Last Updated on July 5, 2023
I’ve heard from people on the road that back then parking with an RV was easy. You just pulled off to the side of the road and nobody bothered you. If you have an oversized RV this is getting hard. In many places now local ordinances may not permit overnight parking for different reasons. For a smaller RV, there is still a list of places where you can park. Many people who have decided to embrace RV living wonder where they’ll park overnight without worrying about being hassled or running afoul of the law. Fortunately, there are still places that allow RVers to park overnight for little or no cost.
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Even if you don’t own an RV you’ve probably heard that Walmart allows overnight parking. However, most now won’t allow it in California. Here is some more information on Walmarts that don’t allow parking overnight. So, to be safe, the best bet is to go inside and ask whether overnight parking is allowed. Camping World and Cracker Barrel are the same. These stores are on private property and the rules are determined by the property owner.
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Truck stops are a great option for overnight RV parking in California, simply make sure you don’t block the way of the 18 wheelers. While the vast majority of truck stops don’t mind small RVs being parked at their facilities overnight at no charge, you can check with the truck stop’s store clerk just to be sure you’re in the clear. An added bonus to truck stop parking is that you’ll have access to showers, toilet facilities, gas for your RV, and a convenience store with food and necessities. Here are some Truck stops that you can look into:
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California has many Native American-owned casinos throughout the state, and these are also convenient free overnight RV parking options. Some will require you to register or park in an assigned RV lot, but it’s a small step that takes just a few minutes. If you want a parking option with dining nearby, casinos work well since most have on-site restaurants.
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If you don’t mind rustic accommodations without frills, try one of the free campgrounds scattered across the state. Rest stops are another location, and those which do not allow RVs to park overnight typically have clear signs posted warning against it. Also, be aware of any local festivals or events going on in the area that attract large crowds. Overflow parking is often set up in these situations, meaning more free overnight parking opportunities for you. There is a website called Harvest Host. Get a 15% off through this link. For an annual fee of $79, you will get their list of farms and wineries where you can park for free overnight.
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As cell phone apps are more popular, you will find a few great apps to use to find overnight parking. One of my favorite free apps is “RVparky” which shows good information and reviews. It doesn’t show Regional, State, and National parks, however. One of the most popular and comprehensive paid apps is AllStays. This shows full details, prices, and ratings. You can filter to find different options, truck stops as well as rest stops and RV parks. If you travel with your RV a lot, it’s worth paying the yearly fee.
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If you are in a city it is more difficult to find overnight parking especially if your RV is considered oversized. You can find commercial zones for this purpose, there, people are less likely to report large vehicle parking for days. You can park on certain streets in LA, the Los Angeles Municipal Code on Vehicle Dwelling shows you maps of these streets. Also, printed versions of the maps are available at local City Halls, libraries, and community police stations for surrounding neighborhoods and street segments. In LA private RV parks cost as much as a motel for one night. They offer discounts on weekly or monthly rates though. If you own a Class B RV it is easier to find parking on the street. In most public streets, you can park for up to 72 hours. Watch the signs though, street cleaning days, and school zones might have special parking limitations. If you just need parking for a night or two, find places in better neighborhoods. I like spaces near apartment complexes because it’s less likely to get reported. Some cities won’t allow sleeping overnight in your car.
No matter where you choose to park overnight, remember to practice common courtesy and increase your chances of being welcomed back to the parking area in the future. Don’t dump your water or anything else outside of your RV into any rest stop, campground, or truck stop. It’s also a good idea to patronize the little shops and eateries where you park. The establishments help you out with free parking, so supporting their businesses, in turn, is a good gesture.
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California has many BLM lands where you can stay for free, usually for up to two weeks. I came across some long-term BLM stays that charge a fee but they may also offer services like water and garbage. I personally love BLM lands and my friends and I stay on these lands everywhere we go. My goal was to be able to stay for two weeks in one place without moving and I have achieved that. These locations are a bit farther from the cities but some of them offer beautiful views. Here are some info and maps.
Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API