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How Do National Parks Measure Trailer Length?

How Do National Parks Measure Trailer Length?

You want to abide by the National Park Service’s (NPS) rules. This involves knowing how long your RV or camper trailer can be when camping. The fact is, each park has its own rules regarding the length of these vehicles. But how do they measure trailer length in the first place?

National parks measure trailer length from bumper-to-bumper. Some areas prohibit RVs and trailers over 25 feet long; others have more generous rules.

You can check out these specifications by researching the park or calling the facility itself. If your trailer is too big, you could be denied entry. Continue reading to learn more about how national parks deal with campers and trailers and their required lengths to enter the area.

Does Trailer Length Matter to National Parks?

Just like every national park offers its own scenery, each park also offers its own rules. Some parks welcome trailers of all kinds, while others are more exclusive.

For instance:

  • Suppose you’re visiting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Here: “RV sites are limited to 1 RV (motorhome, pop-up, or 5th-wheel), 6 people, and 1 vehicle.” So, this park doesn’t appear to limit how big your trailer can be.
  • Matters change if you want to camp at Biscayne National Park in Florida. Here, the campgrounds are only accessible by boats. This means you can’t bring your RV, camper, or trailer (of any length) to these areas.

In 2019, Choice RV conducted a study regarding where campers can bring RVs and trailers. It is noted that if your trailer is less than 19 feet, you shouldn’t have any problems when camping at national parks. The study yielded this chart:

Trailer Length% of National Parks that allow admission
19 feet98 percent
25 feet93 percent
29 feet84 percent
32 feet81 percent
35 feet73 percent
37 feet60 percent
40 feet53 percent
41+ feet7 percent

Why Do National Parks Care About How Long a Trailer Is?

The National Park Service wants to ensure a safe visiting experience for everyone. Most importantly, it wants to conserve America’s most threatened areas. National parks carefully monitor the size of each trailer because:

  • The park wants to cut down on emissions. Overnight, a travel/camper trailer or RV can emit tons of carbon emissions. This can pollute the air, poison animals, and disrupt the water supply.
  • The park wants to provide a quality visitor experience. The smaller a trailer, the more visitors can be in an area. The National Park Service would rather have six smaller trailers than two large ones.

What if My Trailer Is Too Long for the National Park?

If your trailer’s too long, you’re out of options. The National Park Service has rules for a reason. While it may allow you to park your trailer and enjoy your day, it might prohibit you from overnight camping. However, you still have options, such as:

Stay at an Off-Site Campground

Some national parks are surrounded by off-site campgrounds that don’t limit trailer and RV size. Others have overnight parking lots where visitors can see. By looking up your park of choice, you can discover accommodations in the area. That way, you can visit the park during the day and be in your camper off-site at night.

Primitive Camping

You don’t need an RV or a camper trailer to stay at a national park overnight. Instead, you can purchase a tent online and “primitive camp.” Keep in mind that national parks also regulate where you can set up a tent. For instance, Shenandoah National Park says that only “erect tents on pads, when provided” are allowed.

Stay at a Hotel

Staying at a hotel might not be your idea of camping. Here, however, you don’t have to worry about how big your camper, trailer, or RV is. Business Insider published an article in August 2021 about popular hotels near national parks.

A Final Word

National parks measure trailers from front to back. Some parks have limits on what types of vehicles or trailers you can bring onto the premises. They also restrict where you can camp. For more information about your park’s rules and regulations, check out the National Park Service’s website.