Overnight RV Parking
Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip or a weekend getaway, one of the key considerations for a successful RV adventure is figuring out where to park an RV overnight. As seasoned RV enthusiasts will attest, the choice of where to park your recreational vehicle can significantly impact your comfort, safety, and overall travel experience.
We’ll discuss the best places to park an RV overnight within city limits, as well as some options that are a bit more rural in setting. Wherever you’re looking to find safe overnight RV parking, you’ll find a suitable option down below.
Where to Park an RV Overnight
Though it sometimes may seem difficult to find a suitable place for overnight RV parking, the truth is that you have a plethora of options. From off-the-beaten-path choices like state trust or BLM land to highway-adjacent rest areas and truck stops, there’s no shortage of places where it’s acceptable, safe, and even encouraged to park your RV overnight.
State Trust Land
Many states have large areas of open land managed by the state land office. These areas are called state trust land, and you’ll usually see a sign indicating that it’s state trust land on your way in.
Make sure you check the guidelines on the website of the state land office in your state so you know what rules to adhere to when parking your RV overnight on state trust land. Some states openly allow camping on trust land, but in other states, you’ll need to get a permit or camping may be prohibited there altogether.
There are no amenities on state trust land, so be prepared before heading out. These areas usually involve dirt roads in uninhabited areas, so plan ahead and bring everything you might possibly need for your trip.
This is dry boondocking at its finest. If you don’t know what boondocking is, or you’re not very experienced with it, check out this article to become a quick expert. The good news is that there aren’t many restrictions, so you can run your generator all night if you want. Plus, state trust land tends to be beautiful, open, and semi-private, just as long as you head far enough off the beaten path.
You will find some areas of state trust land closer to towns and cities, and these places can become favorites for people in the nearby urban areas. On holidays, expect large influxes of people in these parts of state trust land.
Thankfully, trust land can cover massive areas, so it’s usually just a matter of finding another place to enter state trust land that’s less popular, or simply driving deeper into the area than others go. Most people park at the first place they see that’s big enough for their rig!
Regulations vary, but in general, you can expect to be able to stay on state trust land for up to 14 days in any given location. Again, be certain to check local laws and ensure you’re operating within the required guidelines.
You’ll also find recreational activities commonly available in state trust land, such as trails for hiking and biking, OHV trails, and hunting opportunities; another reason why state trust land is popular with RVers.
BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management. BLM land is land managed by this federal Bureau, and there’s a ton of it across the country. This land is pretty much open use, and you can do just about anything you want on BLM land, making it one of the best places to park an RV overnight.
Parking your RV overnight in BLM land is pretty similar to state trust land. You’ll likely be in a remote area after driving down a dirt road. There won’t be any amenities, so you’ll need to plan ahead and bring all your own supplies. Don’t run out of water out here! And make sure to take out anything you bring in, practicing good leave-no-trace principles, as always!
Similar to state trust land, BLM land offers a wealth of outdoor recreational activities. Fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, off-roading, and more are all allowed, encouraged, and accessible on BLM land.
BLM land is massive, taking up about one-tenth of the land area in the US. According to the bureau itself, they manage 245 million acres. With so much space available on BLM land, you should be able to find some privacy, peace, and quiet.
Of course, how you choose to use that peace and quiet is up to you. There aren’t many regulations on BLM land, so you can certainly run your generators and set up a spacious campsite around your rig, if that’s the way you prefer to boondock!
Before heading out to the nearest tract of BLM land for an extended stay, be sure to check with the local BLM office for any camping restrictions. The general rule is that you can stay for on BLM land for up to 14 consecutive days in any 28-day period.
National Forest Land
Overnight RV parking on national forest land presents a fantastic opportunity for RV enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature while enjoying a wide range of recreational activities. National forests, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, encompass massive tracts of land across the country, providing RVers with a diverse array of environments, including towering forests, majestic mountains, sparkling lakes, and serene meadows.
Naturally, National Forests tend to occupy some of the most beautiful, picturesque landscapes that can be found in the US, so they’re definitely worth a little extra drive to make such places an overnight destination for your RV.
One of the key advantages of overnight RV parking on national forest land is the abundance of both established campgrounds and dispersed camping options. Many national forests offer designated camping areas with facilities such as picnic tables, fire pits, and restroom facilities, providing a level of comfort while still being immersed in nature. Alternatively, RVers can opt for dispersed camping, which allows them to camp in undesignated areas, offering more solitude and the freedom to choose their ideal spot.
National forest land is renowned for its vast network of trails, making it a haven for hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts. RVers can venture out on scenic trails that wind through towering forests, lead to cascading waterfalls, or offer breathtaking panoramic views. Additionally, national forests often permit activities like fishing, boating, wildlife watching, and even hunting in designated areas, providing ample opportunities for outdoor recreation during your overnight stay.
Be sure to check the USFS guidelines before embarking on your journey to help you prepare for your trip and learn how to best preserve our national forests for everyone. Here are a few tips to follow for responsible camping on national forest land:
- Use a pre-existing campsite or try to pick a spot where there’s no vegetation present
- Wash with just water, or if you use soap, ensure it’s biodegradable
- Keep campfires small and check with local ranger stations for fire restrictions
- Avoid approaching or following wildlife
- Follow leave-no-trace principles
Parking an RV overnight in campgrounds provides a convenient and comfortable option for RVers seeking amenities, social interaction, and a sense of community. Campgrounds are specifically designed to accommodate recreational vehicles, offering a range of facilities and services that cater to the needs of RV travelers.
From full-hookup sites with electrical, water, and sewer connections to amenities such as restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and sometimes even swimming pools and recreational activities, campgrounds provide a home-away-from-home experience for RVers.
If you’re the type of traveler that loves to meet new people and engage with those around you, then you might enjoy the closeness of a campground. When busy, which is usually on the weekends, every site could be occupied, and there could be someone just a stone’s throw away from you on each side. Please don’t throw any stones at them though, this type of behavior is generally frowned upon. Don’t ask me how I know…
Campgrounds provide a level of convenience and peace of mind for RVers who don’t like to get too far off the beaten path. They’re typically located in scenic areas, providing easy access to attractions, natural wonders, and recreational activities. This makes it convenient to explore nearby hiking trails, fishing spots, or tourist destinations, knowing you have a safe and comfortable place to return to at the end of the day.
Many campgrounds offer reservation systems, allowing you to secure a spot in advance and ensure availability during peak travel seasons. This takes the guesswork out of overnight RV parking for those who prefer to pre-plan their trips and avoid any unplanned adventures.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for peace and quiet that’s set away from the more touristy travelers, then you might find the closer proximity of campers in a campground to be less attractive. In a campground, you can see and hear the other campers in your vicinity. So, campgrounds are likely not the best choice for those seeking silence and solitude, but it’s hard to beat them in terms of safety and convenience.
RV parks offer a convenient and well-equipped option for RV travelers seeking a hassle-free experience with a range of amenities and services, removing all the worry about where can RVs park overnight. Here, you’ll find dedicated spaces with essential hookups such as electricity, water, and sewer connections. These hookups ensure a comfortable stay where you can enjoy the comforts of home while on the road.
One of the primary advantages of parking an RV overnight in an RV park is the availability of a wide array of amenities and facilities. RV parks often feature amenities such as laundry facilities, restrooms, showers, convenience stores, Wi-Fi access, and even recreational facilities like swimming pools, playgrounds, and game rooms.
Another benefit of parking in an RV park is the sense of community and camaraderie among fellow RVers. RV parks often foster a social atmosphere, providing opportunities to meet and connect with other travelers. Whether it’s sharing stories around a communal fire pit, joining organized activities or gatherings, or simply engaging in friendly conversations with your neighbors, RV parks offer a chance to interact and forge connections with like-minded individuals.
RV parks fill up quickly, particularly during travel season, so be sure to make your reservations well in advance. You can often find spaces available on a first-come-first-served basis, but in high-density tourist areas, the spaces go quickly, and the prices rise with the influx of customers.
The most notable downside to RV parks is that they’re generally the most expensive option, sometimes costing upwards of $60 per night, depending on where you’re at. You can often get better rates by paying weekly or monthly, though this isn’t always available or applicable.
At parks where you can pay by the week or month, you’re generally allowed to stay long-term, making it a great option for those who travel full-time and live in their RV.
Most RV parks these days have websites, allowing you to book your space in advance. That way, you never find yourself driving around wondering where to park your RV overnight!
Native American Reservations
Some states, such as Arizona and New Mexico, are filled with American Indian reservations. Unlike National Forest land or BLM land, you can’t simply drive onto a reservation and park overnight in the first suitable pulloff you find. However, many reservations do make overnight RV camping very accessible.
You’ll need to purchase a camping permit in order to park your RV overnight on any American Indian reservation. These range in price depending on the tribe and the length of your stay. Some tribes offer daily, weekly, and even monthly camping passes that allow you to freely camp across wide swaths of pristine and beautiful landscapes. This is a great option for those who prefer to camp far away from others, as you’ll generally be able to find a very secluded area with no tourists nearby.
In addition to great boondocking, Native American reservations also provide some of the best recreation opportunities for anyone who loves the outdoors. Some of the best fishing holes and hunting honeypots can be found on reservation land. Just be aware that you’ll need a separate permit for any activities you want to engage in, so be sure to pick up several permits for the activities you desire at the same time you get your camping permit.
Permits for reservation activities can be purchased in person at many stores on most reservations, but most tribes also have websites that allow you to purchase digital passes instead, which is often more convenient. However, if you stop into a shop and get a pass in person, you’ll likely be able to get some great advice from locals about the best spots to camp, hike, fish, hunt, etc.
Wineries and Farms
Though they may not be the first places you consider for overnight RV parking, wineries and farms often have ample space for RVs to park. Thanks to Harvest Hosts, for an extremely affordable $99 per year, you can park your RV overnight at available farms and wineries across the country.
Your membership gets you unlimited access to the farms and wineries that have signed up to be part of the service. No payment will be required at any of the farms or wineries you choose to stay at, though Harvest Hosts recommends making a purchase of their wares as an act of good faith.
While you do get unlimited stays through the app, there is a one-day limit at most locations, so don’t expect to use Harvest Hosts as a long-term solution, though it’s great for layover stops and the chance to see many places in short succession without having to pay nightly fees everywhere.
Amenities are not included with the Harvest Hosts service, so make sure your RV is fully self-contained and that you have all of your water and bathroom needs taken care of.
Many people have the space to park an RV on their property. Meanwhile, while you’re out here wondering where can you park a camper overnight? If you could somehow get in touch with the people that have extra space for an RV, then you might have a great solution on your hands.
Well, thanks to Boondockers Welcome, you can get in touch with thousands of people that do have extra space to host an RV overnight, all across the United States. Boondockers Welcome is a program similar to Harvest Hosts that connects RVers with hosts at private residences that have space on their properties for RVs to park.
Currently, there are over 3,000 hosts available on Boondockers Welcome, scattered across the United States. For one annual fee of just $79, you get unlimited free camping at host properties.
Now, you can’t stay for weeks at a time, your stay is limited to 1-3 days, but it’s a great way to travel without paying to park your RV each night.
One great feature of this service is that if you sign up to be a host, then your membership is free! You don’t have to be available all year to be a host either. More details can be found at the Boondockers Welcome website.
Rest Areas are generally highway-adjacent, making them extremely convenient places to stop overnight in your RV. They’re also strategically placed between cities, so finding one on your way to your next destination is often a given.
However, there are some things you’ll need to be aware of if you’re considering overnight RV parking at rest areas.
First, not all rest areas allow overnight RV parking. Some rest areas are only open during the day, and others have signs that specifically prohibit RV parking. Be sure to check the signs before you park, or you could get a ticket.
Second, even if overnight RV parking is allowed at a rest area, there may be restrictions on where you can park. Some rest areas have designated RV parking areas, while others allow RVs to park with trucks or overflow parking. Be sure to follow the posted regulations.
Third, be respectful of other travelers when you’re parking at a rest area. Don’t block access to other parking spots, and don’t make too much noise. Remember, you’re sharing the space with other people who are just trying to rest.
If you follow these tips, you can enjoy a safe and comfortable night’s sleep at a rest area. Just be sure to do your research and plan ahead so you know what to expect.
Here are some additional tips for overnight RV parking at rest areas:
- Arrive early in the evening to get a good spot.
- If possible, park in a well-lit area.
- Keep your RV clean and tidy.
- Be prepared to leave early in the morning.
- Obey all posted signs and regulations.
- Respect other travelers.
Be aware that if you park overnight at a rest area in your RV, you’ll be sharing the area with truckers, and there will likely be semi-trucks rolling in and out all night, along with other traffic.
Rest areas are not the quietest choice for overnight RV parking, and they’re certainly not secluded or private by any measure, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of parking right beside the highway without having to take a detour from your intended route. Plus, there’s no fee!
Businesses, Stores, and Restaurants
Overnight RV parking at businesses is a great option for RVers who are looking for a safe and convenient place to stay. There are many different types of businesses that offer overnight RV parking, including truck stops, restaurants, big box stores, and more. You can find a complete breakdown of the stores that allow overnight RV parking and the general guidelines to follow by clicking here.
When choosing a business to park your RV at, it is important to make sure that the business allows overnight RV parking. You should also check to see if there are any restrictions on the type of RV that is allowed to park, such as the length or height of the RV.
It’s best to try and be as incognito as possible when you’re parking an RV overnight at any business. You don’t want to impede their customers in any way, so look for parking spots that are out of the way. Keep your area clean and avoid setting up anything outside. You’re not camping, you’re just parking overnight.
Most stores will not allow you to park an RV overnight, but the ones that do usually don’t charge any sort of fee. Even the chains that do often allow overnight RV parking, such as Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and Cabela’s don’t allow it at every location. You’ll need to check with the store manager at the location you wish to park at to make sure that it’s not against their regulations.
Here are some additional tips for overnight RV parking at businesses:
- Arrive late and leave early
- Avoid any visible signs that you’re camping overnight
- Don’t impede any customers
- Keep a low profile and avoid being noisy
- Patronize the business to show your appreciation
Casinos are one of the best places to park RV overnight. Not only do they often offer overnight parking for RVs, but you’ll also find a wealth of entertainment and dining options at casinos as well.
At some casinos, you’ll be charged a small fee for overnight parking. But at many casinos, overnight parking is free for RVs, though you’ll certainly be encouraged to get a player’s card and play at the casino. This is not a requirement though.
Some casinos have a 24-hour parking limit while others have no limits to the length of your stay. Make sure to check with casino security before assuming that overnight RV parking is acceptable, even if the casino has an RV-specific parking lot.
At many casinos that allow RVs to park overnight, even some with liberal RV parking policies, permits are often required. These permits are free of charge many times, but you’ll still need one to avoid any problems with security.
Make sure to be respectful of the casino and avoid setting up a visible camp site. You can certainly pull out your slides and even run generators at many casinos, but keeping your area visually clean should be a priority. When you check with security at many casinos to get your parking permit, you’ll be given a set of rules as well, and no visible equipment aside from your RV is usually a requirement.
Fairgrounds can be found in nearly every major town and city across the United States. When they’re not being used for fairs, they’re simply big, open, empty areas with no use. So, many fairgrounds rent out spaces to RVs.
Generally speaking, fairgrounds offer a cheaper overnight RV parking solution than RV parks or even campgrounds. You’ll be parked in close proximity with other campers though, so it’s not the kind of place you seek out for some peace and quiet!
For the most part, you’ll be boondocking at fairgrounds, though sometimes amenities are available.
Because of the lower cost of fairground parking, they tend to be pretty well populated, and not every guest is the type you’d hope to be parked near. If you end up in a spot you’re unhappy with, you might be able to move spots, but it’s never a guarantee.
It’s a good idea to call ahead before driving into the fairgrounds so you can get a good idea of what you’re heading into. Fairgrounds are not always known for the best security or cleanup when it comes to RV parking, so just be aware of that before you choose a fairground as your destination.
On the other hand, you can usually stay pretty long-term at most fairgrounds. They’re often centrally located in major cities as well, making them a great place to be parked when your goal is to explore the city.
Finding the Best Places to Park an RV Overnight
Now you’ve got a list of great places where your RV can safely be parked overnight, and you can boondock with relatively few worries.
The problem is, how do you find the best of these locations near you?
Here are a few easy ways to find your perfect parking spot for tonight.
Using the list of available places for RV overnight parking discussed above, search for the locations that seem best to you on Google maps.
For instance, if you’re thinking about staying at a casino, simply type “casino” into google maps and go to one of the locations that pops up.
You could try searching for “RV Parks,” “Campgrounds,” “Rest Areas,” or any of the other places we’ve already mentioned.
Overnight RV Parking App for your Phone
While Google maps will certainly help you find a place to park your RV overnight if you already know the sort of places you’re looking for, there are other apps that will make it even easier and faster to find parking for your RV overnight.
My personal favorite is Campendium.
You can use Campendium as an app or simply visit their website.
Campendium will show you all the RV-related place around you, including overnight parking options of both the paid and free varieties. You’ll also be able to see places near you where you can dump your black tanks or fill up your water.
I personally use Campendium anytime I’m in an unfamiliar place and looking for safe overnight parking accomodations for my RV.
For more information about Campendium and the other RV-related apps that I use and recommend the most, look out for my article on RV apps that will be coming soon!
Whether you’re traveling in an RV or you live in one full time, overnight parking is always going to be of utmost concern. Luckily, as you can see from this list, there are plenty of options available to you when searching for overnight RV parking.
These options range from secluded rural boondocking opportunities like state trust or BLM land, to far less rugged options with amenities like RV parks. Don’t forget that you can also park your RV overnight at certain stores and restaurants, which you can learn more about in this article.