Camper trailer and Nevada WTW-ing


Resident Geologist
Sep 21, 2011
Raleigh, NC
Our new camper! (actually one just like it) Rockwood A127TH


After some unsatisfactory experimentation with an old Palomino popup TC, with the wife's full blessing we crossed over to the dark side and acquired a hardside A-frame popup camper trailer. It's got enough bells and whistles to work as a boondocker (12v water pump, 23 gallon onboard freshwater tank, outside shower (acquired a popup enclosure, portapotti, and a 4' x 4' nylon "pan" into which the shower enclosure fits like a glove, complete with hose drain attachment for draining shower water into portable gray water tank). Fantastic Fan ventilation, 6 gallon propane water heater, propane grill for outside cooking, 3-burner propane stovetop inside, 3 way refridg, and a microwave oven (!),dual 20 lb propane tanks, single 12v deep cycle (soon to be duals w/isolator switch). Fully laden she'll weigh in at 3,000-3,500 lbs and has trailer brakes. The venerable Ford 7.3 oil-burner pulls her like a dream @ 62-64 mph while still seeing 16-17 mpg while running the truck AC. What's not to love about that?

We purchased the popup for section hiking the Appalachian Trail + trout fishing in the Southern Appalachians and with trips to Montana, Idaho, and Nevada in mind. We are already preparing for Montana in 2015. We're quite familiar with the far southwest corner of Big Sky Country, so we already have good ideas of where we can, and can not, shoehorn the camper/truck combo, which measures out to around 42' nose to tail.

As to Nevada, we have a fair idea of where we can go in Elko County and just west of there (inasmuch as ranchers and outfitters pull gooseneck stock trailers most everywhere we'd want to take our camper). Wholly unknown is how, or if, this long combo may fare in northwest Nevada, basically in the Black Rock/Sheldon Refuge/Denio area, and perhaps Smoke Creek.. The camper is marketed as an "off road" unit, but we elected the "TH" model (toy hauler) and it's got a 5' long x 8' wide platform forward of the camper box (for hauling an ATV, or dirt bikes, or mountain bikes, a gennie + fuel, etc, etc). It has decent to good ground clearance on 15" AT tire/wheels, but the additional TH length ruins the breakover angle. When its length is added to the already ridiculously wide turning radius of the CrewCab longbed F350 single rear wheel truck, there's no way this rig can be considered a highly capable off-roader. The dang truck weighs in at 10,000 lbs fully laden to begin with. I have to do a 3-point turn just to enter a danged McDonalds sometimes.

There is a question in here, I promise.

What I'm wondering is how a fullsize (jumbo sized?) 4WD pickup + 19' high clearance trailer may square with the main roads and some side roads in northwest Nevada? My intuition and experiences elsewhere tell me the great majority of state and county roads, Forest Service Roads, and by extension, BLM roads are all reasonably accessible for full size pickups, if for no other reason than full size pickups and SUVs is what the USFS and BLM normally run themselves. At this point, we don't envision having the camper attached during all explorations, either, instead preferring to establish a base camp and do any "detailed" and difficult off-roading in the "nimble" Ford (Ha!), on foot, and by mountain bikes. That has worked to a "T" in Montana and Idaho in recent years, at least, where we've WTW'd from tent campsites and rented cabins regularly if not frequently since the early 2000s.

So what do the desert rats whose opinions I have come to respect completely since joining these forums have to say about the practicalities, or lack of thereof, of dragging a lightweight hardside popup camper trailer around in northwest Nevada and similar terrains?

As you suspect, most of the main roads in that area are totally suitable for your rig (based on my experience and my mental image of memories of the region). The main roads are graded-gravel county-maintained.
As you say, ranchers are pulling stock trailers -- and in some cases, semis loaded with hay -- through a lot of that area. (Most ranchers aren't driving crewcabs -- usually flat-beds, but hunters pull trailers with crewcabs). Of course, there are roads that aren't main roads and even smaller roads/trails that might pose a problem...roads that might peter out, requiring long back-up. But you're familiar with that possibility.

At times I take my pick-up/camper to places that I'd never want to be towing anything (because I don't like tricky back-ups...I don't even like multi-point turns)...but those places are rare for me.

If push comes to shove, drive out in the middle of the Black Rock and you should have room to turn around. ;)
NIce rig. It should work nicely in most of Nevada. You just need to know in advance a bit more about the road than you do if you weren't towing. Even as short as the Jeep is I've gotten into situations where I've had to disconnect. Not fun but not the end of the world either. Sometimes its just a matter of getting out and walking the road a ways to see whats ahead first. Even where I spent my first night by the Sheldon NWR, (I think it dead ended, I never went to the end) the terrain is open enough and you can turn around pretty much anywhere, especially if you have a spotter.
It hasn't been the narrowness of the roads that cause problems, but the washboard. I found myself creeping down very wide dirt roads because I was concerned the brutal washboard would tear the truck or camper apart. A trailer may handle it better than a camper.
Always good to swing by and chat up the local Ranger station folks you may even get some really good tips on places to camp that are out of the way and accessible to your rig etc. As Expresso mentions watch it on the washboard roads they are not kind to RV trailers they tend to shake stuff loose pretty easily. My trailer is a 4x6 ATV trailer with a tent that pops out of the bottom I carry a box wrench that fits all the major bolts and a socket driver along with a bottle of loctite. All so I can traverse the rough roads without worry of loosing major bits of the trailer just due to rattling things loose.

Those A frame style trailers are pretty great for all weather camping though!!! Have lots of fun and post some trip reports!
Thanks for the responses and suggestions.

We've all been on washboard so bad we're tempted to stop and kiss the asphalt once we finally reach it.

I'm big on phoning or dropping in Ranger offices. In fact, I'll be phoning a Pisgah NF District Ranger office this morning with inquiries about two roads I intend to explore on an upcoming trip to Hot Springs, NC.

We're very pleased with the hardside A-Frame so far. From releasing the clips on each side to having both "As" lifted and latched into place is only 30-45 seconds, and no damp canvas to deal with. We think it will suit our needs for years to come.

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