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Free Places to Park Overnight: Preferred Locations and Tips to Park Safely and Legally

Free Places to Park Overnight: Preferred Locations and Tips to Park Safely and Legally

Finding free places to park overnight is a common challenge for van lifers. Knowing where to park safely and legally can enhance your travel experience, save money, and provide peace of mind. Here are some of our most practical tips and preferred locations for free overnight parking.

Understanding Free Overnight Parking

Free overnight parking means finding places where you can legally park your van overnight without paying a fee. The benefits include saving money, flexibility, and often finding convenient locations.

Types of Free Overnight Parking

Public Lands

National forests, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands, and other public lands offer free overnight parking. Research specific rules, permits, and regulations.

Rest Areas

Highway rest stops often allow overnight parking. Check state regulations and consider safety and available facilities.

Walmart Parking Lots

Many Walmart stores allow overnight parking. Confirm with store management, adhere to policies, and practice good etiquette.


Some casinos offer free overnight parking. Sign up for a player’s card, use casino facilities, and follow posted rules.

Truck Stops

Places like Pilot, Flying J, and Love’s offer designated parking areas. Respect truckers’ space and use available amenities.


Some churches allow overnight parking. Ask for permission, be respectful, and offer a donation if possible.


Parking areas at hiking trails often allow overnight stays. Ensure it’s permitted, avoid peak times, and leave no trace.

Visitor Centers

Some visitor centers permit overnight parking. Verify with staff, use facilities responsibly, and follow guidelines.

Things to Consider

Convenience and Remote Working

Aim to park near places like Planet Fitness, libraries, or Starbucks for convenience and Wi-Fi access.

Nature vs. City

Sometimes parking in beautiful, remote locations is better than city spots for the serenity they offer.

Recommended Apps for Finding Parking

The Dyrt

Finds campgrounds and free public land (BLM land, national forests). Offers discounts and shows public land maps. Use code TWVR for a 30-day free trial, including offline map downloads.

iOverlander and FreeRoam

Great for finding free wild camping spots. Lists places to camp for free, often without hookups.

Seeker and RV Parky

Additional options for finding free overnight parking.

Business Locations for Free Parking

Common Businesses

Businesses that often allow overnight parking include:
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Cabela's
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Casinos
  • Home Depot
  • Costco
  • Sam's Club

Always ask a manager for permission and limit your stay to one night.

Safety and Research

Neighborhood Safety

Use or Google the neighborhood to check for crime rates and safety.

Scout Locations

Drive around the area to get a feel for it before parking.

Rules for Parking

Leave No Trace

Clean up after yourself and your pets. Leave the place better than you found it.

Have an Exit Plan

Be aware of your surroundings and have a plan to leave quickly if needed. Know the route to exit the area safely.

Park in Well-Lit Areas

Reduces the risk of theft or vandalism. Use window coverings to block out light from your vehicle.

Final Tips

  • Stay alert and be cautious of your surroundings.
  • Respect the rules of the location and the people around you.

Finding free places to park overnight can be easy with the right tools and knowledge. By following these tips, you can ensure a safe, legal, and enjoyable experience while living your best van life!

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