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When we first purchased our RV we ran into issues right from the get go of where we can park our RV. Since our house was part of an HOA we weren’t allowed to park our RV overnight in our driveway.
So, can an RV park anywhere? There are usually restrictions when it comes to where you can park an RV. Many public streets will allow parking for a maximum of 72 hours but there can be size restrictions. When traveling, Walmarts and casinos may be an option. For long term parking, a storage facility may be your only option.
We had to be creative to find a place for our RV before we hit the road. Once we were traveling though we were always on the lookout for low cost and free places to stay for the night, aside from Walmart.
How Long Can an RV be Parked on the Street?
This question, unfortunately, does not have a straightforward answer since it will depend on the city/county/state you are in.
For example, in Canada, we had our RV parked on an empty lot next to my parent’s house. It was there for probably a month. We received a warning from a by-law officer that RVs aren’t allowed to be on an empty lot and we weren’t allowed to sleep in it. It was just a warning so we moved the unit and we weren’t actually sleeping in it anyway.
In general, if you limit your stay to less than 72 hours you won’t have a problem. Many city’s such as Seattle, have a 72 hour max parking limit before you need to move your vehicle.
Some places you might be allowed to park on the street overnight but sleeping in your vehicle is another story. Many states do permit sleeping in your car overnight, so it’s not a stretch to think this covers RVs as well.
But even if the state allows sleeping in a vehicle overnight local bylaws or city ordinance may not. You could probably get away with it for a night though assuming there aren’t too many nosey neighbors.
It’s worth looking up the local parking restrictions for peace of mind. Some places have limits on the size of the vehicle that is allowed to park overnight too.
Free Overnight Parking While Traveling
Walmart is the first place everyone suggests for free overnight RV parking but not all Walmarts allow this. You’ll want to check for no parking signs when you pull into a Walmart and there are also many free resources that list Walmarts that allow overnight parking.
Other big box stores may allow overnight stays, Sam’s Club and Cabellas are known to be RV friendly. Most Cracker Barrels will allow RVs to park overnight and even have designated RV parking. Again check for signage and asks the manager of the store.
We have stayed in a Costco parking lot before with no issue. We did try to call the store to find out if they were okay with it but it was a Sunday evening at it was closed. There was no signage against overnight parking and we knew we would be gone before they opened for business.
Truck stops are another option that are convenient for cross-country trips. If you need no frills and a quick spot to sleep for the night these fit the bill. Again make sure there is no signage against this and check with management (noticing a trend here).
Rest stops are a bit iffy though. Not all states allow overnight parking at rest stops. Some limit the time you can stay, whether its 4, 8, or 12 hours and others don’t permit it at all. Signs will let you know if you can do this or not and what the trucks do will be a good indication if this is well enforced.
You’ll probably be okay overnighting at a rest stop but you do run the risk of a fine. They are also not the quietest of places to stay.
Casinos are another option that may allow RVs to stay the night. Some will have full hookups while others will just allow you to stay the night. One RVing couple runs a website of Casino based RV parking at Casino Camper.
Boondocking or Dry Camping
Boondocking and dry camping are similar to free overnight parking in that they are without hookups and usually free but the main difference is you are in nature, not a parking lot.
Almost all public land that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allows free camping. The most common regulation states you are allowed to stay up to 14 days in one location. There are regulations in some areas that permit longer stays with a permit and some areas where you are allowed to stay less time.
BLM land is only found in the Western United States. Everything west of Minnesota down to Lousiana has BLM land available to camp in.
In Canada, you are allowed to camp on Crown Land, land owned by the government. But finding anything accessible without trespassing is few and far between.
In British Columbia, there are recreation sites that are free to stay in. These tend to be basic campsites around areas of fishing and hiking. The best way to discover these is through the Backroad Mapbooks (link to Amazon) and there are also books to cover other provinces.
We used ours religiously while traveling in BC to find campsites and hikes. They have a ton of information on outdoor activities.
Many small towns and villages have nice campgrounds and while they may not be free to stay at they are usually cheap. We’ve stayed in some spots with full hookups, and showers for $10. Pretty tough to beat that!
Long Term RV Parking and Storage
Long term parking of your RV can get a little tricky if you aren’t allowed to park your unit in the driveway. Like us, many HOAs don’t permit RVs parked in the driveway or front yard.
One option is to ask around and see if anyone you know is willing to let you park it at their place. This was our solution for a while. A friend had a large lot in an older area of town and let us park the RV there for free.
While we were renovating our RV it became a huge hassle to go to some else’s house all the time to get any work done. However, our HOA did allow us to put our RV in the backyard.
So we got creative and dismantled the fence, squeezed the RV into the backyard and put the fence back up. This only works if your RV won’t be moving frequently or you have a large gate. Not to mention a flat lot with a large enough yard.
Unfortunately, most long term storage options involve a self-storage center. Finding a place with parking available that suits the size of your rig can be a hassle but these places tend to be very secure.
If you are having to store your RV outside, our guide to Storing Your RV Outside is a helpful resource to keep you RV in good shape when parking it for long term storage.
How to Find RV Parking
There are a ton of different site out there that will help you find RV parking while on the road. Some of the top ones we have found are
- freecampsites.net – this one we use a lot, the interface is a little clunky but all the sites are added by other campers and people will leave reviews of the sites so you can get an idea of what they are like
- boondockerswelcome.com – people allow RVers to stay on their land for free, its a membership site but will save you tons in the long run, plus you have the added benefit of meeting locals to get the inside scoop on the area
- overnightrvparking.com – another subscription-based site but they have over 14,000 free or nearly in their database, they also have a handy app.
- Harvest Hosts – lets you stay overnight for free with one of their partner wineries, breweries, farms, museums, golf courses, and other venues all for a yearly membership fee. Our referral link will get you 15%.
If you end up parking somewhere for free just remember to be courteous to your neighbors. Keep unnecessary noise down, keep your pets leashed and pick up after them, use appropriate dump facilities and if you pack it in then pack it out.
How long can I boondock for? The length of time you can boondock for usually depends on how much water your rig can hold. Power is easy to supplement with solar and wind but fresh water will be the reason most RVers have to seek civilization.
Can my RV fit in a normal parking space? An average parking space is 8.5 feet wide by 19 feet long, so unless you have a small RV you will take up at least two parking spaces in length. Your RV may fit widthwise but it will likely be a tight fit.
Recommended RV Storage Products
- Tire Covers (Amazon) – keep the sun and elements off your tires while your RV is in store to help prevent dry rot and tire blowouts.
- Portable Air Compressor (Amazon) – handy if your RV is stored offsite and you notice your tires a little low. This one is perfect for RVs, can reach more than 100 psi and can even be directly connected to your battery