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How to Drive an RV in the Mountains

If there is one time I white-knuckle my steering wheel more than others it is mountain driving. I am nowhere close to being an expert on how to drive an RV in the mountains, but I feel like I have learned a couple of things along the way and I want to share those in this post.

Know Your Weights

Safely driving an RV in the Mountains starts with knowing how much your rig should weigh and how much it actually weighs.

GVWR and GCWR

I don’t want to get too technical with the weights, but you need to at least know GVWR and GCWR. GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the vehicle or trailer itself. If you are driving a motorhome, it’s the motorhome. If you are pulling a fifth wheel, it’s the fifth wheel.

GCWR is the Gross Combined Weight Rating of your primary RV and any vehicles attached to it. If you are pulling a fifth wheel it is the truck and the fifth wheel. If you are driving a motorhome, it is the motorhome and the towed car you are pulling.

Manufacturers tell you the maximum GVWR and GCWR on a sticker in or around the RV. On a motorhome, it is typically (1) on the wall next to the captain’s chair or (2) on a cabinet door in the kitchen area. On a travel trailer or fifth wheel, it is often toward the front driver’s side of the outside of the RV.

Here’s an example of a weight rating sticker



At the top left of the white sticker is our GVWR of 26,000 lbs. Everything in our RV from the steering wheel, to the driver, to the water in the fresh water tank should not weigh more than that.

The GCWR of our RV is 30,000 lbs. I know this because I know our RV can tow 4,000 lbs. The weight of our motorhome and the vehicle behind it should not go above 30,000 lbs if we want to stay within specs.

If you are pulling a trailer or 5th wheel, you will also need to find out the specs for your tow vehicle. I’ve found this to be a bit more difficult than the RV. Sometimes it is in the manual, sometimes I need to look online. Like the RV, the specs you are looking for are GVWR and GCWR.

To match up the weight you should be with the weight you actually weigh, you will need to make a trip to a scale. The times I have weighed I have used CAT scales. They are all across the US and take just a few minutes to use.

With a Motorhome and Towed Vehicle

Pull on to the scale, making