Wondering what your options are when it comes to refilling a freshwater tank on an RV? You’ve come to the right place because we’ve got all the best places to get fresh water for your RV!
Potable water is easier to come by than most people think, and it’s certainly easier to find than a nice, sanitary dump station. Also, you don’t have to go to a dedicated water refill station to get fresh water for your RV – sometimes an Office Depot or a church can work just fine as refill stations! Keep reading to see the best places to get fresh, potable water for your RV!
RV dump stations are usually a good option for refilling your water tank. It’s important that you find a station with potable water, either by looking for one via an app or just by calling the closest dump station and asking.
Spigots with potable water are usually painted blue or green. If you see a red water spigot at the RV dump station, that means that the water is not potable and you shouldn’t use it to fill the RV fresh water tank, especially if you want to use the water for drinking, cooking, or washing.
It’s important to note that refilling the tank with non-potable water is bad for the RV’s plumbing system, plus it will fully contaminate it. You would have to clean out everything and get a different hose if you wanted to have potable water in your RV ever again, so just avoid refilling from non-potable sources if you can.
Some dump stations will let you refill your water tank for free, while others might ask for a fee. This usually depends on the number of type amenities they offer, but you can always call ahead and ask whether they charge access to potable water.
Filling your RV water tank at a gas station won’t always be possible, but it’s worth asking. Most gas stations have potable water spigots and they’ll often let customers refill the water tank for free, but you always have to ask first.
Also, it never hurts to purchase something before asking. The employees will be more likely to let you refill your RV’s water tank if you already spent some money on gas or groceries, so be sure to stock up on whatever supplies you might need before you start asking around to refill your RV’s water tank.
National parks are great places to get drinking water for your RV. Most national parks (in the US) have several RV campgrounds that are decked out with all the essentials vanlifers need, including potable water.
Access to these campgrounds usually isn’t free and it’s not very likely that you will be able to refill your fresh water tank entirely free of charge. However, a night at a national park campground is usually very affordable, so it’s definitely worth it to visit an NP campsite, even if you don’t really plan to spend the night there.
In addition to fresh potable water, you should also get access to an RV dump site and any other amenities that the campsite offers. It’s worth noting that some national park campgrounds will have an extra fee for a freshwater tank refill, while others will include that in the price of a night.
If you’re not sure and you don’t want to pay anything extra to refill your RV water tank, you can just call ahead and ask what their practice is.
Always check if there is a water refill station near you when the time comes to refill your RV’s fresh water tank. Water refill stations can usually be found at national parks, campgrounds, and RV dump sites.
There’s often a small fee associated with refilling at a dedicated water refill station, and it’s worth every penny if you want to be certain that you’re filling your RV water tank with clean, potable water.
The easiest way to find nearby water fill stations is to look at apps for vanlifers. There are dozens of apps that are extremely popular in the vanlife community, and which make it extremely easy to find anything you could possibly need while on the road. Most apps will let you filter the exact amenity you’re looking for, and then they’ll display where the closest ones are.
Some apps are better than others and the most popular options among vanlifers are All Stays, iOverlander, and Campendium. It’s worth noting that these apps will also list other places where you can get water refills, and usually, it’s indicated whether a specific service is free or if there’s a surcharge.
If you’re struggling to find RV dump stations and water refill sites, you’ll usually have better luck if you just head to the closest county or state park. These usually have campsites within the parks, and even if they don’t, they will have some sort of water refill station. The staff might just let you use it to refill your water tank even if the station is not designated for motorhomes, but you have to ask nicely.
Always head straight to the visitor’s info center and ask for what you need. Sometimes city and county parks might have RV hookups that you can use for a small fee, others might let you use whatever you need if you just pay to pitch for the night, and you might even get so lucky that you’ll stumble upon a place that lets you refill for free.
If you’re trying to find free potable water, it’s always best to call ahead and ask them straight up whether you could refill your water tank for free. An alternative is to look at reviews on the vanlifer apps, but it’s worth noting that those aren’t always 100% reliable.
You could always stop by a fire station and ask to refill your fresh water tank. You usually won’t be turned down, unless you happen to arrive at a time when there’s an emergency. Also, it’s a good idea to ask the firemen if the water is potable – although most fire stations use drinkable water, it’s not exclusively the case.
It’s worth noting that you should be extra polite when asking – if they let you refill the water tank, they likely won’t take your money even if you offer to pay.
Campgrounds and RV Parks are generally the best spots to refill your RV fresh water tank. Most will let you refill your fresh water tank even if you aren’t staying for the night, but you will likely have to pay a small fee.
Depending on the price of a night’s stay, it might actually be cheaper to just stay at the campsite for a little while to replenish the fresh water and dump your chemical waste tank, than to just pay for access to amenities. In any case, be sure to call or email and ask them whether you can refill the water tank at that specific campsite.
It’s better to get a no in advance than to arrive at the campgrounds or RV park and find out that they don’t allow a water fill.
Most travel centers and rest stops have a potable water spigot you can use to refill your fresh water tank. These places will usually let you refill your water tank free of charge, but it’s important to note that not every truck stop and travel center will have a spigot with potable water.
That’s why it’s essential to look at the color of the spigot (if it’s red it’s a no-go), or for signs that indicate if the water in the spigot is potable. If you’re not sure and you can’t find any signs, ask the staff – it’s better to know beforehand than to fill up your freshwater tank with non-potable water and contaminate your RV’s entire plumbing system.
Refilling a freshwater tank at a travel center or a rest stop won’t always be free of charge. If you’re unsure about a specific refill site, it’s best to look at the review or just call them and ask.
If you’re in a pinch near a church, you can always go in and nicely ask the pastor if it would be okay to fill up your RV’s fresh water tank. You likely won’t be turned down, especially if you can quote a couple of passages about thirst from the Bible.
In any case, be sure to express gratitude for the free water and throw some money in the donation box, so they’ll be likely to let you do the same thing again, should the need arise.
This one is specific to the United States, but you can usually find a spigot with drinkable water at these stations. They’re there for hikers and campers, and there’s rarely a charge for refilling at BLM and forest service ranger stations.
However, it’s important to note that they’re not exactly designated as RV water refill stations, so you can’t always just drive up to the spigot and hook up your freshwater hose. If you’re not sure whether you can park close enough to the spigot to refill your RV’s water tank, it’s best to call and ask or check what other vanlifers are saying on the apps.
Alternatively, you can always just fill up a few canisters to satisfy your freshwater needs until you can find a proper refill station. But in a pinch, forest service rangers and BLM stations are as good places as any to refill your RV’s fresh water tank.
Refilling your fresh water tank at a random business is an option worth considering. You can fill up pretty much anywhere, and usually, it’s for free. Well, you won’t have to pay for the water, but the staff will be more likely to let you fill up if you already made a nice purchase at that particular business.
So, the next time you stop at a store to purchase groceries, ask the manager nicely if they could help you with your water needs. It can’t hurt if you offer to pay for the water, but you’ll have better chances of getting a free water refill if you’re asking with a couple of bags of groceries in your hands.
It’s worth noting that this doesn’t apply to grocery stores only. You can try to refill the water tank at Office Depot, or any other business you visited during your travels. The key is to be polite and to spend some money there before asking, otherwise, the staff likely won’t be too helpful.
If you’re struggling to find a dump station, a refill station, or a campground anywhere near you, look for a Cabela’s. This outdoor recreation company has 80+ stores in the US alone, and most of them have RV parking, a dump site, and a water refill station.
To be sure that you’re at the right Cabela’s, look for a sign that indicates they have a water station and/or a dump station. It usually indicates they’re intended for customer use only, so it’s best to go inside the store, purchase something, and ask the staff whether it’s okay if you fill up your water tank.
One thing to note is that you should be cautious not to fill up your freshwater tank with water from a dump site. Some Cabela’s will only have a dump site, and if there’s only one faucet that’s pretty close to the dump hole, it’s better to just look for a different location.
Potable water faucets are usually away from the dump sites, sometimes all the way across the parking lot, so they’re not always the easiest to find. But they are always labeled, so if you’re struggling to find potable water at a Cabela’s, just ask the clerks in the store.
Finding potable water is easier than most people think, and much easier than finding sanitary dump stations. Here are a few more tips, which will help you find refill stations (and alternatives) more easily:
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!