What Does Big Rig Friendly Really Mean?

Big rig friendly refers to RV parks that have sites that can accommodate RVs in the 40-45 foot range that are towing for a 55-65 foot overall length and have a way for you to get through the campground to one of those sites

Ever since we purchased our first Class A motorhome, this phrase has become much more important to our everyday travel experience. But what exactly does big rig friendly mean when it comes to RVs? How big is a big rig considered and how truthful are these claims?

Today, let’s delve into the essential aspects of this concept and explore how it impacts RV travel, campsite choices, and the overall enjoyment of life on the open road.

Vista del Sol, a big-rig friendly RV resort at Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is considered a big rig? 

You’ll often hear the term big rig in reference to semi-trucks or other large commercial vehicles. However, you may see this designation on RV park and campground websites too. 

In the RV world, a big rig is a nickname for any RV over 40 feet. It’s not just a designation for motorized RVs either. A fifth wheel over 40 feet is just as much a big rig as a Class A motorhome. The largest travel trailers can also be over 40 feet long.

By the way, I have a post on What Is A Big Rig RV?

The Springs at Borrego, a big-rig friendly RV resort at Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What does big rig friendly really mean?

RV parks will use the words big-rig friendly as part of their promotion to get RVers to stay at their location. However, this term can mean different things to different campgrounds as there is no standardized qualification.

What big rig friendly ideally means for big-rig owners:

  • No low-hanging branches or signs
  • Widely spaced trees away from roads and campsites
  • No tight turns
  • Wider roads
  • Plenty of big campsites that fit RVs 40 feet+
  • Plenty of pull-through campsites
  • 50 amp electricity hookup available at most/all campsites

Unfortunately, if you don’t do thorough research, you might have to scrape a few branches and squeeze by a few trees to reach your big rig campsite or get stuck pulling down a dirt road to a campground that has its paved aisles. You need to be able to maneuver a big rig into and around a campground and park comfortably.

That’s why you want to read 25 Questions to Ask When Booking a Campsite.

Pro tip: Before you hit the road in a big rig, make sure you know your RV’s height!

Fuel station awnings vary in height. Do your research ahead of time to make sure your rig will fit.

River Sands, a big-rig friendly RV resort in Ehrenburg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Does big rig friendly always mean a pull through campsite? 

Definitely not! Pull-through campsites can actually be shorter in length. Ask an RVer who’s towing or driving a big rig if they would rather have a pull-through site that’s 35 feet long or a 50-foot back-in site. 

Many will want the longer site regardless of whether or not you can pull through. So if you see pull-through sites available on a campground website, make sure to do your research to find out exactly how much space it has. Make sure you add in the length of your towing vehicle or towed car behind a motorhome.

But generally speaking, pull-through sites are more big rig friendly than back-ins especially if it means you don’t have to detach your toad or tow vehicle.

You don’t want the nose or tail end of your RV sticking out of your site. When you drive a big rig, the longer the site, the better!

Settlers Point, a big-rig friendly RV resort in Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Should you trust a big rig friendly designation? 

The best thing to do if you have a long RV is to do your research. Don’t rely on the big rig-friendly label on a website. But if it’s an RV park call and ask about the length of the campsite. Don’t forget to also ask about the overheight clearance so you don’t damage your roof. 

Keep in mind other places such as gas stations and rest areas also claim the big rig-friendly title so when you decide to pull over for a stop, make sure you’ve done your research to find out if it can accommodate your RV. 

Use Google Earth to scope out the area. Call the attendant to ask about space. You don’t want to get stuck in a parking lot because you can’t turn around. If it’s a first-come, first-served campground, you can still browse the area to see what the sites and roads look like.

It’s also a good idea to find the best route to the entrance. This is when a phone call to the campground office comes in handy. Ask about construction, tunnels, bridges, closed roads, or anything else that makes maneuvering a big rig difficult. 

If possible, ask other people and read reviews. You can’t always trust some sites so check out reputable ones like Campendium or AllStays instead of Yelp.

Pro tip: RV-specific trip-planing services can help you navigate safely in a big rig.

RVers tend to be honest about their campground experiences, so reading reviews beforehand is always a good idea.

Texas Lakeside, a big-rig friendly RV resort in Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do you find big rig friendly RV parks? 

Apps like RV Trip Wizard, Campendium, or AllStays are great resources for finding RV parks and most usually have information about maximum size and reviews from others. You’re also more likely to find big sites at parks with RV resorts in the name as they generally cater to this RV demographic.

Don’t give up hope of visiting those places if you have a larger RV. And again, talk to other campers. Find out where they’ve stayed that met the space needs of big rigs.

Ambassador, a big-rig friendly RV resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are national parks big rig friendly

Most national parks can’t accommodate big rigs—not only because the campsites sometimes aren’t big enough but because the roads leading to them are not fit for larger vehicles. Many National Park campgrounds were built during the New Deal era by the Civilian Corps. Back then, RVs were nowhere near the size they are today! Also, trees have grown and national parks typically don’t like clearing protected park areas for more development.

However, the recreation.gov website can help you quickly search for campsite size at almost any National Park site. For starters, Badlands National Park is one of the most big rig-friendly parks. Big Bend and Death Valley National Parks also have plenty of space.

Because national parks are generally not big-rig friendly, you might need a backup plan such as a toad vehicle to visit them.

Wind Creek Casino, a big-rig friendly RV resort in Atwood, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A big rig might require extra planning but they’re worth it

Finding a campsite in a national or state park can take time and cause a lot of frustration. Sometimes you have to wait for the perfect time or a cancellation to grab that one spot for a 45-foot Class A motorhome. 

If you don’t want to travel to the national parks, you’ll have many more options. Research to make sure everywhere you go—RV parks, rest stops, parking lots, fuel stops—really are big rig-friendly. Don’t just trust a sign or website caption. 

Pro tip: Whether you travel full-time or part-time, RVing requires planning. To stay at a national park, you’ll need to plan about six months in advance.

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.