As you you head out for your next RV destination or to boondock off the grid, do you know how and where to find RV dump stations and potable water for your camper or motorhome? Well, after seven years on the road as full-time RVers, we’ve put together a great resource that will help the beginner weekend camper to the most seasoned full-time RVer find where to dump and find water on the road.
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Where to Find RV Dump Stations and Potable Water
Now that our RV has much smaller holding tanks, we need to fill up our motorhome’s fresh water and empty our gray and black tank more often. Finding appropriate services is a challenge sometimes but through creativity and a little research, water and dump stations are out there.
Through our RV travels, we’ve found some great utility sources to share so you’re not left scampering around trying to find them.
But first, before pulling up to or parking our RV to fill or empty tanks, we’re always mindful of a few courtesy rules to remember.
RV Dump Station Etiquette
1) Always ASK for Permission
Always ASK if to fill your water tank. Never assume you can just pull up to a spigot and fill up your RVs water tank.
First, know that some water sources may be contaminated or are not meant for drinking, dishwashing or hand- washing.
Second, if you enter any property and take water or dump without asking or their knowledge, that’s the same as theft. Be prepared to pay the consequences.
2) Never expect FREE
Don’t ever expect to dump and/or get potable water for FREE. Either offer a donation or patronize them by making a comparable purchase. My suggestion is $5 for every 25 gallons. Remember, these resources don’t have to give it to you for free, nor should you expect it to be given for free.
If a source is offering free potable water, do not think you can go in there with your big RV’s 100 gallon and fill your water tank to the top. Someone is paying for that water. Can you imagine the cost if 10 big rig motorhomes or fifth wheels filled up their 100 gallon water tanks?
3) Do Not Block or Impede Traffic
Some places can be a challenge to navigate a big rig RV to dump stations and water sources. Wherever you go to fill or dump your tanks, be considerate of other drivers. Respect the traffic patterns and designated parking spots.
4) No Lollygagging
Dump Stations are typically for a dump and run. They are not the place to do your RV’s monthly tank maintenance. Save that for when you stay at a campground or RV park. Chances are there will be a line behind you waiting to dump their tanks as well. So, make it quick.
5) Leave No Trace
Whenever you’re taking on water or dumping, always leave it better than you found it. Never leave any trash or proof of that you’ve been there.
If you make a big mess at the dump station, let the owner or manager know. It’s illegal to walk away from a dump accident anyway. But, if it’s just a little splash, make sure you hose down the mess into the sewer hole.
Now that those 5 RV dump station etiquette rules are out of the way, let’s talk about places where you may find clean potable water to fill your tank or dump your gray and black tanks.
Where you can find Dump Stations and Potable Water
There are actual designated dump stations located throughout the United States. But knowing where to find them doesn’t have to be like finding unicorns or rainbows.
There are great online resources and smartphone apps that can point you to nearby dump stations. Our favorites are Campendium, SaniDumps, RV Dump Stations, and RV Dumps. Most are crowd-sourced where others post locations and services as they find them.
Campgrounds and RV Parks
We will fill our RV water tank and dump at a campground or RV park we are staying at. Before leaving the campground, we flush our gray and black tanks thoroughly and fill up our water tank.
But if we’re just passing through and know there’s a campground or RV park, we’ll call to ask if they have a dump station and/or potable water available. Usually it costs about $20-25 to dump. However, potable water may not be located near or at the dump station, so you may incur a separate charge to fill your water tank.
In my opinion, it may just be more feasible to park overnight at the campground instead. That way, you can also get your laundry done and take long hot showers before trekking off to your next destination.
Truck Stops and Travel Centers
Usually, you can find a dump station at a truck stop or travel center. Flying J and Pilot travel centers as well as Love’s truck stops are updating their services for RVs. Your best bet would be to visit their website and find a location nearest to where you need service.
Typically, dump stations at these establishments cost about $10-15. However, if you join their discount loyalty program, you can get it for about half of that.
But one rule I didn’t include in the courtesy rules above is to stay out of the way of the professional truck drivers.
Like the above travel centers and truck stops, some of the bigger fuel station chains have either dump stations or potable water spigots or both. However, most may not accommodate big rig RVs. But if they do, there is, most likely, a nominal charge to fill your RV’s water tank.
Though they are few and far between, some interstate rest stops may have separate dump station and potable water spigots. They usually don’t cost anything however, in some states, there may be a nominal fee.
Municipal and County Parks
There are many municipal or city parks as well as county parks that have potable water and dump facilities. But, don’t expect them for free. There’s typically a small fee to dump and take on water.
If that city or county has a bonafide campground or RV park, perhaps it’s just as economical to just stay the night and eat at the local diner.
State and National Parks
Every State Park and National Park has a dump station and a separate potable water station. Usually, your entrance fee into the park will allow you to use those services. However, be aware that some may charge a small fee to cover their costs.
BLM and U.S. Forestry Ranger Stations
Some BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and U.S. Forestry Ranger Stations have sewer and potable water facilities in addition to restrooms, picnic areas and separate campsites. Ask the Ranger on duty if there is a dump station and potable water spigot so you can self-service your RV utilities.
A lot of Native American tribes operate casinos that may have their own campground or RV park along with dump stations and potable water. Be aware though, they most always will incur a fee for dumping your gray and black tank as well, take on potable water for your RV.
Again, it may be better financially to just stay an overnight at a their campground, play the slots, and take in the buffet.
When we boondocked with our big rig fifth wheel, we oftentimes would run into town with our portable water bladder and ask a commercial business if they minded if we filled it up. We always offered to pay whether through making a small purchase. But most often, because we were polite and asked, they would allow us to fill for free.
The issue with procuring potable water from churches is you really need to be there when the church staff is onsite.
Again, never just drive up to their water spigot and fill your van or RV water tank. Even if you write a donation check and slide it under the door, that doesn’t give you free rein to just assume it would be okay.
But, if the clergy or church staff does allow you to fill your water tank, ALWAYS make a donation. Never ask if you can make a donation’. Just do it. $5-10 for a small RV or van should do it. But for a big rig RV that’s filling 50+ gallons, $10-20 should cover it.
Overnight Camping Memberships
Though not customary, some overnight camping and RV parking memberships like Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome or Hip Camp may offer a water fill if you stay overnight with them.
But again, never assume or just pull up to their outdoor water spigot and fill up your RV.
That’s a Wrap!
So, it’s apparent that finding dump stations and potable water isn’t as hard as finding unicorns or rainbows. You just need to know where to look and be creative in your findings.
If you’ve found a different kind of venue that offers RV dumping and water tank filling, please leave a comment so we can add them to our list here.
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