Is It Safe to Park Your RV Overnight at Cracker Barrel?

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An RV parked in a Cracker Barrel parking lot overnight.

We love free camping. Whether in Arizona or Idaho, we feel connected to nature as we enjoy stunning views and peaceful solitude.

However, sometimes, you just need a safe place to sleep for the night. Parking overnight in your RV at Cracker Barrel is one of the best options when you need a convenient, safe place to sleep when traveling from Point A to Point B. 

We think it’s much better than Walmart, and the locations usually sit less than a mile off the interstate. Let’s dive in and look more closely at staying the night at Cracker Barrel!

Can RVs Park Anywhere Overnight?

Contrary to what you might see in the movies, you can’t just park an RV anywhere for the night.

In the western part of the United States, you have many more options for roadside parking on public lands than in the East. But you still can’t just pull over anywhere and catch some sleep.

The same is true for parking lots. RVers can’t pull into a parking lot for the night without requesting permission. Some local ordinances don’t permit overnight parking. So even if one big box store has allowed you to stay before, that doesn’t mean another one in a different location will offer the same privilege.

Is Overnight Parking at Cracker Barrel Permitted?

Cracker Barrel remains one of the most consistent and reliable businesses that permits RVers to stay overnight. Some of these locations even have RV parking.

It’s a great option for weary travelers since Cracker Barrels sit right off major highways and interstates. Plus, you can grab coffee and breakfast before hitting the road the next day.

However, you’ll still need to call ahead and ask permission. Overnight parking at Cracker Barrel is generally permitted nationwide, but that doesn’t mean this privilege hasn’t been abused in a certain location.

That manager may have decided to put an end to overnight RV parking. Or a certain city may have rules in place against such overnight parking, and it’s out of the control of the store manager.

What Are the Pros of Free Overnight RV Parking?

Many RVers take advantage of free overnight RV parking at Cracker Barrel locations and other places. It’s cheap, convenient, and safe. While supporting the store where you stay overnight is always a good idea, you won’t have to pay a fee like you would at a campground.

Also, larger rigs need wide spaces to get in and out. Drivers don’t want to worry about low clearances or narrow country roads. Most places that allow overnight RV parking sit right off the interstate.

Therefore, it’s super easy and convenient for travelers to take an exit, make one turn, and arrive in the parking lot. The next morning, they’re back on the road in minutes.

Finally, Cracker Barrels and other places that permit overnight RV parking are generally well-lit and near other restaurants and businesses. Most RVers feel safe stopping for the night here.

However, if you ever have a strange feeling or don’t like the surroundings, you should never stay put, no matter how tired you are or how much money you’re trying to save.

An RV boondocking on public land.

What Are the Cons of Free Overnight RV Parking?

The biggest disadvantage of free overnight RV parking at Cracker Barrel or anywhere else is the lack of amenities. If you don’t have a battery that will power you through the night, it might be an uncomfortable overnight stay as you have no electric hookups.

You’ll also need to carry water onboard to wash your hands and flush the toilet since you won’t have access to potable water.

Even though most of these locations have large parking lots, sometimes larger rigs will still have trouble getting in and out. This is especially true if you arrive during the dinner hour at Cracker Barrel. A full parking lot can be difficult for a motorhome or large fifth-wheel to navigate.

Also, you don’t make reservations. It’s first-come, first-served. So if other travelers have already shown up and there’s no space left, you’ll have to find somewhere else to stay.

Is Cracker Barrel RV Parking Safe?

However, for most travelers, one night in a parking lot is worth it to get a good night’s sleep for a long drive the following day. RVers generally feel safe because of the well-lit parking lots of Cracker Barrel. This particular business also opens early in the morning.

So there isn’t much time between when the last person leaves the night before and when the first person arrives to start breakfast the next morning.

Tips for Overnight Parking at Cracker Barrel

If you want to take advantage of Cracker Barrel RV parking, there are a few things to remember. Don’t ruin this experience for other travelers because you can’t follow simple etiquette.

Pro Tip: Maintaining good hygiene on the road can be tricky, but it’s essential. Here’s How to Find Clean and Safe Public Showers on the Road!

Call Ahead and Ask Permission

Always call ahead and speak with the manager to ask permission as a common courtesy.

As mentioned earlier, even though Cracker Barrels usually welcome RVers, there may be a location here or there that can’t allow overnight parking because of local ordinances.

Or if a manager is tired of cleaning up trash in the parking lot or dealing with noise complaints from other businesses nearby, they can stop allowing this free overnight parking. 

Don’t Set Up Camp

You’re here to sleep for one night. You don’t need to put out the awning, get out the grill, or sit in your camping chairs. If you can get by without pushing out your slides, sleep with them in.

You want to take up as little space as necessary in respect of the business and any other weary travelers who may come in after you later that night.

Of course, if you need to put out your slides, that’s okay. But the point is to remember that you’re not parked at a campsite. You’re in the parking lot of an operating business.

Eat Breakfast or Buy Coffee

If you enjoy overnight parking at Cracker Barrel, go inside and eat breakfast or order a coffee for the road. Spend a few bucks as a “thank you” for allowing you to get a good night’s sleep.

A $3 coffee is much cheaper than a $40 fee. Show your appreciation, if possible, to the business before leaving the next morning.

Keep in Mind: Walmart has allowed free overnight parking for decades, but now they have a new trick to stop RVers from parking overnight!

Close up of a coffee cup at Cracker Barrel.

Stay Only One Night

Like the third tip, you’re not at a campground. Do not stay more than one night. You really don’t want to stay more than a few hours. Get some sleep, get your coffee, and then leave.

If you need a place to stay for two or more nights, book a campsite at a local campground. Don’t abuse this privilege of free overnight parking, or managers will start to take it away from everyone.

Leave No Trace

Finally, you should always follow the Leave No Trace principles, whether in a Cracker Barrel parking lot or a National Park campground. No one should be able to tell that you were there.

Pick up after your pet. Throw away your trash. If you’re there only for a few hours, you shouldn’t be making a mess anyway. Be courteous and respectful of the business.

To learn more about proper overnight etiquette, check out our article “10 Rudest Things You Can Do While Overnight RV Parking.

A person throwing away their garbage at a trash can after parking overnight at Cracker Barrel.

Are There Alternatives to Overnight Parking at Cracker Barrel?

If there isn’t a Cracker Barrel nearby, don’t fret. You can find other options for free overnight parking. Although Walmart isn’t high on our list, it’s an alternative. Walmart seems to be cracking down more on RV parking, however. So you’ll certainly want to call ahead before arriving.

Other businesses with large parking lots that allow RVs to get in and out include Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s. Casinos often allow overnight RV parking, and churches have also started providing this service.

If you’re a Harvest Host member, you can find all kinds of museums, farms, wineries, and other locations that will allow RVs to stay the night.

For more information, check out our article “How to Find Free RV Parking Anywhere.”

Cracker Barrel Is One of the Safest Overnight RV Parking Locations

If you have to choose between a Walmart parking lot or a Cracker Barrel parking lot, we highly recommend Cracker Barrel.

We feel safer here and love the chance to get up and eat a delicious breakfast before a long drive day. And with so many locations nationwide, you won’t have to travel far to find a Cracker Barrel off an interstate exit.

Driving while tired is extremely dangerous. Take advantage of free overnight parking at Cracker Barrel. Then savor the “Country Boy Breakfast” before setting out on the next leg of your adventure.

Have you ever stayed at a Cracker Barrel? Did you feel safe?

1 comment
  1. We use Cracker Barrels for over night at least 2-3 times per week. We have stayed there from Maryland to California. We have never been turned down to park for the night and have never felt unsafe. And the food is great!!
    Thanks for this great article.
    We have also used Home Depot lots with the same experiences.

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