Know Your Limitations

Park Loop Road BridgeI’ve been meaning to write about this for quite some time now. But I guess I’ve just been putting it off in fear of triggering nightmares about the day we almost got stuck in Syracuse, NY. Literally.

After a long day of driving and one missed turn, we ended up amidst the suburban sprawl of outer Syracuse in stop and go traffic at rush hour. As we rounded one corner, I noticed a bridge and barely saw the 12′ 9″ low clearance sign with just enough time to take the last possible turn before heading under. While we might have made it through, it was just too close for comfort and wasn’t worth the chance. Our rig measures 12′ 5″ at the the tallest point. To know this is a good thing.

Unfortunately, bridges are not indicated on most maps, not to mention clearance heights. So keep a keen eye open for the height of bridges you approach, as well as for a way out, if it’s not too late. And above all, know the size limitations of your rig. Or be prepared to pay the consequences,

Here are the measurements of our Arctic Fox 24-5N outfitted with MaxAir fan vents, a Datastorm F2 satellite dish, and Dodge Ram 2500 tow vehicle:

  • Maximum Height: 12′ 5″
  • Overall Length*: 36′
  • Overall Width: 11′
  • Trailer Length*: 26′

*Includes spare tire and bicycles.

New Hampshire River BridgeOf course, we had no time to even think about snapping a picture of the sudden Syracuse bridge. And we were well aware that the 13′ 9″ bridge into New Hampshire from Vermont would not be a problem for us.

But thankfully, RVs are not even allowed on the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. This is a beautiful drive, but the 18 bridges Rockefeller built for horse drawn carriages are not intended for today’s monster RVs. Personally, I recommend enjoying the Park Loop by bicycle. But the 27 mile road is one-way so be prepared for a long ride, or you can put your bike on one of the many free buses that make stops at various locations around Mt. Desert Island.

Acadia Park Loop RoadDon’t be cheap!

There is one point where you can enter the Loop Road without paying the Acadia National Park entrance fee. But don’t even think about doing this in an RV unless your rig is shorter than 9′ because all of the old stone bridges are very low! And your fee will get you a great map that includes all the bridge heights! (Click image to enlarge.)

If, like me, you’ve followed the directions to Blackwoods Campground given to you by the rangers at the park entrance, you also must have wondered why on earth they would send you through downtown Bar Harbor. I can’t imagine what it would be like at the height of the season, but after navigating the narrow streets with inches to spare, we decided to find another way off the island without having to go through town again hauling the trailer. Finding parking with the Dodge was fun enough!

So, for others interested in getting to and from Blackwoods Campground in an RV without having to drive through Bar Harbor, simply follow Route 3 south to 198 and go north. It takes a bit longer, but the views make up for it.

Mt Desert Island Map

3 Responses to “Know Your Limitations”

  1. Stop at A pilot truckstop and purchase a ten dollar Motor Carrier’s atlas. It lists low clearences on the state routes and US highways. It will not cover them all however.

    • There has to be a better way. One would think the campground or the maps would begin to list low bridge clearances. It took us 4-1/2 to get to a campsite 45 mins away all because of a wrong turn, major constuction, a low bridge and no easy way out! Our 5th wheel has a 12′ 11″ clearance and it is scary.!!

      • Scary indeed … we’re 12′ 7″ and barely made a last minute turn, in rush hour traffic, to avoid a low bridge in Syracuse one time. No warning, except for the sign about 10′ in front of the bridge, after the turn. Thnaks for the comment. Happy travels!

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