#OVERNIGHTING: Can You Park An RV At Truck Stops Overnight?

Trucks on parking, cargo transportation in European cities. Vehicles for for delivery of goods in Europe

BY Lynne Fedorick—Truck stops exist to cater to truckers, ensuring they have the necessities to transport goods across the country. These stops typically offer fuel, water, food, retail stores, showers, and parking areas for resting. Many also allocate parking for RVs, and some even feature a dump station.

Why you shouldn’t park an RV overnight at truck stops

However, issues arise when truckers, in dire need of rest, find truck stop spaces occupied by RVs. RVs can obstruct accessibility due to their size. Given that truckers operate vehicles that can be up to 80 feet in length, they require ample space, not only for parking but also for maneuvering. When truck stops overflow with RVs, truckers struggle to find alternative resting spots, leading to conflicts between the two groups.

Truck stops come equipped with a range of amenities that are perfect for refueling and relaxation. However, there are also drawbacks to consider when choosing to stay overnight. Due to their close proximity to major roads and continuous flow of vehicles, truck stops tend to be noisy. But if you’re weary and need a break, you’re generally welcome to rest, provided the stop isn’t too crowded and you’re parked away from the main trucking areas.

Follow these rules 

In a discussion with professional truck drivers about RVs staying overnight at truck stops, the consensus, epitomized by Mark K., was: 

“If they displace a truck, I don’t want to see them there. They can camp anywhere, but finding an alternative spot with a truck is much harder. It’s acceptable as long as they don’t use one of the 70-foot parking stalls.” 

Keeping this sentiment in mind, here are some unspoken etiquette rules for overnighting at a truck stop in your RV:

  • If the stop is crowded, avoid parking there.
  • Always use RV-designated areas. If in doubt, ask the attendant.
  • Refrain from using truck parking spots.
  • Occupy minimal space. If you fit in a regular parking spot, use it.
  • Avoid setting up a campsite. Keep slides and awnings in, and chairs stored.
  • Make a purchase from the truck stop.
  • After fueling, move your RV from the pump. Ensure you’re not hindering a trucker waiting to refuel.

Alternative overnight RV parking options

While truck stops are a well-known option for overnight RV parking, there are a myriad of other places that can offer a peaceful night’s rest for weary travelers. Some of these locations may even provide a better experience than crowded and noisy truck stops.

1. Walmart parking lots

Many Walmart stores across the U.S. welcome RV travelers to park overnight in their lots. It’s a symbiotic relationship: travelers can rest, and often they end up purchasing supplies from the store. However, not every Walmart allows overnight parking due to local ordinances or store policies. Before settling in, it’s always best to check with the store management. And remember to park in a way that doesn’t impede traffic or take up too many spaces.

2. Cabela’s

Cabela’s, the outdoor retailer, has a reputation for being RV-friendly. Many of their locations offer designated RV parking areas, and some even have dump stations. However, as with Walmart, always check with store management upon arrival to ensure overnight parking is permitted.

3. Rest areas

Highway rest areas can be a boon for RV travelers looking for a short-term stop. They’re designed for tired drivers to pull over, take a break, and continue their journey refreshed. Most rest areas have a time limit on how long you can stay, usually ranging from two to eight hours. Also, while they offer basic amenities like restrooms, they lack the utilities and hookups that RV parks provide.

4. Churches

Some churches across the country allow RVers to park overnight in their lots, especially when there are no services or events taking place. It’s a gesture of goodwill and community support. Always seek permission from church officials before settling in, and consider attending a service or making a small donation as a gesture of appreciation.

5. Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel restaurants, with their old country store charm, are often welcoming to RV travelers. Many locations have specific RV parking spaces, and the company’s policy is generally RV-friendly. After a good night’s sleep, you can even enjoy a hearty breakfast before hitting the road again. However, always check with the store’s management to confirm overnight parking permissions.

6. Local fairgrounds

In some towns, local fairgrounds offer RV parking, especially during off-seasons when large events aren’t taking place. They might charge a small fee, but you’ll often have access to water and possibly electricity.

7. Casinos

Numerous casinos, especially those located outside of major city centers, allow RV parking. Some even offer full hook-up sites for a fee. It’s an invitation for travelers to come in, enjoy the amenities, and maybe try their luck. Always check with the casino’s security or management regarding their parking policies.

8. Harvest Hosts 

Harvest Hosts is a unique RV membership program that links RVers with over 2,000+ wineries, breweries, farms, and attractions that allow free overnight stays. It’s a fantastic way to experience local culture while also having a safe spot to rest.

9. Boondockers Welcome

This is another membership service where hosts offer free parking on their property. It’s like Airbnb for RVers and provides an array of unique parking spots across the country.

Source: RVLife. No copyright infringement intended.

About Lynne Fedorick

Lynne lives, travels, and works full-time in a Forest-River R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne has been an enthusiastic RVer for over 35 years. And then one day in 2019, she began full-time RVing as a lifestyle experiment. She quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living.  Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995.  You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com.

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