When your RV holding tanks are nearly full, the most prominent thought in your mind becomes, “Where’s there an RV dump station near me?”
If you’re camping at a campground or RV park with a dump station, or you’re connected to the sewer at your full hook-up campsite, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
However, not all campgrounds have a dump station or hookups.
Also, if you’re boondocking (our favorite way to camp!) or road-tripping and your tanks are getting full, you want the answer to this question, and you want it FAST.
We don’t need to explain what happens if your black tank overflows. It ain’t gonna be pretty, and every RVer knows that.
So, with a bright new camping season on the horizon, we thought we’d drop a post on how to find a dump station when you need one!
- 1) What’s a Dump Station?
- 2) How to Find RV Dump Stations Near Me
- 3) Can I Empty My RV Tanks in a Sewer or Storm Drain?
- 4) Can I Dump My Gray Tank on the Ground?
- 5) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
What’s a Dump Station?
If you’re new to RVing, you may wonder what we’re talking about when we use the term “dump station,” so here’s a super quick tutorial with links to more detailed information.
An RV dump station is where you empty your RV’s holding tanks.
In short, you’ll connect a sewer hose to your RV on one end, and to the sewer inlet at the dump station on the other. You’ll then pull your black water tank’s gate valve to release the contents of your black tank into the dump station’s sewer. Once that has stopped running, you’ll pull the gate valve for your gray tank to release its contents.
Pro Tip: Always dump your tanks in that order – black first, gray last. The reason for this is that the contents of your gray tank will clean out (at least to some degree) any black tank debris left in the sewer hose.
Super Pro Tip: to test to be sure your sewer connections are all tight and not leaking once they’re connected, pull your gray valve first for one quick release of water (closing it again after a rush of water is released). That way, if anything DOES leak, it’s only GRAY water you have to deal with… not black!
Here are a couple of pieces of very inexpensive gear that’ll make your tank-dumping experiences easier and less likely to cause hassle and stress.
The first is a clear 45-degree RV sewer hose adapter that lets you see when your tank is running clear.
- Clear RV Sewer Hose Adapter: See-through hose adapter allows you to see when your RV sewer system is clean
- Compatibility: Fits 3-inch diameter RV sewer hoses
The second product is an adjustable sewer line weight designed to hold the end of your sewer hose in place so that the force of the water (or even wind!) doesn’t blow it out of the hole and leave ???? spraying all over the place!
Sometimes there’s a rock or a stick left at the dumping site for your use. But there are a few problems with this.
- There might not be one at every dump station! (that could mean you must use your foot to hold down the hose. No, thank you!)
- If there’s a rock or stick there, rest assured that it’s filthy. (Like… really filthy ????)
- Not all dump stations have the exact same size hole in the ground, and this product puts a weight on each side of the hose to keep your sewer hose down regardless of the size of the hole.
RV dump stations generally have a hose handy to further clean out your sewer hose before putting it away… and to clean up the area before you leave the dump station.
Note that there are lots of dump stations that have closed over time due to campers leaving disgusting messes behind. It’s incumbent upon each of us to leave a dump station in the best condition possible when we leave. That means not leaving any spills uncleaned or dropping things like used rubber gloves on the ground.
Many dump stations also have a potable water station to allow you to fill your fresh water tank. It’s generally situated away from the sewer hole where you dump your tanks. If there’s a hose located near the sewer hole, you can be sure that it exists to help you to clean up after dumping, not for filling your fresh tank.
Be sure not to confuse a non-potable hose with a hose for potable water. If it’s not clearly marked “potable water,” don’t take the chance by using that hose to fill your RV fresh water tank.
Before we move on to our list of the best ways to find an RV dump station near you, we’ll drop this must-watch video for those unfamiliar with how to dump your tanks at a dump station, that’ll have you dumping your tanks like a pro in no time.
How to Find RV Dump Stations Near Me
Before we go any further, we want to issue a quick word of caution: don’t wait until your tanks are actually full to dump them. If at all possible, give yourself the gift of a little leeway.
Sometimes when people know they’ll be camping at a location without a dump station for a longer period of time than their holding tanks can handle, they’ll opt to carry a portable dump tank to give them extra time. See our post on the 3 best portable RV dump tanks for more information.
And now, without further a-doo-doo (sometimes you just can’t help yourself), here are the best ways to find an RV dump station near you!
Rest Areas & Service Plazas, State & City Parks, RV/Camping Stores
There are some rest stops and welcome centers/service plazas strewn around North America that have dump stations handy for your use as you travel.
There are also some RV and camping stores here and there that offer the same.
You generally have to pay a small fee to dump your tanks at these locations, as you will at most dump stations unless you’ve paid to be a campground or RV park guest.
Some local campgrounds will allow you to dump your tanks for a fee, even if you’re not a paying guest. Don’t just assume this is allowed at every campground, though. Call ahead before re-routing.
Most of these RV dump stations will be highlighted in the subsequent options below for finding RV dump stations. No matter how you access the information, the best way to find an RV dump station near you is to search online using an app or website like the ones below.
These apps and sites will make you wonder how RVers got by without them back in the days before you could search online (we’ve been full-time RVers for 20 years, so we’ve traveled without the benefit of these apps ourselves, and don’t miss those days!).
SaniDumps.com is a website and app for locating RV dump stations in many countries, including (but not limited to!) the US and Canada.
SaniDumps is a community-driven search system that has been around for over 17 years, offering one of the most comprehensive ways to search available to RVers. The site includes private and public dump stations located at RV parks & campgrounds, municipal locations, truck stops, rest stops, resorts, and commercial locations.
At some of these dump stations, you’ll pay a fee, while others ask for a donation, or are simply free.
You’ll use a menu to search for RV dump stations near your location by selecting country, region (state, province, etc.), or city.
RVDumps.com is limited to the United States and focuses primarily on locations other than RV parks and campgrounds. These would include rest areas, truck stops, fueling stations, etc.
You’ll be able to view dump stations on a map, or you can opt to choose the state, and then the city, to filter the stations in your area.
Note that the map view includes interstate rest areas and welcome centers with dump stations, and also allows you to choose to filter results by cost:
- $10 or less
- $20 or less
- $30 or less
- $31 or more
- Other (donations and unknown cost)
RVdumpsites.net is a map-based search engine that’s available via the web and is free to use.
You’ll first choose the area where you’re interested in locating a dump station. Once you identify a dump station near you, you’ll see that station’s distance from you as well as feedback from other dump station users about that particular station.
RVDumpSites.net is community-driven, and you’re encouraged to leave information and feedback on the site after using a dump station.
Note that this is a very basic search system.
AllStays is an amazing website and app that’ll not only show you where dump stations are located throughout the United States and Canada but much more travel information as well.
The AllStays app is the #1 camping app for iPhones and iPads. It’ll show you everything from resorts to hike-in spots to fishing spots. You’ll also find truck stops, rest areas, Walmart & casino overnight parking with user feedback, as well as RV services, propane fill services, and more.
AllStays will even give you height clearances so you’ll be aware of any upcoming issues based on the height of your rig.
The web version and the app version both offer full-screen maps, boondocking, public lands and trails, bridge heights and weights, steep road grades, and many ways to filter results, with over half a million search combinations.
An AllStays full membership is well worth the meager cost whether you’re a regular traveler or you have one big road trip planned.
Campendium is a well-known website and iPhone & Android app that is part of Roadpass.
The site and app will show you to the nearest dump stations throughout the United States and Canada. It’ll also offer information on campgrounds, RV parks, national parks, national forests, free campsites, and more.
You can upgrade to Roadpass Pro to also get premium access to their RV-Safe GPS, cell coverage maps, RoadTripper trip planning app, and more.
If you intend to grab Roadpass Pro, be sure to save yourself some cash by using our discount coupon:
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Upgrade your RVing experience with Roadpass Plus. One annual subscription gets you access to Roadtrippers Plus (a comprehensive trip planner), Campendium (for finding free boondocking spots all over North America), OvernightRVParking.com (for finding free overnight RV parking spots), RV-Safe GPS (for RV-specific turn-by-turn navigation), and access to savings on RV Tires (save up to 45% on major brands).
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iOverlander is a site and set of apps almost entirely run by volunteers.
Essentially a mapping project created to help fellow overlanders find the next location on their journey, iOverlander allows anyone to add destinations to the map (users can also donate time or money to help keep the project going).
iOverlander shows you locations in Africa, Europe, North America, and elsewhere, including (but far from limited to) RV dump stations along the way. You can view locations via a map or a list, and get information on GPS coordinates, amenities, and more.
iOverlander is especially beneficial to off-roading campers, so big rigs beware! This might not be the best choice for you.
And finally, a simple Google search for “rv dump station near me” will pull up information that should give you some options near your location.
Be aware, however, that the information shown on a Google search may not be up-to-date, so if you’re going to have to go out of your way to get to a dump station shown on a basic Google search (fuel = $$$), you might want to see if you can call ahead or cross-check the information with another source.
Can I Empty My RV Tanks in a Sewer or Storm Drain?
Good gravy, no! Never empty your tanks in a sewer or storm drain. While it might seem reasonable to empty your RV’s black and gray tanks into a storm or sewer drain, not only could you contaminate the groundwater, but you could also get into some big trouble with the EPA or other state or local authorities.
Contaminating the groundwater can lead to some very hefty fines that’ll end up costing you far more than a visit to an area dump station.
You’ve got loads of great options noted above for finding dump stations near you, so don’t ever engage in the improper use of a sewer or storm drain.
Can I Dump My Gray Tank on the Ground?
This one’s a little trickier, but not by much. As we noted in our full post, Can You Dump RV Gray Water On the Ground?, regulations regarding the dumping of gray water vary from place to place.
However, it’s most important to note that in most places it’s illegal to dump the contents of your RV gray tank on the ground. There are some exceptions, but unless you’re very familiar with the rules and regulations of every state, you’re far better off using the resources we’ve noted above to locate a nearby dump station.
It’s illegal to dump the contents of RV gray tanks on the grounds of developed recreation areas, wilderness areas, and conservation lands. But dumping gray water (or “wash water”) is allowed on some subdivisions of BLM public lands.
However, there are four subdivisions within the BLM: Public Lands, Developed Recreation Areas, Wilderness Areas, and Conservation Lands.
Camping is allowed in all four subdivisions, but regulations vary for each. In most areas, dumping your gray tanks on the ground is NOT legal. And even though a certain subdivision of BLM may permit you to dump RV grey water on the ground in some places, state laws prevail.
Be aware that many soaps are also very harmful to wildlife and to the environment. Some dish soap, for example, is made from petroleum products which can be harmful to animals.
But remember – these soaps will also affect pets who camp in the same area after you’ve dumped your gray water. Likewise, your pet may be harmed by gray water dumped by other campers!
If you intend to dump your gray water on the ground in areas where it’s permitted, please be sure to only use biodegradable soaps like these:
- Dr. Bronner hemp peppermint
- Pure Castile oil made with organic oils
- Moisturizing Body Wash leaves skin feeling smooth, soft, and refreshed
- Dermatologically tested
But now that you have many options for finding an RV dump station near where you’re traveling, you shouldn’t need to dump your gray tank (and you should NEVER dump your black tank) on the ground!
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