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How to Find the Best (and FREE) Spots to Park Your RV

Once you hit the road in your RV, you’re going to want to find the best spots to park your RV. If you’ve RVed before, this may seem like second nature. But if you’re just getting into RVing and don’t have a lot of experience, this may not be something you’ve really given much thought to.

We knew close to nothing about finding spots when we hit the road so we decided it was worth writing a post to shed some light on how to find a place to stay with an RV! When it comes to RV stays, there are actually a lot of options. Where you choose to stay is really up to your own personal preferences and is also based on your situation.

There are lots of great resources for choosing a place to stay, however, we mostly use (and highly recommend) the following:

1. Campendium

This is a free website with a searchable map of RV parks all over the country. When you select a destination, you can filter your results by distance, type of land, price, hookups, recreation, and discount clubs. The best part is that most RV parks have reviews from fellow RVers with details about the grounds, wifi, cleanliness, noise level, etc.

2. AllStays app

Image result for allstays

This app costs you $9.99, but it offers much more than just helping you choose where to park/stay. With over 60,000 points on an interactive map, it shows you everything you’ll need on the road – gas stations, rest areas, stores, low clearance areas along the road, RV dealers, etc.

3. Hip Camp

Hip Camp is another free website with over 285,000 spots to park your RV and camp. Hipcamp features a variety of camping options, such as ranches, vineyards, farms, public parks, and more. They also provide information about the spot and make it easy to make a reservation right from their website.

4. Ultimate Campgrounds

Ultimate Campgrounds has a great app as well as a webmap with over 32,000 public camping locations – both formal sites and free dispersed spots!  We use UC especially for finding free boondocking sites. You can get directions right to the camping spots from the app!

When using these resources, you’ll need to consider these things:

  1. Budget
  2. RV length (some spots have restrictions)
  3. Driving/towing comfort level (some spots require taking narrow, unpaved roads and parking in tight spots)
  4. Length of stay
  5. Activities you plan to do in the destinations you’re staying in and their proximity
  6. Amenities you’ll need access to
  7. Your RV equipment (holding tank sizes, power sources, air conditioning/heat, etc.)

Based on these considerations, you’ll then have these options of spots:

1. Free Parking

free boondocking site on Loy Butte Road in Sedona, AZ
Our free boondocking site on Loy Butte Road in Sedona, AZ

This is also referred to as “boondocking” or “dry docking”.  These spots are a little trickier to find because most of the country has fairly strict parking regulations. While you can’t just pull off the road or into any large parking lot, there are still ways of finding a free place to park.

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) control vast amounts of land that they will allow boondocking on, but usually for a limited amount of days, which varies at each spot.
  • Some businesses, such as Walmart, Bass Pro Shop, Cracker Barrel, and Cabela’s, with large parking lots will often allow for free overnight parking. Each store is different and you’ll want to call and check ahead of time. These businesses, along with rest stops, picnic areas and truck stops are great options if you just need a place to park for the night in between destinations, but you obviously can’t stay much longer than that.
  • Many casinos offer free parking as well! Some have a small requirement involved, so you’ll need to check on that.
  • Other websites to check out for free parking:
    • Harvest Hosts Harvest Hosts is a fun and unique option for short-term RV stays. With a $49/year membership fee, the Harvest Hosts website connects you to people who have large amounts of land (farms, museums, vineyards, ranches, etc.) who are willing to “host” you in your RV. Some even have hook ups! One thing to keep in mind is that Harvest Hosts requires you to support their hosts, meaning you need to purchase the host’s services, such as a bottle of wine or other products. So, in some cases, you may end up spending even more than you would at an RV park, but you’ll likely have a fun and memorable experience and maybe even beautiful views!
      *Harvest Hosts is offering our readers 10% off! Click here to receive discount and sign up!
    • Boondocker’s Welcome This requires a $30/year membership fee, but members can dry camp with their RV for free as a guest on a fellow RVers’ properties! It’s basically just RVers helping RVers. So you can find people all over the country, in rural or metropolitan areas, who are happy to have you park on their driveway or land. What a fun way to meet people!
    • FreeCampsites.net This website has a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. They also offer a helpful explanation of the different types of free public lands you can park on.

Read our Boondocking Guide for more helpful tips and information: Boondocking For Beginners: A Guide to FREE RV Camping

2. Campgrounds

Picacho Peak State Park Campground Arizona
Us parked at Picacho Peak State Park’s campground

Another option for RV stays, are the National and State Park systems. Such campgrounds tend to be in some of the best recreational areas and costs tend to be lower than an RV park. However, you may or may not have full hook-ups, many campgrounds have length restrictions, and these areas tend to be the high tourist areas and therefore book up pretty far in advance during the park’s high seasons. However, if you’re interested in spending time outdoors, these spots are hard to beat.

3. RV Parks

Malibu Beach RV Park
One of our favorite RV parks in Malibu with great views!

Pretty much everywhere you go, you’ll be able to find an RV park with a quick google search. If you choose to go the RV park route, you’re guaranteed to have at least partial hook ups. The quality and amenities can vary dramatically, so it helps to check reviews and do a bit of research. However, many RV parks offer free wifi, laundry facilities, showers, and sometimes added perks like pools/spas, dog parks, general stores, etc. These amenities can be really nice to have if you’re on the road full-time or for longer stays. But they also come at an extra price in many cases. However, here are some ways of lowering your nightly costs at RV parks:

  • Discounts are typically given for longer stays. So if you reserve a spot for a month or even a week, you’ll get a lower price per night.
  • There are a variety of RV clubs/memberships that will get you discounted rates at RV parks. These require a yearly membership fee and discounts vary based on the club. Some RV parks also have restrictions on when you can use the discounts, but regardless, you can really save a lot of money and the membership fees pay for themselves within the first couple uses.
Passport America

Image result for passport america

The original 50% OFF discount camping clubPassport America now offers over 1,900 quality discount campgrounds across the country to choose from.  We are Passport America members and wrote a review with details about how we saved $700 in just 6 months…that’s a 1,420% return in investment! If you want to read our review and see the great Passport America campgrounds and RV parks we stayed at, click here.

Interested? Sign up today and start saving 50% across the country! (Disclosure: If you sign up through our affiliate link, Passport America will give us a small commission.)

Good Sam

RV travel and camping memberships, services, park and campground discounts, roadside assistance, and online travel resources.

Escapees

This RV Club is a total support network for ALL RVers. Escapee members will find help with every aspect of RV’ing; from how to receive your mail, generating income on the road, finding reputable RV services, and locating places to park. Another awesome service that Escapees provides support with establishing domicile. If you are a full-timer, it’s a good idea to check out how Escapees Club can help.

Read our experience with establishing Texas residency using Escapee’s services in this post: Changing Your Domicile: A 6 Step Guide for Achieving Texas Residency (there’s also a video in the post!).

AAA

Club members enjoy emergency roadside assistance, DMV services, discounts, travel planning, insurance, maps, and more.

Thousand Trails

With over 80 RV parks nationwide, Thousand Trails is America’s premier provider of membership campgrounds and RV parks with resort style amenities.

All of these clubs have their own websites that include a map of the parks that offer their discounts. So this would be your first place to check if you’re hoping to take advantage of these memberships.

Tips For Choosing a Spot

Use filtering options

If you search just by location, you’ll receive many options for where to stay. So, using filters will help you narrow down your options and make it less overwhelming to choose.  Also, it would be a shame to ignore the filters, such as RV length, and book a spot only to discover after showing up that you are actually unable to park there.

Be sure to use filters on your search right away, too! Don’t make the mistake of searching just based on location, finding an RV park you really want to stay at, adding your filters, and then discovering that they can’t accommodate your stay for whatever reasons. 

Read recent reviews

There’s nothing worse than showing up somewhere after a long travel day and be disappointed. Regardless of whether you’re planning to stay at an RV park, campground, or free boondocking site, you should always check out reviews beforehand.

Every RV park and campground has a different refund policy, but you can’t typically get a refund on a reservation without at least 24 hour notice. With free spots, you’ll want to research road conditions to BLM lands or reviews of the hosts who you are staying with. You can find reviews and photos on the sites I listed above, as well as on Google, and even YouTube

Make a reservation.  

Every RVer feels differently about this. While it’s nice to have the flexibility to not have set plans, it’s also nice to know where you’re staying and not have to worry about driving all over town to find somewhere to park. Travel days can be tough so sometimes we like to take the pressure off of finding a spot.

It can also be nearly impossible to get spots at popular RV destinations, such as Yosemite during the summer season or Key West in the winter. Sometimes you can get lucky getting a spot on a “walk up basis”, but your chances are MUCH better making a reservation well in advance. 

Depending on the park, we recommend calling to make a reservation. Reserving online isn’t always a possibility. Sometimes a website will say they are booked when they actually aren’t, due to cancellations. Calling is quicker, more accurate, and sometimes you can pick your spot by asking over the phone.

There you have it! Now you’re ready to start planning your route and discovering that home really is where you park it.

RV motorhome in Big Bend National Park with sticker that says home is where you park it

Looking for more RVing tips?

Check out these posts:

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Taylor Anderson
Guest

My father dreams of getting an RV, so learning more about where he can park them would be beneficial. It was helpful when you said that RV parks typically give a larger discount the longer one stays at them. My father might be interested in reading this article, so thank you for sharing it.

Taylor Bishop
Guest

Thanks for these tips for finding a good spot to park an RV. I didn’t know that there are actually RV clubs where you could get discounted rates. I’m interested to learn if these clubs can only be local or if they can work anywhere, which could be useful if you like to travel a lot.

Deb Pearl
Guest

Thank you for all the tips and information about how to find a good place to park your RV. My husband and I just got an RV and we have been wondering how to find good spots. That is great that we will be able to find an RV park with a quick google search. I didn’t know there was that many RV parks.

Daniel McKenzie
Admin

Sounds great! Enjoy the journey and safe travels!

Oscar O\'Malley
Guest

I really like that you mentioned that there are RV memberships that provided discounted rates! I just decided to rent an RV for the first time, so it’s good to know what my options are. I’m planning on taking my family on a cross-country trip next month, and having discounted rates on RV parks would really come in handy.