Fairgrounds camping: Alternatives for RVers “on the hoof”

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Traveling the back country of Idaho, we were bereft of where to stay. We had no great desire to spend big bucks for an RV park where we’d use hardly any of the amenities. The distaff side wasn’t inclined to hitting the boonies. Where to go? At a fuel station in Bonner’s Ferry we inquired about the whereabouts of a county fairgrounds. “Just up the road in downtown.” A classic case of double-taking, but OK, down the road to downtown we went.

Despite a prevaricating GPS unit, we eventually found the county fairgrounds. And sure enough, camping was allowed – and to top it off – allowed for free. We figured there may have been a bit of divine guidance in all this – had we arrived a couple of hours earlier we would have tried rolling the trailer into a lot crowded with Gatlin Brothers fans. As it was, the Gatlin followers had cleared the lot and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Parked right next to the baseball diamond, we had the scent of fresh-cut grass drifting in the window. The parking was fairly level, and down the parking lot a fair piece was a free dump station.

This is not the first time we’ve been “rescued” by a county fairgrounds. Traveling through the southern states a few years back, we couldn’t find a suitable place to stay. We telephoned the visitor center in the county seat, made an inquiry and, lo and behold, the red carpet treatment was ours. Yes, we could stay at the fairgrounds which, although closed at the time, were miraculously opened to us. During the stay of a few days, the local police contingent rolled past our site to discreetly make sure all was well with us.

Many county fairgrounds are set up to accommodate RVers; after all, folks tending livestock during the fair like to stay near Miss Piggy, or whoever. Some outfits have elaborate sites with partial to full utility hookups. Others are a bit more on the primitive side, like our experience there in Bonner’s Ferry. Some are free, some charge a very fair price for what you receive.

Plug “fairgrounds” in your GPS unit’s “Point of Interest” feature and you may find a surprising place to put up overnight – or for a few days.



16 Thoughts to “Fairgrounds camping: Alternatives for RVers “on the hoof””

  1. Cheryl

    Don’t forget that some smaller cities also have parks that allow camping. They tend to be away from interstates but if you are planning to visit a non tourist location, call the county office and see if they have hook ups.

  2. ScottA

    Have stayed in a number or Fairgrounds, just a few months ago we were in Churchill County NV fairgrounds for a few days.

    Another place we’ve stayed: Race tracks (like dirt tracks… cars or motorcycles). We’ve stayed at 9 or 10 tracks in different states and have never been charged. Some even had electric and let me fill my water tanks! Of course you have to be there around their race schedule. The disadvantage might be the noise, the advantage is an evening activity!

  3. Birdie

    County Fairgrounds located in SW Arkansas in the town of Hope has a nice setup for RVers. Yucky drive to get there, but is always on my map.

  4. roger

    We stayed at Danville, In, Hendricks County fairgrounds last summer for a couple of nights, Very nice place. Fair price for hookups. The PowWow was going on that weekend and made the stay into a great experience.

  5. Ann Andrews

    We have had many good fairground experience. I wish fairgrounds with RV camping allowed were all listed, i.e. in Allstays. Fairgrounds often provide a safe area to walk or bike ride.

    1. RV Staff

      Hi, Ann. Thanks for mentioning wishing there was a list of fairgrounds where RV camping was allowed. I checked with our friend Jim O’Briant, with OvernightRVParking.com, to see if they list fairground camping. Here’s his response: “We list a few fairground camping and overnight RV Parking locations in the OvernightRVParking.com database. I wish we had more listed, but not that many have been reported to us by our subscribers. And since we generally don’t list locations that charge more than $20/night, there are some that have been reported that we didn’t list, and some that we’ve removed after rate increases.”

      Jim is hoping to contact fairgrounds around the USA and Canada and add as many as they can to their database. He also wanted me to remind our readers that if they are new subscribers to their website, they will receive 15 months for the price of 12 if they subscribe through this link: https://www.overnightrvparking.com/v2/subscribe.html?partner=rvtravel Happy RV travels! —Diane at RVtravel.com

  6. Stanley Sokolow

    Not all county fairgrounds are so generous to RVs. I stayed a night in one in Calistoga, CA, which charged as much as a California state park. Another one in northern California says it excludes RVs over 10 years old, like the posh RV resorts do, but this place was just a grassy field.

    1. John McLaughlin

      Consider the state. CA is anything but a rv friendly state – anywhere or anything !

      1. Lee Ensminger


  7. Neil

    Awesome idea! Stored away, filed under “in a pinch”

  8. Candace Walker

    We stayed at the Fairgrounds in Golden Colorado a few years back. Nice place, water and electricity for a resonable price.

  9. Bob Godfrey

    We have had very good experiences staying in several fairgrounds around the country, a couple of them were very inexpensive and many times virtually empty.

  10. Tommy Molnar

    We have found fairgrounds to be great places to stay, usually found on the spur of the moment. One in WA was SO far out of the way, I thought we were lost! But we found it, and it was a well kept, nicely set up area. Our choice of whether we wanted full hookups, partial, or NO hookups.

  11. Dr. John

    fair grounds in rock Springs Wyoming and In Sonoma county ca also

    1. Eric Meslin

      I still remember our tenting overnight at the fairground in Minot, ND during our cross contry trip in 1966 (as a teen).

  12. Brian Jensen

    We just stayed at Pima County Fairgrounds at Tucson AZ. $125 for a week. Great Wi-Fi and free RV show while we were there.

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