Traveling around the country in an RV is a great way to see the world on wheels. However, it’s very important to stop and rest when needed. Finding a place to safely park your RV where it is allowed can be challenging at times. There are several options to park your RV overnight, long term or short term.
Campgrounds and RV parks are a safe place for RVers to stop for a night or camp for long periods of time. Not all campgrounds are created equally. National parks and State parks tend to be more spread out to enjoy nature than privately operated campsites. During warmer months, National Parks and State Parks tend to fill up quickly being a more desirable location.
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management is disperse camping in national forests or near national monuments. BLM land is fair game to first come first serve travelers and remote from other campers. Since BLM camping is off the grid, there are no showers or power hookups. The lack of amenities is made up for by the scenic, peaceful environment.
Some local businesses allow overnight parking. Walmart is a well known business that allows RVs to stay on their property. Although it’s not glamorous with amenities, parking lots have great security to keep you safe and plenty of space to park. Make sure you are respectful and don’t stay for too long. Some Walmarts in certain areas do not allow overnight parking and it’s best to call ahead to make sure.
Other local businesses that allow overnight parking for RVs are Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, Casinos, Camping World, Flying J Truck Stops, Dennys, IHOP, Costco and Sam's Club, some churches and VFW’s for veterans. It’s always a good idea to do your research ahead of time to ensure RV parking is allowed.
Cities and suburbs are always challenging to find good RV parking. Residential neighborhoods are usually a quiet, safe place for you to park your RV. Make sure you do not park near schools or playgrounds. Parents are sensitive to the large vehicles parked near where their children spend most of their time. Make sure you keep your blinds drawn and be quiet so you don’t disturb other people. Stay alert in urban areas; it’s best not to open your door if someone knocks.
For smaller RVs and campers, backcountry camping is a good option for overnight accommodations at no cost. This option allows you to rest safely. There are no power hookups and dump stations but you get to thoroughly enjoy nature. It is smart to check if the backcountry area requires a permit to camp.
Some websites including Hipcamp and Harvest Hosts are a great way to find non-traditional camping options such as vineyards, beaches and ranches. You’re generally expected to buy something from the business but it allows you to have a unique camping experience with little costs.
Long term camping
More people are traveling the country in an RV and collecting experiences instead of things. People of all ages are jumping on board with living the RV lifestyle, not just retired travelers. Downsizing your living space and purchasing an RV for full time travel allows you to experience places you’ve never seen before. The love of the open road comes with the task of finding a place to park your RV long term.
You can choose to move locations at multiple short term campgrounds to explore new areas or stick to a permanent RV park. Destination based camping is selecting your location by the part of the country you want to explore with the activities in the area. Choosing your space based on the things you want to see is a common way to explore new areas.
Many people flock to the southern states during the winter to enjoy in-season long term camping. Warm winter camping is more comfortable and allows the RVers to avoid freezing temperatures. Some campers prefer the opposite and want to avoid crowds so they typically move toward the opposite direction as the snowbirds travel. To enjoy off-season long term camping, you will need an all-season RV to enjoy the solitude of winter camping. This can become challenging to find parks that allow camping year around.
Once you’ve determined the area you want to stay, finding a long term RV park requires some research. On the go RVers often use the app AllStays or the Campendium website is a good online resource. Many campgrounds and National Parks allow camping for long periods of time. If you want more amenities and activities, we would recommend luxury, private campgrounds over national and state parks. Private campgrounds and luxury campgrounds offer extended stay or monthly rates, however, luxury campgrounds have a long waitlist so you need to book far in advance.
KOA campgrounds are also excellent places to set up your RV for long term camping. KOA campgrounds are typically found in desirable locations, near parks or national monuments.
Renting or Purchasing Land
Staying at RV resorts isn’t for everyone. Sometimes the location, time frame or crowds can deter RVers from resorts. Renting or purchasing land allows campers to steer clear of other travelers while still being able to hook up to power. Renting or owning land is a great option for those that prefer long term camping in a secluded location.
Regardless of the path you choose, traveling in an RV leads you to the road of great adventure. Lakeshore RV is happy to guide you in the right direction and give you suggestions for camping locations to meet all of your needs.