Legal overnight parking lot camping can be difficult to find.
Although Walmart parking lots and rest areas were once the go-to for “blacktop boondocking,” many have changed their policies and no longer welcome overnight visitors.
Casino camping is a reliable alternative. Many (although not all) casinos offer free camping in their parking lots. Some even have their own casino RV parks with full hookups if you prefer to upgrade for a night.
Here’s what you need to know to find RV-friendly casinos near you.
What Is Casino Camping?
Casino camping is simply when a casino offers overnight parking on their property – often for free.
You’ll usually be asked to park in a designated section of the parking lot or around the far edges of the main parking lot. These areas are typically reserved solely for boondockers so you won’t be parked amongst other guests.
Many casinos restrict overnight parking camping to RVs, trailers, and camper vans only – your vehicle must be self-contained with its own toilet. Tent camping or sleeping inside a car are generally not allowed (although exceptions can be found).
Free camping at a casino almost always comes without standard camping amenities. Expect to be boondocking. You must rely on your own power, water, and sewer capabilities. Casinos with free RV hookups are rare.
A handful of casinos do offer free RV hookups for overnight guests. But, like I mentioned above, these are rare. Don’t count on hooking up when casino camping in an RV.
Some casinos, however, do have their own RV parks. These almost always require a fee but offer the same amenities as a normal RV park, including full RV hookups.
Some casino parking lots feel like just that – parking lots. Others feel almost like campgrounds with plenty of shade trees, large grassy areas, and even picnic tables and trash cans.
Why Camp Overnight in a Casino Parking Lot?
Sleeping in your RV in a casino parking lot might not sound appealing at first – but it actually comes with a whole lot of benefits.
- Safe – Most casino parking lots are well lit. Almost all of the ones I’ve stayed at also have a security team that regularly patrols the property throughout the night.
- Convenient – You can find casinos just off Interstates, state highways, and even county highways. Their often-convenient locations make them an excellent option for RV road trips.
- Comfortable – Casino parking lots are flat. You don’t have to worry about leveling your RV. Many have shade trees in their RV parking lots.
- Dining and Entertainment – You’re steps away from a casino. Dining and entertainment are close at hand. Even if you don’t like to gamble, most casinos have on-site restaurants, bars, and gift shops. Live music and other live shows are popular. The meals offered at casinos are often incredibly cheap (just a few bucks). Buffet meals are also common.
- Free Money – Many tribal casinos let you sign up for a free player’s card during your first visit. Sometimes this comes with a free $5 or $10 to get you started on the slot machines. If you luck out, you might end up leaving with a couple dollars. Of course, the opposite is also true! If you get sucked in and keep playing (this is what the casino is hoping for), you just might walk out with a noticeably lighter wallet!
- Community – Casino parking lots are great to pull in late, go straight to sleep, and head out early. But, they’re just as good for meeting other RV boondockers. Say hi to your neighbors and share a few tips on your favorite free camping locations.
- Open 24/7 – Most casinos are open around the clock. You can utilize the free bathrooms and running water to freshen up. If you pull in late, you’ll likely still find a bite to eat or a drink to wind down.
- Additional Amenities – Although free RV hookups are extremely uncommon, free RV dump stations are somewhat common at casinos.
What I Don’t Like About Casino Camping
Camping in casino parking lots does have some drawbacks.
First up is noise. Most casinos are quite busy with guests coming and going at all hours. Even the designated RV parking lots can be noisy and bright all through the night. That’s not to mention any noise from nearby highways and other roads.
Remember that casino camping is usually dry boondocking only. RV hookups are almost never available (unless there is a separate casino RV park).
Because you’ll be sleeping in a parking lot and not in an actual campground, you’re expected not to treat the parking lot like a campground. In other words, the expectation is to spend time inside your RV only, not to set up camping chairs, grills, or other camping implements outside.
Most casinos also expect you to utilize their facilities. In fact, the reason free casino camping is even allowed is to encourage you to spend money inside. You don’t have to spend much…even a cheap meal, a quick game of slots, or a single drink is more than enough.
Not only is spending a few dollars good casino boondocking etiquette, but it also helps ensure casinos continue to offer free camping for years to come.
Some casinos restrict overnight camping parking to self-contained vehicles like RVs, trailers, and camper vans, leaving those sleeping in cars, trucks, and SUVs to look elsewhere.
Although it’s always smart to call ahead to doublecheck on each casino’s camping rules and regulations, it’s especially important if you plan to sleep inside a normal vehicle instead of a vehicle specifically outfitted for camping.
Despite the downsides, the benefits of casino camping still outweigh the negatives for me, especially when I’m in a pinch to find a free place to sleep overnight.
How to Find Casino Camping Near You
Free overnight casino camping is remarkably easy to find.
A simple Google or Google Maps search for casinos near you will suffice. Most casinos that offer RV camping have camping information available on their website.
Even if a casino does offer camping details online, I always call ahead to inquire about their current policies before planning to stay in their parking lot.
Another useful tool is casinocamper.com. The website’s design is a little outdated, but the information they provide is incredibly valuable. They provide an updated list of RV-friendly casinos (with a handy-dandy map tool) to help you find casino camping near you.
Most locations on Casino Camper have in-depth reviews, including user-submitted reviews, that break down the dining and entertainment experience in addition to the RV camping experience.
What About Casino Camping in Las Vegas?
Free camping in Las Vegas, especially near the Strip, is increasingly difficult to find.
Several prime locations were once available for legal boondocking and overnight camping, although today there are only a few at best.
Sleeping in a vehicle in Las Vegas is prohibited, although it’s somewhat lackadaisically enforced.
In fact, many casinos, even those that don’t offer legal overnight parking camping, don’t really care if you sleep in their parking lots overnight as long as you keep an extremely low profile, stay for only a night or two, and otherwise respect the property and their guests.
In Las Vegas, stealth camping is a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” endeavor. Don’t do anything to attract the attention of security or let them know you’re sleeping in your vehicle and they’ll usually let it slide. The Orleans Casino is one location known to look the other way as long as you’re in full-blown stealth camping mode.
Although free overnight RV parking is hard to find in Las Vegas, plenty of casinos offer paid camping in their parking lots or on-site casino RV parks. The RV Park at Circus Circus is just one well-located example.
Because it’s difficult to find casino camping in Las Vegas, many RV boondockers and vandwellers turn to the outskirts of town for dispersed camping opportunities. Government Wash on Lake Mead is conveniently located for enjoying city life without forking over big bucks to stay at an RV park.
Tips for Camping in Casino Parking Lots
Sleeping in a casino parking lot is a little different than RV camping elsewhere. Here are a few tips to help make the most of your stay.
- Call Ahead – Even if you’ve camped at a casino in the past, it’s always best to call ahead and doublecheck about their current policies.
- Plan on Boondocking – You’ll be dry camping at most casinos. Make sure you have enough water, propane, and the ability to power all your devices yourself.
- Check In Upon Arrival – Always check in at the security desk upon arrival. This ensures you’re welcome to stay and also means you’ll be included in regular security patrols.
- Don’t Set Up Camp – Keep a low profile, even though boondocking is allowed. We usually recommend hanging out inside your RV or the casino only, rather than setting up a campsite. Open your slide-out if there’s room but save the awning, camping chairs, and outdoor grill for another time.
- Spend Some Money – Spend a few bucks inside the casino if you can afford it. Buy dinner, kick back a drink or two, play the slots, or try a few table games. It’s not required, but it’s certainly good etiquette.
- Be Respectful – Keep noise to a minimum. Don’t run your generator all night. Pack out your trash. Don’t leave your RV unattended for more than a few hours at a time. Follow all rules and regulations. Just be a good guest!
Happy Casino Camping!
Casinos have quickly become one of my favorite places to sleep overnight on road trips.
I plan to add guides to the best casino camping in each state in the near future – so check back often!