19 Places You Wouldn’t Expect To Find RV Dry Camping Available
RV dry camping is defined as camping without hooking up to utilities such as city water, power, or sewer. While many associate it with camping in a campground without hookups, RV dry camping is available in more places than you think.
Some of the areas I am about to share, outside of a traditional campground, are more like places to stay the night rather than places to “camp”, but most will agree the term “RV dry camping” still applies. Many are known to seasoned RVers, but with the influx of new RVers over the past year, I will include well known areas along with the unexpected places.
Many casinos allow RVers to spend the night in their parking lots. This is especially true of tribal owned casinos. You can easily find casinos that offer overnight RV parking while planning your route with RV LIFE Trip Wizard.
2. Fishing access sites
Looking to go fishing on your RV camping trip? Fish and Game departments will often allow overnight camping at public fishing access sites.
3. Off-road areas
Many areas developed for off-road use will allow overnight camping at the staging areas. Bring your ATV for some exhilarating OHV trail riding.
4. Wildlife areas
Dispersed camping is often allowed in wildlife areas operated by Federal and State governments. Check out these locations that offer dry camping for RVs.
5. Retirement / Assisted Living Facilities
Operators of these facilities are often happy to accommodate those coming to visit an elderly loved one and will allow those with RVs to spend the night.
6. Box Stores & Restaurants
Most RVers are aware that many box stores like Wal-Mart allow RVers to stay overnight in their RVs. Other businesses include Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel, K-Mart, Home Depot, etc. Plan your route with RV LIFE Trip Wizard to find locations that offer overnight RV parking.
7. City Parks
Small municipalities are always looking for ways to generate more business within their town. One way is to allow RVers to spend the night at their city parks with the hopes those RVers will patronize local businesses during their stay. For example, check out these 10 City Parks For Inexpensive, Quick RV Camping.
8. Boat launches
Quite often, RVers are allowed to camp at developed public boat launches. You may need a pass or be required to pay a daily fee.
9. Points of interest on public land
Parking overnight at points of interests located on public land is sometimes a possibility, especially those located on BLM land. Check online or contact the governing agency.
10. Ski areas
Often ski areas are operated under a lease from the US Forest Service (USFS). Since the ski area is still on public land, overnight stays in the parking areas are allowed.
Sno-Parks are parking areas that are kept plowed out for winter recreationalists to park their vehicles (RVs too) then embark on their preferred winter recreational sport in the snow. These areas often permit RV dry camping during the winter and are often available for anyone to use in the summer including staying overnight in their RV.
12. Truck stops
Long haul truck drivers utilize truck stops for places to stay the night and many truck stops allow RVers to do the same. Though it should not be your first pick, truck stops may help in a pinch if you have nowhere else to camp.
13. Tribal lands
Many tribes allow RV dry camping on their lands with the purchase of a recreational permit.
14. Equestrian areas
Just like at Sno-Parks, equestrian enthusiasts need a place to park their rig before setting out on a horseback ride. Many of these areas allow RV dry camping.
Need a place to RV dry camp while visiting a friend or relative in the hospital? Many hospitals allow RVers to stay overnight in their RV, some even have dedicated RV parking. Rural hospitals with ample parking are always a better bet than hospitals in urban areas.
RVing Christians looking to worship with fellow believers can ask to stay the night before or after scheduled worship services. Wednesday and Saturday nights have great potential.
17. Tourist stops
Wineries, fruit stands, and other similar touristy-like stops with large parking areas will often let you stay the night when you ask.
18. State and National Park Overflow Areas
With campgrounds booked to capacity, many State and National Parks have designated overflow areas for RVers that arrive without reservations.
19. Rest areas
Rest areas located along interstates can be noisy, an opportune area for criminals to apply their trade, and definitely don’t offer a camping experience. However, rest areas along less traveled secondary highways can offer quiet, shady spaces along lakes or rivers and rival many primitive campgrounds.
Know the rules and regulations
In some places (like rest areas and city parks), you might see signs that state “no camping” while nearby signs state “Please limit your stay to 8 hours.” Overnight stays in vehicles like RVs are permissible, they just don’t want you setting up camp. Activities that are typically considered camping include erecting a tent, putting out a patio mat, setting up camp chairs, hauling out the BBQ, deploying the awning, etc.
When planning to stay overnight at a business such as a box store, truck stop, church, or winery, always check with the management first for permission.
Here’s a video where the author discovers dry camping spots all up and down the Washington and Oregon side of the Columbia River:
With a little creative thinking and research, you too can discover unexpected places to RV dry camp wherever your travels take you.
For help mapping out your route for your next RV getaway, look no further than RV LIFE Trip Wizard. This online planning tool makes it easy to plan an RV-safe route. It can also locate interesting sites along the way, all according to your travel preferences. Get RV LIFE Trip Wizard with its accompanying RV LIFE App, and start planning your adventure today!