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Old 03-28-2024, 11:06 AM   #1
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Minimum 'safe' tow range to tour western US

Hello,

Complete newbie here, (I don't yet have a tow vehicle or trailer), so I have a pretty basic question. We plan to use the trailer (2205s?) to tour the western National Parks. Having driven out west before I know the distance between gas stations can often be pretty large, so I want to make sure the tow vehicle I end up with has sufficient range with the trailer to not worry about running out of fuel.

Note, I'm currently considering a diesel pickup, which may increase the range requirement since not all stations carry diesel. What would you say is a safe range to reliably get around in the remote areas out west?

Thanks,
Scott
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Old 03-28-2024, 11:10 AM   #2
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We have 80 gallons in our motorhome. Your tow vehicle for sure will have different capacity. Factor in your average MPG when towing. What does a full tank give you? We like to fill up when our tank goes down to HALF. I start looking for a gas station and fill up. Even at HALF tank, my range is still around 250 miles. Yours maybe less.

So I would use your FULL Tank mileage and use that as your reference on when you need to fill. I will NEVER let my tank go down to 1/4.
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Old 03-28-2024, 11:11 AM   #3
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I can get 350 miles out of a tank while towing my trailer. I've never had an issue finding fuel but will carry a couple of spare fuel jugs just in case.
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Old 03-28-2024, 11:14 AM   #4
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Like most things, it depends.
On average, you can find fuel about every 60 miles or one hour on paved roads. If you want to be safe, double that.
If you are going into remote state or federal park land, triple it or carry an extra fuel can. For very long spans, there is almost always a sign telling you how many miles until the next services.
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Old 03-28-2024, 12:33 PM   #5
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It's going to depend on what tow vehicle and trailer you end up with. Mileage counts when you're climbing mountains or crossing the desert. Some apps, like gasbuddy, rvparks, or rv parky can help you locate gas stations.

Having driven on fumes several times, we learned to fill up when the tank reaches 1/2 empty.

Remember, you're going to be very long, so your rig won't fit in all gas stations. We had a truck and trailer that was 40' long in total and locating gas stations that would accommodate our rig was a challenge. It was actually more of a challenge in the eastern states than in the west.

Welcome to the forum!
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Old 03-28-2024, 12:44 PM   #6
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What others have said, start looking/planning for fuel when the gauge reaches 1/2. Without the trailer, I look at about 1/4 left but my MPG is about half when pulling the TT so the 1/2 tank plan has worked well for us. I watch the range calculation on the fuel economy setting as well and try to fill up before I reach 100 miles remaining.

Pulling the trailer is more tiring anyway so stopping more frequently than normal is a good thing in other ways.

Google maps and others have gas stations marked if you choose that option so you can plan ahead pretty well.

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Old 03-28-2024, 02:03 PM   #7
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Diesel is readily available everywhere out west.

Get a "fuel app" for your device so you can predict where you'll find the next gas/diesel station.

Familiarize yourself with the behavior of your fuel gauge. Few are perfectly linear. My car's fuel gauge is slow to get to half a tank, and from half a tank down, the needle moves much faster. My truck is similar. Not a good thing, but important to know.

If you're heading off into "nowhere", be conservative and fill up when you have the chance...even if you seem to have plenty.

I recently drove from Durango, CO to Taos, NM. I probably could have easily made it on a single tank...with a comfortable margin. But after about the 1/3 distance mark, there was NO FUEL anywhere along the route until the Taos "city limits." I topped off at the "last fuel before walking" gas station...just to be safe. It's a good thing I did, because I hit blizzard conditions over a series of mountain passes, and it was slow going, in 4WD no less, and I used more fuel than predicted. To make matters worse, over a distance of 70 miles, I saw 3 other vehicles. 1) an oncoming snowplow. 2) a stuck semi. 3) a FWD sedan that probably got stuck with the semi. In other words, I was on my own...no help likely.

I'll add some unsolicited advice. Learn to use your gears like a manual transmission. And if you get a diesel, get an optional exhaust brake. If you are new to driving in real mountains, you need to practice manually downshifting to save your brakes for emergencies. You can't drag your brakes down a 20+ mile descent from an 11,500 feet high mountain pass and expect to survive. See picture.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 03-28-2024, 02:34 PM   #8
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"Safe" towing range with fuel

A few thoughts and experiences with towing and fuel. Your rig will be different but fuel range is just that. We took a national Parks tour 6-8 yrs ago. We started in MI, traveled the northern route through numerous Nat Parks to Olympic NP in Washington, south as far as Joshua Tree NP in California then east along the Southern route through Carlsbad Caverns NP and returned to MI. We towed with a Ford edge pulling a 16' Scamp. We averaged about 14mpg and had a total fuel range of about 240 miles. We would generally refuel at 150 to 175 miles. We like to travel about 250 miles a day but find 300 miles is often common with freeway driving. That means we would refuel twice a day. 3 hrs driving and we are ready for a stop to stretch. It works well with a gas stop and maybe lunch. Another 3-4 hrs and we're looking for a motel or park with another refueling for a full tank in the morning. We have seen signs saying next services maybe 80-90 miles a couple of times but usually stations are within 40-50 miles or so. Modern guages tell average fuel mileage and miles to empty. Our garmin GPS tells miles to the nearest station. Our backup plan would be stop when we have about 2 gal left in the tank and unhook. Pulling I get 14 mpg. Unhooked and driving 45-50 I get about 30mpg. This has never been necessary with maybe 40,000 miles of towing. It is possible to run out of gas but with a bit of planning it is very unlikely.
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Old 03-28-2024, 03:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f300v10 View Post
Hello,

Complete newbie here, (I don't yet have a tow vehicle or trailer), so I have a pretty basic question. We plan to use the trailer (2205s?) to tour the western National Parks. Having driven out west before I know the distance between gas stations can often be pretty large, so I want to make sure the tow vehicle I end up with has sufficient range with the trailer to not worry about running out of fuel.

Note, I'm currently considering a diesel pickup, which may increase the range requirement since not all stations carry diesel. What would you say is a safe range to reliably get around in the remote areas out west?

Thanks,
Scott
I've been all over the west there are only a couple places where a station may be over 140 miles apart at most . it really isn't an issue
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Old 03-28-2024, 03:43 PM   #10
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Thank you to all that have replied and shared their thoughts. The tow vehicle currently at the top of my list is a Silverado with the 3.0 diesel and max trailer. The fuel tank on that truck with the diesel is only 22 gallons, and without any real world experience pulling an ~6000lb trailer I don't really know what kind of milage I can expect. Based on other folks posts something between 12 and 14 MPG seems typical. That gives a 'max' range of around 250 miles, which I wasn't sure would be enough out west. I can always add a 20-30 gallon bed mounted auxiliary tank if my milage estimate doesn't pan out. Thanks again.
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:21 PM   #11
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Gas in the West

Living and RV's all over the West has never really been a problem for me. Stay on the paved roads and you will find gas. Except for perhaps Utah. On I-70 just past the last exit for Green River you will see a sign that says next gas 160 miles.
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by f300v10 View Post
Thank you to all that have replied and shared their thoughts. The tow vehicle currently at the top of my list is a Silverado with the 3.0 diesel and max trailer. The fuel tank on that truck with the diesel is only 22 gallons, and without any real world experience pulling an ~6000lb trailer I don't really know what kind of milage I can expect. Based on other folks posts something between 12 and 14 MPG seems typical. That gives a 'max' range of around 250 miles, which I wasn't sure would be enough out west. I can always add a 20-30 gallon bed mounted auxiliary tank if my milage estimate doesn't pan out. Thanks again.
For the last 20 years I've towed a travel trailer, with a Nissan Titan, all over the mountainous West. Averaged 8 mpg and my 28 gallon tank was more than adequate to get me across wide stretches.

As it's been said many times, you'll be stopping when someone's bladder demands so just make the "pit stop" at a gas station and fill up.

As for an auxilliary tank, 50 gallons of diesel will weigh 350# plus of course the tank which adds another 100-150#. 500# can take a big bite out of a pickup's cargo capacity that is already reduced by the trailer's tongue/pin weight.

As the old Knight Templar said in the Indiana Jones movie, "choose wisely"
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:24 PM   #13
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I bet that 12-14 is on the high side, only @gcvarmint mentioned milage and his camper is nothing like a 2205S.

My gasser goes from normal usage of 18-19 in town, 23 strictly interstate down to 10 towing something similar to yours. Just a couple feet longer but fairly close in weight and frontal size.

My 35 gallon tank makes up for the loss in gas mileage though. And the truck tows it fine.

Any other needs for a diesel besides the camper? Never having owned a diesel I have no idea what the mileage drop is on one towing a large frontal camper.
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:37 PM   #14
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This is one of the most over thought non problems in all of RVing history in my opinion. I’m sure lots of people will have a bunch of their personal scientific studies to site but.

I’ve towed a travel trailer through every state east of the Mississippi with a RAM hemi 1500 towing about 5500 lbs. 11 mpg with a 25 gl tank. Have never gotten close to running out of anything.

I don’t have western experience but can’t imagine it’s all that different really. Just plan for the long stretches and you will be fine

Let’s go camping!! First launch date April 13 for us! Let’s go!
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:41 PM   #15
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I bet that 12-14 is on the high side, only @gcvarmint mentioned milage and his camper is nothing like a 2205S.

My gasser goes from normal usage of 18-19 in town, 23 strictly interstate down to 10 towing something similar to yours. Just a couple feet longer but fairly close in weight and frontal size.

My 35 gallon tank makes up for the loss in gas mileage though. And the truck tows it fine.

Any other needs for a diesel besides the camper? Never having owned a diesel I have no idea what the mileage drop is on one towing a large frontal camper.
The intent of going diesel is to hopefully do better than 10MPG. I've found posts from several folks (different threads) using the 3L diesel and pulling 7K trailers getting 14+ average when towing at 70 MPH. Given the 2205S loaded will be closer to 6K, and I plan to go a bit slower, say 65 tops, I think 13 is reasonable and perhaps a bit conservative.
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:48 PM   #16
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For the last 20 years I've towed a travel trailer, with a Nissan Titan, all over the mountainous West. Averaged 8 mpg and my 28 gallon tank was more than adequate to get me across wide stretches.

As it's been said many times, you'll be stopping when someone's bladder demands so just make the "pit stop" at a gas station and fill up.

As for an auxilliary tank, 50 gallons of diesel will weigh 350# plus of course the tank which adds another 100-150#. 500# can take a big bite out of a pickup's cargo capacity that is already reduced by the trailer's tongue/pin weight.

As the old Knight Templar said in the Indiana Jones movie, "choose wisely"
If I do go the aux tank route it would be just 20 gallons, so under 200lbs including the tank. But thanks for pointing that out, I've already learned most 1/2 tons will run out of payload long before you hit max trailering. Love "Last Crusade", one of my favorites!
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by f300v10 View Post
The intent of going diesel is to hopefully do better than 10MPG. I've found posts from several folks (different threads) using the 3L diesel and pulling 7K trailers getting 14+ average when towing at 70 MPH. Given the 2205S loaded will be closer to 6K, and I plan to go a bit slower, say 65 tops, I think 13 is reasonable and perhaps a bit conservative.
Look at the payback time. For the cost of a diesel truck and at least a buck more a gallon the math works out somewhere near 100000 miles. Towing NOTHING

Do the math. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 03-28-2024, 04:56 PM   #18
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Look at the payback time. For the cost of a diesel truck and at least a buck more a gallon the math works out somewhere near 100000 miles. Towing NOTHING

Do the math. Your mileage may vary.
Not doing it to save money. But the 3L diesel option costs the same as the 5.3L V8, and if I do get 30% better milage it is at least a wash in terms of $$.
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Old 03-28-2024, 05:04 PM   #19
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Look at the payback time. For the cost of a diesel truck and at least a buck more a gallon the math works out somewhere near 100000 miles. Towing NOTHING

Do the math. Your mileage may vary.
I have never known anyone who bought a diesel purely for fuel mileage. The towing experience is unparalleled. Yep, they cost more, but they also resale for more. I have 3 offers for $25k for my 2007 Duramax LBZ right now (I made the mistake of saying I was THINKING about selling it). A comparable gas engine version sells for $15k.
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Old 03-28-2024, 06:23 PM   #20
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22 gallons of fuel in the tank? I had a 35 gallon tank and many times I was running on fumes when I found a filling station.
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