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Published weekly since 2001. The most comprehensive newsletter about RVing on the Web. Edited by award-winning journalist Chuck Woodbury. Visit RVtravel.com to learn more or sign up.

After many years of maintaining a popular directory of free and inexpensive places to stay in an RV in the United States, we have changed our focus to providing advice rather than actual free campsite locations. Maintaining the directory was robbing us of the time we needed to work on our website RVtravel.com and its weekly newsletter. We’ll continue to add valuable information about free camping on this website.

free-camp-739In general, however, when it comes to free places to stay a night in an RV, Walmart is the best bet. We estimate that about 80 percent of all its stores in the USA allow stays in self contained recreational vehicles. For an overview of how it works, watch the video below.

Other businesses that allow free overnight stays include Flying J Travel Centers, Cabella’s, Camping World, Cracker Barrel restaurants (official policy is overnight stays are NOT permitted although most stores allow the practice), Costco and Kmart. Many RVers routinely stay in shopping center or factory outlet parking lots.

Many highway rest areas allow free stays of varying lengths, even those with “No Camping” signs (by “no camping” they mean no sleeping on the ground or pitching tents). Sleeping inside an RV is not considered camping). Rules vary state-by-state.

nev-rest-areas
This rest area along U.S. 50 west of Tonopah, Nev., welcomes RVers for up to 18 hours.

Many small towns allow free camping in their city parks. In most cases the cost is free or $10 or less; often a donation is requested, but not required. Stays of one to three nights are typically allowed. Some parks are barebones and by noisy highways. Others are quiet and in beautiful settings.

Helpful online resources
OvernightRVParking.com: Excellent resource for places to camp for free. (Membership fee to join, but free preview)
Harvest Hosts: Directory of free overnight stays at farms & wineries (Membership).
Forest Camping. An exhaustive rundown of virtually every U.S. Forest Service campground in America. Many are still free with others $10 or less.
Boondockers Welcome: Homeowners (hosts) across the country offer space for boondocking (sometimes with hookups) for one or two nights. Modest membership fee.

Books and Printed Directories
Guide to Free and Low-Cost Campgrounds
Casino Camping: Guide to RV-Friendly Casinos
Walmart Locator
The 2016 RVer’s Friend: Describes services offered to RVers at truck stops.
The Complete Book of Boondocking RVing.
•Kindle Book (read instantly): Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwest Deserts.




Boondocking and Dry Camping
Articles and information about boondocking at RVtravel.com.
The Ultimate Public Campgrounds Project. More than 28,000 places to camp for free on public lands in North America.
Boondocking.org. Maintained by an avid car camper, but thousands of listings for free places to stay for RVers as well.

Walmart Free RV Parking
Walmart’s official policy about overnight stays in RVs.
Free online directory of Wal-Mart stores that DO NOT allow overnight stays.
The ABCs of ‘camping’ at Wal-Mart.
Guidelines for overnighting in an RV at Wal-Mart.

Good Reading
RV park owners say ‘Wal-Mart campers are cheapskates.
The appeal of boondocking in the desert.
Six safety tips for overnight RV stays at casinos.
Free Camping at wildlife refuges.
•Why overnight RV parking at truck stops is a bad idea.
America’s greatest camping deal: Winter stays in Southwest deserts.

CONTACT US: Email Chuck(at)RVtravel.com