Driving in your camper van may put you on the road for an entire day as you travel to a new location. Eventually, you’ll need to stop to get some rest, so it’s helpful to know places you could park overnight before driving again in the morning. Read on for more information on places to legally park your camper van overnight.
Why Can’t I Park Overnight Anywhere?
While one of the benefits of van camping is having shelter anywhere you go, there are still legal restrictions. Loitering is also a common issue regarding people sleeping in public places, and people may mistake your overnight parking for this crime. And as more property continues to become privatized, you don’t have the freedom to park overnight anywhere you wish.
In most cases, it’s better to ask for permission than for forgiveness. Avoid any complications in your overnight parking by asking permission from an establishment, business, or private area owner. You could also call ahead to ensure that the place you choose to park accepts camper vans to stay overnight. This way, you’ll be able to drive smoothly into the park and settle in before continuing your journey in the morning.
However, there are certain businesses, government properties, or types of establishments that almost always allow overnight camper van parking. Continue reading for a list of establishments that typically offer worry-free parking for van lifers.
A classic spot for camper vans and weary travelers, Cracker Barrel is a central hub for people from various walks of van life. You’ll find these restaurants along interstates and major highway exits as convenient places for people to stop and regain their energy after a long drive. Just ask the manager for permission to park in their lot. Even if they request that you buy something to eat, you’ll at least have a nice meal before you go to bed.
You’ll find casinos all over the US, and many have larger parking structures where you may park. However, you should try to park in open areas instead of parking structures and avoid dark places for safety. Most casinos allow overnight parking, but it’s best to check to avoid any trouble. Casinos remain open 24-7, so you’ll have access to their bathrooms if you need to wash up. The casino may even let you stay for multiple nights, hoping you come in and gamble a little.
Costco is a great place to stay for wholesale goods and free overnight parking. The majority of Costcos allow parking overnight and rarely turn people away. Most stores will ask that you park farther away in the parking lot to allow customers to park closer for convenience.
However, ask the manager before parking to ensure you don’t break any laws. Costsco may give you the green light to park, but state laws and municipalities may not allow overnight parking in parking lots. But if there aren’t any rules banning you from legally parking your camper overnight, stay and feel free to restock your items if you have a Costco membership.
Like Costco, Walmart has a reputation for allowing overnight parking. However, fewer Walmarts allow overnight parking, which makes it necessary to ask the manager first. The store will most likely allow it, and if you walk through the store and purchase some items, they’ll trust you more. Park at a moderate distance to ensure you are close enough to the store but allow customers to park closer.
Walmarts also carry various supplies that may help your camper. For example, if you have a RAM Promaster, you could find tools to repair your RAM Promaster bug screen. Supplies for tire repair and other automotive needs are available in the store to help you drive off the parking lot in good condition.
Sleeping overnight in a residential neighborhood is possible, but there are some factors you’ll need to consider for a peaceful rest. Depending on the neighborhood and area, you may need to watch for people who want to break into your camper. Keep all windows and shades closed, so no one will peek inside and see your belongings. If it’s possible, park near a police or fire station. Also, certain neighborhoods may see your camper as a suspicious vehicle and report it to the police, who will ask you to move.
National Park Campgrounds
Campgrounds are common areas to park legally, but depending on the location, you may need to pay. National Park campgrounds will have lower fees, and parking anywhere with camping spots is legal. You’ll benefit from more space to park in a beautiful natural setting. Just research the National Park Service’s rules and state laws about camping or sleeping in a vehicle overnight to ensure you don’t break the law.
Most land is open to the public, so natural lakes and forests are potential parking spots you may stay overnight. The best areas will be on the outskirts of national and state parks with some open areas to drive off-road. You’ll have a great surrounding of nature and the seclusion of being away from other campers for quiet sleep through the night. Keep in mind that you may need to check with any park rangers or security personnel before parking.
The US has thousands of parks in the country, the majority being city parks with various places to park a camper. Like most other places under the government’s administration, you’ll need to ensure that the state you’re in allows sleeping overnight in your camper.
Safety is also a priority, as city parks are hot spots for crime at night. Keep all lights off to avoid attention, and keep your van locked with the windows covered.
One of the most convenient places to park a camper is in RV dealership parking lots. These dealerships will have lots of options for your camper or RV, and with their permission, you’ll have the luxury of staying overnight. You could take the opportunity of an overnight stay to do some repairs or upgrades for your vehicle.
Truck stops are great places to park your camper. These areas normally include a convenience store to stock up on items such as snacks and small hygiene products.
Truck stops have large parking spaces for campers and other large vehicles, and the area managers won’t mind if you spend the night there. They may ask that you park in a specific spot for campers, so semitrucks can still easily maneuver the lot. But overall, these are convenient locations to rest for free.
Having a place to rest is important when you travel in a camper van. These locations will give you access to a night of resting after driving for miles. Use these places to stay legally and get some sleep before returning to your travels!