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RV Rules, Regulations, and Road Restrictions

The magic of an RV is the feeling of sovereignty that comes with it. There’s a freedom to go wherever you want, with whomever you want, whenever you want; a wanderer with no one to say what must be done. Some of the countries most stunning landscapes become a part of your everyday life and places that you’ve grown up hearing about, like Lake Tahoe in Nevada, suddenly become your new backyard.

However, as easy-going as the life of an RVer may seem, there are still California RV laws that must be followed. They’re typically not too extensive and can be easily accommodated. However, if you’re going to enjoy your time as an RV adventurer, knowing the restrictions of your vehicle is imperative. No one likes to get fined or ticketed in the middle of the best road trip of all time.

We certainly can’t list every one of the California RV laws, but we’ll give you a run-down of the most important and relevant RV rules, regulations, and road restrictions. We’ll also answer some of the most common questions from newbie RVers, such as, “do you need a special license to drive an RV?” and “what are the national parks RV length limits?

Let’s take a look!

California RV laws

California Trailer Towing Laws

Trailer towing laws vary by state, but they mostly stick to the same basics. RVs must be towed in the right-hand lane unless they’re quickly passing another vehicle. No one is permitted in the trailer while it was being towed and everything inside of it must be strapped down or secured in some way.

California trailer towing laws restrict the trailer height to 14 feet and the towing speed to 55 mph. Considering the potential dangers of towing trailers, especially on the high way, these are reasonable regulations.

Click here for more specific California trailer towing laws.

national parks RV length limits

National Park RV Length Restrictions

Every national park has some sort of regulation on RV lengths, if they allow RVs in the first place. In general, RV sites allow between 20 and 40 feet. Emma Wood State Park in Ventura is one of the most flexible, allowing a 45-foot national park RV length limit. D.L. Bliss State Park in El Dorado is more conservative, restricting visitors to only 15 feet for trailers and 18 feet for campers and motorhomes. Parks and campsites with larger spaces typically require reservations and only allow fourteen consecutive days in the site. The RV height is rarely an issue.

Driving Restrictions

Most experienced drivers can easily adapt to driving an RV, as they are generally not too difficult to drive. Still, the bigger the vehicle gets, the more attention it requires to properly operate. Driving winding roads with sharp turns or under low tunnels might be out of the question depending on the height and weight of any given vehicle. Parking and maneuvering through traffic will require more patience, and even something as simple as braking and merging lanes will require certain precautions.

It’s important to acknowledge that the driver of an RV is not only responsible for the safety of their vehicle and it’s passengers, but also other vehicles and drivers on the road. Motorcyclists especially tend to get quite impatient when it comes to larger, and slower vehicles, zipping around them without much thought. As a rule of thumb, try to always be aware of the other vehicles on the road, especially those in your blind spot.

One question people ask before deciding to purchase an RV is, “do you need a special license to drive an RV?” Most likely, you won’t, unless the vehicle being driven is over 26,000 pounds, in which case a Class B Non-Commercial License would be necessary.

National Park RV Rules and Regulations

National parks are where most of the RV restrictions are found. Generators can only be used at specific times if they are allowed at all. Almost all national parks that allow generator use have designated off hours that run from the end of the night, around 10 p.m., to early morning, around 6 or 7 a.m. Some parks also have designated routes for RVs to drive through, which can be found on the park map. Despite these particularities, national parks, such as Yellowstone or Grand Teton, are among the best places to take your RV.

thbest places to take your RV

At the end of the day, the laws of RV use are there to protect the drivers of the vehicle, their passengers, and everyone else who shares the road with them. Being amongst the largest vehicles on the road (some RVs come close to the size of a semi) drivers take on a higher level of responsibility and must take the regulations seriously. Educating oneself in California RV laws, or those for another state, will allow you to safely enjoy what could be one of the best experiences of your life. 

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