Last Updated on 05/13/2023 by Glynn Willard
At some point your RV needs to be dumped. Especially if your boondocking!
For those of you who only stay in parks with full hookups, it’s easy.
But for those of us who boondock most of the time, what’s the best way to find RV dump stations?
It took us a few months to master finding dump stations, but now it’s a breeze!
In fact, whenever we pass a gas station, rather than looking at the price, we look to see if it has a dump station.
Talk about conditioning!
Find RV Dump Stations Near Me
Our first steps to find dump stations involve opening our favorite apps. I’ll list our favorite below.
This usually solves the problem immediately we don’t need to look any further.
But I can legitimately say that we often are in locations where that don’t show any dump stations in our apps.
When this happens, we have to resort to other measures. But I assure you, there’s still hope under these circumstances.
Let’s first review some of the best ways to find RV dump stations.
Best Way To Find RV Dump Stations
We believe the best ways to find dump stations are:
- Start with the apps that show boondocking, water and dump station locations.
- Search for “dump stations near me” on Google maps. If you’re an Apple person, you know the alternatives.
- When out west check the reviews on gas stations along the way. They usually discloses if they have a dump station. When in doubt, call.
- Talk to other RVers. Most are happy to share their knowledge of dump station locations.
OK, so that’s a good starting place, but read on to learn our tips and tricks when we couldn’t find dump stations with the apps.
But first, the best apps for dump stations.
Best Apps To Find Dump Stations
The number of apps to find dump stations are growing. But when you’re full timing, apps to find free dump stations are superior.
Our favorites include:
- iOverlander. Yes, this is the most user friendly, largest database, free and stocked with reviews, it was our favorite.
- freeroam.app. Almost as good as iOverlander.
- Google maps. A simple search for “dump stations near me” often led to a few options.
- Recreation.gov app when we needed to look for a state park to dump our tanks.
- Parkadvisor.com when we needed to find a campground to dump our tanks.
You’re thinking to yourself, he missed a few. Well apps like Campendium, The Dyrt, etc. are not as user friendly, have insufficient databases or are paid only.
You may disagree, but those never made the cut as our “go to” apps for finding dump stations.
What If You Can’t Find A Free Dump Station?
This is when it’s time to expand your search outside of your direct route.
Out west, distances between society can be far, so it’s crucial you plan ahead. The old “we’ll find a dump station when we get there” is a bad plan.
Since we always prepared in advance, we didn’t have this problem.
Our dumping and fresh water fill always happened along our route to save fuel. And more importantly to reduce my anxiety.
All else fails, you can seek out RV parks or waste water treatment plants and pay for dumping.
It’s usually affordable anyway.
We found state parks with campgrounds to be the best paid option when there were no free dump stations.
Tricks To Finding Dump Stations
This is a list that we have accumulated of unique ways to find a dump station over the years (from experience).
It’s a bit of a recap, but reptation equates to memorization, so put on your “review hat.”
- First of all, since you’ll be dumping on moving days, find two or three potential options along the way. It will save fuel and time.
- National Parks. Almost all national parks out west have super clean dump stations and great potable water. A national park pass equates to free dumps!
- Boondockers Welcome. Surprisingly, many hosts have RV cleanouts. We really liked Boondockers Welcome, but feel like the customer service diminished afer it was purchased by Harvest Hosts.
- RV dealerships. Being kind when we called, often lead to a “we sure do and you’re welcome to come in and use it.”
- State parks with campgrounds. Not free, but a great value since they also have safe potable water.
- Call the city hall in the town where you’re boondocking.
- Stop by or call BLM Ranger stations. They’re always super helpful and can fill you in on boondocking locations and regulations.
- Call the city’s waste water treatment facility. It’s a pain, but can work sometimes.
- Ask another RVing boondocker. They’re usually happy to share their knowledge of dump station locations.
- Use sanidumps.com. This wasn’t always reliable or was outdated. But it’s worth mentioning.
We’ve found success on several occasions in the past when the apps didn’t show any dump stations. This will change as apps obtain more user data.
RV Dump Station Etiquette
- Kindly offer assistance if you see a newbie struggling with their RV. You might be on the receiving end of this kindness.
- If there’s a line, be patient and use the time to chat to strangers, review your map course, check email, safety check the rig, etc. In other words, budget for things to do when you arrive at the dump station.
- If there are a lot of people behind you, please hustle. This is not the time to do the extra long tank flush
- Make sure all your hoses are securely attached at both ends before opening the valve.
- Cousin Eddy’s line “shi$!ers full” is funny, but way over used at dump stations. Use it sparingly.
- Use only the red handled spigot to clean your hoses or flush your tanks.
- Never leave trash unless it goes into a dumpster. Leave the dump station better than you found it.
- Never, never, never use the potable water source to clean out your hoses.
- When you finish, hose off any mess you left.
Is The Water At Dump Stations Safe To Drink?
Is water at dump stations safe to drink? If the blue or green painted faucet for potable water is a good distance away from where you dump your tanks, it is probably safe.
If it’s right next to the sewage area, even if it’s painted blue or green, be very cautious!
It only took one time for us to learn our lesson. It was early in our adventure and I made the mistake of trusting a blue handled spigot next to the clean out.
We all suffered from diarrhea for a week and we had to sanitize our fresh tank immediately.
A valuable lesson learned! So please use caution.
Learn how to find potable water in our article, How Much Water Do You Need While Boondocking?
Wrapping Up How To Find A Dump Station Near Me
If you fulltime in an RV, you’ll find yourself returning to the same locations over and over as you make your way around the country with the seasons.
As you do, you’ll know where to find the best boondocking, dump stations, water sources, repair shops and groceries.
It gets easier and easier!
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