Whether you are new to the RV lifestyle, or you’ve been around the campground a few times, finding a place to park your rig can feel a bit daunting.

While some may tell you to reserve campsites in advance — often months ahead of time — others suggest flying by the seat of your pants and relying on luck to find a spot. Fortunately, there are many spots besides designated campgrounds where you can stop for the night in your RV. That’s the great part about having a home on wheels!

Of course, you have to know how to park an RV once you find that great spot. Read on to learn RV parking tips and learn how, when and where to park your RV when the campground’s full.

How to Park an RV: The Basics

First, let’s review some essential RV parking terms to know before you venture out into the wild.

  • Pull-through: A site that has both an entrance and an exit, so you can drive through without backing up
  • Back-in: A site with just one entrance; you’ll have to either back in to enter or back out to leave
  • Spotter: Someone who stands behind your RV and directs you as you park using basic hand signals
  • Jack/stabilizer: A device that extends to the ground to distribute weight and level your RV
  • Boondocking: Camping in your RV without being connected to water, power or sewer

Next, let’s review some basic RV parking tips. When you think you’ve found a site, be sure to get out and walk the site before parking. Look for large rocks, potholes, low-hanging branches and other potential obstacles.

If you’re at a campsite, locate the power hook up. You’ll need to orient your RV so your power cords can reach. Also, check to be sure any slide-outs or awnings can properly extend.

Now it’s time to ease into your parking spot. Use a spotter to help, if necessary. Keep your eyes on your mirrors and go slow. Make small corrections on the steering wheel, especially if you’re towing a trailer. Above all, take your time and if you have to stop and start again, that’s okay.

Where to Park My RV

Uh-oh… you didn’t make a reservation, and all the campgrounds in the area are full. What now? Luckily, you’ve got a lot of options when you need to find a place to boondock.

Municipal Airports

Many small, local airports allow RV camping; some even have camping facilities. It’s not as strange as it seems, as many small-plane enthusiasts like to fly across the country on “flamping” trips, staying at municipal airports along their route… just like RVing!

Casinos

Many casinos welcome RVers who wish to park overnight, usually in designated parts of their parking lots. Some charge a fee, so call ahead and check before you arrive. Some even offer hookups, bathrooms and laundry facilities.

Walmart

It’s not exactly a secret that many Walmart stores let RVs park overnight in their lots. In most cases, as long as you park your RV out of the way, you’re not in danger of being towed or ticketed. Just be sure to check with the store management first, as each store may have its own policy.

Moose and Elks Lodges

If you’re a member of the Moose or Elks, most lodges will let you park on their property when you’re passing through. You might be welcome to a corner of the parking lot, but some lodges even offer full-fledged campsites. Most, but not all, require membership.

Truck Stops

If you’re really in a pinch, head for a truck stop. Most won’t bother you as long as you park straight and leave by mid-morning. Bonus: truck stops have lots of large, pull-through spots that make it easy to get in and out.

Finding a place to park (and safely parking your rig when you get there) doesn’t have to be stressful. If you find yourself without a campsite, simply seek out one of the many destinations that allows overnight RV parking.

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