Wondering where you can legally park your campervan overnight?
Driving a motorhome around this beautiful country is an incredible experience, whether you’re searching for adventure at twenty years old or enjoying retirement with your partner.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling in class B motorhome or campervan is the minimal lodging fees since your home is literally traveling along with you. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pack up all your belongings and explore the world on your own terms and in your own time?
To help make your road trip a more relaxing and enjoyable experience, we’ve compiled a list of the places where you can and cannot park a motorhome in order to sleep overnight.
|Note: This resource is meant for many different audiences, and therefore must be general in nature. Specific laws may vary from state to state and city-to-city. Be sure to research before your trip to determine if any local laws or regulation dictate where you can and can’t park your campervan.|
Where You Typically CAN Park
Truck stops are designed specifically for large semi trucks and other vehicles to stop and park overnight. They have all the proper accommodations that you would need such as food nearby and a hot shower (usually for a small fee). Although you aren’t technically driving a truck, truck stops are legal and convenient locations to park an RV or motorhome for a few hours of shuteye before getting back on the road and continuing your adventure.
One of the surprising locations where people can park their RV or motorhome is at a casino. The reason most casinos allow this is because they want you to also do some gambling while you’re there. But regardless of whether or not you want to gamble, stopping overnight in a casino parking lot is an inexpensive alternative to paying for a spot at a campground. While not a long term solution, casinos offer a quick and easy rest stop that allows drivers to rest their eyes before getting back on the road.
Walmart is one of the most well-known national retail stores that allows motorhome and RV travelers to park overnight. It’s considered courteous to park in the back corner of the lot away from the store so as to not take any prime parking spots away from paying customers. Parking toward the back of the lot is also quieter for better rest. Last but not least, parking at a Walmart also allows for a great opportunity to stock up on food, snacks, and any other essentials that you may be running low on.
The main concern for many people about parking at a Walmart is protecting against theft and burglary. See our related article on How to Stay Safe & Secure in Your Motorhome.
Certain schools allow people to stop in their parking lots for a short period of time if it’s absolutely necessary. It should be noted that school parking lots should only be used as a last resort and as long as it’s outside of school hours. It’s a good idea to check in with the school administrators before using their property. Some schools may be uncomfortable with this request and it’s your job as the motorhome owner to be respectful of this and find a new place to park for the night. It also helps if this is a school where you or your child have personally attended.
RV campgrounds are perhaps one of the most common places to park a motorhome due to convenience, security, and hookups. Most RV campgrounds have all of the required hookups that you may require such as water and electric. Some even have wifi. Many campgrounds also have a place where your septic tank can be emptied which will be necessary on long cross country trips. Unlike other spots, RV campgrounds typically have minimal or no limits on how long you are allowed to stay as long as you pay for your spot.
National and State Parks
National and state parks can be wonderful places to park an RV while also seeing some of the most beautiful and scenic sites in the country. Many motorhome owners make month long trips out of travelling from national park to national park, checking them off their lost as they go. Many parks require a reservation for RV/motorhome camping, so be sure to plan well ahead if you want to stay in a national or state park overnight.
Free dispersed camping is also allowed on most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) undeveloped public land for up to 14 days. Even if land is leased or has mining claims, you may camp there unless posted otherwise by BLM management.
Where You Typically CAN’T Park
Although you may be able to park traditional vehicles on certain city streets overnight, this is not the case for motorhomes and RVs. Because of their size and the fact that you would be sleeping inside, many cities frown upon car camping in town. Some cities and towns have even outright banned motorhome owners from parking on city streets for an extended period of time. If this is the case, it’s best to seek refuge elsewhere for the night.
Parking your van or RV overnight on private property is considered trespassing and is illegal. This one comes with a bit of a disclaimer though. If you have the express permission of a private property owner to be on their property with a motorhome, then it’s acceptable. However, you should understand that the property owner is well within their rights to ask you to vacate the premises at any time. While it may be necessary to do so in an emergency, it’s best to avoid private property altogether when trying to find a place to park.
Rest stops are for just that, resting. They are intended for brief bathroom breaks and a chance for drivers to stretch their legs. Unfortunately, this isn’t the place to park your RV for the night and get some shut eye unless explicitly allowed. Some states do allow overnight parking at designated rest stops, but you’ll have to check to see where to find them. While rest stops are great places to take a small bathroom break, pick up snacks, or ask for directions, you often have to look elsewhere for overnight parking locations.
Exploring the country in a motorhome can be a truly exciting journey at any age. But don’t underestimate the importance of finding the right place to park overnight. By understanding where you can and where you can’t park, your travels will be that much smoother and more enjoyable.