By Cheri Sicard
As you may or may not have heard, many Walmarts are no longer allowing overnight RV parking. The more urban the area, the more likely you will be to encounter this. Sometimes you just need a quick place to pull over and sleep. What to do? In the video below, the team from Let’s Turn It Up World has compiled 24 (yes, 24, not 17 like their video title says) RV overnight stops that beat Walmart (even if Walmart were still an option).
Walmarts used to be the go-to. But due to local ordinances, liability issues, and people taking up residence in the parking lot and leaving behind trash, you can no longer count on a Walmart being welcoming to an overnight stop.
But there are alternatives. Some are free, some have small fees attached. Be sure to watch the video for more details. The couple also shares their favorite apps for finding these great RV overnight stops, as well as tips for overnight stops RV etiquette.
Here are the options they cover:
- Harvest Hosts: The yearly membership fee (about $100) gives you access to thousands of overnight stops at wineries, breweries, farms, museums, other tourist attractions, and even churches. Spend a little with the host and you are good to go! (Want 15% off your membership? Click here and enter the code RVTRAVEL)
- Boondockers Welcome: Owned by Harvest Hosts, this inexpensive membership gives you access to more than 3,000 private residences that have opened their property to overnight RVers. Many have inexpensive hookups too!
- BLM land dispersed camping: Tou can boondock overnight or longer, usually up to 2 weeks, free on this public land.
- National forests: In addition to paid campgrounds, many national forests also offer free dispersed camping.
- City and county parks: Many cities and counties have parks that allow overnight parking. Some also have campgrounds with hookups.
- Cracker Barrel: Like Walmart, many of these restaurants do not have a problem with overnight RVers, but it can vary from location to location.
- Big box stores: These stores, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, also will depend on the individual store manager and local ordinances, but the team has had good luck scoring overnight RV parking at these kinds of store.
- Cabela’s (Bass Pro): Once again this will depend on location. Some Cabela’s used to have dump stations and welcomed RVers openly, but we have recently heard these are no more. So overnighting at Cabela’s, like other retail locations, will depending on the individual location’s rules and ordinances.
- Truck stops: These are great for overnighters and I personally use them all the time. There is some RV etiquette involved here, so be sure to check out the video. But some truck stops now have designated spots for RV overnight stops!
- Rest areas: Some states, like Kansas, have dedicated RV parking at their rest areas. Others, like Ohio, are even putting in affordable RV hookups in their rest areas. Still others just allow a safe place to pull over and sleep awhile. Rest area rules vary from state to state.
- Churches: The team has had luck with large churches; just be sure to contact them to ask. (As a side note, many churches are now part of Harvest Hosts.)
- Shopping malls: Like many of the suggestions, it will depend on local ordinances and management. But if you are shopping, you can often score an overnight spot.
- County fairgrounds: This is one of my favorites that I use often. Many fairgrounds throughout the country offer RV parking, usually with hookups, at extremely reasonable rates. Of course, this does not apply when the fair is going on.
- Casinos: In the good old days you could pretty much count on being able to overnight at pretty much ANY casino—yes, even in Las Vegas. Those days are sadly gone, but many casinos still do allow free overnight parking.
- Ski areas and winter parks: Many allow overnight RVers, not only in winter but during their down seasons as well.
- Golf courses: Public golf course parking lots often allow overnight parking in the off-season. Again, this will depend on local ordinances. Also, if you are a golfing RVer, Harvest Hosts has an awesome golf course upgrade that gets you access to courses all over the country that will allow you to RV overnight.
- Big home improvement stores: Stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc., with large parking lots often allow overnight parking. As with all of the retail options, you need to check with the store manager and obey local ordinances.
- City and county visitor’s centers: Not all allow overnight parking, but many do. I have been seeing these show up on Harvest Hosts lists lately too.
- Chain-up pull-out areas: These are prominent in the mountains and in winter are used to allow drivers room to install snow chains. At other times of year, they aren’t really used.
- Fitness centers: A lot of van lifers have fitness center memberships in order to use showers. You may also be able to overnight in their parking lots.
- Elks Lodges: If you are an Elks member, many have terrific low-cost campgrounds and/or free overnight parking.
- Wall Drug: If you happen to be traveling here, they have RV parking that allows you to stay overnight.
- Colleges and universities: I have my doubts about this one, but the video says in off-season, you might be able to stay in the stadium parking lots.
- State parks: Many have reasonably priced campgrounds.
I disagree with the suggestion ski areas accept overnight parking. Most will turn you away or have the parking lot gated after hours.
We have broadened our free overnight spots by using Cracker Barrel parking. At 40 feet long and towing a Jeep, we can not fit in their designated RV parking so we arrive near or after closing when long stretches of side or rear parking is available. Up in the morning early for a good C. Barrel breakfast and we leave before they need our long parking spot.