You’re not alone if you need a last-minute place to park your RV overnight. As a traveler, you should expect the unexpected, but it’s never fun to find yourself needing rest without an option in sight.
Instead of hitting those rumble strips, figure out a safe location to pull over for a few hours to get some shut-eye.
Today, we’re talking about seven excellent places that usually welcome overnighters.
About RV Overnight Parking
As an RVer, chances are good that you’ll eventually need a place to park overnight. Maybe you hit traffic and won’t reach your destination on time, your plans fell through, or you’re just flat-out tired from a long day on the road.
For folks in between destinations, it can feel like your options are slim. After all, it’s hard to justify booking a room when you have a portable hotel under your feet. And getting a last-minute spot at a campground can be challenging.
But the truth is, plenty of options are out there, and many of them are even free. You just need to get creative.
Certain stores and restaurants are well-known among the RV community for being boondocking-friendly. You’ll be set in no time if you’re equipped with a tank of fresh water and a few good resources.
Phone apps like RVParky, AllStays, and Park Advisor can direct you to nearby parking areas. But you might want to keep a hard copy of the following places in case you lose your phone or can’t get service.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can roll the dice with a stay in a casino parking lot. Casinos are usually huge buildings with parking lots to match. Often, they’re well-lit and patrolled by 24-hour security.
“Casino camping,” as it’s often called, is definitely more bright lights and less great outdoors. But this option can offer a relatively safe place to catch some much-needed shut-eye. Even better, they’re usually close to many amenities like restaurants and stores to replenish supplies.
As with any other establishment, you’ll want to check with management to see if RV parking overnight for free is okay. Some casinos reserve motorhome spots for rewards members or require boondockers to check in. If caught without a slip on your dashboard, you could get a rude awakening and a swift kick out the metaphorical door.
Pro Tip: Win big by using this guide on How to Park Your RV Overnight at a Casino.
#2 Cracker Barrel
The next time you drive down the interstate, look at those restaurant signs before each exit. We’d be willing to bet no eatery appears more often than Cracker Barrel. This beloved all-day breakfast spot has served many weary travelers over the years. It’s also well-known in the RV community for allowing folks to park overnight in their large lots.
Of course, there are rare exceptions, so asking management before setting up shop is always considerate. You can take this opportunity to ensure running a generator or extending slide-outs is okay. Cracker Barrel lots often have dedicated RV spots, so be sure to use one of them or choose another out-of-the-way location.
Perhaps the best part of overnighting at Cracker Barrel is the delicious breakfast you can enjoy before taking off the next day. It’s an excellent way to fuel your tank and say thank you for the free night’s stay.
Walmart is another well-known spot to park an RV overnight. These megastores are nationwide and have large, sprawling parking lots.
Historically, most Walmarts welcomed RVers with open arms, and many still do. Unfortunately, however, these retailers are increasingly closing their lots to overnighters.
You’ll want to check with a manager before settling in since camping without permission could get you kicked out or fined. Once you get the all-clear, pick a spot far from the store entrance.
As always, remember that you’re not at a campground. The more RVers disregard common courtesy, the fewer stores will allow overnight parking privileges.
Fortunately, most Walmart parking lots are well-lit, and many feature 24-hour security. But you’ll still want to take safety precautions, such as locking your doors and windows and keeping a light on. You never know who’s roaming around after closing time.
Pro Tip: Safety first! Find out Is It Safe to Camp at Walmart?
#4 Public Land
Dispersed camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, at national monuments, and other public grounds can be a great and free solution for an overnight stay. This is proper camping in nature rather than a bright, metropolitan parking lot.
Don’t expect any amenities like running water or electricity. Instead, get ready to embrace the outdoors. You’ll want to ensure you have everything you need, like food, fresh water, gas for your generator, and plenty of room in your grey and black water tanks.
Public lands can offer stunning views and a chance to catch your breath after a day in traffic. These sites won’t be in developed campgrounds but may be near trailheads and other notable attractions.
#5 Rest Areas
Rest stops exist for a single purpose, and that’s to give drivers a break from the open road. But that doesn’t mean they all allow RVers to park overnight. Many have signs that state, “No Camping Allowed.” However, in most cases, there’s a distinction between camping and getting the necessary sleep to hit the road safely.
Some basic rules should be followed when parking your RV overnight at a rest stop. Firstly, don’t park in designated trucker spots. Truckers are limited in where they can fit their rigs, so taking up their spaces in a limited lot isn’t cool. Of course, if you’re in a large 40-foot or longer motorhome, those might be the only logical places for you to use.
Secondly, remember that your goal is to get sleep, not establish a new campground. So don’t get too comfortable by setting up your grill, hanging a hammock, and putting lawn chairs out front. Flying under the radar will only help you.
Finally, trust your gut. If you pull into a rest stop with no other RVers and that little voice in your head tells you to move on to the next town, listen to it. Rest stops aren’t always the safest place to overnight, so be hypervigilant, especially after sundown.
If you find an airport with spaces for oversized vehicles, you might consider overnighting. It won’t be free, as these lots usually charge by the hour or day. And don’t expect a relaxing environment. There’s always plenty of traffic and noise in these locations.
However, not all airports can accommodate large vehicles. And those that can probably still have size restrictions, so do your research before showing up.
The positive side is that airports prioritize safety inside and out, so you can trust it’ll be relatively safe and well-lit. You’ll likely see cameras around the lot and even security patrolling around the clock, which can go a long way to making you feel comfortable.
When the fair comes to town, they have to stay somewhere. And that place is usually the fairground itself. Some of these sites even have full hookups. So when the show moves on to the next county, those spots are often opened to the public.
Fairgrounds usually charge a small fee, but it’s less than you’d pay at a regular campground. They also won’t have many, or any, amenities. But that shouldn’t matter if you’re only there for a good night’s sleep.
As always, be aware of your surroundings and lock your doors. Fairgrounds probably don’t have much in the way of lighting or security measures, so close your blinds and make sure all your belongings are secured.
Park Your RV Overnight in Safe and Convenient Places
For most RVers, the need for an accessible, safe place to park overnight is inevitable. After all, with the freedom of travel comes the unexpected. Fortunately, plenty of options around the country can meet your needs for a free night’s rest.
Even in places where none of these options are available, it’s possible to do a little out-of-the-box thinking to find a suitable spot to rest for the night. Just remember to ask permission if where you want to stop is an open business.
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: