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Finding an RV dump station and emptying your tanks can be an unpleasant experience. If you are new to the world of camping off-grid, finding an RV dump station can also be a little intimidating. Do not worry, we are here to help!
We will delve into a few of the best websites and apps for locating RV dump stations. We also have some great tips for finding dump stations in places you may not think to look.
Our RV dump station finding guide is sure to help take some of the unpleasantness out of this most unpleasant RVing task.
How To Find Dump Stations Near You
If you are camping at a traditional campground you will probably have access to an onsite dump station. But if you are either boondocking or moochdocking, you will need to find a dump station to empty your tanks.
Many travel centers, rest stops, and local campgrounds or RV parks have dump stations available for public use. Some RV service centers and repair shops even have dump stations you could use too. Although there may be several dump stations along your route, they can be difficult to find without a little help.
Fortunately, there are several apps and websites you can use to locate the RV dump station nearby. Once you have mapped out a few convenient dump stations along your route, be sure to call ahead to confirm dump site availability before your trip. Do not forget to ask about any fees that you may incur to dump.
Are All Dump Stations Free
No, not all RV dump stations are free. Although it is possible to find free dump stations, the majority will charge a nominal fee. You may have to do a lot of research and be willing to drive out of the way if you are going to rely solely on free dump stations for your trip.
If you need to drive out of your way to find a dump station, do not forget to include added fuel costs when budgeting for your trip. It is also a good idea to find out if there are any fees you will incur in addition to the fee to dump like toll roads or entry fees.
For instance, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allows non-campers to dump for a nominal fee and also requires the purchase of a State Park Recreational Passport or day pass to enter the state park.
Tips for Finding Dump Stations
The best tip for finding an RV dump station is to always plan ahead. Determine if you will have access to a dump station wherever you are staying. If not, you will need to locate RV dump stations along your route.
A pro tip is to always call ahead or check their website to confirm dump station hours, and rules. You will also want to make sure the particular RV dump station you plan to use is operational, open to the public, and within your budget.
Since you cannot simply throw a stone and hit an RV dump station, sometimes you will have to drive out of the way to find one. Preplanning your stops and your route is required.
The best tip for locating RV dump stations is perhaps the most obvious, that is to use the internet. The need for and presence of RV dump stations is global, you just need to find them! Fortunately, finding the nearest RV dump station is usually just a click away!
4 Best Apps and Websites To Find RV Dump Stations
There are many websites and apps available to help you locate an RV dump station near your route.
SaniDumps.com is a great website and app for locating RV dump stations. This site has been around a long time so they have one of the most comprehensive lists of dump stations.
SaniDumps is constantly updating RV dump station information. Simply search by postal code or country to bring up the most up-to-date list of RV dump stations near your location.
2. RV Life Trip Wizard
RV Life Trip Wizard is another app that helps you plan all your RV dump station stops. This collection of apps is great because you can plan every aspect of your RV trip. For a one-time annual fee, you have access to a ton of resources.
In addition to local RV dump stations, this site suggests points of interest, provides cost calculating tools, and consumer reviews. Their Maintain My RV app also alerts you when it’s time for various maintenance steps like oil changes.
3. RV Dumps
RVDumps.com is just for finding U.S. RV dump stations. It is a very easy site to use to search by state, city, or using the map feature. We prefer the map feature because it includes interstate rest areas with dump stations.
4. ToGo RV
ToGoRV.com is another great app and internet-based resource for locating dump sites. This GPS enable site will help you find dump stations as well as other RVing necessities wherever you are. ToGo RV’s collection of features is great for trip planning, GPS, finding points of interest, maintenance, repair, etc.
Whichever website or app you use, the internet is the best tool for finding RV dump stations.
4 Alternatives if There Are No Dump Stations Near You
1. Contact Local Campgrounds
If you cannot find a dump station to use, try contacting campgrounds in the area. Many local campgrounds will allow non-campers to dump. Be aware that there is almost always a small fee for this service. It is also recommended that you call ahead as not all campgrounds open their gates to outside RVers.
2. Contact Local RV Parks
Similar to campgrounds, RV Parks sometimes allow outside RVers access to their dump stations. If you cannot find a dump station, try calling local RV parks to find out their rules and availability.
3. Contact Local RV Dealerships or Service Centers
Often overlooked, some RV dealerships and service centers have dump stations out of necessity. If you cannot find a dump station near you, try calling the nearest RV dealership or service center.
You will want to ask if they allow passing RVers to dump. Although these places may charge a fee, it is an option worth looking into.
4. Learn How To Dump Your Tanks at Home
Finally, if there is no dump station to be found, you can always consider dumping your tanks at home. Whether you are on a city sewer or have a septic tank, dumping your RV tanks at home is fairly easy.
Can You Dump Your Tanks in Any Sewer or Storm Drain?
Under no circumstances can you empty your tanks in a sewer or storm drain. It might seem logical to empty your wastewater into the nearest storm drain, but doing so could contaminate the groundwater.
This is because even if you have treated your wastewater with septic-safe toilet treatment, it is still not considered safe for absorption into groundwater.
The EPA and many state and local authorities charge steep penalties for contaminating the groundwater through improper use of a sewer or storm drain. Not only will you incur fines, but you will also offend all of your neighbors.
No matter how desperate you might be, do not be like Uncle Eddie from the movie Christmas Vacation. Emptying your tanks into a sewer or storm drain is always a terrible idea.
Can You Dump Your RV Tanks at Home?
Although you cannot empty your wastewater into a storm drain, you can still dump your tanks at home. Whether you have a septic tank or your home is connected to the local sewer, you can empty your RV tanks with a few simple steps.
First, determine if your home connects directly to the city sewer or if you are on a septic system. Then check with the local county authorities to make sure that there are no ordinances against at-home dumping.
Next, you will need to locate the outdoor sewer cleanout or access point to your septic system. After that, simply remove the cap and hook up your stinky slinky (a.k.a. sewer hose).
Finally, dump your tanks as you would at any proper RV dump station. Keep in mind that septic fields are meant to be accessed regularly, whereas sewer cleanouts are not. Do not be surprised if it is a little difficult to get the cap off your sewer access at first.
RVBlogger Tip on Home Septic Systems: In order to maintain the bacteria that break everything down in your septic system, make sure you are using formaldehyde-free RV toilet treatment that’s septic-safe. Usually, the blue-colored chemical has formaldehyde in it. Although most retailers no longer sell it.
Once you access your home waste disposal system once, emptying your tanks at home will be even easier next time.
Final Thoughts on Finding Dump Stations Near You
The least pleasant part of RVing is arguably dumping your tanks. Fortunately, finding a place to dump your tanks does not need to add to the unpleasantry. Apps and websites and a little pre-planning make finding a place to dump easy.
About the Author
Laura Tyrell – Author and Part Time RVer
Laura is a part-time RVer and a full-time mom of three. Long-time campers and RVers before children, Laura, and her husband have fallen even more in love with the RV lifestyle since becoming parents to a child with food allergies.
Having her own kitchen on wheels makes her RV trips amazing. Laura is passionate about finding ways to make traveling with young children fun, easy, and attainable.