5 Places It’s Illegal to Park Your RV
Sometimes, it’s illegal to park your RV in that sweet spot you found.
We get it. When traveling, there are times you don’t want to pay the average $40 cost of a campground merely to park and sleep for a night.
Sometimes you just want to park somewhere and get some shut-eye without paying a fee or setting up camp in a campground. But in many places, it’s not legal to do that.
Here are five places where you can’t park your RV.
Let’s take a look!
5 Places Where It’s Illegal to Park Your RV
Some of these places might surprise you, and some are common sense. Do your research and avoid parking your RV in any of these places so you don’t face fines, towing, or worse: jail time.
Believe it or not, it can be illegal to park your RV on a residential street in many towns. If this is the case, there will usually be signs prohibiting it.
Sometimes, you can get away with a quick overnight stop on a residential street, but when neighborhood residents take notice and report it, you can get in trouble. You’re especially likely to face trouble on narrow roads.
It’s usually best to avoid parking your RV on residential streets.
Rest Stops in Certain States
When you think of a rest stop, you think of literally stopping to rest. But it’s actually illegal to park your RV or car overnight at some rest stops. And, in some states, it’s even against the law to sleep at a rest stop.
It sounds crazy, but it’s true!
States like Colorado, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and a handful of others prohibit parking overnight in rest areas. If it’s illegal to sleep there, you’ll see signs in the parking lot or on the building.
In many cases, the sign will tell you how long you’re legally allowed to stay there. Sometimes, there’s an eight or ten-hour limit. Regardless, these limits will be clearly posted around the property.
Pro Tip: Shhhh don’t tell, but we discovered The Secrets to Finding Great Overnight RV Parking.
Private Land Without Permission
This one should be a no-brainer, but it bears stating: it’s illegal to park your RV on private property without permission. And it’s truly not worth the risk. You never know what lengths someone will go to when they find a trespasser on their land, especially with a big RV.
But did you know there’s a way you can park on private land for free with landowner permission?
It’s called Boondockers Welcome. With this app, private landowners can sign up to be “hosts,” and you can request to stay overnight or for a weekend or longer on their property. This is an excellent way to have a quick, free, and safe place to sleep.
Campgrounds Without Paying
Many RV parks and campgrounds are first-come, first-served. And some campgrounds, like state park campgrounds, don’t have a gate attendant or host.
There are many RV campgrounds where you select a site, place cash in an envelope, and deposit it in a dropbox for someone to collect. In this instance, it can be tempting to take a campsite for some quick shut-eye, then head out in the morning.
This is illegal, and we certainly don’t recommend parking your RV that way. You don’t want to be caught stealing a campsite, after all.
If you want to camp for free, try boondocking instead.
Public Streets Between Certain Hours
In many cities and towns, it’s illegal to park on public streets between certain hours for a few reasons. For example, many officials ask people not to sleep in their cars for safety, or they might need the roads clear for street cleaners or snow removal.
Either way, if you break these laws, prepare to be fined or towed, or both.
How Can You Find Out Where You Can Park Your RV?
Use apps and websites like Allstays, Campendium, and FreeCampsites.net to find where you can legally park your RV.
If you’re up for boondocking, it’s legal to park your RV overnight for up to 14 days on most BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and at many pullouts on national forest roads.
These websites and apps can give you ideas of free and legal places to park your RV nearest you. They even feature public parking lots like Walmart, Home Depot, and more.
How Much Can You Be Fined for Illegal RV Parking?
Fines and ticket prices for illegally parking your RV vary depending on where you’re parked and for how long.
Reports of fines for illegal RV parking vary. We’ve heard reports of $1,500 and up to a year in jail for parking in a neighborhood. Or you might face $50 to $100 a night for illegally street parking your campers in a Montana town.
In another case, one couple faces $500 a day for illegal neighborhood parking in Menlo Park.
In any case, you probably don’t want to find out how much the fine will be for illegal RV parking.
Pro Tip: Considering car camping? Before you give it a go, make sure to read up on Is Sleeping in Your Car Legal?
Will Your RV Be Towed When Illegally Parked?
If you park your RV in a public area where it’s illegal, like on city streets, you can be towed. If your RV is abandoned or broken down in a place where it’s illegal to park for an extended period, it can be towed from there, too.
It’s important to understand where it’s okay and not okay to park your RV either overnight or for extended periods to avoid fines and towing consequences.
Use Common Sense to Find Legal RV Parking
Some might say, “It’s only illegal if you get caught.” To that, we say: Do you really want to chance it? Do you want to risk $50 to $1,500 in fines and more money in towing fees?
Why risk getting in trouble with law enforcement when it’s easy to find legal free camping anywhere in the U.S.?
Use your common sense and all available resources to find legal RV parking, even if it’s just for one night of shut-eye.
Do you have any tips for legal RV parking?
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No problems when outside of big cites. But if you need a big city for things like medical then you’re stuck. Usually nothing closer than an hours drive because of urban sprawl. That’s why, except for medical care, I avoid all big cities. Nothing else I want there. Give me a tree instead of a building anytime.