Unforgettable FREE RV Overnighters During Our Cross-Country Road Trip
Check out one couple's three favorite boondocking spots (so far!).

By: Tanya & Dave Virnelli (@LetsTurnItUpWorld)

Hitting the road across the country in your RV is an adventure in itself, but finding free and safe RV overnight parking spots along the way can be a challenge. We recently traveled across the country in our camper van and experienced several unforgettable free RV overnighters during the journey. In this blog post, we share with you our top three experiences and some additional free RV overnighters that you may want to consider during your next RV road trip.

To learn more about us and why we chose the Winnebago EKKO as our first RV, read this article.

1. An RV Overnight at the Iowa 80

The "World's Largest Truck Stop" isn't exactly the first place that springs to mind for an idyllic RV stopover. But hey, sometimes you're on the road, it's getting late, and the siren song of showers, a decent meal, and a vat-sized cup of coffee is too strong to resist. That's exactly how we found ourselves pulling into the RV parking area at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop after leaving Camp Winnebago (previously the Grand National Rally) in Forest City Iowa several hours earlier. 

Let's be honest, sleep wasn't the quietest. The rumble of eighteen-wheelers pulling in and out is a constant lullaby at the Iowa 80. But the designated RV spots are on the north side of the complex, away from the main hubbub, which helped. Plus, we have to say, there's a certain charm to watching these massive machines come and go, a glimpse into the world of long-haul truckers.

Speaking of charm, well, the Iowa 80 leans more towards quirky than luxurious. The showers are clean, but basic (think a clean truck stop, not spa). The food options are plentiful with a restaurant that we found very good. And, what’s even better, Iowa 80 has an actual movie theater in which you can request your own movie. So, we ended up having a type of date night that night, eating some popcorn while enjoying Robin Williams’ RVing classic “RV”. 

We also made sure to visit the vintage truck museum next door, a fun way to learn a bit of trucking history and see some classic rigs. And, before we headed back out on the road, Dave was able to take advantage of the in-house barber shop getting himself a nice fresh cut. Now is Iowa 80 for everyone? Probably not. But it’s a true experience and a slice of Americana just on the side of the interstate. 

2. Wall Drug: A Quirky RV Overnight Birthday Adventure

Ah, Wall Drug. The kitschy roadside attraction that's practically a legend on the American road trip. During our cross-country RV trip, we found ourselves pulling into their expansive overnight parking lot in Desert Snow, our Winnebago EKKO, not just for a souvenir t-shirt and a five-cent cup of coffee (though, let's be real, we did indulge in both), but for a unique overnight RV stay. And it also happened to be both of our birthdays, so we figured what better place to celebrate our birthdays together than at Wall Drug.

What's it like to spend a night and celebrate your birthday at Wall Drug? Let me tell you, it's an experience and you can’t beat the convenience. You literally open your RV door and you're only a few steps away from the heart of Wall Drug. Wall Drug itself is a sprawling complex with shops, restaurants, a massive T-Rex, and of course, that iconic free ice water!

We had a wonderful time experiencing the craziness that Wall Drug has to offer, while also shopping for each other’s birthday gifts … yes, we were a bit late on that. Often referred to as “the world’s largest tourist trap,” Wall Drug doesn’t let you down. If you are looking for some tourist favorites, you’ve come to the right place. 

During the daytime, Wall Drug is a constant stream of tourists, bikers, and fellow RVers. It's a fantastic place to relax outside and soak up the atmosphere. At nighttime, however, and in the early morning things completely change. After Wall Drug closes, the area becomes surprisingly quiet and serene. The shops close down, the crowds thin out, and you're left with the vast South Dakota sky and the twinkling lights of the complex, only occasionally disrupted by the rumbling of a train passing over the nearby tracks.

3. Road Trippin' with a Brew: Overnight at the Junkyard on Route 66

There's something undeniably romantic about Route 66. The open road, the endless sky, the feeling of adventure in every mile. During our cross-country RV road trip while on this legendary highway, we found ourselves pulling into a place that perfectly captured that spirit: Junkyard on 66 Brewery in Grants, New Mexico.

Now, hold on, a junkyard and a brewery? You bet! This is not your average roadside pitstop. Junkyard on 66 is a unique blend of history and hospitality, combined with great barbecue, fun southern rock bands and, of course, tasty brews. What is still a functioning auto salvage yard has been transformed by a veteran owner into a haven for road weary RVers like ourselves. 

When we pulled through the entrance in Desert Snow, we had no idea what we were in for that night. A short walk from our RV parking spot, the taproom buzzed with conversation and laughter. The atmosphere was friendly and inviting, combined with tasty pulled pork sandwiches and a wide selection of brews. So, if you're ever cruising down Route 66 near Grants, New Mexico, and need a free place to stay overnight in your RV, do yourself a favor and pull into Junkyard on 66. You won’t regret it!

Other Free RV Overnighters 

In addition to the highlights above, we have stayed at many other convenient and safe free RV overnight spots during our travels. Some of our favorites have included a racetrack where we were able to drive Desert Snow out on the track, alpaca farms, a bison farm, wineries, golf courses, BLM land, national forests, casinos and, of course the long-standing RVer favorite, Cracker Barrel.

Wythe Raceway in West Virginia

So, don’t be afraid to ditch the expensive campgrounds and hit the road, taking advantage of free RV overnight spots along the way. From quirky Americana to historic Route 66 vibes, there's an unforgettable free RV stopover waiting for you around every corner!

Want more ideas for free overnight RV camping options? Read this article. Plus, GoLife Perks members can receive discounts on various camping memberships (including Harvest Hosts), learn more.

If you have a favorite free RV overnight spot you would like to share, please do so in the comments!


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User commented on May 17, 2024 12:12 AM
You pick the excellent couple to represent Winnebago Tanya and Dave. of Let’s turn it up.world their chronicles that depict their adventures in the camper van that they named Desert Snow they travel all over the United States with their two kitties, Brady and Bailey they do, snow camping mountains. It’s a lot of fun to watch them. looking at Winnebago, it has that cozy factor perhaps one day I’m may consider one
User commented on May 17, 2024 11:36 AM
What an adventurous life you lead! Thanks for sharing these special places! One day I will get there!
User commented on May 17, 2024 8:52 PM
Wow you guys sure know how to have an adventure, and I’m here for it!
User commented on May 18, 2024 9:01 PM
I keep notes on many of the places Tanya and Dave go…another bookmark for us once we get to start taking our longer adventures!!!
User commented on May 18, 2024 11:39 PM
Love your description of these iconic rest stops! Can’t wait to visit them!
User commented on May 19, 2024 2:42 AM
Great article, with useful information. Love following you on your adventures.
User commented on May 19, 2024 12:49 PM
Love following Tanya and Dave on their RV adventures. Loves truck stop also has RV parking . some even have hook up’s for a small fee. They have given us some ideas about where to go in our own RV. Heading out this week to Colorado Springs in our 5th wheel to see my daughter and son in law for the weekend
User commented on May 19, 2024 9:29 PM
Great article! I’ve stayed at some of these, but others were new to me. Thanks!
User commented on May 20, 2024 2:05 PM
Best RV adventures! Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us!!
User commented on May 20, 2024 11:47 PM
Always enjoy your adventures, and we take notes for where we want to go when we start our RV journey! Thanks and keep'em coming.
User commented on May 21, 2024 11:10 AM
Loved reading this beautifully written article. I’ve never given much thought to all the free overnight places to stay and explore while traveling in an RV. They appear to offer so much more than I would have ever imagined. My husband and I are soon to be retiring, and Tanya and Dave’s travel insights have given us many great ideas as to where we want to explore when we are ready to purchase our own Winnebago EKKO. We truly can’t wait to set out, and begin our own adventurous journey. Thanks Tanya and Dave for sharing your adventures!
User commented on June 1, 2024 1:30 AM
Just found this thread and enjoying following your adventures. We also travel with 2 very spoiled cats. Before getting our Sprit we were Airstreamers for over 20 years and have covered the lower 48, Canada, and Alaska. Look forward to meeting you someday.