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.

Don’t Book a Campsite Online. Call the Reservation Desk!

10 questions to ask when booking a campsite

Online reservation systems are handy when it comes to plugging in your rig requirements and quickly booking a site. (Ok, maybe if you are tech savvy; is it just me or are some booking systems just downright confusing?!)

Despite our digital world, computers don’t know what kind of site you prefer. Reservation systems only assign sites based on the rig requirements given. 

Call the reservation desk to find your perfect RV campsite.

Here’s why… 

A perfect RV campsite at Maeher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preferences matter

A site may work perfectly for one family but not for another. For example, some may prefer to be in the heart of the action surrounded by exciting amenities such as the campground playground, pool, and clubhouse. Others may have a different experience in mind, perhaps wanting a more secluded and peaceful location. Waterviews or riverfront locations may be a strong desire for others to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. On the other hand, this could be a dangerous deal breaker for a family with small children.

A perfect RV campsite at The Motorcoach Resort in Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The computer system doesn’t know if you’d rather be by the bathhouse, be away from the noisy pool, or prefer more shade than the sun. It simply plops you in the next available site by the RV criteria you’ve entered in the online system.

Related: Finding the Right RV Site

Depending on the RV Park online booking may be the ONLY method for reserving sites. And that would be unfortunate.

A perfect RV campsite at the Lakes Golf and RV Resort in Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you are unfamiliar with the campground, require specific rig accommodations, have site or amenity preferences that would make or break your stay, or have questions that are not answered on the website, phone the reservation desk and talk to a live human being. 

Calling and speaking to an actual person can be the difference between a GREAT camping experience and a disappointing one.

Check out the list of questions below. Some may not apply to you, however, a few listed below may help spark your memory to ask for your next camping trip.

A perfect RV campsite at Coastal Georgia RV Resort in Brunswick, Georgia Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Call the reservation desk and ask these questions to get your ideal site, savings, and campground information for an exceptional experience. Ask all that apply to you. Simply fill in the blanks with your information or preferences.

1. Do you have site availability for the dates ___ (your preferred date of arrival and departure) that can accommodate a ___  (pop up, travel trailer, 5th wheel, Class A, Class B, Class C, big rig, etc.)?  My rig requires a site with  ___ (30, 50 amp power, sewer, water).

Related: The Best RV Camping November 2022

It may be useful to have your rig requirements and information written down especially for those new to RVing. (After all, that’s a lot of specifications to remember.) That way, the reservation desk can assess all the information given and determine site availability and specific RV accommodations. 

A perfect RV campsite at Terre Haute RV Park in Terre Haute, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Do you have pull-through sites/back-in sites/pull-in sites? (Some travelers prefer pull-through for quick and easy departure in the morning. Others may prefer back-in sites given the layout or how their windows face in the rig. Pull-in sites generally are for motorhomes; for example, pulling in a site right on the waterfront.)  

3. What are your rates? Do you have season specials, weekly/long term rate plans, RV club membership discounts, or military discounts that would apply to my stay?

A perfect RV campsite at Columbia River RV Park in Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. What is your cancellation policy? (This is always good to know before booking a site so that you’re not left with an unknown cancellation fee if unable to make the trip.)  

Related: 9 Things to Consider Before Making an RV Park Reservation

5. Does your campground offer shady spots with tree cover or will my rig be in the sun?

Even if you plan on running your AC, camping in the sun will make for a much hotter experience than you’d find under the natural shade of trees. But at the same time, trees can make for a sticky mess of sap and bird droppings on your RV’s roof. Also, consider that during a severe storm wind can break off large branches with the potential of damage to your RV or toad/tow vehicle.

A perfect RV campsite at Seabreeze RV Park in Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Does your campground have pet restrictions? Are certain breeds excluded? (If you’re traveling with pets, it’s critical that you make sure they’re actually allowed on the property.)

7. Do you have any activities scheduled during our stay?

8. Do you have cable TV?

Related: More Campsites Coming

9. Do you have Wi-Fi? How well does it work? Do you offer a VIP WiFi service/access for those working remotely?

10. Is your pool/spa open?

A perfect RV campsite at Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVING IS BEING adventurous.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

How to Back up Your RV

RV back up tips and tricks

The idea of backing up and parking an RV can be intimidating—especially to new drivers or people in new rigs. These large vehicles provide a home away from home but you first have to maneuver them into place. Anyone can drive and park an RV with a little knowledge and some practice. Here are some tips to help you gain confidence in your backing up and parking skills.

A pull-through site at Arizona Oases RV Resort, Ehrenberg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Backing up basics

When driving a coach in reverse, turning the steering wheel to the left will turn the back of the rig to the left. Adjusting the wheel to the right will turn the rig to the right. When you’re backing up a coach with a boat or trailer behind it, however, it gets more complicated: the trailer will always move opposite of the way you turn the wheel.

Before you begin to back up, check that your side and rear mirrors are adjusted so you can see all around you.

A pull-through site at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go slow and stay calm

Driving slowly gives you more time to see how your vehicle moves and react appropriately. You’ll be better able to avoid accidents (like driving into a campsite electricity hookup pole) if you maneuver slowly. Plus, it’s easier to stay calm when your speedometer is below 5 miles an hour.

Related: Raise Your RV IQ with These Tips

A back-in site at Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use technology

Owners of some newer RVs have the advantage of cameras and video monitoring systems that make it easy to back up just about anywhere. Read your RV manual to learn about any onboard systems.

A back-in site at Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before you hit the road, check your backup camera. While they’re very sturdy when built-in to the coach, dust or other debris may sometimes obscure the view, so it’s a good idea to turn on the monitors and make sure you have a clear view behind you.

A backup camera is meant to enhance your parking skills and give you peace of mind. Use your mirrors as well plus any other cameras to make sure you have a clear view of your surroundings.

Back-in sites at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Parking and Maneuvering

Designate an RV parking helper

If possible, have a spotter outside of your coach to help guide you into the spot. They will have a better view of the ground and can watch for hazards that are difficult to spot from the driver’s seat.

Related: The Best RV Camping May 2022

If you’re driving solo, consider asking a fellow camper for assistance. Campsites are full of other RVers who have valuable experience that can help you. In most cases, other campers are eager to help.

A back-in site at Cajun Palms RV Resort, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Let the spotter know how you want them to communicate. Which side of the rig do you want them on? Should they use gestures or words to explain how far you have to go and which direction to turn the RV?

Open the driver’s and front-seat passenger windows so it’s easy to hear the spotter. Most people prefer to have the helper stand behind the driver’s side of the RV where they are visible and have a good view of the situation. Never let the spotter out of your sight. If you can’t see them, they’re in danger.

Ensure they have a headlamp or bright flashlight if you’re backing up in the dark. This light will help you tell where the person is and serve as a tool to guide you into place.

Back-in sites at Seven Feathers Casino RV Resort, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose your spot wisely

Gas stations, rest stops, mobile home repair shops, and some campsites feature pull-through spots. RV drivers can cruise straight into the parking area or designated spot without backing up. At campsites and resorts, these spots are often highly sought-after especially by overnight campers and may be difficult to obtain without booking well in advance.

A back-in site at Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some places like big box stores have parking lots with two spots adjacent that you can treat as a pull-through parking area. Don’t hesitate to choose places with these wide-open parking areas especially if you’re not comfortable backing up your rig.

Select a parking spot that allows you to back up to the left whenever possible. This direction is easier to maneuver because your steering wheel is on the left and you can see easier than when backing up to the right.

Drive-in sites at Two Rivers Landing RV Resort, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Assess the RV parking site – G.O.A.L.

Many professional drivers follow an acronym called G.O.A.L., an acronym for Get Out And Look. When you reach a campground, pull over near your site and use your triangle blinkers to alert other drivers that you are stopped.

Related: 6 Essential Tips for the First Time RVer

Walk around the parking area or campsite to check for potential hazards. Look for low-hanging tree branches, rocks on the ground, and anything you could back into. If necessary, move potential obstacles like picnic tables in your way.

A back-in site at Goose Island State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know how many paces it takes to walk from the front of your RV to the back. Use this information to walk out your RV parking dimensions and understand how the rig will fit in the parking space. This quick step will also tell you how to aim your rig to back into the spot.

The right front corner of your RV is the most vulnerable to damage because it is a blind spot. Keep that in mind while envisioning how you will back into the space. Rely on your right convex mirror to watch for obstacles below your window sightline. Make sure your spotter pays special attention to this area.

A drive-in site at Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Back up

With your spotter visible, pull your RV ahead of the parking spot at a ninety-degree angle to the spot so the closest edge of the parking spot is about three feet past the back wheels. The rear wheels are the pivot point for the rig, so getting the correct position with the back of the RV is critical.

Back-in sites at Bellingham RV Park, Bellingham, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Slowly drive backward while turning the steering wheel so the RV aims directly into the spot while slowly continuing backward. While moving, straighten the vehicle and come to a stop when your spotter indicates to do so. Don’t hesitate to pull forward and realign to ensure you have plenty of space to open your RV doors and engage slide-out sections.

Related: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Back-in site at Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Backing up a large RV may be intimidating but practice makes perfect. Take some orange traffic cones to a large parking lot to practice on a day when there’s minimal traffic. Set up the cones to imitate parallel parking and backing up to a campsite waste station. Practice regularly until you’re confident in your skills. Eventually, it’ll become second nature and you’ll be confident maneuvering your rig into even the tightest of sites.

Worth Pondering…

It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning.
—Claude Bernard

Finding the Right RV Site

There are many different factors to consider when looking for the right RV site

The RV site is an important part of the travel experience. A good site can contribute much to a great road trip and a poor site will deter from the overall experience.

Drive-in site at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic views are a plus. There are few things more relaxing than soaking in a beautiful landscape. It’s helpful to know what to look for when choosing campsites so here are some campsite selection tips to help you on your way.

Choose wisely, consult guest reviews, and consider the following six things:

Drive-in sites at Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1) Size and Configuration

Most RV parks offer several types of sites.

Pull-through sites: Do you drive a big rig and desire a site that’s easy to navigate? A pull-through site allows you to enter and exit a site without unhooking the toad or backing up. This type of site is especially ideal for RVers who are overnighting with plans to travel the next day. Some parks with long pull-through sites offer the convenience of two sewer connections from which to choose to accommodate different RV configurations.

Back-in site at Mission View RV Park in Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Back-in sites: Backing an RV into a site is one of the less appealing chores in the RV lifestyle but it’s worth it once the vehicle is in “park” and your awning is unfurled. If you’re a privacy-craving camper who plans to hunker down for several weeks or more, a roomy back-in site may be preferable.

Drive-in sites: Some of the newer parks offer drive-in sites. This is particularly appealing for RVers with a Class-A motorhome. The site may face a river, fountain or water feature, or scenic vistas like the sites offered at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona (see photo above) or Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Alabama (see photo above).

The Lakes RV and Golf Resort in Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2) Power Hookups

Make sure you’re able to feed your RV’s appetite for electricity. If you’re tent camper or tow a folding camping trailer your power requirements will be minimal. Motorhomes and larger fifth-wheels and travel trailers usually require 50-amp service for all of their appliances and new technology. Select the type of site based on your RV’s electrical requirements.

Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3) Water & Sewer Hookups

Keep in mind that sewer service may vary at RV parks. Some waterfront sites don’t offer sewer but the inconvenience may be worth it for the view and your proximity to water recreation. Most campgrounds in national and state parks do not provide sewer connections but will offer a dump station.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4) Location, Location, Location

Each site in an RV park has its pluses and minuses. A site near the clubhouse and pool is convenient but the foot traffic and noise may pose an annoyance. The same for sites near the playground or a dumpster. Study the park map to get the lay of the land. If the RV park has an adjoining golf course and you’re itching to hit the fairway, you probably want a site that’s a short walk from the tee box. Then consider The Lakes RV and Golf Resort in Chowchilla, California (see photo above); Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona (see photo above); or The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, California (see photo above).

Columbia Riverfront RV Resort at Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5) Site Amenities

Consider the amenities that you like in an RV site. Fire Rings and picnic tables are musts for some campers. Do you have room to unfurl the awning, fire up the barbecue, and watch the big game from your exterior TV? If you’re camping in the height of summer, look for a shady site. If possible, choose a north-facing site so that the summer sun has limited penetration into RV living quarters and your refrigerator is in the shade.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6) Site with a View

How important is the view to you? Do you want to wake up to the view of a scenic river like the sites offered at Columbia Riverfront RV Park in Woodland, Washington (see photo above) or Two Rivers Landing RV Resort in Sevierville in Tennessee (see photo above)? Or do prefer high desert vistas like those available at Verde Valley’s Rain Spirit RV Park where you can see the red rocks of Sedona and beyond? Or mountain views like those at Eagle View RV Resort in Fort McDowell, Arizona or Irwins RV Park in Valemount, British Columbia. Finding a site with a view can add an extra magic ingredient to your trip.

Irvins RV Park in Valemont, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finding the right RV site may be one of the most important decisions to make as you plan your next road trip. Before you book online or over the phone ensure you have a site that meets your needs. This may be one of the most important judgment calls to make on your trip.

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden