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5 Unusual Places to Sleep Overnight for Free

If you’ve stayed any length of time in a campground, you know how expensive nightly fees can be. You also know how some locations can get rowdy on the weekends or have dogs barking all day long. Sometimes you just need to get away and do something different.

If you want to stay in a unique location, we have you covered. Whether casinos, churches, or farms, there are locations all over the country where RVers can sleep overnight.

Let’s take a closer look at five unusual places where RVers can hit the hay!

Can you Sleep Overnight Anywhere? 

Although you may think that RVers can just pull over to get some “Zzzs” anywhere, local ordinances and regulations prevent this. Even among certain retail chains or restaurant chains, different locations have varying rules for overnight parking.

For example, a Walmart in San Antonio may allow overnight RV parking while a Walmart just a few hours away in Houston may not. Sometimes this is because of local regulations. Other times this is because RVers have abused this privilege, and managers have decided not to permit overnight parking.

If you’re looking for a safe place to sleep for a night, it’s always best to call ahead and ask permission. It’s also a good idea to check reviews on apps. This way, you won’t be disappointed or frustrated upon arrival.

Group of four friends eating food in front of RV while camping
No matter where you end up camping, you are sure to make lifelong memories.

How Do You Find Places to Park Overnight?

There are several apps available to RVers to help locate free overnight parking. Campendium is one of the most popular options. It’s free but also has an ungraded subscription version. It shows cell coverage, has user reviews, and gives any amenities. You can easily search for locations near you or along your route.

Another popular app is AllStays. Like Campendium, it has a free version and a Pro version with a yearly fee. It operates much like Campendium by providing users with locations near them or along their route. AllStays has a robust collection of paid and free campsites and is a great resource for travelers.

Overnight RV Parking is part of the Togo RV app and has “the largest database of free RV parking locations in the US and Canada,” with over 14,000 listings. The team vets every location for accuracy and has served the RV community for 14 years. You can’t go wrong with these three apps to help you find free overnight parking.

What Do You Need to Dry Camp Overnight?

Dry camping is parking overnight without any hookups. There is no water source, no electricity source, and no sewer dump station. You have to be completely self-sufficient and self-contained. For one night, you won’t need much. If you plan on boondocking for days or weeks, you’ll need to prepare to ensure you have everything you need.

For a quick stopover, make sure you have some water in your fresh tank or water jugs. This gives you access to water for washing and flushing the toilet. You’ll also need power. This comes from your house batteries or a generator. If you have a residential fridge and no solar panels, your house batteries will deplete quickly. This is due to the power needed to run this type of fridge.

You may have to run a generator for a few hours. If you just need to use a plug or two to charge a cell phone or run a coffee maker, your house batteries will be fine. You shouldn’t need a dump station for just one night of camping.

Couple planning RV camping trip at night time
When you can’t book a campsite for the night, there are plenty of other unusual places to spend the night.

5 Unusual Places RVers Sleep Overnight

Although many RVers choose to stay in comfortable campgrounds with amenities and full hookups, there are a handful of unusual places RVers can also sleep overnight. These locations generally don’t have hookups. Some require membership, while others don’t.

Casino Parking Lots 

RVers love staying overnight in casino parking lots because most of them have 24/7 security. It’s a safe location, generally right off the interstate. The parking lots are huge and offer plenty of room for even the largest rig to maneuver around.

Before arriving, it’s a good idea to call ahead to get permission. Upon arrival, go into the casino, let the manager know you’ve arrived, and ask if there is designated RV parking or particular rules to follow. After you’re parked, head in for dinner or try your hand at the slot machines. It’s a fun way to spend an evening.

Pro Tip: Use these tips on How to Park Your RV Overnight at a Casino to make your experience easy and safe.

Church Parking Lots

If you’re not staying on a Saturday or Sunday night, many churches are open to overnight RV parking. These parking lots remain empty for much of the week. Like with casinos, call ahead to ask permission.

Since there may not be staff when you arrive, ask where to park and the rules to follow on the phone. Perhaps consider donating through the church’s website as a thank-you for allowing you to park overnight.

Pro Tip: Learn more about how you can park your RV at a church overnight with our handy guide.

Elks Lodges and Moose Lodges

You don’t have to be a member of any organization to park overnight in a casino or church parking lot. But to take advantage of Elks Lodge and Moose Lodge parking, you do. However, it’s not expensive, and it supports a good cause. 

To become a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, fill out a membership application and pay the yearly fee. To become part of the Moose Fraternity, you also have to fill out an application and pay the yearly dues. This gives you access to all Elks Lodge and Moose Lodge locations around the country where you can park overnight.

Just call ahead before arriving to ask permission and gather information about where to park.

Planet Fitness

Another location that may require you to have a membership is Planet Fitness. This may vary from location to location, so call ahead.

Because this fitness chain is open 24/7, cars are usually always in the parking lot. RVers feel safe parking overnight here. Plus, if you are a member, you have access to the showers and facilities inside.

Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome

Finally, you can find some of the most unique locations for overnight RV parking through Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. These memberships have a yearly fee but provide hundreds of locations nationwide for free overnight parking. From wineries to farms and museums to driveways, if you’re looking for a fun place to stay, consider joining one or both of these membership programs.

For example, if you want to stay outside Joshua Tree National Park in southern California, you could request a stay at Cascade Trails Mustang Sanctuary. It’s home to nine rescued horses. If you want a place with stunning views, you could request a stay at Vino Salida Wine Cellars in Colorado, which is in the middle of mountain peaks.

Try a Unique Location for Your Next Boondocking Stay

If you’re bored with campground stays, change it up and go boondocking for a night or two in one of these unusual places. If you need a few nights, just have a conversation with the manager or host. Some Boondockers Welcome locations even offer hookups that allow three- to five-day stays. It’s a great way to explore a new area while eliminating campground fees.

So the next time you’re looking for a quick stay, check out area casinos, churches, lodges, fitness centers, or Harvest Host and Boondockers Welcome locations. 

To what unique places will your travels take you? Tell us in the comments!

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