Can You Park Your RV Overnight at a Library?

Sometimes looking for a place to park overnight in your RV requires a bit of creativity. Crowded campgrounds and a shortage of public lands for camping are leading some RVers to turn to libraries for more than just a good book. Let’s take a look at if you should consider a library for your next overnight stay.

Young millennial in front of a grunge textured wall lowers her black glasses on the brim of her nose and looks sultry at the camera.

Do RVers Park Overnight at Libraries?

Whether out of desperation or convenience, a library could be a great option to consider for parking. These places are typically centrally located and even available in smaller towns and communities.

A library typically closes early, so you may not have to worry about being in the way during your stay. However, it’s important to note that just because a library is open to the public, it doesn’t mean the parking lot is available after hours.

An establishment, such as a library, may allow you to use their parking lot during normal business hours, but it may be a challenge after hours. Even if you get permission, there’s a good chance that law enforcement will patrol the area and see your presence as suspicious.

Libraries aren’t top-of-mind locations for overnight stops for many RVers, especially larger rigs. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re off-limits. If you’re having trouble finding a spot to stay overnight, it’s always worth calling and asking a library. It never hurts to ask! 

Woman with her hair up in a bun and a sport coat puts her head in a book out of frustration while standing in front of a brick wall.

Where Can RVers Park Overnight?

There are a few options to consider if you’re looking for campsites outside of campgrounds or public lands. One of the best resources is Harvest Hosts.

There are more than 2,500 locations across the country available for those in self-contained RVs. These locations often provide unique overnight stays for guests and help support small businesses.

Another option to consider is big-box retailers with large parking lots. These parking lots typically sit empty throughout the night, and there’s often plenty of room for maneuvering large rigs.

It’s essential to look out for signs indicating bans on overnight parking or RVs. If you don’t see any signs, you should still go inside and get approval from management and support the business with a purchase. Some of the popular retailers include Camping World, Walmart, and Cracker Barrel.  

Man in a jean jacket walking below a street lamp in an empty parking lot at night

Best Practices for Parking Overnight at a Business

Before embarking on an overnight stay at a business, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let’s take a look to ensure you don’t get asked to leave in the middle of the night.

Ask Permission

You should always ask permission before getting too comfortable. You don’t want to ask just anyone for approval, but someone with authority to grant permission. Look for a manager or supervisor, as they have more control than a typical employee.

Even if a location usually grants permission, you should always ask. There may be a reason that you’re unaware of that prohibits the business from allowing guests to stay. It’ll also help if you get a knock on your door in the middle of the night, and you can give the name of someone who permitted you to stay.

Patronize the Business

Many businesses that allow RVers to stay overnight hope you’ll also support their business with a purchase. If you’re staying in a Walmart parking lot, it’s a great idea to stock up on any snacks, groceries, or other RV supplies you might need.

If you’re calling a Cracker Barrel parking lot home for the night, you could support them by buying dinner that night or breakfast before hitting the road in the morning. Spending money is a way of thanking the business for hosting you for the night.

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

It’s vital that you not overstay your welcome, no matter where you’re staying. Be mindful of operating hours when planning your arrival and departure. You don’t want to be in the way of the business conducting regular business.

You should also typically limit the length of your stay to a single night unless the business states otherwise. Remember that the business is likely not an official campground, and you shouldn’t set up camp in their parking lot. 

Don’t Leave Behind Trash

One of the worst things you can do is leave trash behind. The business will probably have to clean up after you. Plus, you could ruin the opportunity of an overnight stay for other RVers in the future. Some local ordinances prohibit overnight camping in parking lots due to individuals leaving trash behind in parking lots.

Businesses will likely shut down overnight stays in their parking lots if guests leave behind trash. There has been a rash of public lands and parking lots closing for camping due to excessive trash and damage to the land. Do yourself and other RVers a favor and clean up after yourself.

Is Parking Overnight at a Library a Good Idea?

Parking at a library can be a good idea if the library allows it. You’ll want to do your due diligence in checking with the proper authorities about whether you can stay or not, but it can be a quiet and private place to stay for a night.

Make sure you’re completely self-sufficient. Do you think staying overnight at a library would be fun? Have you ever tried it?

If You Love RVing, You Need to Stay Informed

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Stick with Nomadic News. We publish daily articles and breaking stories that matter to your RV lifestyle.

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