How To Find RV Dump Stations And Fresh Water Fill-Up Stations Near You
Having black, grey and fresh tanks on your RV is both wonderful and a chore. The tanks let you stay out in nature for as long as you can make the tanks last, and as long as you have food in the food tanks (Okay, let’s not change the name of the refrigerator and freezer). But when they end up being full, you will have to go to empty them and sometimes finding a place to do that can be tricky on its own. Dumping tanks are something you will have to do often if you’re full-time RV living. Thankfully, there are several helpful ways to find these locations, and that’s what we’re focusing on today.
Since we travel fulltime, I am one of those often looking for places to empty my holding tanks and fill my fresh water tank with potable water. I also carry Aqua-tainer 7 gallon water jugs (click to view on Amazon), totaling 35 gallons, so we can boondock for at least a week before needing to fill up again.
After looking for similar posts like this about where and how you find a place to dump and fill your camper, I couldn’t find a good one. Most suggested “stealing” water from public sources or dump your gray tank in the wild. I don’t recommend dumping in the wild or filling up water from water sources not intended for you. If somebody is nice enough to let you fill-up the fresh water tank at a business, give them a couple of dollars to show your appreciation. If allowed, you can use a water bandit that lets you connect a standard water hose to various water sources.
In the frequently asked question section at the bottom, I have answered the most common questions about this subject. How do you dump a camper, how do you make the water last, how to empty a fresh water tank, etc.
Finding Places To Empty/Dump Waste/Black Water From Your RV
There are websites that help you find the nearest dump stations. A lot of the websites where you can find free campsites also have filters so you can choose a campground with dump stations. Here are a few sites I recommend:
- Campendium.com – My favorite website to find campsites also has a dump station list that you can see here (USA & Canada). Pick a state and you’re shown a map with all locations to dump at, plus several filters. They also have a great phone app that I will talk about later.
- Sanidumps.com – Sanidumps is an excellent site if you’re not only pulling your camper through the USA. Here you can find dump stations in a lot of countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. You can find a location based on zip code or state. When choosing a state you can also get a Google Maps map (Link to Oregon here for example) where you will see whether it’s free, a campground, or a multi-user fee kind of dump station. I like Sanidumps because it shows you campgrounds where you can dump. It’s also easy to use on a mobile phone since you can choose to get a list of results instead of a map. A list is also available on RVDumps but not as accessible and easy to use.
- RVDumps.com – RVDumps is a good option if you’re only looking for dump stations and not campgrounds with dump stations. What I like is that you see all the locations on a Google Maps map. I go onto the map, and then I search for whatever town I am in or nearby, then I can quickly check if there’s a dump station and it gives me information like Fee, Latitude and Longitude, and a description of what kind it is (like a gas station, etc.) Note that RVDumps only show dump stations in the USA.
- FreeCampsites.net – Although this is a site to find free campsites, there are filters available to find campgrounds with dump stations. I have noticed that there are a lot of places missing though so I wouldn’t recommend using this site unless you’re also looking for a campground to stay at.
Apps, apps, apps. There’s an app for everything and of course apps can also help you find places to dump your RV. Here are the two I recommend.
- Campendium iOS App – A free app optimized for both iPhone and iPad that will do everything that the website can do, but in an app format. Search for a town or click “Nearby Dump Stations” upon starting the app. From there you can filter only to show Dump stations. When picking a location, you will see the price, reviews, photos, amenities, address, and a direct-link to Maps for directions. You will also see coordinates so you can navigate to it with your GPS. The information is added and updated by other members of the community. If you use the app, you should create an account and rate each place you go to and that way you will help others and encourage them to do the same for you. Note: While there is no app for Android yet, if you are using an Android device, Campendium has made a tutorial here to show you how to add the site as a bookmarked app on your phone. The site works great in the browser on your phone so don’t let this stop you from using it on Android.
- Trucker Path – Link to iOS / Link to Google Play Store – An app made for truckers that is also great for people in RV’s. What you will find in this app are gas stations and rest stops. It has a built-in trip planner that will let you see stops on the way. From there you see if a location has an RV dump station. This app is useful in general as well as it shows gas prices (although I recommend GasBuddy), overnight parking availability, whether they offer showers, tire care, scales, laundry, etc. If you have a large RV, this is an app you’re going to love when looking for gas stations that are big enough to fit large vehicles.
There are a lot of other apps for finding RV dump stations, but out of all I have tried the two above are the most reliable and accurate with the most information which is why I chose to only list two.
Like I mentioned above, some campgrounds will let you dump for free even if you’re not staying there. The easiest way to find out whether you can do it or not is by calling the campground. I have done that a few times, but I mostly use Sanidumps.com to get this information.
Campgrounds can also be cheaper than nearby dump stations, especially if you have a Passport America membership. An example of this is our recent visit to Quartzsite, Arizona. After checking the prices of the dump stations in town, we realized that staying a night at a Passport America RV park for $16 would be smarter than to spend $15 for dumping + $7 for water. That way we also got access to electricity, laundry, showers, and cable.
The America Passport costs $44 a year, but since we got it a month ago we’ve already saved about $50 on campground costs, and about $10 on dump stations and freshwater. We are affiliated with Passport America, so we get a commission if you buy a membership through our link.
Boondockers Welcome is an awesome club where you become a host and/or guest. Basically, friendly people let you stay outside their house or at a location for free. The membership costs $50 for a year, but you save so much in camping fees that it’s quickly worth it if you use it.
The reason I added it to the list is that some hosts have full hookups, with sewer and water included. Therefore, it’s worth checking if you’re on your way and wouldn’t mind staying somewhere overnight.
State parks have dump stations and fresh water in a lot of states. Look up if there is a state park nearby, and if you can’t find any information about a dump station, give the state park a call and ask.
Finding truck stops that offer dump stations is easy with the Trucker Path app mentioned above. If you don’t have a phone that can run apps, you should know that a lot of Flying J’s and other big truck stops like it have dump stations. If you’re traveling and need to dump your trailer or RV on the way, call ahead and ask the gas stations if you can’t find any information online.
There are books for finding dump stations, but I can’t recommend them as it’s something that becomes less and less accurate for each day that goes by. Dump stations come and go and you don’t want to drive 30 miles to a station you found in the book only to find an empty location that used to be a dump station. If you don’t have access to a website or an app, the best thing to do is call the administration of a town or a nearby campground and ask if they have a dump station you can use.
There are also a lot of friendly campers that can be very helpful if you ask them a question about the closest dump station. Another thing to remember is what we talked about above, gas stations. A lot of Flying J’s have dump stations so if you’re planning on getting gas on the way, check if they have a dump station.
How To Find Fresh Water Fill Stations Near Me
Finding potable water (water safe to drink) can be even more tricky than finding a dump station. Here are some ways to fill that fresh water tank.
Something I do every time before I fill up my tank, no matter where I am, is to grab a clear glass and fill it with water from the spigot after leaving it on 10-20 seconds. Then I inspect and smell it to make sure that it’s clear without any dirt or anything visible in it. Even though I have a water filter, I like to make sure the water is clear before I get my hoses out.
The fact is that a lot of dump stations also have potable water available. While some reviews on Campendium.com will tell you if there is potable water at a specific dump station, I have found Sanidumps.com to have the best information as each location shows water icons based on what kind of water they have, if at all. But before you go crazy looking for potable water, look at the nearest dump station. Make sure it says potable water.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found any useful apps that specifically helps with finding potable water. I recommend visiting Sanidumps.com through the web browser on your phone and look at the water icons at the dump station location. Or you can read reviews in the Campendium iOS App.
Some campgrounds with dump stations will also have potable water available. I have also been to a few campgrounds that have water but no dump station. The best thing to do is call and ask if they have it available and if it’s potable.
As I mentioned above about dump stations, it can sometimes be worth it to spend the night at a campground. You can actually save money by staying at a campground instead of paying for dump + water. We have a Passport America membership for this purpose.
Once again, Boondockers Welcome a great club where you can be a host and/or a guest and stay at places for free. It’s a $50 a year membership, but since a lot of them have water hookups, power, and some have sewer, it can be worth it.
Water Refill Stations
You can often find clean drinking water at water machines/refill stations in grocery stores. We have five 7 gallon jugs that we fill at these machines. We have paid 0.15-0.45c per gallon, which sometimes is cheaper than paying for water somewhere else.
Then we use this AC water pump to transfer that water from the jugs to the fresh water tank.
We’ve seen these refill stations mostly at laundromats, gas stations, grocery stores, and sometimes in random places around towns. At grocery stores they’re often inside the store but sometimes outside. The water is advertised as filtered and safe to drink.
It takes more work than to fill up from a water spigot, but when you don’t have access to one, it’s a great feeling to find a refill station.
Just like with campgrounds, some truck stops that have dump stations will have potable water. If not, you can ask attendants if they have it and they might be willing to bring out a hose to assist you. All it takes is a friendly question. Remember to ask if the water is safe to drink/potable.
I have run into rest stops with free potable water. I use Campendium to find rest stops and there are usually pictures or a review of the rest stop if there is water available. If you’re looking for stops along your planned route and don’t see any dump stations, remember to check the rest stops along the way.
You can sometimes find water spigots in a city, country, and state parks. All you have to make sure is that it’s potable water and not for irrigation. It can also be a good idea to call the administration of the park and ask whether the water is potable and/or limited, as you shouldn’t take the whole water tank and leave everybody else dry.
If you’re in a town or a park with a visitor center, you can call or walk in and ask if they have water available. Let them know that you mean for your RV though, so they’re aware you’re talking about tens of gallons.
Stores that sell automotive parts, like AutoZone and Napa, usually have water spigots in case customers need to fill radiators. If you’re nearby one, you can call them or walk in and ask if they do, if it’s potable, and if you could use it. Maybe ask them as you’re purchasing something, to show your appreciation?
Frequently Asked Questions About Dump Stations And Fresh Water Fill Stations
How to dump RV tanks?
I will explain how to do it, but I recommend watching this video on how to dump your RV tanks.
To dump your waste at a dump station, you’re going to need a sewer hose kit. This is the hose that will make the connection between your RV camper and the sewer hole. I have a separate post about the best sewer hose kits.
Now you need to locate where the sewer outlet connection is on your camper. Walk around your trailer and look for a sticker on the side that looks something like this.
Your RV or trailer might have several sewer outlets if it has several toilets or a separate galley tank for the kitchen sink. This means that you might have to move your camper forward or back after dumping the first tank if the sewer hose can’t reach both outlets.
If you’re not sure whether you have several waste tanks or not, check the tank monitoring system inside your trailer where it shows you how full the tanks are. If you see a gray tank, a galley tank, and a black tank, you have three waste tanks.
When you have found the sewer outlet, put on some disposable plastic gloves and take the cap off. Now you can make the connection to the sewer hole with your sewer hose kit.
When the connection is set up, you’re ready to pull the lever. Pulling the lever opens the valve. I recommend emptying the black water first, so you can clean up the hose with the gray water afterward.
The black tank is the tank holding your waste from the toilet, and the gray tank holds the shower and sink water. The levers are marked in one way or another to let you know which is which. Let it drain completely. Lift the sewer hose slowly, starting near the trailer connection, to make sure everything drains out of the hose.
If you have a black tank flush, this is when you will connect a hose to it and start spraying the inside of your black tank. Leave the black tank drain open, or close it for a couple of seconds if you want to fill it up with some water before you drain it again. If the black tank fills up without being able to drain it will come up in your toilet.
My travel trailer doesn’t have a black tank flush, so what I use is a Camco straight swivel stik that I stick down into the toilet and turn the water on. This isn’t fun since I have to have a separate hose brought in from the spigot outside. My next camper will definitely have a black tank flush!
When your tank sensor reads empty, you can close the black tank lever and open the gray one. Let it drain completely, then close the lever. Lift the hose by the trailer connection and move toward the sewer hole to make sure the hose is drained completely.
Now it’s a good idea to spray out the sewer hose with some water. Some dump stations have hoses available to do this. Remove the hose and put the cap back on the trailer connection.
The last thing I do after emptying our tanks is to put a drop-in treatment pod in both the toilet and the bathroom sink. You need to add about a gallon of water to both together with the pod for it to do its job.
I store my sewer hose in my travel trailer bumper, but if you don’t have one, you can use the sewer hose box or a plastic storage container.
The last thing you need to do is dispose of the gloves and wash your hands! That wasn’t that bad, right?
What is black water, gray water, and galley water?
Black water is the water found in your black holding tank, which is connected to your toilet. Some large trailers nowadays have two toilets, and two black tanks or more.
Gray water is connected to the gray tank, and the water from doing dishes, washing your hands in the bathroom, and showering.
Galley water goes to a separate galley tank on some trailers. This water is usually from the kitchen sink.
How to dump/drain my fresh water tank?
If you want to dump, empty, or drain your fresh water tank, you have a couple of choices. The most obvious one is using the fresh tank drain if your RV, trailer, or camper has one. Then all you need to do is locate it, usually marked outside on the trailer siding with a “Fresh Tank Drain” sticker. This is where you will get down on your knees and locate the drain underneath your camper. Open the valve and let the fresh water drain. When doing this, it can be a good idea to get the tires up on some blocks on the opposite side, to make sure the tank will drain completely.
If you’re emptying your tanks for storage, you should also locate the low point drains on your camper and open those valves. Also, empty your water heater. For further winterizing steps, check out Camping World’s post on the subject.
Another way to empty your fresh water is by turning on your water pump and open your faucets inside the camper. Then empty your gray tank. The problem with doing this if you intend to put your camper in storage is that it won’t drain completely like when using the fresh tank drain or the low point drains.
How do I know that the water is safe to drink/potable/fresh?
Finding water that is safe to drink is crucial. If you don’t know whether the water is safe to drink or not, don’t fill your fresh tank or jugs with it. Even if you only plan to use the water to shower and wash your hands, you should make sure the water is safe and not harmful in any way. At dump stations or fill-up stations, the water spigot should be marked as safe, by saying “Potable Water”, or “Safe Drinking Water”. Sometimes it will say “Not potable”. If it says something else that can be confusing, call whoever is responsible for the spigot and ask them.
Sometimes you end up at campgrounds with questionable water. This is when it’s a good idea to invest in a filtration system. I use the Beech Lane dual water filtration system and it has been working great for us. No RV water filters remove bacteria, but it will take care of funky tasting water, large particles, and chlorine. I have written a separate post about the best water filtration systems that you can find here.
How to fill the RV water tank with fresh water?
First you need to locate the fresh water connection on your trailer. A sticker on the wall will let you know where it is. You can also look for the fresh water cap.
Connect your fresh water hose to the water spigot, remove the cap on your trailer, and turn on the spigot to start filling up your camper.
What is the difference between the city water connection and the fresh water connection?
The fresh water connection fills up your fresh water tank, which is an actual tank in or under your camper. To access this water, the water pump must be turned on.
The city water connection puts water directly into your water lines on supply and doesn’t require the use of your water pump. When connecting to city water, you need to be careful with water pressure, which is why it’s recommended to use a water pressure regulator.
I also recommend using a water filtration system to clean the water even further.
How do I make my fresh water tank last longer so I can boondock longer?
I have written a post about how to make your water last longer that you can find here. I recommend carrying a couple of jugs, I have 5 of these jugs so I have 35 extra gallons of fresh water. I use this AC water pump to transfer the water to my fresh water tank. All you’ll need are some clear PVC hoses.
Pair that with a portable waste tank, and you wouldn’t have to move your trailer at all.
Can I fill my fresh water tank without a hose?
You can use jugs and pour the water into your tank with a spigot, but it’s not an easy way to do it without a hose.
How do I fill water from a water source that isn’t threaded?
The Camco water bandit is good for this purpose.
How much does it cost to dump RV waste?
It depends on the location. Some are free and some cost $5-30. Sanidumps.com is a great website for locating dump stations and prices.
If you check a website or an app and there are no nearby results, I recommend checking a different site. It has happened to me that a dump station doesn’t show up on Campendium, but is on Sanidumps, and vice-versa. Always check two different services if you can’t find anything on the first one.
Also, this might go without saying for most people, but help others that are having issues, and don’t get upset at somebody taking time to dump their RV, we have all been beginners and we don’t want to discourage people from going camping again.
I hope I have helped you with where you can find dump stations and fill your fresh water tank, let me know down below if you have any questions.