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Discussion Starter #1
Still trying to decide on LWB vs. extended, but I talked to a guy about van length in a campground last week and he said several national parks already limit the length of vehicles, and more are planning to do the same. I was already aware of some places (Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, tunnels in the Black Hills) where the landscape itself limits vehicle size.

He was suggesting that these new rules are because of parking issues in general – too many people and vehicles. He described driving up to a park entrance booth where they had painted white stripes on the road. If your van couldn’t fit between the lines, they wouldn’t let you drive into the park. He said the LWB at 19.6 ft. would have access, while the EWB, at 22 ft., would not.

A google search didn’t turn up any solid info on this. Hard to imagine this when there are so many big Fifth Wheel trailers being hauled through parks. Anyone experience this? Other restrictions? While in Washington recently I noticed that the fee for ferries went up at 22 ft. Do you think they would cut you some slack for the extended being officially 21.99 inches?;)
 

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Mather Campground at Grand Canyon says "19 maximum length" for most spots but they don't enforce it as far as I can see.

Have your official stats ready when boarding that ferry!
 

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While in Washington recently I noticed that the fee for ferries went up at 22 ft. Do you think they would cut you some slack for the extended being officially 21.99 inches?;)
I live on San Juan Island and take my extended Transit on the Ferry regularly. They've only measured it one time and had no issue with the length. If you hang anything on the back you might have a problem. Since over height charges only apply to vehicle over 22' the fare for a tall vehicle to Friday Harbor goes way up when you go over 22' from $37 (5 trip commuter fare) to $200.
 

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This was part of our decision to get a mid length Transit. Many National and State parks and campsites have a 20' maximum length rule. I believe it was to discourage giant motor-homes and 5th wheels, which would get stuck in parks and campsites designed in the 50's and 60's.

One recent example - we just spent 2 nights at the NFS' Meeks Bay site in Tahoe. On arrival, we were warned that 20' was the maximum length. Our 148" van was good to go but it only just fit on the parking pad at our site, with 1/2" to spare. NFS Rangers were ticketing anybody who put a wheel over the designated parking pad.

I have business dealings with NFS and BLM and they are both freaked out by the explosion of massive 5th wheels and UTV's that in their words are "tearing up trails we have no budget to maintain". Sadly we saw some of this willful destruction first hand. Whatever happened to "tread lightly and leave no trace"? What's with making the biggest rooster tails possible all the time?

Expect to see growing restrictions on trail access and dispersed camping in popular areas.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the responses. I keep going back and forth on which van length to order. I see a lot of the non-extended vans with either bike racks or storage boxes mounted on the hitch on the back. Either pushes the length by about 30 inches, or to about the same length as the extended. If you are going to be that long anyway, why not get the extended and increase storage and the ability to keep everything tidy inside? And then I think about being more agile and able to park in a downtown parking spot to check out a brew pub, or fit in a N. Park campsite. I'm guessing that a lot of forum members were conflicted about this issue when they chose their vans.
 

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In my past journeys out west in some Continental Divide Pass's, there were vehicle length restriction signs on the pass roads limiting overall length to 21 feet maximum. This was due to one lane width and switchbacks.
I knew right then buying a trailer rv for road trips was out of the question. I bought my Transit to convert and choose the LWB non-extended.
 

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Driving practicality in regard to parking was a key factor in choosing a LWB Regular length. It is possibly the most significant random variable that a driver will have to deal with constantly while traveling.

While scheming how it would be used I had been considering a small box van for the extra space and easy layout. The more I thought about the challenges it would create for me every time I want to park I was steered to get the length that would fit in a normal parking spot at stores, restaurants, campsites, etc. I didn't like the idea of having a long urban hike each time I went for coffee or to shop for groceries, that was determined based upon where nearby I could find to park.

Though the extended wouldn't be as bad as a box van, it still would have complicated things similarly, often enough.

As for carrying bikes, if needed I could fit two in the last eight or ten inches inside the back door with front wheels removed. I have built a "garage" there. I usually carry one bike in that space without removing a wheel. In the Garage is also a Shower with a removable hose/sprayer that I can use outside with the back doors open and a shower curtain deployed.

There is still room to have a bed oriented N-S that can be solo (most of my use) or convert easily to a Full size, as well as room for a fridge, sink, a camp toilet, and lots of storage.

I can see how the extended is necessary for some floor plans and those builders should know how that extended length will present plenty of situations in which they will have to compromise, go to extremes on occasion, or simply be prohibited from access to some places because they will not fit. Good planning and comfortable walking shoes should serve them well enough.

For me, based upon my long relationship with Murphy, I opted on the side of having more choices for parking over having more room to haul things and have managed to effectively create a space inside that isn't claustrophobic, yet provides all the necessities without resorting to the additional complications the extended length will present it's owner.
 

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Length not an issue so far on my travels in my 148" non-extended HR. But was shocked to discover that my height qualified doubled fees for "privilege" of using the the NY State Thruway system. Not axle count, not weight, just that extra few cubic feet of air (and head room ;-) that I carry around made my traverse of I-90 twice as expensive. The insult would have been damped if not compounded by lengthy full stop traffic congestion at many points. That and the minefield section of I-90 through the Cattaraugus reservation due some sort of pissing match between the state and the tribe.

I'll need to contemplate an alternate before my next East Coast lap... Not a single other tollway, bridge or parking fee system viewed my van as anything other than a single axle passenger vehicle. Hmmm, thanks New York.
 

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Length not an issue so far on my travels in my 148" non-extended HR. But was shocked to discover that my height qualified doubled fees for "privilege" of using the the NY State Thruway system. Not axle count, not weight, just that extra few cubic feet of air (and head room ;-) that I carry around made my traverse of I-90 twice as expensive.

I'll need to contemplate an alternate before my next East Coast lap... Not a single other tollway, bridge or parking fee system viewed my van as anything other than a single axle passenger vehicle. Hmmm, thanks New York.
That's not uncommon. RiverLink toll system in Louisville, KY and Southern Indiana with a prepaid account with RiverLink or EZPass transponders is $2.10 for cars and pickup trucks but $5.26 for a medium roof Transit or any other 2-axle vehicle >90" in height. The pay by mail/plate rates for the same vehicles are $4.20 and $7.36 respectively.
 

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The toll on larger vehicles isn't because you're taking more airspace, it's because you are heavier (or likely to be way heavier.) and it should be that way. The road system in the US is crumbling because we dont tax use properly.
 

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I agree in principle, but they need to find a better way to determine the rates. My motorcycle is much less of a burden than a 1 ton pickup under 90" in height, yet I pay the same. I lived in North Chicago for a while and when I would go away with my one wheel motorcycle trailer behind my bike, I paid the same toll as a 10 wheel dump truck since I had "3 axles", even though two of the wheels had a single sided swing arm like a car.
 

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I concur. More than happy to pay my share of the damage/upkeep, just want it to be fair to most if not all. I expect that the policy has at least some basis in reality via research or sampling; taller vehicle = theoretically greater cargo/load capacity. Love to see the data. We know that road damage correlates directly with mass, seems with the ubiquity of cheap, accurate and fast sensors we could easily detect axle count/vehicle weight on the fly and assign tolls equitably.

I doubt that I'll ever even come close to my GVWR with my build-out, still hurts to get penalized for toting a box of atmosphere.
 

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I'll need to contemplate an alternate before my next East Coast lap.../QUOTE]

We have used the Southern Tier Expressway the last half a dozen times we traveled to New England. Both directions.

Pick up Interstate 86 east of Erie . when you get to Binghamton jump on interstate 88 to Schenectady.
The difference in time and distance is minimal between that and Interstate 90. No tolls. No overpriced overcrowded gas stops. The road is a joy to drive on. Very little traffic .The eastbound only rest area overlooking Lake Chautauqua is a great lunch stop.

When is your next trip through New York? If you use the Southern Tier, let us know your thoughts.
 

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That's not uncommon. RiverLink toll system in Louisville, KY and Southern Indiana with a prepaid account with RiverLink or EZPass transponders is $2.10 for cars and pickup trucks but $5.26 for a medium roof Transit or any other 2-axle vehicle >90" in height. The pay by mail/plate rates for the same vehicles are $4.20 and $7.36 respectively.
Thank you for posting this info.

I realize that heavy commercial vehicles do put more wear and tear on a road, but in some ways I think these "restrictions per axle" are counter productive.

In many cases, a vehicle or vehicle + trailer is actually safer and puts less stress on the road by having the weight spread out over more axles and tires. We should be encouraging the use of more axles and tires for load distribution, not discouraging it.
 

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The toll on larger vehicles isn't because you're taking more airspace, it's because you are heavier (or likely to be way heavier.) and it should be that way. The road system in the US is crumbling because we dont tax use properly.
Actually it is crumbling because they are not building proper road beds and using quality road materials for construction.

Consumer vehicles riding down the road on a modern highway (and yes I mean RVs as well) are rarely over 30K lbs. That is literally nothing for a modern road bed.

The real issue is that funds are diverted to other uses.
 

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Glacier National Park had the "no vehicles over 21'" but the official Park Transport vehicles were longer/slightly taller than our HR-EL van. No issues talked with a Ranger who commented it was mainly the motorhomes that had problems with the rock wall to one side, drop off on the other side.



The biggest issue I ran into out west was hotels with 7' tall Portico's to access parking lots. Keeps out motor homes, but also our transits.



I drove a few "non-paved" roads in the Yellowstone National Parks. The biggest concern was a coming down a trail and finding low branches, but we cleared them all.


Took photos of the good portion of the road, further down was more gravel and 4" rocks. I was more concerned about an Altima that we had passed, but the one-way road was fine for the most part.



For anyone who has issues guessing how big things make a series of cardboard boxes of different heights to get a feel for things. Tire location is simple (front-wheel just under your left foot). Lowest thing is the "anchors" (rear lower shock mounts). You can clear 5" with ease.
 

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We just returned from a 2 month road trip that took us out West into the National Parks, Mountain passes, Canada, and through the middle western states Utah, Arizona, Colorado etc... Our van: MH 130" WB T-150.

It was obvious on this first long excursion that we had made the right choice on going with a short wheelbase, medium roof vehicle for our campervan. If we wanted to be an RV, then we could call ourselves an RV, especially when there were no other parking spaces available. (only happened a couple of times) Conversely, we can fit into any regular parking space since the length of the van is about the same length as my F-150 pickup.
We did see in Glacier NP the 21' length restriction like someone mentioned earlier. At a couple places (Vancouver) it was a good thing our van was short because they had us packed in like sardines in (Indian Reservation urban campground) - If we'd had a larger van, there would have been no place for us that day... We were able to negotiate many tunnels and narrow roads (Needles Highway) for instance with no problem. Our van is about 8'6" or so with solar and kayak racks.

All in all. Having a short wheelbase van proved to be a great option. When we did cave-in for a commercial campground, we were (sometimes) able to get a dry site (tent site) since we are totally self-contained.
Getting gas at any of the truck stops and gas stations was also a breeze due to the short length of our van.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The biggest issue I ran into out west was hotels with 7' tall Portico's to access parking lots. Keeps out motor homes, but also our transits.
Interesting. I don't recall seeing anything like that, but without a tall van yet, haven't really been looking. Must be the older hotels. I'm sure that you definitely need to pay attention. When I hauled two kayaks on top of my VW Syncro camper I was probably at Transit height and I taped a piece of paper to the dash with the height in inches and metric to remind myself.
 
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