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Did you know there’s free overnight parking at truck stops throughout the United States? The Flying J, Pilot and Love’s are some of the truck stops that offer designated overnight parking for big rigs, RVs and cars.
Overnight Parking at Truck Stops
Since we hit the road in 2015, we’ve stayed at different truck stops throughout the United States. The first truck stop we parked overnight was the Pilot in Tifton, Georgia. At the time, we were traveling full time in a Class A motorhome flat towing a Jeep Wrangler.
When we downsized to a Class B RV, it was even easier to stay overnight at the truck stop. After a long drive out of Yosemite National Park, we pulled into the Flying J in Ripon, California and parked in a regular spot for the night. Catch a glimpse of our experience sleeping overnight in the truck stop parking lot in the video below.
We’ve also spent the night at a Love’s truck stop in our Four Wheel Pop Up Camper. It was an easy and convenient way to get a few hours of sleep before getting back on the road for a long cross country drive.
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How to Find a Truck Stop
Our favorite way to find overnight parking at truck stops is through Allstays. By applying the truck stop filters, the map will display all the truck stops nearby.
We prefer the Allstays because the notes section has information such as number of parking spaces, whether there’s a truck wash, CAT scale, shower facilities, chapel, restaurants and more.
Before we drive to a truck stop, we call to confirm that overnight parking is allowed. Sometimes no one will pick up so we will simply stop in and ask at the register. We’ve never been told we can’t park overnight but many times when you ask the staff will direct you to the area where you they’d prefer you park.
Free and Paid Parking at Truck Stops
Free overnight parking at truck stops is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Since larger RVs can’t fit in a standard parking spot, they will need to be parked in designated RV parking. For example, the Flying J in Ripon, CA has six reserved parking spots for RVs that are free. Remove the yellow cone and pull into the spot. The diesel side offers reserved truck and RV parking for a fee. Some truck stops will ask owners of large RVs to park in the standard truck parking that’s used by the semi-trucks. Note that the RV parking in the photo below is back-in only so if you travel with a toad, then you’ll need to disconnect it and park it in a separate standard parking spot.
Love’s Travel Stops now offer dedicated RV spots with 30 and 50 amp service for a fee. Similar to a campground, you can now go on their RV Stop Camp Life website and find a location along your route that offers these hook-up sites. Select the location you’re interested in and you can book your stay through their website. When I checked their location in Fillmore, Utah, a back-in site for a motorhome was $47/night.
If you have a campervan, truck camper or other small RV that can fit in a standard parking spot, you can typically just park in the lot that is associated with the “Autos” side of the truck stop.
Tips on Where to Park at a Truck Stop
Since trucks are on the road 24 hours / day, 7 days a week, the truck stops that support them are always open. As you can imagine, there is a constant flow of traffic from both trucks and cars which means a truck stop is not typically a quiet place at night when you’re trying to sleep. That said, there are ways to get a good night’s rest at a truck stop.
Observe When you arrive, park and watch the truck stop for a few minutes. You’ll quickly see patterns of where trucks enter/exit, things that might cause loud noises like loudspeakers or drive thrus and so forth. This will help you determine the best place to park, away from as much noise as possible. Just remember that if the employees at the truck stop asked that you park in a specific area, that you follow their request.
Be flexible and have a back-up Not all truck stops will work for you and you may just need to leave and find another place to park for the night. We’ve arrived at some truck stops and found that they were small and way to busy in order for us to find a somewhat quiet place to park so we moved on. We stopped a truck stop once in our campervan and shortly after we fell asleep, a loudspeaker woke us up alerting the truckers that showers were available. This happened about once every 15 minutes. Unfortunately, it was very late and we were far from another option so we just ended up having a terrible night’s sleep.
Truck Stop Amenities
The amenities vary depending on the truck stop. Below are some of the typical amenities offered at truck stops around the United States along with rates that we’ve seen.
RV Dump Station While RV Dump Stations are not standard at truck stops, Love’s Travel Stops tends to have them at many of their locations for a fee along with potable water. When we’ve asked in the past, if you’re purchasing fuel, they’ll allow you to fill up with water for free and dump for a discounted rate. Typically, we’ve found these services on the “Autos” side of the station in a specific RV fueling lane.
Wifi $3 for 24 hours. Free WiFi is sometimes available but it is much slower than the paid version. For more resources about staying connected on the road, check out our How to Stay Connected on the Road Guide.
Showers Most truck stops offer showers. The number of showers will vary and there may be a long wait depending on when you go in. Many will provide you with soaps, a wash cloth, towel and bath mat. The shower stall itself tends to be the size of a typical single stall bathroom with a toilet, sink, shower and some even have jacuzzi tubs (and they’ll even give you bubble bath to use). The showers are usually not timed, which means unlimited use until you’re done. We’ve also found some which allow multiple people in the shower room at the same time so if you’re traveling with someone, you could both use the shower for the price of one. In terms of cleanliness, each truck stop is different but we’ve seen some that clean the shower room after every use. To purchase the shower, go to the register where you will get a receipt with a customer number and sometimes a pin number for the door. Wait for your customer number to be called to find out which shower stall to go into. We’ve typically seen these cost $12 per customer.
Truck Wash Some truck stops have truck washes such as the Blue Beacon truck wash. They will take RVs, big and small, but before you take your RV through a wash, make sure to do some research. Some truck wash facilities have brushes that can damage items mounted on the roof of the RV or use sprayers than can damage appliances with vents on the exterior of the RV.
CAT Scale These scales are used to weigh the trucks so driver’s know if they are within the weight limits. The scale has three large plates which measure the front wheels, the drive or rear wheels and the trailer (or toad if you have one) and the report you get will give you a seperate weight for each and a total for all three (you don’t need to have a trailer in order to get weighed). To use the scale, simply drive onto it and make sure your wheels are on the correct plates. Press the call button and someone will come on an ask if this is a first weigh (meaning the first time you’ve weighed today at that scale). Simply tell them it is and that this is a personal weigh and there is no truck number. Once they’ve weighed you, drive off the scale and go inside to pay and get your weigh slip. Since we like to keep track of how much our RV weighs, this is probably the amenity we use the most at truck stops. The current cost is $13 but we’ve seen it slowly increase over the last few years.
Other Amenities include natural gas, laundry, chapel, 24 hour restaurants, game room and more.
Tip: sign up for the Pilot/Flying J Professional Driver myRewards card to earn free showers, coffees and other perks.
Truckers and RVers
As you might guess, there is a debate about whether RVers should be allowed to park in truck spaces at truck stops. Truckers argue that since they are legally required to stop after being on the road for so many hours they need these spaces since the number of spaces are inadequate for how many trucks are on the road and RVers are taking a valuable resource they need to do their jobs. On the other hand, RVers argue that if they are customers and businesses allow them to park overnight in a truck space, then they should be able to do so when there is a spot available – especially late at night when some campgrounds are closed for new arrivals.
Luckily for both sides, companies like Love’s have been incorporating RV specific spaces into their “travel stops.” Notice that they no longer use the term “truck stop” as travel stop is more inclusive of the types of customers they’re catering to. There has also been a trend to Class B and small Class C RVs along with truck campers that can park in a standard parking spot and don’t need to take a large space away from a trucker.
Have you parked overnight at a truck stop before? If so, let us know what you thought about your experience in the comments.