Would-be adventurers often wonder: Just how tall is a travel trailer? Since campers are available in a variety of styles, the answer is more complex than it appears.
Fortunately, most US states have regulations in place to ensure that the trailers can travel safely on modern highways. Read on to learn how the average height of 10 feet can affect your camping lifestyle in a travel trailer.
How Tall Is A Travel Trailer?
While the average length of a travel trailer is around 13 feet (see “What Exactly Is A Travel Trailer,” below), some larger ones can top out at 20 feet. A longer camper might be taller than the modest-sized ones, but it’s rare for the height to exceed 11 feet.
Is There A Limit To How Tall A Trailer Can Be?
Although there’s some variance in the law concerning trailer height as you move from state to state, 13 feet 6 inches is generally considered the maximum height.
If the unit is any taller than this, it might not be able to travel safely beneath overpasses or on certain highways. When in doubt, check the laws for each state you’re planning to drive in. It will be far easier to rework your plans in advance than it will be to repair a damaged trailer.
State Laws and Regulations
To make the process easier, we’ve compiled this list of US states and their maximum-height laws for travel trailers.
|STATE OR TERRITORY||MAXIMUM TRUCK OR TRAILER HEIGHT|
|Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico||13 feet 6 inches|
|Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan||13 feet 6 inches (14 feet on some designated roads)|
|Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming||14 feet|
|Colorado, Nebraska||14 feet 6 inches|
What Exactly Is A Travel Trailer?
Unlike traditional RVs, which consist of both a driving area (also known as a cab) and living space, a travel trailer is designed to be towed behind a vehicle.
While the classification is broad, the average height is around 11 feet. This keeps it well below the national standard for maximum truck and trailer height, which is just one of the reasons why this type of camping is appealing to so many outdoor enthusiasts.
Features & Benefits
A classic travel trailer combines the luxury of an RV with the convenience of a separate vehicle. You can drive your “home on wheels” to your designated camping zone, take the unit off the hitch, and head out for supplies or exploration unencumbered by the trailer.
This saves you the gas-guzzling hassle of towing a vehicle behind an RV.
While teardrop trailers and pop-up campers offer only the bare minimum of living space, travel trailers give you plenty of room to spread out.
Some of them are even equipped with slide-out features designed to provide extra living space without broadening the trailer’s footprint while in transit.
Sizes & Styles
It’s possible to buy a travel trailer that measures only 10 feet in length, which might be sufficient for single travelers or couples. As an added bonus, a trailer this small could probably be towed by a car or crossover vehicle.
Larger families should consider investing in one of the more generously-sized units—around 20 feet long. Take a good look at the configuration of the interior before making a purchase.
Is there enough sleeping space for everyone to relax and be comfortable at night? If you plan on “boondocking” (setting up camp independent of water and electricity hookups), re the bathroom accommodations sufficient?
These are questions that need to be answered beforehand; otherwise, you could be throwing your money away.
Warnings & Precautions
Note that travel trailers require compatible hitches in order to be transported safely. You should also make sure that your vehicle is strong enough to tow the trailer without causing damage to the transmission or engine.
Tip: If you have any questions in this regard, check the towing capacity (this could be listed on the VIN sticker or in the owner’s manual).
How Tall Is A Travel Trailer Compared To A Motorhome Or A Fifth Wheel?
Of course, all RVs are not created equal. To help you understand the differences, first let’s map out the basics.
Motorhomes fall into three separate categories: Class A, B, and C. Fifth wheels can often compete with Class A models in terms of length, but they don’t come equipped with their own driving controls. Teardrop trailers, meanwhile, are the smallest of the lot.
How tall is a travel trailer in comparison to the rest? Let’s find out.
|Type of Camper||Average Height|
|Class A Motorhome||12 feet, 6 inches|
|Class B Motorhome||9 feet, 6 inches|
|Class C Motorhome||11 feet|
|Travel Trailer||11 feet|
|Teardrop Trailer||5 feet, 6 inches|
A Word About The Differences
You might notice that the average height of a class C motorhome is significantly greater than the average for a class B. That’s because a class C is configured so that the driving space is separate from the living areas—similar to the way a pickup truck’s cab is separated from the bed.
The living space extends over the top of the cab, making it taller than the class B models, which are more like large vans outfitted with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom areas.
Does Taller Mean Better?
The answer to this one is dependent on several factors.
First of all, you’ll need to find a unit with a ceiling high enough to accommodate the tallest member of your party. Remember that most measurements will refer to the exterior height, which is significantly higher than the ceiling height.
This number is important because you’ll need to make sure your garage or storage unit has enough clearance (and that the unit complies with the regulations for the regions in which you’ll be traveling).
Check the specs for the interior height to determine whether everyone who travels in your RV will be able to move around it comfortably.
Fortunately, this shouldn’t be an issue for most folks, as the average ceiling height of a travel trailer is about six and a half feet. Higher ceilings are available if needed, but on average, a travel trailer will have a lower ceiling than a classic motorhome.
Another factor to take into consideration is your skill level when it comes to towing large loads. Units with higher ceilings will probably be longer and therefore more difficult to maneuver, so a travel trailer with a lower clearance level might be a better fit for drivers who are less experienced.
What Do I Need To Know About Hitch Height?
The hitch (sometimes referred to as the “trailer tongue”) should measure 18 inches off the ground when towing a travel trailer.
There may be some variation, depending on the size and configuration of your unit. If the trailer isn’t level, you’ll need to enlist the aid of a mechanic before you can safely take the rig out on the road.
Are The Signs Marking Bridge Height Really Accurate?
Plenty of drivers assume that if the sign says the bridge has 15 feet of clearance, any vehicle measuring less than 15 feet must be good to go. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Interpreting Bridge Height Signs
States can differ when it comes to bridge height. Interstate bridges, for example, are supposed to be designed to allow semi-trucks–which have a height limit of 13 feet 6 inches–to pass underneath. However, not every state adheres to this policy, and many of these bridges may be lower as a result.
There is a policy stating that all federal bridges must have a clearance of at least 14 feet, but that doesn’t mean the bridge will actually have that much clearance when you’re driving beneath it. If the road was recently repaved, it could result in a couple of inches of lost clearance. This can make a big difference from year to year.
Moreover, there’s no law that says state and local bridges have to adhere to the federal policy. This is an especially worrisome issue if you plan on venturing beyond the major cities and into the wilderness–and why else did you purchase a travel trailer?
Further confusing the issue is the fact that RVs aren’t subject to federal size regulations since they aren’t commercial vehicles. This means that the state laws regarding maximum height (see the State Laws and Regulations table for more information) is all you have to rely on.
What You Can Do
What does this mean for you as the driver and owner of the travel trailer? Pay close attention whenever a clearance sign comes into view, and subtract six inches from the number listed, just to be on the safe side.
Also, remember that the clearance may vary from one part of the bridge to another. In most cases, the middle of the bridge will have the highest clearance level, but this may vary if you’re in a mountainous region.
How To Measure Your Travel Trailer
If you aren’t sure how tall your camper is, you can measure it yourself. While most dealerships will gladly provide you with this information, you might need a refresher if you purchased the unit a while ago.
Take Two Separate Measurements
You’ll want to know the base height of the camper, but it’s also a good idea to measure it again once it’s hooked up. Often, attaching the trailer to the hitch will increase the height, if only slightly.
To measure the base height, check to make sure that the travel trailer is parked on a level surface. If one end is visibly higher than the other, your measurements won’t be accurate.
Use a tape measure to mark the distance from the highest point of the roof to the spot where the tires rest against the ground.
If necessary, you can enlist a second person to hold the end of the tape while you take the measurement.
Don’t be tempted to cut corners by measuring from the camper’s interior—that won’t give you an accurate reading, as it fails to take the roof into account.
Also, if there are any antennae, satellite dishes, vents, or even skylight features on your roof, include these in your assessment. As a rule of thumb, anything that could potentially alter the height of the roof should be taken into account.
Once you’ve taken the base measurement, hook the trailer up to the vehicle you’ll be using to tow it. Make sure you know the proper hitch height before attempting to tow the trailer.
When you’re confident that the job has been done properly, measure the camper again from the highest point on the roof’s exterior to the place where the tires meet the ground.
If your travel trailer falls within the industry standard, you shouldn’t have to worry about excessive height. However, when it comes to outdoor adventures, there’s no such thing as too much preparation.
Best of luck, and happy camping!