Several Las Vegas casinos offer RV parking. (Photo: rv,rving image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com )
Free RV camping typically involves dry camping, or boondocking, a method of spending the night where self-contained rigs must rely on their onboard services, because water, electric and black water hookups aren’t available. Options in Las Vegas are similar to ones found around the United States. Camping on federal land is frequently free, and parking lots and rest areas rarely charge for overnight stays.
Parking Lots in Las Vegas
Spending the night boondocking in a parking lot is probably the easiest way to save money on camping. They’re frequently close to highways, it’s easier to maneuver a big rig in a large lot and, in the case of casinos or superstores like Walmart, the business attached to the parking lot offers entertainment, shopping and restroom facilities. Keep in mind that the city of Las Vegas prohibits RVs from parking on the street.
If there are signs posted prohibiting overnight parking, move along. In the absence of signs, always check with security or customer service before assuming you’re welcome to spend the night. Be as unobtrusive as possible. Avoid using your generator, and clean up after yourself before you leave. Spending money at the business will create goodwill and encourage the owners to continue allowing RVs to camp there. Use an app like Casino Camper and Allstays to find free overnight stops.
Free Camping on Federal Land Near Las Vegas
RVers who plan to spend a lot of time camping on federal land should consider purchasing a recreational pass from the USGS store online or at a participating park. A pass allows free access to more than 2,000 federal parks that charge the general public an entrance fee. It does not cover campground fees, but it will cover the entrance fee for lands allowing dry camping away from campgrounds.
Sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Army Corps of Engineers, along with national forests and national recreation areas, usually allow dry camping, while National Parks generally allow dry camping only by hikers who pack their gear into the backcountry. The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest combines views of snowcapped mountains with desert landscapes. Look for a spot along Champion Road.
Check the Public Lands Interpretive Association’s interactive map of public lands in Nevada, or pick up a copy of "Camping with the Corps of Engineers" by Don Wright.
Overnight Parking at Rest Areas and Truck Stops in Nevada
Not all of Nevada’s rest areas have parking spaces for trucks and big rigs, but the three closest to Las Vegas – Boulder City, Southern Nevada and Amargosa Valley – do. The Valley Wells Rest Area across the border in California is another option. The same rules of etiquette for parking lots apply at rest areas. Don’t set up your awning or lay out a picnic spread outside the RV. If you find yourself surrounded by semitrucks running their diesel engines, your generator probably won’t disturb anyone, but turn it off by 10 p.m.
Some truck stops are more RV-friendly than others, and it’s not just the owner’s attitude that counts. There may be a limited number of parking spots, or the layout may be unworkable for some RVs. Just keep in mind that openness to RVers varies from one to the next. If you have questions, ask. Buy dinner at the truck stop restaurant or pick something up at the convenience store.
If you’re overnighting in a big rig at a rest area or truck stop, keep in mind that you’re competing for a space with a trucker who, on a tight deadline, may need the space more than a vacationer would.
About the Author
Native New Yorker Meg Jernigan stayed in Washington, D.C. after attending the George Washington University, and worked in the tourism industry with the National Park Service for many years. Her interpretations of local and American history helped visitors from around the world see the capitol city in a new light. She has traveled from coast to coast in the United States, and ridden the train from city to city in Europe. Jernigan began writing about travel more than a decade ago, focusing on making travelers feel like locals before they reach their destination.
Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
- rv,rving image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com