It’s no secret that we love boondocking. We’re big fans of the beauty and peace & quiet that remote camping locations offer. But en route from point A to point B, it can also be handy to find a quick place to stay. So it should come as no surprise that we also love all sorts of free overnight RV parking.
Not only is free overnight parking a great way to save a few bucks, but it can also be more convenient to just find a place to park for the night, without having to check-in, hook up, etc… only to have to undo it all in the morning. We love hearing about unique overnight parking experiences from our fellow RVers, so in today’s post, we’re sharing some tips to help you find free overnight RV parking for your upcoming travel adventures.
What is Free Overnight RV Parking?
Some businesses and locations provide space for free overnight RV parking. We enjoy staying in these spots when traveling between destinations. Popular parking locations include many Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, truck stops, casinos, and Cabela’s (although bad behavior on the part of some thoughtless RVers has put that last one in the news, as some locations bar overnighting).
There are probably more places than you realize that allow you to park your rig overnight… as long as you obey the rules and abide by the free overnight parking etiquette.
Free Overnight RV Parking vs. Camping
When using free parking, RVers don’t set up camp. These parking spots are meant to provide a safe place to get a good night’s rest with the intent that travelers move along the following morning.
There are usually no services provided such as power connections, water, or dump stations, although once in a while you do find a gem or two with such amenities. Most simply offer a safe place to stop and rest at no cost, and often a restaurant or a place to shop.
RVers should be especially mindful to leave free overnight RV parking areas in good or better condition than when they arrived. Many free overnight RV parking locations are being eliminated because overnight visitors leave trash or disrespect the land or lot in various ways. As we mentioned, the recent news that many Cabela’s are no longer allowing overnight parking for RVers is pretty infuriating, since it’s the actions of some fellow RVers that often lead to things like that. ????
We certainly don’t blame businesses for prohibiting overnight parking if some people are abusing the opportunity, thus causing issues or expenses for the establishment. But we hope most travelers respect the hospitality being extended by these businesses and abide by the rules imposed by each business and by the general rules of etiquette we establish as an RVing community.
An important note:
When overnighting at truck stops, remember that hard-working truckers come first. They need their parking spaces, showers, food, and other amenities, and they very much need their rest as a matter of safety. Most truck stops have overnight parking areas designated for RVs, so please try to avoid intruding on truckers’ spaces unless they’re designated for RV use as well. Truckers are working, and they’re sharing their truck stops with us. For this reason, we generally try to avoid truck stops altogether unless 1) We’re arriving very late, so that most truckers who need the spaces are more likely to be in for the night already, and 2) There’s ample additional space available for any truckers who arrive after we do.
The Escapees RV Club (are you a member? Join now and we’ll contribute 100% of our affiliate income to their C.A.R.E. Center!) offers a great document outlining all of the rules of etiquette for parking overnight:
Is Free Overnight RV Parking Legal?
The legality of overnight parking can vary from state to state and also from city to city. In some cases, businesses can decide whether they’ll allow overnight RV parking or not, but in other cases, this decision is not in their control.
Many cities and municipalities have laws that prohibit overnight RV parking. In many of these cities, individuals have abused the privilege and forced authorities to craft legislation prohibiting the practice. In some cases, RV parks have lobbied their local government to ban overnight parking, which they view as competition.
RVers who seek free overnight RV parking should contact the business in advance and verify the law and the policies of the business. No one wants to wake up to “The Knock” on their RV door in the middle of the night and be forced to find a different spot — or worse, get fined for parking illegally.
Our Favorite Way to Find Free Overnight RV Parking
There are many popular options for finding free overnight RV parking. But there is one that stands out from the rest.
Let’s take a look at our favorite method for finding a safe, free and legal overnight spot to rest when we need an overnight break en route to our destination.
Hands down, our go-to resource for finding free overnight parking is OvernightRVParking.com. It was already a great value on its own, but since it’s now a part of Togo RV, joining gets you access to all the resources available in a Togo RV Plus membership: RV GPS navigation, premium trip planning with RoadTrippers plus, and lots of great discounts!
Upgrade your RVing experience with ToGo RV Plus. One annual subscription gets you access to Roadtrippers (a comprehensive trip planner), OvernightRVParking.com (for finding free overnight RV...Show More
Upgrade your RVing experience with ToGo RV Plus. One annual subscription gets you access to Roadtrippers (a comprehensive trip planner), OvernightRVParking.com (for finding free overnight RV parking spots), the ToGo RV-Safe GPS (for RV-specific turn-by-turn navigation), and access to savings on RV Tires (save up to 45% on major brands).
Save $10 on your subscription when you sign up using coupon code RVGEEKS.Show Less
We love this resource because it currently has more than 15,500 RV parking and “no parking” locations across the United States and Canada (sometimes, knowing that you CAN’T park overnight somewhere is just as helpful as knowing where you can). We’ve loved this resource so much that we’ve been loyal subscribers since we discovered it many years ago.
We appreciate the fact that this is not just crowd-sourced data but that the website administrator calls businesses and property owners to verify free parking locations and collect information. The administrator also offers incentives for information by extending membership subscriptions in exchange for updated/new information.
This helps to secure the most accurate, up-to-date, and reliable information regarding free overnight RV parking. It also means that the website and its information base continually grow as more users submit information.
We find it especially helpful that each listing provides specific details about the parking spot. This helps to remove the guesswork in finding a safe and pleasant overnight camping spot.
If you use this resource for just a single night during your travels, the money you’ll save on a campsite can easily pay for an entire annual subscription. It’s pretty hard to argue with that!
Benefits of Overnight RV Parking
There are many benefits to free overnight RV parking. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not it’s for you, consider these perks.
No Need to Unhook or Set Up Camp
One of the most significant benefits of overnight RV parking is not having to unhook or set up camp.
The layout of our RV allows us to be able to live perfectly comfortably without extending any of our four slides during a parking lot overnight. We can access the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom without extending the slides, so we keep everything pretty well packed up for travel, enjoy our rest, and hit the road early the following morning.
Quick, Free, and Safe Place to Sleep
There can be some inherent dangers in searching for dispersed camping spots in the dark or pulling over to the side of the road at night because your driver is perilously exhausted. Parking in a business lot allows you to avoid these sorts of uncomfortable situations.
It’s not difficult to find these locations as they’re often in populated areas not far off of your route. Camping in places with a generous amount of traffic and the presence of fellow RVers can provide a sense of safety and security for the night.
Convenient When on a Long Journey
Perhaps the best feature of free overnight RV parking spots is the convenience. It’s a real comfort to be able to find places to stop for the night that are often right off the interstate/highway during your travels. That makes them easy to access and easy to depart.
It’s frosting on the cake when a free overnight location has a fuel stop, a restaurant, or a place to pick up a few grocery items. These are big perks for travelers in the middle of a long road trip.
Finding free overnight RV parking is simple, and the experience is a real help. In return, we trust that our fellow RVers will respect the opportunity being offered to us, leave each location as clean (or cleaner) than they found it, and whenever possible, patronize the business as a thanks for their hospitality.
If you’ve enjoyed unique places to stay overnight for free in the midst of your travels, feel free to comment and share them with us and all of our readers in the comments down below.
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