Boondocking traditionally involves camping off-grid and without hookups outside of a designated campground. Class A RVs are often luxury vehicles, so it’s natural if that means they can go longer. But how long can you boondock in a Class A RV?
Here’s what I know from doing it in mine:
In a Class A RV, you should be able to spend up to two weeks on average before needing to refill fuel, freshwater, and propane and dump the gray and black water tanks. You could even boondock longer than that, depending on how many people are with you.
But there’s more to boondocking in a Class A than just how long you can stay out.
So in this article, we’ll explore how to do it, and how to maximize your reserves to do it as long and as comfortably as possible.
Let’s talk about how to boondock in a Class A motorhome.
— RV Love (@RVLoveTravel) February 14, 2020
Can you Boondock in a Class A RV?
You can boondock in any RV size, including a Class A RV. In fact, a Class A RV may also have larger tanks for water, and fuel, making it easier to boondock for longer periods of time.
No matter what size RV you have, there are steps to take to make sure you can genuinely Boondock and stay out longer.
You need to watch your water usage. After all, the more water you use, the less water is in your water tank, but that means your gray and black water tanks will get fuller faster.
This means to conserve water and watch how much you use to go, to wash your hands, and to take a shower. Instead of washing your plates, try wiping food off with a napkin.
This is an essential thing for Boondock.
With an RV Class A, you’ll need less than someone with a smaller RV. You’ll still need food, extra water, a generator, and lights. But you might not need as much as someone else.
You can probably bring a grill with you, unlike some people that may have to start a fire.
On top of conserving water, you need to know how to use electricity and when to use it. A generator is excellent, but it only lasts for so long.
How long a generator lasts depends on you and what you use the electricity for.
I have a recent article that talks about how long you can run the ac in your RV. Running heat or air conditioning will affect how much energy you go through. But I also get into the 1 thing guaranteed to kill your generator efficiency.
Just click the link to read about it on my site.
y’all check out this rv parked at walmart 😳 pic.twitter.com/umHNQ0XqS0
— sabrina vento ᪥ (@wambambrina) November 27, 2018
Can you park the RV overnight at Walmart?
You can park your RV overnight at about 50% of Walmart locations. While it used to be allowed at all Walmart locations, it’s now decided upon on a store-by-store basis.
The best way to know if the Walmart nearby allows it is with the AllStays Walmart app.
Currently, it’s for iOS only, although you can go to their web browser on a computer or android and access their complete list of Walmart locations that allow boondocking. The website list is free and the app has a pro version that’s currently $30 or a basic version for $3.00.
Walmarts used to be the ideal place to stay overnight for people with RVs. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is to stay one night and leave. No extended stays and not setting up camp in the parking lot.
Overall the number of Walmarts that allow RV parking has gone down due to a couple of different reasons.
The reasons are as such:
- People staying longer than a night (we’re talking a week at a time)
- Fully setting up camp
- Dumping their waste bins not just in the trash but onto the parking lot (not just the water waste)
- Littering even though most Walmarts have trash bins in the parking lot.
All it takes are a few people to do these things, and everything is shut down for everyone else.
There are a lot of Walmarts still that allow RV parking, and some that don’t allow it now may allow it later. It’s all up to the manager and the individual store, and you probably won’t see something permanent throughout all stores.
But if you do dry camp at Walmart, make sure and be a good guest!
Don’t stay more than 1 night, and clean up after yourself. And do a little shopping while you’re there to support them for giving you a safe, level, and FREE place to spend the night.
Parked our RV at a truck stop just long enough to go in to eat. Came back to find the back of our Class A motorhome ripped apart. Literally. Nobody stuck around to claim the damage. CCTV “not working”. Looking at thousands of $$ to fix. #RVLife pic.twitter.com/w625j5vpfg
— Nicolas Steenhout (@vavroom) August 26, 2019
Can RVs stay overnight at truck stops?
Truck stops encourage RV people to stay overnight more than rest stops. It’s free and relatively safe, though make sure you always lock your doors. You just need to be respectful and make sure you leave in the morning.
Truck stops are not meant for long-term stays, but they allow overnight stays even for larger RVs.
Truck stops like Flying J and Love’s aren’t just for trucks or tractor-trailers. They welcome RVs as long as you’re gone by mid-morning, and you park straight. Pretty easy to remember, right? Some of these places even offer showers for a small fee.
Fun Fact: You can stay at casino parking lots.
Be careful with this, though, as they may charge a fee during large volume weekends such as holidays. Think about it like going to the beach and finding no free parking, but you can pay $5 for a secured spot.
Overall, truck stops are a great option for RV drivers when there aren’t many other options. This option can be budget-friendly as staying at a campground for just a night can be expensive.
No matter what you go to stay, you want to make sure you’ll be comfortable. After all, RV beds aren’t always the best right from the factory.
I have a recent article that goes over how to make the most of your RV bed, and some dirt cheap ways to improve the comfort.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
— FollowForFun (@papagiolines) September 5, 2019
Can I stay more than one night in a Class A RV at a rest stop?
Only Utah allows multi-night stays in an RV. 20 states allow overnight stays at rest stops in RVs or any vehicle for 1 night with length limits varying between 8 to 24 hours. You also cannot extend slide-outs as they would protrude into the next space over, and create a safety hazard.
Rest areas are located about every hour along the side of the highway.
These rest stops tend to have restrooms and welcome centers where you can stay for a short while to rest. Some states have even taken extra steps to make sure there are longer parking spots for RV’s, and some even have hookups.
Staying at rest stops isn’t really advised by most people, including the cops.
This is because you’re more likely to get robbed or be assaulted at places like this. Because of this, some states actually make it illegal to sleep overnight at some rest stops. However, it depends on what state you’re in, what rest area in the state you are at, and if you follow signs or not.
Rest areas are meant for resting.
Do note that many states have laws about “camping” at rest stops. But this refers to tent camping. In short, if they allow vehicles overnight, RVs are welcome.
Here is a quick reference guide to the states that DO allow overnight parking in your RV at rest stops.
All are 1-night maximum unless noted:
- Arkansas – only for safety reasons
- Idaho – up to 10 hours maximum
- Iowa – only due to “extenuating circumstances” (does “I’m tired” count?)
- Nevada – Up to 24 hours
- New Jersey
- New Mexico – Up to 24 hours
- North Dakota
- Ohio – permitted in some stops along the Ohio Turnpike
- Oregon – up to 12 hours maximum
- Rhode Island
- Texas – Up to 24 hours
- Utah – Allow extended stays
- Washington (state) – up to 8 hours maximum
- West Virginia
- Wyoming – only for safety reasons
RV camping below the Volcanic Tableland at Fish Slough north of Bishop, California. Dispersed campsites can be found here in Owens Valley on BLM land, and to the east and west in the Inyo National Forest, along with countless hiking and backpacking opportunities. #willramble pic.twitter.com/R80KGgDjtQ
— Will Barton (@WillBar64973974) March 27, 2019
How long can you camp on national forest land in a Class A RV?
Most national forest lands will let you stay for a maximum of 14 days. Although a few areas allow for a 21-day limit. However, most will allow you to move 5 or miles away from your current site to start the cycle over again.
Any time you camp outside of a designated camping site, it’s called dry camping.
But when you go out into the literal boondocks, it’s known as dispersed camping or boondocking. National forests almost always allow free camping outside of designated campsites, for both tents and RVs. These places have specific guidelines that need to be followed.
The amount of time you can stay depends on the area you’re in.
But to locate the spots nearest you and see what their time limits are, head on over to The Dyrt. They have a pro membership you can join for just $35 bucks a year.
If you don’t want to do that, just check either the Bureau of Land Management or the US Department of Agriculture where you’ll want to search for the term “dispersed camping” and the specific area you want to know about.
It’s crucial in places like this to always pick up after yourself. Keep the area clean and act like you were never there, just like if you were in a Walmart parking lot, do not dump your waste bins.
I have a recent article that goes over how long you can go before needing to dump your black water tank. So before deciding how long to stay, it’s crucial to review my tips to help you maximize your black water tank efficiency.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Did I cover everything you wanted to know about Class A RVs Boondocking?
Boondocking in a Class A RV makes life easier when camping, especially when you have kids.
Just make sure you know the rules of the area and stick to cleaning up after yourself. What you do impacts other RV users around you. This is not just because of trash but getting a place permanently banned for other RVs to use.
Overall most places are very generous about how long you can stay, and most likely, your trip won’t be that long. Just remember there is a difference between camping and overnight sleeping.
Stay safe and enjoy some camping or overnight sleeping.