs and let the campground situation sort itself out. You will not find yourself "shut out" of NP sites with a 30 foot trailer.

Another thing to consider is your tow vehicle, all things being even, a shorter wheelbase tow vehicle will be easier to maneuver than will a longer wheelbase tow vehicle. We tow with a 3/4 ton, crew cab (four doors) with an 8 foot bed, it's a monster and makes backing up in tight spots more challenging. If we were concerned about maneuverability, a short bed truck or SUV would make a big difference.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:19 AM   #8
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In Yellowstone, there are plenty of campsites that will accept a 30' unit. The problem, especially this coming Summer, will be getting one.

Make reservations as early as you can for Bridge Bay, Madison, Grant or Canyon. If you have to have hook-ups, then make reservations at Fishing Bridge ASAP.

There are many "first come, first served" sites but, if last year is any indication, I expect every site to be filled by 11 am every day between mid-June and mid-August. With a 27 - 30' unit, you cannot get into Lewis Lake or Tower, but all of the other first come, first served campgrounds will have at least a few sites that you will fit into.

The National Forest Service has lots of campgrounds near each of YNP's gates. Some are reservable and some have electricity but usually no water/sewer/dump site.

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Old 01-02-2016, 09:41 AM   #9
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I think it depends on the degree to which you prefer state parks over commercial campgrounds.

If that is your primary choice, then I'd go with the shortest trailer that otherwise meets all your needs.

Having said that, we have moved u from 20ft to 27ft to 31ft and we certainly appreciate the extra space especially if camping for more than just a few days. We usuallu go for about seven weeks in winter and a couple of trips of 1-2 weeks during summer.

We probably camp 75% in commercial RV parks, and 25% in fed/state/prov/county parks, each have pros and cons and we enjoy both.

We have never had a problem getting into a state park or similar with our 31 footer, but I do generally check out the trailer park listings to see if they have limitations - there would indeed be some that we could not use, but we have always found a nearby alternative.


PS: Our first trailer, a 20ft "Sprite," was so light that if we were assigned to a REALLY tight spot, we could just unhook the trailer and my wife and I could jockey it into the space by hand - that surprised more than a few fellow campers!
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:02 AM   #10
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Bob Martel covered the tow vehicle wheelbase/maneuverability relationship very well above. That has more to do with getting into tight spaces than length of trailer, and getting about when unhooked.

Think about both trailer and tow vehicle length, trailer length may not be the limiting factor. Get the Airstream you are most comfortable in, skimp on tow vehicle wheelbase.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:23 AM   #11
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Small is Bigger in National Parks

I towed my 19 foot 1936 single axle in the past two summers between Grand Canyon, Zion, Glacier, YellowStone and other non NP areas. Due to our small size, we often got the absolute best spots in the parks. However, my daughter planned WAY ahead.
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Old 01-02-2016, 01:12 PM   #12
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We went to all those place last summer and had a great time.

I started making reservations 6 months in advance, lots of people due a year so they can get a certain spot. There are always great spots and some not so great, so get on it now.

Remember its all fun.
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Old 01-02-2016, 02:14 PM   #13
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If you are visiting Crater Lake in Oregon the NF sites are very long. We have not been there since 2002 so as of today I would make reservations. We also do a lot of dry camping in the Sierra's near our home and if the sites are just long enough for our AS (34 foot) we reserve two sites one for the truck and one for the AS. jvmang
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:59 AM   #14
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We have never had a problem finding a place for a 30' trailer, but I do make reservation a head of time. A lot of parks that say 25' max, you can park a 30' trailer. At the Tetons where they do not take reservations there is a campsite out a ways you can get into and then about 11:00 move into the good ones.

I sure like my longer trailer.

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