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Old 06-05-2013, 04:08 PM   #1
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SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

When reserving campgrounds in National Parks for my upcoming trip with my SMB, I was offered choices between "tent" sites and "RV" sites. Since my 2WD EB SMB is less than 20' long, my thought is that I can choose between the two without any issues, as long as there is a parking area as part of the site (i.e., it's not a walk-in or hiker-biker site). In many cases, it looks like the tent sites are actually nicer, more privacy, etc.

So, my question: has anyone experienced hassles from park staff when parking in a tent site? I figure I could show up to tent camp driving a Ford van and it wouldn't be a problem, so there shouldn't be an issue with a SMB.

I believe the RV sites have more room for slide outs and all that, and often are pull-through sites.

We'll be in Grand Canyon/Mather, Bryce, Zion, Yellowstone (Grant and Canyon) and Glacier.

Thanks for any insight...
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Old 06-05-2013, 04:12 PM   #2
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

I found this on the Yosemite NP webpage. I realize that's not on your list, but it may be the same at all NPs. I would think a class B wouldn't matter, but FYI.

"I made a reservation for a tent-only nonelectric campsite but have an RV or other vehicle I sleep in. Can I still use the campsite?

RVs are not allowed in tent-only campsites. These sites only have space for tents and, in many cases, the parking is a short distance away from the campsite (and you're required to camp in the campsite). You should always read the site alerts and book a site that is appropriate for the equipment you will be camping in. If you arrive with different equipment than allowed in the site you reserved, we will not be able to accommodate you."


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Old 06-05-2013, 04:16 PM   #3
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

Hmmm, thanks Herb. Got me a little worried now, since I booked tent sites in Grand Canyon.

I tried to get the info out of Reserve America, but they were no help. Then I tried calling GC and Yellowstone CGs directly, but can't get a human on the phone.

Maybe the trick is to take a very small tent and set it up, but sleep in the van, just to make the rangers happy!

I can see it being a problem if it's a walk-in site, but usually you can see in the site description if there is a parking pad attached or not.

We'll see... I'll update when we get back.
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Old 06-05-2013, 04:37 PM   #4
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

As with most things in live, forgiveness is easier to get than permission. I would just play dumb. I honestly doubt it will be a problem anyway. I have van camped at Zion, Bryce and Glacier-Fish Creek (as well as MANY others) and have never had a problem using either kind of site. Your idea of having a small tent with you in case you need to set it up to keep em happy is a good one. The tent sites at Glacier and Bryce are pretty big and you can kind of do what you want, if I recall correctly.
For what it's worth, the beauty of camping in a van is that you can park it and camp almost anywhere since your footprint is no bigger than that of a car.

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Old 06-05-2013, 04:56 PM   #5
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

Never had an issue with tent only sites. If a ranger asked me where my tent is I would say "on top of my roof".
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:50 PM   #6
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

A "tent site" can mean a site with room for a SMB, a table, firepit, etc just like a regular site, just either too small for a big RV to get into or segregated from them.

Or it can mean a walk-in type site, with parking in a lot. Or on very sloping ground.

But take a look at vehicle length (it's kinda weird; at Mather in GCNP they say 16' max, but allow two vehicles, and it's a pull through, and it shows a crew cab pickup and a trailer in the picture in the site. Wha?

If it says tent ONLY they usually mean it, in my experience. They specify those in the site description online, however. So you're usually good with a tent TYPE site as long as they don't specifically exclude sleeping in a vehicle.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:44 PM   #7
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SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

Getting a large National Park to answer the phone can be a frustrating experience, but surprisingly you can often get a quick response via their Facebook page. Thats certainly the case for the park that I work at.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:36 PM   #8
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I prefer an RV only site if i get stuck and must camp in a campground. Tenters stay outside more making more sound (noise) later into the evening. RVer's are quieter and are inside the vehicles more, and are typically more mature and less drunk, noisy and annoying. And generator limiting hours are good, too.
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:05 AM   #9
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SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

From my experience we camped "tent sites" without issues in our smb. Like previously mentioned the description will state something like "walk 1 mile from parking to campsite". You'll want to avoid those unless you enjoy walking distances back and forth between the your campsite and your rig that's stuck in the parking lot.

Ive also noticed that "rv" sites tend to be on asphalt or concrete, and they look more like a parking lot. They usually have hook-ups however.
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:25 AM   #10
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Re: SMBs in National Park Campgrounds: Tent sites ok?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoHauler

RVs are not allowed in tent-only campsites. These sites only have space for tents and, in many cases, the parking is a short distance away from the campsite (and you're required to camp in the campsite). You should always read the site alerts and book a site that is appropriate for the equipment you will be camping in. If you arrive with different equipment than allowed in the site you reserved, we will not be able to accommodate you."


Herb

I had an experience with this on our last trip. The parking area for the tent camping area was next to the tent camping sites. The parking lot was also uneven and had a fence separating the parking area from the tent pads. Our spot was next to the fence and next to the parking area but my wife was unsure about the spot. I went back to the office and they traded the site for a RV site for the same money. I'm with Eric though, in regards to asking for forgiveness. At the end of the day it worked out for us.
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