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Do RV Lengths Include The Hitch? (Answered!)

There is nothing more vital than understanding the dimensions of your vehicle before setting out on the road with an RV, particularly the length of your RV. When making travel plans, knowing the length of your RV is very crucial. This information could have significant repercussions on your safety, your license, and the law and navigation. However, determining the precise length of an RV can be difficult at times because it’s not always clear which parts of the trailer need to be included and which do not in the calculation.

Take the hitch for instance. Drivers have spent a significant amount of time and energy debating whether or not the hitch of an RV should be included when determining the overall length of an RV. To make matters even more confusing, each manufacturer has its own system for determining the size of an RV. So, do RV lengths include the hitch?

The answer is both yes and no. Before the hitch is excluded, the length of your RV often needs to meet a particular threshold first.

If the length of the RV is less than 25 feet, then the hitch should be added as part of the RV’s overall length. For example, if the overall length of an RV states 20 feet, that means 17 feet of living space and 3 feet of hitch space. When the entire length of the trailer is 25 feet or more, the hitch is typically not included in the measurement of the length of the trailer. All that is measured is the living space.

Let’s delve even deeper into the significance of measuring the length of an RV as well as other issues pertaining to this subject.

Why is it Important to Know How Long Your RV Is?

© Trail and Summit

It’s imperative that you are familiar with the general measurements of your RV setup for a variety of different reasons including legality and safety issues.  

1. Safety

The first and most essential reason why you should be familiar with the measurements of your RV is safety. 

Infrastructure and roadways in a significant number of regions in the United States can be found to be well over a century old. It’s impossible not to encounter bridges, tunnels, and paths that are not designed for large RVs when traveling across a country. Due to the tight turns or the technical nature of their path, many tiny roads have length restrictions that drivers must adhere to regardless of his expertise and skill. 

2. Legality

There are a number of states that impose length restrictions that vary from one another and rely on the type of rig, as well as the license held by the operator. The majority of states have established a maximum length of 45 feet for recreational vehicles. Others allow 40 feet or 45 feet. 

3. Additional License Requirement

Driving large RVs has more severe repercussions than just a traffic ticket or fine. Some states require a separate license for the operator when driving an RV longer than a specific length. For instance, an RV longer than 40 feet must have a “Class B” non-commercial license to be legally driven in California.

4. RV Park Regulations

Because of their road locations, which can be quite narrow, and the size of their parking spots, many RV parks have length restrictions in place for their parking areas and RV slots. There are some campgrounds that may not be able to accommodate lengths greater than 30 feet, such as county parks and state parks.

Best Length of RV for Different Types of Parks

RV Parks

© Good Sam Club

If you want to be able to go just about anywhere, the ideal RV for you would be no longer than 30 feet long. Despite the fact that a growing number of RV parks and campgrounds are now able to accommodate RVs with a length of 40 feet or more, there are still campgrounds that have limited space to accommodate large RVs. 

State Parks

© Wand’rly Magazine

The maximum length of recreational vehicles that are permitted in state parks is determined by each individual state park. Some have the capacity to accommodate rigs up to 45 or 50 feet in length, while others can only allow vehicles that is no more than 20 feet in length

National Parks

© RVshare

Most national parks require that your RV be no more than 25 feet in length, but this requirement can vary depending on where you want to camp within the park. This is because most national parks place a higher value on the natural grandeur of the surrounding area than they do on where you can park your vehicle.

Observe the guidelines for using an RV in national parks. Many national parks have a range of campgrounds, some of which could only be suitable for tent camping.

How Do Campgrounds Measure the Length of Recreational Trailers?

© Mortons on the Move

Each park features a wide selection of campgrounds that are able to accommodate RVs of various sizes. However, in order to avoid any confusion and ensure that you are assigned the appropriate parking area for your RV, it’s important that you mention the exact length of the RV that you intend to use when making your reservation.

Every campground and national park uses its very own unique measuring system. In most cases, the length is measured starting at the front of the hitch and continuing all the way around to the rear of the bumper. It’s best to be familiar with the length of the living area, the width of your trailer, and the length from the hitch to the bumper to be on the safe side. Additionally, make sure to indicate the length of your towing vehicle.

Is the Length of My RV Going to Include My Tow Vehicle?

© Toyota Tundra Forum

The length of your RV does not include your tow vehicle or any other RV accessories. However, it’s essential that you’re aware of the overall length of your RV, including the length of the tow vehicle and any RV attachments.

A number of states have a maximum length restriction on RVs, which can include the length of the tow vehicle. Because of this, if you want to take a road trip from one state to another, you will first need to determine whether or not it’s permissible for you to travel on each individual state that you intend to travel through.

In addition, even when certain RV parks and campgrounds may tell you that the only thing you need to be concerned about is the total length of your RV, the actual layout of your campsite may not be precisely how you imagined it would be. Many larger RVs have a tendency to hang over the edge of the concrete pad at the end of certain campsites since there may be rocks or trees right up against the edge of the pad. In the event that you do not have access to any additional length, it’s possible that you won’t be able to park both your RV and your tow vehicle in the space you reserved for. 

The majority of the time, RV parks and campgrounds will have additional parking spaces available for your tow vehicles. However, we highly advise you to mention the dimension of your tow vehicle during the reservation to avoid parking issues. 

If you have any RV accessories, you should also take into consideration their lengths. These accessories can include bike racks, kayak racks, and any other bumper accessories.

Are RVs Measured in the Same Way by All RV Companies?

Obviously, not all RVs are built with standard measurements. As a result of this, the definition of the phrase “overall” will change depending on the kind of unit that you have.

Every brand of RV has its own unique set of measurements. When providing measures, certain manufacturers include the total length of the trailer, whereas other manufacturers simply mention the length of the interior living space. Your RV’s model number is the ideal place to start when taking measurements. Manufacturers usually provide the entire length. However, it’s worth noting that manufacturers like Jayco, Bigfoot, and Escape Trailers solely measure the travel trailer’s interior living area.

If you’re looking for the precise length, it would be in your best interest to get in touch with the manufacturer of your trailer or the dealer from whom you purchased. 

How Do You Measure the Length of an RV?

© Los Angeles Times

Now that we have established that knowing the length of your RV is important, you may be wondering how to measure the length of your travel trailer. The good news is, doing it yourself is not difficult. If you know that your RV is slightly larger than the typical size, you might need someone to hold the measuring tape on the other side of the trailer while you take the measurements.

When collecting measurements, it’s necessary to be aware of both the starting point and the ending position in order to be accurate. Generally, you have to measure from the front of your hitch to the back point of your trailer or bumper. 

To determine the length of your trailer, simply measure from the hitch to the bumper. If you have a spare wheel, you can include it in the measurement aside from the bumper. Although there are others who would rather not, it would be beneficial to measure the length both with and without the spare wheel. Also, keep in mind that if you have your cover on the trailer, the measures you take might not be as precise as they could be. Because of this, you should either take the cover off the trailer or adjust the measurement to give allowance for the cover.

The next step is to measure the living space portion of your trailer. This can be accomplished from either the inside or the outside of the trailer, depending on your preference. In fact, you might want to perform both in order to acquire a more precise measurement. The living space portion should be the same or at least near the measurement provided by the model number. 

How is the Length of a Fifth-Wheel Trailer Measured?

© Outdoorsy

The length of a fifth-wheel trailer can be easily determined by following a few simple steps. The distance between the kingpin and the bumper at the back of the vehicle is used to measure the fifth wheel. However, it will be more difficult to measure the length of certain fifth wheels if the location of the kingpin is unique. 

Maximum Allowable  RV Lengths

StateRV Maximum Length Total Maximum Length (Including tow vehicle)
Alabama40 ft.**check with local regulations
Alaska**check with local regulations75 ft.
Arizona40 ft.65 ft.
Arkansas**check with local regulations**check with local regulations
California40 ft.65 ft.
Colorado**check with local regulations70 ft.
Connecticut45 ft. 65 ft.
Delaware40 ft. 65 ft.
Florida**check with local regulations65 ft.
Georgia**check with local regulations**check with local regulations
Hawaii**check with local regulations65 ft.
Idaho48 ft. 75 ft. 
Illinois42 ft. 60 ft. 
Indiana45 ft. 65 ft.
Iowa40 ft.65 ft.
Kansas**check with local regulations65 ft.
Kentucky45 ft. 65 ft.
Louisiana45 ft. 65 ft.
Maine45 ft. 65 ft.
Maryland40 ft.55 ft. 
Massachusetts40 ft. 65 ft.
Michigan40 ft. 65 ft.
Minnesota45 ft.70 ft,
Mississippi40 ft.**check with local regulations
Missouri45 ft. 65 ft.
Montana**check with local regulations65 ft.
Nebraska40 ft. 65 ft.
Nevada**check with local regulations70 ft.
New Hampshire45 ft.**check with local regulations
New Jersey40 ft. 62 ft.
New Mexico40 ft. 65 ft.
New York45 ft. 65 ft.
North Carolina45 ft. 60 ft. 
North Dakota50 ft.75 ft. 
Ohio45 ft. 65 ft.
Oklahoma**check with local regulations65 ft.
Oregon45 ft. 65 ft.
Pennsylvania**check with local regulations**check with local regulations
Rhode Island45 ft.**check with local regulations
South Carolina**check with local regulations**check with local regulations
South Dakota45 ft. **check with local regulations
Tennessee**check with local regulations**check with local regulations
Texas**check with local regulations65 ft.
Utah45 ft. 65 ft.
Vermont**check with local regulations72 ft.
Virginia**check with local regulations65 ft.
Washington40 ft.**check with local regulations
West Virginia**check with local regulations65 ft.
Wisconsin45 ft. 65 ft.
Wyoming60 ft. 85 ft.
District of Columbia40 ft. 55 ft.

NOTE: Chart is not intended as legal advice and does not provide all regulations on the subject.

Is Measuring the Width of Your RV Also Important? 

The width of an RV should also be measured, even though campsites and local regulations typically only specify the length for various reasons: 

1. Legality

Did you know that the majority of states in the US impose wide restrictions on recreational vehicles? The United States Department of Transportation set the maximum permissible RV width of interstate highways to be 8 feet and 6 inches (or 8’6″). However, this doesn’t apply to non-interstate highways. Most set their width limit for RVs on non-interstate roads at 8 ft. 

This means that most large RVs with a width of 8 feet and 6 inches or more are prohibited from traveling on roads that are not interstates in a majority of states.

Only the states listed below legally permit 8’6″ vehicles to travel on all roads:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arizona
  • DC.
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina

2. Safety

Due to the width of large RVs, traveling across some bridges may be either impossible or highly unadvisable. These bridges and paths usually have visible signage for the maximum width of vehicles that can pass through. These signages are useless, though, if you don’t know the measurements of your vehicle regardless of how visible they are. 

How to Measure Your RV’s Width?

© TinyHouseDesign

In order to get an accurate measurement of the width of your RV, you will need to stretch the measuring tape across the front of the vehicle. You should also measure the width of your RV with the slide-outs extended, just in case you will be parking in narrow parking spots. 

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