Are 8ft wide caravans legal?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are 8ft wide caravans legal? We will discuss the average weight, width, length and height of a caravan and why it is important to know them.

Are 8ft wide caravans legal?

Yes, 8 ft wide caravans are legal and this is also the average width of a caravan. In fact, the maximum admissible width of a caravan on the Interstate highway system is 8 1/2 ft (2.5 meters), excluding:

  • The rearview mirrors, lamps and reflectors;
  • Devices mounted on wheels, tyre pressure gauges;
  • Curtain-side devices or other permanently fixed devices. 

Why is the average width of the Caravan 8 feet?

The answer to this question should be pretty obvious, so we won’t explain it too much. Road sizes vary from place to place. They are designed primarily for automobiles and the vehicles have a very narrow 6.5-foot body. Downtown lanes, on average, are generally 10 to 12 feet wide, and highway roads are about 12 feet wide.

These numbers can vary and wider campers have a hard time handling narrower roads. A 9-foot-wide RV does not leave much room to manoeuvre in a 10-foot-wide lane. In fact, you have even less space when you add the width of mirrors to the mix.

Keeping caravans at an average of 8 ft has limited paperwork and associated costs for motorhome owners. Depending on the state, large recreational vehicles may require a special permit. Here are a few examples we’ve come across, but there’s definitely more to find. Check with your local DMV for more information.

States that require permits for vehicles over 8 feet tall:

  • Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia

States that require permits for vehicles over 8 1/2 feet tall:

  • Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Washington DC and more

What is the average length, width and height of a caravan?

The average sizes of a caravan can vary according to the class of motorhome. See the chart below for the most common sizes.

Class A Class BClass CFifth Wheel 
Length33 feet20 feet28 feet32 feet
Width9 feet8.5 feet9 feet 9 feet 
Height10 feet9 feet10 feet8 to 10 feet

Other questions you may be interested in

Are Hobby caravans good?

Can I stand on the roof of my caravan?

Can you earn a living renting a caravan?

Why do so many caravan owners prefer 32-foot long motorhomes?

The 40+ monster caravans are cool, but many national parks lack the capacity to house them. If you have a small trailer, you can place it almost anywhere. A 32 footer will not have this problem for the most part. It can comfortably fit 81% of national parks.

The table below shows the percentage of national parks that can accommodate the listed 

motorhome lengths:

Caravan Length 19 feet 25 feet 29 feet32 ​​feet35 feet40 feet41 feet
Fits thispercentageof the nationalparks 98%93%84%81%73%53%7%

Be aware that there are often other camping parks close to the national parks. Many of them can provide accommodation for larger campers. We do not have exact data for those parks so you will need to do more research to get exact numbers.

The longer the caravan, the more dangerous and inaccessible the road will be.

When you drive an RV about 40 feet long, small gusts of wind can blow your mind behind the wheel. Midsize RVs will still handle this, but it will be a more moderate experience.

There are also several national parks with roads that are too narrow, dangerous or inaccessible for a longer motorhome. An example is Sequoia National Park with a maximum length of 22 feet. The road is too dangerous for anything else.

Why is the average caravan height 10 feet or less?

Almost everyone loves the high, vaulted ceilings in some of the larger units. If that’s true, why aren’t more RVs being produced with the average 11-foot roofs used by trailers? Better yet, why not make them taller like some of the 12-foot models?

  • Wind: One of the reasons we’ve already talked about is the wind. Longer and taller units will withstand more wind and will be less stable. While it probably won’t tip over, the opposite direction will be a problem. It is not something you will want to tackle every time you travel the open plains.
  • Bridges, tunnels, etc. with reduced free space: The main reason is that you start to have authorization problems. If you are not careful, you will literally run into them. For the most part, this will not be a problem. 

Cities often build these types of low-rise structures at about 11 to 13 feet and like to stay closer to 13 feet. Here’s a PDF that lists most of the low-end installations in the US. It was made by coach-net and it’s really helpful.

While you can overcome most of these obstacles within walking distance, having an extra foot of space is nice. It can get pretty tense when it comes to inches of headroom. The 10-foot average is much better.

If you prefer a higher-than-average unit, you may consider purchasing a GPS unit. Many modern motorhomes are equipped with built-in GPS systems. If you buy an older one, you may not be so lucky. GPS systems for motorhomes are different from a GPS system for a normal car. Motorhome and semi-trailer drivers use navigation systems that allow the owner to enter the specifications of their vehicle.

If the vehicle cannot cross a road or a low structure intrudes, the GPS will choose an alternative route to avoid it. This is invaluable in preventing unwanted shaving of the roof of your RV.

Why is it important to know the length, weight and height of your caravan

Knowing the specifications is important for camping simply because some campsites do not have enough space for motorhomes over a certain length.

In general, campsites tend to be below the 4-meter mark for as long as a motorhome can last. Camping in National Parks, specifically, is a bit shorter than an average campground. Typically 7-10 meters long is a sweet spot for National Parks, so it’s something to keep in mind if visiting these parks often.

It turns out, sadly, that the numbers for many caravan companies are not always completely accurate. If you are concerned about that, bring your own tape measure when you go shopping, and make sure the length fits the campsites that interest you.

If you are towing a car, that will add length to your caravan. If you are lucky, you can find a campsite wide enough to accommodate both vehicles. However, when it comes to Class A and Class C motorhomes, it is generally not necessary to carry a car with you.

If you really like having that extra smaller transport, you might consider bringing bikes with you. If you really need the car, be sure to call ahead and make sure there is room for everything you bring with you.

Conclusions on the lengths, widths and heights of caravans

For some people, a 12 meter long Class A monster is the only way to go. For others, they prefer something smaller. Finding the average length, width, and height of your motorhome is a great way to start your search. We are all unique and this is reflected in our choices. Choose the one that is right for you.

Do let us know if you have any comments or questions on the content. 

FAQ on Are 8ft wide caravans legal?

What are the dimensions of a caravan?

The most common dimensions of a caravan run between 3.3 metres (11 feet) and 7.3 metres (24 feet).

What is the standard width of a caravan?

The standard width of a caravan is around 2 meters wide. While most caravans are 2.35 meters wide, many manufacturers are starting to produce motorhomes with a lower width, which can range between 2.1 and 2.2 meters. 

Are all caravans the same height?

Not all caravans have the same height. Caravans do not usually measure more than 3.30 meters nor are they usually less than 2.50.

References

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