A woman stands in the side door of her van smiling and shrugging while parked in a wooded park.

Do City Parks Offer a Good Refuge for Nomads?

Nomads will often stay in unique and potentially even strange places from time to time. Campgrounds, truck stops, and even a Walmart parking lot are all common locations for overnight stays. However, a local city park may offer plenty of space and privacy, which makes for a great place to camp for the night.

So do city parks offer a good place for nomads to stay? Let’s see! 

A woman stands in the side door of her van smiling and shrugging while parked in a wooded park.

What Are City Parks?

City parks are recreational areas managed by cities or local municipalities. They typically have grass fields, playgrounds, and other recreational activities for public use.

These parks are often as diverse as the cities that provide them. This means offerings will vary from one location to the next and that some city parks offer more than others.

Can You Park Overnight in City Parks?

Some city parks allow overnight parking. However, there’s no consistency regarding which city parks allow overnight stays. Local ordinances and regulations often vary from one city to the next, so you’ll want to check with local authorities before setting up camp in a city park.

Riverside City Park in Wyoming allows free camping for two nights.

Look for signage at the park entrance or contact the non-emergency phone number for the local police department. If you decide to park without verifying access, you could receive a citation or a knock on the door from law enforcement in the middle of the night. Neither option is ideal, so ensure you only park in areas that allow overnight parking.

Do you have to open your RV door for the police if they knock when overnight parking? 🚨

Do City Parks Have Campgrounds?

Some city parks do offer campgrounds. Like city parks, these campgrounds often vary in age, condition, and amenities.

They typically have a much more relaxed vibe than a standard campground. As more urban environments often surround many city parks, they’re likely not going to have nearly as many trees as a state park or other campground.

However, many locals use city park campgrounds as a place to retreat and spend time with their families on the weekends. It’s not uncommon to see these campgrounds packed on weekends, especially holiday weekends like the 4th of July and Memorial Day.

A vanlifer enjoys breakfast on the sand along the waterfront.

City Park Tips for Nomads

If you’re a nomad and planning to stay in a city park, you should do a few things to have a great experience. Let’s dive in and see how you can have a great time camping at a city park.

Lock Up Your Stuff

City parks are public use facilities, which means there could be a lot of people coming and going. You should always secure your valuables to prevent them from walking away in the hands of someone passing through the park.

Take the time to check all of your outside storage compartments before you go to sleep for the night or when you won’t be at your rig.

Don’t leave expensive items easily accessible. Padlocks and chains will often deter thieves from taking your stuff. However, if they want to take your items, they’ll find a way. The best bet is to make it as hard as possible for anyone wanting to steal your stuff.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

You can get comfortable and relax, but always be aware of what’s happening around your vehicle. Use external lighting to keep it safe while parked in a city park.

If you need to investigate a situation, refrain from turning on any interior lights. That will make it more difficult to see what’s going on outside. It will also allow anyone outside your vehicle to easily see what’s happening inside it.

Sometimes, there’s a catch to free overnight parking at a city park…

Know When to Leave

While it may not be ideal, sometimes the best thing you can do in a situation is to leave. We recommend you do that if you ever feel unsafe.

No overnight parking spot or campsite is worth risking your safety. Finding a new location in the middle of the night isn’t convenient, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do.

Clean Up After Yourself

No matter where you’re parking for the night, including city parks, you should leave it cleaner than you found it. Even if it’s not yours, pick up any trash or litter in the area. Doing so helps ensure that campsites or overnight parking spots remain available for future users.

One of the leading causes of these spots closing or restricting access is trash and other litter being left by users. Make sure you dispose of trash appropriately and take all your belongings.

A wooden footbridge over a marsh takes you toward a city park campground.

How Do You Find City Park Overnight Parking Spots?

Finding city parks that allow overnight parking can be tricky. However, using resources like Campendium and iOverlander can help make it much easier. These are fantastic resources as you can filter search results only to show a specific type of location, including city parks.

Once you locate a park, you can read reviews from other users and find any important information you might need. Some smaller city parks may require you to call a resident who manages the city camping.

However, requirements will vary from one city park to another. So make sure you know what’s expected of you if you want to stay in a city park.

Are City Parks Good for Nomads?

City parks can be great places for nomads to stay overnight or for a few days. They’re not all the same, so remember that some city parks will be better than others.

They can be cost-effective ways to park for the night and get some rest. Just make sure you do your research and make sure you’re following all of the local rules and regulations for the city park. 

Have you ever stayed the night in a city park?

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