When you’re traveling from one RV park or campground to the next, you might have to stay the night somewhere in between. When we purchased our RV, the dealer told us that we would “quickly get used to” sleeping in Walmart parking lots and at KOAs. That sounded both boring and not always safe as a gay couple. We quickly discovered that there are plenty of other options, and we’ve never once had to stay in the parking lot of a big box store. Here’s how we find places to stay that are off the beaten path, picturesque, and private:
If you like wine for only $99 a year, you can sleep at wineries across the US, Canada, and Mexico. We signed up for Harvest Hosts in September, and we’ve stayed at wineries across the Midwest, a goat farm in Wyoming, and a museum in Utah.
You expected to arrive before the business closes and patronize them. Some close earlier than others, so this does take a bit of planning and prepare to end your day a bit early.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM):
The Bureau of Land Management controls 245 million acres of public lands across the US – newly 1/10 of the United States. Most of these lands are free to stay on for up to 14 days. It’s generally dispersed camping, without any services, and you’re expected to leave no trace. Some of our most memorable and picturesque stops have been on BLM land.
We stopped at the Salt Flats in Utah for three days, where we were the only people for miles. While traveling through Nevada, we stopped at the Virgin Valley Opal Mines inside the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. The campsite had a natural hot spring, and we were again the only people staying there. We hit a windstorm with gusts of wind up to 95 mph on our way through Wyoming, and we decided to stop to stay at Gelatt Lake while we waited out the wind.
It might seem odd, but there are thousands of free campsites that you can show up at and set up camp. Some places are better than others, but they’re always open and never require a reservation. When traveling from Palm Springs to Tucson, we stopped at an abandoned RV park on the Salton Sea. In Utah, we found a small gravel lot on the side of a creek at the mountain base. We stayed there for a few nights, and we were again the only people. We stayed in a casino RV lot between the Redwoods and Southern California, which provided us with dumpsters for trash and 24/7 security. Find these campsites on Campendium and FreeCampsites.net
Pro Tip: many of these stops have soft ground. To prevent sinking when you put your jacks down, use these pads to disperse the weight and give you a flat surface to lower your jacks.
Where have you stayed for quick stops like this? What sites did you use? Let us know in the comments below!