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What Does ‘Big Rig Friendly’ Really Mean?

What Does ‘Big Rig Friendly’ Really Mean?

Maybe you have started to browse for RVs for your family, and you’ve come across the phrase “big rig” a few times. What does this mean? Is a big rig the best RV for your family? Are you willing to put in the extra effort it takes to find big rig friendly camping areas? 

Let’s take a look at what “big rig” actually means, and you can decide if it’s the right RV for you.

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 campground websites too. 

In the RV world, a big rig is a nickname for any RV over 40 ft. It’s not just a designation for motorized RVs either. A fifth wheel over 40 ft is just as much a big rig as a Class A motorhome. 

374TH Walkthrough - Front living, rear bedroom with toy box fifth wheel (garage under bed)

What Does ‘Big Rig Friendly’ Really Mean?

Sometimes campgrounds will use the words “big-rig friendly” just as a marketing ploy to get RVers to stay at their location. 

Unfortunately, if you don’t do thorough research, you can get shoved in a tiny campsite or get stuck pulling down a dirt road of a campground that claims “big rig friendly” on its website. You’ll need to maneuver a big rig in a campground and park comfortably.

If a campground is big-rig friendly, it won’t have any low-hanging branches that could cause damage to your RV. You can also turn and swing around easily. Finally, you’ll find the sites adequately spaced from one another and long enough for an RV of over 40 ft to park.

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

big rig friendly gas station
Gas station awnings vary in height. Do your research ahead of time to make sure your rig will fit.

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.

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 ft long or a 50-ft 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.

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.

Row of large motorhomes
You don’t want the nose or tail end of your RV sticking out of your site. In a big rig, the longer the site, the better.

How Big Is Big When It Comes to ‘Big Rig Friendly’ Places?

True big rig-friendly places can accommodate any size RV. Some toy haulers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes can measure 45 ft long, so these campgrounds need adequate space. 

Not all motorhomes are 40+ ft long. If you like the idea of a Class A but don’t want to drive a “big rig,” check out the 7 Best Small Class A RVs on the Market.

Some big rig-friendly places work for longer RVs and even 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles.

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 a campground, 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. 

41-foot Alliance Fifth Wheel
Use tools like satellite view on Google Maps to get a lay of the land before you arrive at your campsite.

As mentioned before, use Google Earth or Google satellite view to see your actual campsite. 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. 

Services like RV Trip Wizard can help you navigate safely in a big rig. Learn more here: How to Use RV Trip Wizard to Plan an RV Road Trip

You don’t want to end up on a dead-end road and have to back up. Before driving to a campground, state park, or other location, make a quick phone call. It might save you from a lot of frustration or damage to your RV.

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.

big rig friendly pull-through sites
RVers tend to be honest about their campground experiences, so reading reviews beforehand is always a good idea.

How Do You Find Big Rig Friendly RV Parks? 

Apps like RV Trip Wizard, Campendium, or AllStays are great resources for finding RV parks. State and national parks will have more limitations, but some do offer big rig-friendly campsites. 

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.

Are National Parks ‘Big Rig Friendly’? 

Most national parks can’t accommodate big rigs – not because the campsites aren’t big enough, but because the roads leading to it are dangerous for larger vehicles. The National Park Service website will help you find out the suggested sizes of RVs for each area.

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

Badlands National Park is one of the most ‘big rig-friendly’ parks. Big Bend and Death Valley National Parks also have plenty of space.

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 42-ft Class A motorhome. 

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.

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

Motorhome, Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer For Full Time RV Life

Will this big rig lifestyle work for you? Is the extra planning worth it to travel in luxury and have more space? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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John

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

I just read an article written by Mike Sokol about RVElectricity and car/truck generators but I’m still not sure what that it. Can you do an article that I can understand? I’ve been following you for years and your pieces are always great.

Mortons on the Move

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

Do you mean the type you can hook to the car and get power off it?

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