When you’re on a multi-day RV haul, bouts of rest are often necessary. If sleep is your objective, rather than a full camping experience, paying for a site in an RV park might not be warranted.
Overnight RV parking can be the solution for resting between drives. There are a plethora of legal, welcoming options for overnight stays in an RV across the U.S. and Canada—most of them free.
In This Article
- How to Find Safe Overnight RV Parking
- Locations That Typically Allow Overnight RV Parking
- The Dos and Don’ts of Overnight RV Parking
- What to Expect When Overnight RV Parking in Parking Lots
- Common Questions About Overnight RV Parking
How to Find Safe Overnight RV Parking
Several apps and websites are available to help you find safe overnight RV parking. It’s important to use a resource that vets and allows feedback on the locations listed. A moderated app or website will help you choose a safe location and avoid late-night knocks from law enforcement or management.
Utilize websites and apps that verify the legality and permission of listed overnight RV parking locations. It’s also important that these resources stay up to date and respond to reports of changes in overnighting policies.
The following websites and apps have active moderation to determine the accuracy, availability, and legality of their overnight RV parking listings.
Overnight RV Parking by Togo RV
Roadpass Pro members have access to Togo RV’s Overnight RV Parking tool, which is an accurate and authoritative database of free overnight RV parking locations in the U.S. and Canada. Not only can you see where overnight RV parking is welcomed, but it also shows locations where overnight RV parking is prohibited.
Overnight RV Parking is available in the Togo RV app for Roadpass Pro members and on the Overnight RV Parking website.
Campendium is a review-based website and app for finding RV camping and overnighting opportunities. This includes parking, boondocking, RV parks, campgrounds, and multi-night camping options.
While Campendium is free to use, Roadpass Pro members enjoy an ad-free experience and additional perks like cellular service filtering, public land map overlays, and campsites marked as a favorite on the map view.
Harvests Hosts is a network of breweries, wineries, farms, and other small business locations that invite self-contained RVs to stay overnight at no fee beyond the cost of a yearly membership (however, guests are expected to patronize the business). Harvest Hosts can be used in website and app forms.
Roadpass Pro members have access to a discounted membership to Harvest Hosts.
Boondockers Welcome offers self-contained RVs the opportunity to park on a host’s private property in the U.S. and Canada. Boondockers Welcome is an app and a website with a yearly fee that allows you to locate potential hosts offering their property up for a night of rest at no additional cost.
Roadpass Pro members have access to a discounted membership to Boondockers Welcome.
Locations That Typically Allow Overnight RV Parking
While you should never assume that a location permits overnight RV parking, some places are more likely than others to be a viable option. When looking to make a quick overnight stop in your RV, you’ll most likely end up at one of the following types of businesses.
It’s always best practice to get permission from a business or confirm legality with the local municipality if it’s not obvious that overnight RV parking is permitted.
Overnight RV Parking at Businesses
Places of business with large parking lots and reduced overnight patronage are often permissive of RVs parking overnight at no cost. Oftentimes, this practice is regulated by the city or town, so be aware that some chain stores that often permit overnighting may not be able to in certain areas.
Always pay attention to signage permitting or prohibiting overnight parking, and confirm permission by contacting staff or management if you’re unsure.
Overnight RV Parking at Big Box Stores
Big box stores are a common and well-known option for free overnight RV parking. Walmart is a popular option, with many locations permitting overnight RV parking as long as both local ordinances and store management approve of the practice.
Other common retailers that often allow overnight RV parking include Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Camping World, Costco, Kmart, Lowe’s, Menards, Sam’s Club, and The Home Depot.
Overnight RV Parking at Casinos
Many casinos welcome casino patrons to spend the night in an RV in the parking lot. While usually free, RV overnighters are typically required to check in with security. It’s not atypical that overnighters are asked to sign up for a player’s card or otherwise patronize the casino in return for the use of the parking lot.
Some casinos host an RV park or have RV hookups on the property, but will sometimes still allow parking overnight in a lot for free.
Overnight RV Parking at Restaurants
Cracker Barrel is the most RV-friendly restaurant chain in the U.S. Most Cracker Barrels permit RVs to spend a night in their lot and have designated pull-through RV parking spaces.
Mom-and-pop style restaurants may also be options for overnight RV parking. If you enjoyed dinner at a restaurant and find yourself ready for a night of sleep, it never hurts to ask the manager.
Overnight RV Parking at Rest Areas and Truck Stops
Rest areas and truck stops are conveniently placed, highly-accessible locations for overnight RV parking. Typically located adjacent to major thoroughfares, these locations are built to accommodate even the largest of rigs.
Don’t assume, however, that overnight RV parking is permitted at all truck stops or rest areas. Some states prohibit the practice or limit the time you can park. Some truck stops reserve overnight parking areas for professional truckers only. Be sure to check the rules of a location before arrival or have a backup plan in case you arrive and find out that overnight RV parking isn’t allowed.
Overnight RV Parking in Urban Areas
In some locales, it’s legal to park your RV on a public street and sleep in it. On rare occasions, free or paid public parking lots permit the practice. Permissibility is highly dependent on local laws and ordinances. Accessibility is often limited to smaller rigs.
When scouting streetside overnight RV parking, pay attention to posted signage and research local laws.
Perception of safety is subjective, and you may not know if an area feels safe until you arrive. Parking in well-lit areas is good practice.
When parking overnight in an urban area, be hyper cognizant of your presence. Urban areas aren’t the place to put leveling jacks down or utilize generators. Any disturbance to the local community is likely to lead to a knock on the door asking you to leave.
Overnight RV Parking at Non-Traditional Locations
Across both the U.S. and Canada, you can find non-traditional overnighting locations. Some cities or towns have constructed roadside parks to accommodate weary travelers passing through. Some city or county parks permit overnight parking, often for free, but sometimes for a small fee.
Museums and roadside attractions occasionally offer RVs the privilege of overnighting in their parking lots, especially after patronizing the location. So do some convention centers with large parking lots. Visitor centers, especially in smaller towns and cities, may be able to accommodate an RV looking to park overnight.
The best way to find these types of locations is through Overnight RV Parking in the Togo RV app or by searching Campendium using the “Parking” or “Free” filters.
A call to the local visitor center to ask about safe places to park overnight never hurts. Sometimes you may be directed to a local business or given special permission to park in a location where overnighting is not widely permitted.
The Dos and Don’ts of Overnight RV Parking
Overnight RV parking is just that—parking your RV overnight so that you can meet basic needs like sleeping and eating. Overnight RV parking is not camping.
Camping in an RV involves setting your rig up to enjoy time in a location. This means extending RV awnings and arranging your outdoor setup with carpets, lawn furniture, and BBQ grills.
Overnight parking in an RV means utilizing a parking space or area to shut off your engine and stagnate. No awnings or camping gear should be deployed. Consider refraining from the use of levelers and slide-outs if possible, and always refrain from use if either is destructive or inhibits the movement of others.
In general, if your RV looks like you’re camping, you’re camping. If your RV looks like you’ve just parked it for a short time, you’re parking.
To support sustainable overnight RV parking, RV consumer clubs created the “RVer’s Good Neighbor Policy.” Consider the suggestions below:
- Stay one night only.
- Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
- Obey posted regulations.
- No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills.
- Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).
- Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.
- When feasible, purchase gas, food, or supplies as a form of thank you.
- Be safe. Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.
When parking your RV overnight, also consider the following:
DO park your rig in a position and location that permits an easy exit in the morning. Consider possible obstructions, including being parked in, when settling on an overnight location.
DO look for and respect any posted signage.
DO park in a space that’s appropriate to the size of your RV. If you have a small RV, don’t utilize a parking spot designed for a large rig (i.e. tractor trailer) if at all possible.
DO arrive late and leave early, if possible.
DON’T park in a manner that could impede auto or pedestrian traffic.
DON’T run a generator if the noise could disturb the peace of the local environment or your neighbors.
DON’T fill an overnight parking location’s trash cans with your household refuse.
DON’T assume you can park and leave the property. While it’s good practice to patronize a business at the overnighting location, don’t use a location that doesn’t permit camping as a camping area for day exploration.
What to Expect When Overnight RV Parking in Parking Lots
Overnighting in a parking lot is typically free and often convenient. You should, however, set expectations prior to arrival. Your experience will vary, and conditions at parking lots are known to fluctuate.
Many parking lots, even throughout the night, are busy places. This is especially true for lots that attract and permit commercial trucks. Be prepared to open your blinds in the morning to a different scene than when you closed them.
Parking lots can be loud. With cars and trucks coming and going throughout the day and night and people patronizing 24-hour businesses, you should expect noise. In addition, if you’re parked near tractor trailers, you may find yourself subjected to other mechanical noises.
Don’t expect dark skies while overnighting in a parking lot. Most lots keep the lights on all night long for safety.
Expect few to no amenities, especially in terms of hookups or waste disposal.
Parking lots aren’t scenic locations. While the hubbub of people coming and going can be interesting, parking lots rarely provide the natural ambiance many associate with RVing.
Simply expect a place to park your rig so you can refuel, shower, and sleep to prepare for more driving.
Common Questions About Overnight RV Parking
There are plenty of welcoming and safe locations to park an RV overnight. Rest areas, truck stops, big box stores, casinos, and sometimes city parks or visitor centers are all types of locations that may permit overnight RV parking.
Of course, you can always book a night at an RV park or campground—many of which are conveniently located right off the highway and provide hookups.
Overnight RV Parking and Campendium are useful tools for finding a place to park your RV overnight.
Most places that explicitly permit overnight RV parking are also relatively safe. You can increase safety by overnighting in locations that others use for the same purpose and by reading reviews from previous overnighters (available through Overnight RV Parking and Campendium).
Other overnight RV parking safety tips include parking in well-lit areas in view of security cameras and parking in a manner that allows you to quickly and easily drive away when needed or desired.
Some private businesses such as casinos and big box stores permit overnight RV parking in their parking lots. Some cities or municipalities permit overnight parking in specific locations. Many rest areas permit RV parking with a limit on how many hours you can stay. Most truck stops permit overnight RV parking in designated areas.
Overnight RV Parking and Campendium are useful tools for finding places that allow you to park your RV overnight.
Rest areas, truck stops, big box stores like Walmart and Bass Pro Shops, casinos, and sometimes city parks and visitor centers are all locations that may permit free overnight RV parking.
Overnight RV Parking and Campendium are useful tools for finding a free place to park your RV overnight.
Overnight RV parking prices can range from free (common) to a few dollars (on occasion) to more (rare).
Rest areas, truck stops, big box stores, casinos, and some city parks, visitor centers, and museums commonly offer free or low-cost overnight RV parking.
Some highly convenient overnight parking locations near major cities may charge similar prices to those you’d expect to see at RV parks.
Of course, you can always pay for a night at a formal RV park or campground.
The legality of overnight RV parking is dependent on local laws and mandates. Private businesses that typically offer overnight RV parking can be prohibited from permitting it by local ordinances.
Overnight RV parking is a privilege, not a right, and availability is up to a private business or local government. Always gain permission to park your RV overnight at a location if you’re unsure of the legality.