RV Stay at a City Park

A recent survey at NorthwestRVing.com (see below) revealed that 5% of those responding have utilized city parks for overnight stays. City parks many times are a great option for overnight or longer stays, but many RVers are unaware that many cities offer overnight stays / camping at their parks.

 

Many cities (especially small rural cities) will let you park along the curb of their city parks and stay overnight in your RV for free. Some will advertise this fact while in other cities a call to the local police department might be required to verify. However, some city parks take it even a step further by offering developed campsites within the park for little or no cost. A few cities even operate full blown RV parks that may or may not be associated with the city park. If not operated directly by the city, it may be in conjunction with a service club like the Jaycees, Rotary, Kiwanis, or Lion’s club.

Cities provide these places to stay overnight or camp as a service to the community and to attract travelers to stop and patronize their cities businesses like restaurants, grocery stores, fuel stations, museums, etc. Money spent at these businesses translates to more taxes collected for the city. It’s a winning situation for all involved; RVers get a free or low cost place to stay for the night, increased business for area merchants and more income for the city.

An added bonus for RVers is that city parks typically feature large and grassy areas providing a place to walk the dog, a place for the kids to play and somewhere for RVers to deploy their lounge chairs after a day on the road. In addition, city parks are likely to feature sports courts, play grounds and other amenities you can enjoy during your stay.

Let’s look at some examples throughout the Pacific Northwest:

- In Davenport, WA you can stay overnight along the edge of the park operated by the City of Davenport and Lions Club for free.

- The city park in Chewelah, WA offers water and electric campsites for $10 per night.

- In Hinsdale, Montana you can camp in the Milk River Park for free. Many campsites are right along the river, amenities include potable water, fire rings, vault toilets and picnic tables.


Milk River Park in Montana

- The Lewistown Kiwanis Campground in Lewiston, Montana provides spacious free campsites on the outskirts of town.

- Those traveling through Prairie City, Oregon can enjoy what is best described as a full blown RV park with full hookups rather than a city park for just $20 per night. Check out Depot RV Park here.

- In Idaho, the city of Gooding operates the Big Wood River RV Park. Utility sites are just $15 per night, $5 without utilities.


Big Wood River RV Park in Idaho

As you travel beyond the Northwest into the Midwest you will find even more small cities that are rolling out the welcome mat for RVers.  Many agricultural cities that have experienced serious population declines in recent years offer RVers free hookups to stay a night or more in the hopes you will visit and spend money during your stay. Click here to view a map of free places you can camp with hookups, most are in the mid-west and operated by municipalities.

Finding these gems - If you have been clicking on the links for the examples given above you have discovered there is no one source directory for city parks that allow overnight stays / camping.  Following are several methods you can use for locating city parks:

- Do an online search for the city you want to stay in using key words / phrases like; camping, overnight parking permitted, city park, etc.

- Visit FreeCampsites.net which lists free and low cost options for overnight stays / camping. When you perform a search by city and state some of the options may be city parks.

- Your favorite campground directory will most likely list city parks with designated pay campsites.

- Apps like Campendium, AllStays, RV Parky and others will list city parks when filtered properly.

Respect these places – Cities are not making any money on free sites and if they do charge, it is likely only covering the expense of improvements, utilities and caretaking at best.   Do not abuse these parks by leaving garbage, bothering day users, not cleaning up after your pet, ignoring noise regulations, etc. If the city has to expend excessive resources to enforce rules and clean up after thoughtless users, you can be assured these special places will be closed or rates increased sufficiently to cover expenses.

Next time you are out and about in your RV try an overnight stay or a full weekend campout at a city park, you might be surprised at what they offer.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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