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Everything You Need to Know About Parking Your Van Overnight

Find out the best places to park your adventure van overnight, including: campgrounds, truck stops, wineries, attractions, and more.

May 11, 2021 | Tips

Being the proud owner of an adventure van or RV means having unlimited access to the open road and the comfort of your home no matter where your journey takes you.

Whether you are ready to enjoy a day of hiking or an evening of exploring a new town, one common question among new camper van and RV owners is: where should I park each night?

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about parking your RV or camper van overnight, including helpful do’s and don’ts for adventures of any type.

Check Out Dispersed Camping Options

For those who love to get away from the crowds and are searching for an affordable — and often free — option, dispersed camping is the way to go.

Dispersed camping is a style of boondocking that is usually limited to no amenities. Unlike a campground, dispersed camping is often unmarked, open land available for overnight stays.

Common areas to find dispersed camping options include US Forest Service Land and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas.

When you plan to spend time in a Forest Service or BLM area, stop by the local ranger station. Rangers have a wonderful wealth of knowledge about the local area. They will be able to direct you to the best camping in the area, as well as give you helpful tips about camping in the region.

Additionally, most rangers will offer you vehicle maps and will let you know how many nights you are allowed to camp in one area.

For more information on Forest Service Land and BLM areas, check out these two useful resources:

Good for:

  • Outdoor adventurers who want to get away from it all
  • Campers prepared to stay off-grid
  • Those who want a free or affordable option
  • Longer stays

Make a List of Friendly Businesses

In some cases, your adventures will take you through urban areas. Whether you are stopping by a city to explore the local brewery scene, or you are simply passing through the area on your way to the next destination, it can be helpful to know where you can park in a town or city in your camper van or RV. After all, the beauty of having a home on wheels is that you don’t need to spend the night in a hotel.

Certain businesses tend to be more overnight parking friendly than others. Make note of the following choices for your next trip:

  • Walmart: In most cities and towns, Walmart will allow you to park overnight. This can be extremely convenient if it is a 24/7 Walmart, as you will have access to bathrooms.
  • Cracker Barrel: Cracker Barrels are usually equipped with specific RV and bus parking areas. As a bonus, you can grab a quick bite to eat before settling in for the night.
  • Cabelas: Cabelas is not only overnight parking friendly, but many of their stores have RV dump stations and water fill stations.
  • Casinos: Most casinos are overnight parking friendly. This also provides you with access to bathrooms and entertainment.
  • Breweries and Wineries: Often, a brewery or winery will allow you to spend the night in their parking lot. Enjoy some local beverages before calling it a night.
  • Truck Stops: Many truck stops allow RVers, campers, and semi-trucks to spend the night in their lot. As a bonus, most truck stops have showers and laundry services.

Keep in mind that not every business on this list is guaranteed to be open to overnight parking. Always call ahead or stop by the specific location to check to see if it is ok for you to park there overnight.
 
If you love staying at unique locations, consider a membership to Harvest Hosts. For an annual fee, you can stay at over 2,000 locations across the country, including wineries, breweries, farms, attractions, museums, and golf courses.

Good for:

  • A quick one-night stop off
  • A convenient location in the heart of a city or town
  • Restocking on supplies

Use Highway Rest Areas

Another option for the weary traveler is a quick overnight stop at a highway rest area. Most highway rest areas are also equipped with bathrooms, with particularly nice rest stops even featuring hot showers.

While many highway rest areas allow for an overnight stay, be sure to check for signs indicating how long parking is allowed. Additionally, check with local state laws. When in doubt, you can also speak with local law enforcement to see if an overnight stay is allowed.

Good for:

  • A quick one-night stop off
  • A late evening choice when you’re too tired to reach the next destination

Designated Campgrounds and RV Parks

Almost anywhere you go across the US, you will find a myriad of choices for campgrounds and RV parks. From beautiful state parks to private campgrounds, the options are almost endless.

The beauty of choosing a designated campground is that you can usually reserve these spots ahead of time, guaranteeing you a place to crash. For those who are traveling a long distance to reach their destination, this is an ideal choice.

Campgrounds and RV parks are often equipped with extra amenities as well. Common amenities include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Showers
  • Laundry facilities
  • Electrical hookups
  • Dump stations
  • Water fill stations
  • Swimming pools
  • Outdoor games and activities
  • Bike, kayak, and other recreational rentals

Good for:

  • Longer stays
  • Planned trips
  • Campers who prefer to have access to electricity and water
  • Seeing a state or national park up close

Follow These Basic Do’s and Don’ts

No matter where you spend the night in your camper van or RV, make sure that you follow common camping etiquette. The following list of basic do’s and don’ts can ensure that you have a pleasant overnight stay.

Do:

  • Pack out what you pack in
  • Talk to local rangers and other officials to find out the state and county rules
  • Pay attention to signs
  • Practice common campground courtesy, such as adhering to quiet hours
  • Put out a campfire fully before going to bed
  • Ask before spending the night in a parking lot

Don’t:

  • Assume that a business is overnight camping friendly
  • Leave a trace behind
  • Camp in protected natural areas
  • Block someone’s driveway or parking space

Shop Antero for Your Next Adventure

If you are ready to find your next adventure, check out our off-the-grid capable vans at Antero Adventure Motors. Our Class B RVs are outfitted with everything you need to be comfortable on the road while remaining small enough to easily travel down a variety of roads.

Talk to us today about picking the perfect camper van for the road ahead.

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