Are you taking a road trip in your RV and want to find places with free overnight RV parking? Of course you do! Who wants to pay for a campsite and deal with the hassles of making reservations for one measly night at a campground? We don’t! And we’re pretty sure you feel the same way since you’re here. Well, you’ve come to the right place!
New here? If you’re interested in more RV related information, we’ve got you covered!
- Our Life Outside the Box
- The Perfect RV
- RV Mistakes We Made with Our New Home on Wheels
- Top RV Storage Ideas: Hip to be Square (Part 1)
- Top RV Storage Ideas: Hip to be Square (Part 2)
- Top RV Storage Ideas: Hip to be Square (Part 3)
- Year-Round Gift Ideas for RV Families
- Up & Away at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Part 1)
- Up & Away at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Part 2)
- Up & Away at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Part 3)
- A Fun RV Story We’ll Remember Forever
- The Crunchy RV Medicine Cabinet
As a full-time RV family, we’ve stayed at almost every overnight place recommended by those that have gone before us and we’ve narrowed them down to a top 5 list. Our top 5 make the list based on 4 criteria.
Overnight RV Parking Criteria
1. Is It Allowed
Believe it or not, you can’t just park anywhere overnight. In most instances, you need to get permission from the owner or manager of that property. Call ahead and let them know you’ll be in their area and ask if it’s ok to park in their lot overnight.
However, some places listed in our top 5 list actually advertise RV parking. In that instance, you don’t necessarily need to call ahead of time.
2. Is It Safe
Since we travel with kids, we like to know that any place we stay, whether in a campground or parking lot, will be safe. If we pull in to a parking lot in an area where we don’t feel safe, we never hesitate to move on down the road. There are also apps and websites like Free Campsites and Campendium that have reviews on specific places to park overnight, so we always check the reviews there as well.
3. Is it Accessible
There are three things we think of when determining if a place is accessible.
First, is it easy to get to off the highway or main thoroughfares? No one pulling an RV in the dark wants to try to navigate side streets to find one of these places to park.
Second, is the parking lot large enough for us to maneuver? We haul a 39′ fifth wheel and we know others tow even larger rigs. There needs to be enough space in the parking lot to be able to turn around should we need to.
Finally, is there enough room for us? This is one thing we have to consider once we have arrived. With the size of our rig, we need to be able to have enough room to park. In some instances, the RV designated spots may not be large enough for us or the parking lot may be so busy that there’s just no space where we can fit.
4. Prior Stay
When we’re traveling in an area we’ve been through before, we like to pick places where we’ve previously stayed. We know they allow RV parking and it’s previously met all of our other criteria, so it then becomes a real easy decision to make.
Overnight RV Parking Favorites
There are tons of places that you can park overnight for free.
- Grocery Stores (such as Walmart, Costco, etc.)
- Specialty Stores (such as Bass Pro Shop, Camping World, etc.)
- Truck Stops (such as Flying J)
- Private homes/property
- Restaurants (such as Cracker Barrel)
- Rest Areas
- City Parks
- Public Lands
- Planet Fitness (must be a member)
And pretty much anywhere you ask and they tell you “YES!” But, here are our favorites based on the criteria listed above.
1. Public Lands
If you’ve been on our website for any amount of time, you might know that we LOVE to boondock on public lands. There’s nothing better than wide-open spaces with great views that are FREE!
Public lands are those lands managed by any government entity such as the Bureau of Land Management or National Forest. You can find public lands through websites, phone apps, recommendations from others, or by contacting the government entity over land management in the state or area you are visiting.
Unlike many other overnight RV parking options, you can pull into many of these spots at any time of the day or night and leave at any point the next day. We prefer to arrive during daylight and leave when we’re ready, so this is a perfect option for us.
Churches are a great option for overnight RV parking. They usually have a large parking lot with plenty of room during the week when there are not traditional services being held.
Some churches may have RV hookups they’ll offer you to use. They have these to cater to the evangelists and guest pastors/preachers that travel in their RVs to lead special church services. If you use their hookups, it’s only courteous to give a monetary offering in return.
We love to arrive on Saturday night and attend services at the church the next morning. They are always very welcoming!
Believe it or not, casinos made our top 5 list. We’ve had great success with finding overnight RV parking at casinos around the country. Some of them even have advertising along the interstate welcoming overnight truckers and RVers.
If you’re so inclined, head in for a meal at the buffet or sit down and play a few slots. We’ve not done this because we always have kids in tow. We also usually pull in late and leave out fairly early the next morning.
Before making a stop at a casino, be sure they allow overnight RV parking. There are a few that have designated RV parks next to the casino that charge a fee and do not allow overnight parking in the casino parking lot.
4. Cracker Barrel
If you ask our kids where they like to overnight in the RV, they’ll all tell you their favorite place is Cracker Barrel. What’s better than sleeping right outside a restaurant and getting up in the morning for an amazing breakfast?
There’s one drawback we’ve found with staying at Cracker Barrel. Their RV parking (which is always in the back of the restaurant) won’t fit us. We have a 39′ fifth wheel with a 22′ truck for a combined length of 61′. Their RV parking spaces are about the size of our fifth wheel when not hooked up to the truck. So in this instance, we usually park long ways across multiple car-sized parking spaces at the very back or side of the restaurant. This also allows us to extend our slides out over a grassy area without affecting traffic through the restaurant parking lot.
Cracker Barrel is typically very easy for us to pull into late at night. But as with any location, be sure to have a backup plan. The Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff, AZ is the only one we have had no luck at finding a spot to park. Not because we couldn’t fit, but because it was completely full of RVs.
Walmart has everything! Even overnight RV parking (though not all do).
When we stay at a Walmart overnight, we’re usually not the only ones doing so. This is a very convenient and popular place for RVers to park overnight. Their parking lots are typically safe, well lit, and easy to navigate. We always make sure to head to the farthest end of the lot to find a spot to park.
And if you stay at a Walmart, don’t forget to run in and grab some groceries while you’re there! So convenient!