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Can You RV Park Overnight on the Street?

Can You RV Park Overnight on the Street?

Travel days don’t always go to plan, and campground reservations can be nearly impossible to snag in some areas. If you spend much time traveling in your RV, there will likely be a time when you’re desperately searching for a spot to park overnight. Nomads will find some unique places to sleep during their travels. You may even wonder if you can RV park overnight on the street. Is it possible? Let’s find out! 

Can You Sleep in an RV Anywhere?

Unfortunately, you can’t just park your RV anywhere overnight. Just because you see an empty parking lot or parking space doesn’t mean you can park there. Most parking lots are private property, and you should never park on private property without permission. In addition, many cities and local municipalities have strict rules regarding where and when you can park overnight.

If you park in an area that doesn’t allow overnight parking, there’s a good chance you’ll get a knock on the door. It could be from the property owner or law enforcement letting you know that you need to move on your way. However, there’s nothing requiring law enforcement to issue you a warning, especially if there is signage expressly prohibiting overnight parking.

Is it Safe to Park Your RV Overnight on the Street?

Parking your RV overnight on the street can be highly safe, but not always. You must consider that traffic will likely come and go throughout the night. It’s common for inattentive drivers to sideswipe vehicles parking on the street. You’ll want to provide plenty of distance between you and the roadway so you can sleep soundly.

In addition, you want to consider where you’re parking. There are some areas where you may worry about your safety during the daylight hours, and you wouldn’t dare go out after sunset. Be picky about where you’re parking overnight so you don’t have to worry about sketchy activities happening around you while you’re sleeping.

RV trailer parked along street next to cars
Unfortunately, you can’t just park on any old street. Finding the perfect place to stealth camp takes time and care.

Can You Legally RV Park Overnight on the Street?

The legalities of RV parking overnight on the street will depend on the area. It would be best always to verify specific regulations for where you’re planning to park. Some will prohibit the practice entirely, and others may limit how many hours a vehicle can park overnight. Should you receive a fine, your free overnight parking spot will likely cost you more than an RV park or campground reservation.

If you are going to be loading or unloading your RV near or in front of your house, you can usually get away with it for a day or two, but staying in it is usually another matter.

What RVs Are Best (and Worst) for Overnight Street Parking?

The RV you’re in greatly matters if you regularly plan to park overnight on the street. You want a vehicle that allows you to blend in as much as possible. The best RVs for overnight street parking are typically Class B’s, smaller Class C’s, and possibly even some truck campers. You ultimately want a rig where you to go from the driver’s seat to the living space without exiting the vehicle.

On the other side of the spectrum, some rigs are the worst for overnight street parking. Large fifth wheels, travel trailers, and Class A motorhomes will typically attract attention. They stick out like a sore thumb and take up a tremendous amount of space. Their size makes it challenging to get in and out of some spots quickly and easily, especially if the situation becomes unsafe.

Camper van parked on the street for stealth camping
If you do need to RV park overnight on the street, make sure to find somewhere safe, subtle, and try to stay for as short a time as possible.

Tips for Parking Overnight on the Street

You need to consider several things when parking overnight on the street. If you follow these tips, there’s a chance you’ll have a smooth and pleasant experience. Let’s get started!

Do Your Research

You must know the rules for where you want to stay. Failure to follow the rules will likely not end well for you. Call local law enforcement if you’re having trouble finding regulations for an area. They’ll be your best source of information regarding the laws for a specific location. 

If the area you want to park in prohibits overnight parking, they may point you to a place where it’s legal. Ignorance of the law will likely not be a sufficient reason for law enforcement. They may issue you a citation for illegal parking in some areas or situations. So ensure you do research!

Avoid Attracting Attention

The last thing you want to do in these situations is attracting attention. Typically, any attention you draw will be negative. Since these are only temporary stops, you’ll want to stay in your rig as much as possible. Not everyone likes the idea of someone sleeping in their vehicle in their neighborhood.

Avoid making excessive amounts of noise or cooking outside your rig. You’re not camping, so it’s best not to set up camp. You want to minimize your footprint and leave as quickly as possible. You never know when a situation may change.

Leave No Trace

One of the most significant reasons businesses and communities crack down on overnight parking is that people leave trash behind. There’s no excuse to leave trash when vacating a spot. Some areas see a revolving door of nomads traveling through their site, and litter can quickly add up. Unfortunately, they’re ruining it for those who follow the rules and respect spots.

It may be annoying, but we recommend picking up any trash you see when parking overnight. Leaving a spot cleaner than you found it can help ensure that areas remain available for future travelers needing a safe and quiet place to park for the night.

Minimize Your Stay

You should only use these spots for a single night before you head out. We recommend arriving late and leaving early. A good rule is to park directly before sunset and leave just after sunrise. This can help ensure you get into the spot safely with plenty of light, get a bite to eat, and then rest before your next travel day.

Large RV parked on street under bridge
Avoid drawing attention to yourself while parking overnight on the street to minimize the potential of having the police called and having to move.

Where Can You RV Park Overnight?

Overnight street parking isn’t legal everywhere, but there are other options you might want to consider if you’re looking for a spot to park overnight. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common options.

Truck Stops (Good)

If you don’t care about where you’re parking, a truck stop is a solid choice. However, they can be extremely noisy since truckers come and go throughout the night. Truck stops often have enormous parking lots providing plenty of space for vehicles to maneuver. Additionally, truck stops often have showers, restaurants, and fuel, making them convenient overnight stops. They’re typically not fancy, but they’ll do the job.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of all the benefits of spending the night at a truck stop by uncovering How To Shower at a Truck Stop.

Store Parking Lots (Better)

Store parking lots are one of the most standard options for overnight RV parking. Stores like Walmart, Cabella’s, and Cracker Barrel are some of the most frequented places. They have spacious parking lots and plenty of room for multiple rigs. You should always get permission from the store manager before setting up camp. These are better than truck stops since they’re typically quieter and cleaner.

Public Lands (Best)

The best place to park your RV overnight is on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service maintains many public lands and often allow camping. These are excellent options because you don’t have to be in a hurry, and you can stay for multiple days in most places. You can find designated camping spots, usually free. These spots can provide privacy and quiet, making it easy to get a solid night’s sleep before returning to the road.

RV parked in Cabela's parking lot for overnight camping
Some chain stores will allow you to park in their parking lots so you don’t have to spend the night stealth camping on the street.

FAQ: How Do You Find Overnight RV Parking Spots?

Two of our favorite resources for finding overnight RV parking spots are Campendium and iOverlander. These are our go-to resources that we regularly use during our adventures. Their interfaces are straightforward. They also have apps you can use on your phone to make finding a parking spot as convenient as possible.

We love that other users leave reviews and feedback on various overnight parking spots. We’ve bypassed some sites because other users have shared safety concerns for crime and wildlife. Not only can they help you find overnight RV parking spots, but they also have vast libraries of resources for RVers.

Pro Tip: Unsure Can You Park Overnight at a Park and Ride? We uncovered whether or not a park and ride would make for a good overnight RV parking spot.

Is Boondocking Dangerous? 9 Frightening and Odd Boondocking Experiences In 5 Years Full-time RV Life

Know the Rules for Overnight RV Parking

The most crucial part of overnight RV parking is knowing the rules. You don’t want to get comfortable in a spot and hear the dreaded knock on your door. Some law enforcement or property owners will be more patient than others. You never know what kind of day someone is having, and they may not enjoy someone trespassing or parking on their property without permission. So do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with any rules about where you want to park overnight in your RV.

Have you ever parked on the street overnight? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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