RV Overnight Parking Rules to Remember & Helpful Resources
Insights to help you be more comfortable navigating the night on RV trips.

By: Diego Bianco

Though it seems straightforward, overnight parking in an RV can turn into a challenge with increasing ordinances against “dry camping” in parking lots. Learning to identify secure locations and adeptly manage diverse local regulations will help improve your travel experience. Embark on a Winnebago Solis journey with me as I share important insights and practical tips for RV overnight parking.

3 Top Tips for RV Overnight Parking

I learned three rules the hard way during my RV travels, and I am sure you know them well. I encourage you to engage with me by adding more tips and information in the comment section at the end of this article. 

1. Find the Perfect App to Organize Your Trip Essentials

My go-to? WhatsApp. Here, I create a "private group" to stash away reservation links, Google Map directions, photos, and all the bits and bobs of my journey. It's a solo party – my account stays private, away from prying eyes. Initially, I was skeptical about WhatsApp, assuming it was only for international use, but I've since adapted to it, replacing the habit of sending myself texts with vital trip information.

Today, it’s my digital travel diary, replacing those endless, lonely texts to myself. But hey, if WhatsApp isn't your jam, there are plenty of other apps to keep your travel information saved.

This article shares some other popular apps for finding overnight RV parking locations.

2. Download Your Maps

Google Maps is my road trip Bible, but here's the trick: download them. When your phone has no reception, your map won’t die, leaving you clueless. With my maps in my pocket, I'm a navigation ninja!

3. Be a Parking Guru by Planning Ahead

The secret to stress-free zzz's on the road? Know your parking spots before the sun sets. Ditch the drive-around, find-your-spot-at-midnight game – it's no fun, trust me. Do your research beforehand to make sure you can park in a secure and legal spot at night for a worry-free evening.

Note: Most trips won’t promise a completely hassle-free experience. The unexpected challenges often leave us with the most memorable stories. When things don’t go quite right and I need to adjust my plans, I like to turn what might seem like a negative into a fun tale to share! 

Overview of my overnight parking tips with an example of my planning map and notes.

Understanding Overnight Parking Rules

The definition of overnight parking varies across states, cities, and even businesses. It’s a fluid concept, with laws evolving to balance traveler safety and community well-being. Typically, it involves parking for more than six hours, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. the following day. The reasons behind strict regulations range from ensuring traveler safety to addressing public health concerns and reducing law enforcement complaints. 

Which States Allow Overnight Parking in Rest Areas?

Each state has different rules around overnight parking in rest areas and other public spaces. For example, I’ve found that Arizona and Colorado are very strict about overnight parking. 

I search for “rest areas” on Google and websites like the list below to see where to park and rest overnight. The way I search on Google is: “Rest Areas [State] DOT.” I always type DOT at the end to get to the official Department of Transportation website. 

(For reference, the U.S. Congress established the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966. A lot of great things have been accomplished since then!) 

Finding Rest Stops Online:

Rest Areas in My Top 5 Favorite States:

Read this article for more tips on staying at rest areas in an RV.

Businesses Known for Allowing Overnight Parking

In addition to rest areas, some businesses and organizations are known for allowing overnight RV parking. Park at your own risk at these places. It is also recommended that you call and ask the store's local managers before arriving. Just because one location allowed overnight parking doesn’t mean they all will.

  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Welcome Information Centers
  • Costco
  • Casinos (learn more in this article)
  • Sam’s Club
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Walmart (not all of them)
  • Cabela’s / Bass Pro Shops
  • 24 Hour Fitness and other 24hr gyms (not all of them)
  • Camping World
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Tractor Supply
  • Menards
  • Other large retail businesses

Other potential options to check:

  • Hotels
  • City street parking outside of city limits
  • 24-hr gyms
  • Schools with permits only 
  • Big shopping malls
  • Large gas stations

Places you usually CAN'T park overnight:

  • Most cities within city limits
  • Schools
  • Smaller gas stations
  • Buc-ee’s
  • More than 1,000 Walmart stores nationwide prohibit overnight parking – ouch!
  • Retail or service businesses
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Grocery stores like Target and Kroger
  • Sports venues
  • Government Buildings

My Experience of RV Overnight Parking Gone Wrong

Based on my travels across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, I’ve learned that police officers often have a different take on overnight parking. Their interpretation? No sleeping in your vehicle from 10 p.m. onwards within city limits, regardless of the vehicle type. This perspective has taught me to respect local rules, ensuring safety and cleanliness in the communities I visit. 

Meeting law enforcement knocking on your RV in the middle of the night can be quite an unnerving experience. Imagine this: there you are, sound asleep, only to be startled awake by a firm knock. 

However, that scary moment is just the beginning. The real adventure starts when you're asked to leave and find yourself searching for a new parking haven late at night. This can lead to hours of driving, as I have experienced.

Now, here's where the fun part of the story kicks in. After parking, I often leave things loosely arranged in the van, including water bottles, snacks, and other essentials. Picture this: after talking to the cops, the first reaction is feeling guilty, and the last thing you remember is your snacks. You're suddenly on the move, and all semblance of order falls to the ground — quite literally.

My food, water bottles, and snacks? They became free-flying passengers, turning the Winnebago Solis into a mobile snack buffet. So, while the initial part of the story may have its tense moments, these little chaotic details add a humorous twist to the life of an RV enthusiast.

(Yeah, I know what you're thinking. My answer is no, I didn't clean it up right away. After I found another parking spot, I slept for a few hours and then cleaned up.)

My Steps for Successful RV Overnight Parking

Here, I’ll share my insights on savvy overnight parking – a crucial aspect of any RV road trip:

  1. Know the Local Rules: Every city is different. Check online resources or directly contact local authorities for the most accurate information. It is even possible to ask a police officer on the street.
  2. Empathize with Law Enforcement: Remember that officers' purpose is to serve and protect. They aim to address safety concerns. An empty car in a no-parking zone might get towed, but the real focus is often on vehicles with occupants.
  3. Plan Ahead: Calculate your travel and rest times to find hassle-free parking spots. When you're in charge of everything, like me, planning is critical.
  4. Smart Parking: Look for signs and park responsibly. If unsure, assume it’s a no-go until you get clarification. Without signs prohibiting parking, I assume it is okay to park (but this is just me saying this, so do so at your own risk).
  5. Be Prepared to Adapt: If you’re exhausted and need a break, park safely, even if it’s just for a short while. Be ready to move if asked by the authorities. They should usually understand.

Learning From Experiences and Researching Ahead of Time

It can be challenging to locate a parking space overnight, especially if you have been asked to move by police officers twice. I recall driving at two in the morning in Colorado looking for a parking space during the Pikes Peak Marathon event. 

Parking near Pikes Peak is very challenging. Cops know about the event and are often flexible, but some are not. I had to leave the city limits and park next to a highway then wake up early the following morning for my event, so it wasn't a fun night. Later, I found a great RV park and stayed there for a few days. I was lucky enough to find a good spot. So don’t go without planning, thinking you will find a good place. Now, I use good apps, check online, and do a better job. 

My Favorite RVing Resources for Research & Planning

My travels have taught me the importance of being well-informed and adaptable, meaning having plans A and B. Today, I recommend these apps or websites to get more information about overnight parking and RV-related issues. (Note that some apps do require a fee to use.) Please let me know if you have your own favorite in the comments section.

Final Note & Important Disclaimer

This article is based on personal experiences and available information as of January 2024. Always verify current rules and regulations as they can change frequently. In addition, some of the links shared above may change in the future. Do yourself a favor and download a good app that you can use online and offline. I finally learned about downloading all of my Google Maps offline when I travel and search for parking areas beforehand. 

It took me a few months to adjust to becoming a savvy traveler. Consequently, I became a happier traveler because when you are responsible for driving, parking, and making reservations, these things can add stress, but I learned to make it a smooth process. (You can read more about my travels here.)

I hope you enjoyed my informality in this article. Overnight parking sounds simple, but it can get complicated. Please share your comments about other apps and your experiences. Have a fantastic day!


Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .

User commented on March 2, 2024 11:56 PM
iOverlander is also a great app for boondocking. Happy trails ❣️
User commented on March 6, 2024 7:58 PM
Thanks for sharing!
User commented on March 4, 2024 5:32 PM
Great tips! Thanks for sharing these RV overnight parking rules and resources. It's always helpful to have a handy guide like this when planning road trips. Can't wait to hit the road with more confidence knowing the dos and don'ts. Happy trails, everyone!
User commented on March 6, 2024 8:01 PM
It's great to hear you enjoyed the article. Wishing you unforgettable travels in 2024.