Finding Fresh Water Sources For Van Life

Finding water sources is a critical part of van living. Limited space and a small fresh tank makes it vital to know where it can be refilled. Fortunately, plenty of water is available for drinking, cooking and showering.

In this article, we’ll explore ways to ensure a full fresh water tank for your exploits. From a public park to a friend's house, dump station to filtration systems, our tips will verify you have clean water when needed. Whether you’re a seasoned van lifer or a rookie, this guide will help you keep the water flowing when exploring the great outdoors.

Where to Find Water

Where can I fill my fresh water tank? There are options for drinkable water from campgrounds and RV parks, to local parks, city water, a gas station or travel centers. National forest visitors centers, grocery stores, supermarkets, fire stations, friends and family, community centers, churches, water delivery services, marinas and boat docks can also be water fill station options depending on their location and accessibility.

Campgrounds and RV Parks

Campgrounds and RV parks provide a convenient place to fill RV fresh water as part of their amenities. Some charge a small fee for potable water spigot usage, but most include a full fresh water tank in the cost of your stay.

When searching for campgrounds or RV parks that offer water fill-up services, look for it in their amenities. Some have city water hookups, which let you connect directly to a water source, a convenience if you are planning an extended stay. Not all campsites will have hookups, so be sure to bring water with you in case you run into a park with dry camping.

Public Water Stations

Looking for a quick way to fill your RV fresh water tank? A public water fill station can be found in most towns and cities, near parks, gas stations or rest areas. Here's how to find them:

  • Use apps like Allstays or sites like Sanidumps to locate public water stations.
  • Look for water spigots in city parks or recreation areas.
  • Ask businesses such as fire stations or churches if they'll allow you to fill your tank.
  • Harvest Hosts members can search for hosts with water hookups.
  • Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops have RV parking and gravity fill stations with water.

It’s important to confirm that the water is potable before filling up. Using public water stations is a convenient way to keep your fresh water tank full.

In the next section, we’ll discuss options for finding fresh water sources such as truck stops.

Gas Stations and Truck Stops

Gas stations and truck stops often have fresh water available, making them a great choice for van lifers. Some stations may charge a water spigot use fee, so be prepared to pay.

Truck stops are another option for finding fresh water sources on the road. Many locations have dedicated RV fill-up stations available, perfect for filling up with fresh water before hitting the road. While they are convenient, check that the water is potable before filling up.

Visitor Centers and National Parks

Visiting national parks and tourist attractions can be a good place to refill, as many have water spigots available for public use. Before embarking on your journey, plan ahead and research which parks offer these amenities. Keep in mind that some parks may charge a fee for water usage, so be sure to check with the staff before filling up.

When refilling at a visitor center or national park, it’s essential to use a gravity feed system, a hose or funnel to fill from above instead of using an external pump. This prevents air bubbles from forming in the plumbing and avoids damage that may occur due to excessive pressure. By taking advantage of these resources, your fresh water supply may stay topped off without relying on paid campgrounds.

Grocery Stores and Supermarkets

Grocery stores and supermarkets with water refill stations can be a great way to top off your drinking and cooking water supply without having to rely on paid campgrounds or visitor centers. Some grocery stores offer water refills for a nominal fee. While this isn't the most practical way to fill up your entire reservoir, it's an excellent resource for topping off a smaller water container or water jugs.

To help find grocery stores with water refill stations, here's a list of chains that offer these services:

  • Walmart: $0.37/gallon
  • Safeway: $0.39/gallon
  • Kroger: Varies by location
  • Albertsons: Varies by location

Next, while fire stations may not be the first place you think of when seeking out water sources, they can provide emergency water connections or as a public service.

Fire Stations

Looking for lesser-known options for replenishing your water supply. Consider local fire stations that may offer potable water connections as part of their services. Although not widely advertised, it’s worth asking to see if any fire stations can give you the hook up. Be respectful of their time and resources and always ask for permission before filling up with fresh water.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using fire stations as a potential resource:

  1. Check multiple fire stations to increase the chance of finding one that offers this service.
  2. Be aware that some stations may have restrictions on their water usage.
  3. Always bring a clean hose and adapters when filling up.
  4. Offer a donation to show appreciation and maintain positive relationships.

In addition to fire stations, friends and family can be great sources for refilling your fresh water without relying on RV parks or campgrounds.

Friends and Family

Don’t underestimate your friends and family while on the road. They may be willing to let you fill your RV at their home. A win-win situation, you get to fill an RV fresh water tank while you spend some quality time. Just make sure to bring along a potable water hose and ask permission before filling up your tank.

Here’s table outlining some key points to remember when filling your RV fresh water tank:

  1. Make sure that your RV fresh water tank is clean and sanitized before filling it up.
  2. When you fill your RV fresh water tank, connect your potable water hose to an outdoor spigot and use an onboard pump to fill up the tank. Be careful not to overfill the tank, as this can add unnecessary weight and cause issues with the water pump.
  3. After fresh water tank filling, disconnect the water hose from the outdoor spigot and store it properly.

Next, we’ll explore another option for finding water: community centers and churches.

Community Centers and Churches

Connecting with community centers and churches can be a great resource for filling up your RV fresh water tank. Some facilities have outdoor water spigots or faucets that are accessible to the public.

Here are some tips for finding water sources at community centers and churches:

  • Check with churches and community centers to see if they have an outdoor water spigot or faucet.
  • Ask permission before using their facilities.
  • Respect guidelines they may have, such as operating hours or rules about water usage.

Let's look at another option for finding H2O: water delivery services.

Water Delivery Services

Getting water delivered to your van is an option that may be more expensive, but can provide peace of mind when other sources are unavailable or you can't find potable water nearby. Water delivery trucks usually bring large quantities of clean water, and fill up your RV fresh water tank using a hose and water pump. To use this service, you need to know the fresh water capacity of your van.

It’s important to note that water delivered by these services may not be available in every location. Do your research and plan ahead before hitting the road. Make sure to properly sanitize any hose before you fill an RV fresh water tank.

Marinas and Boat Ramps

Marinas and boat ramps can be a great option for filling up your van’s water tank if you can use their connections. Some marinas may charge a fee, so it’s important to be prepared to pay if needed.

Here are some tips when using marinas and boat ramps as a water:

  • Always ask permission before using the connection.
  • Make sure you have a fresh water hose and fittings to connect to the water spigot or faucet.
  • Check the quality of the water before filling up your tank.
  • Don’t forget to turn off your water pump when connected to an outside source.

Moving forward, let’s explore some apps that can help you find potable water sources for your van life journey.

Apps to Find Potable Water for Van Life

When on the road and in need of drinkable water, there are apps to help you locate potable water sources, water fill-up stations and other amenities. Whether you’re looking for a full tank or need a quick refill, these apps can be an essential tool.

One popular app is iOverlander which is free and allows users to find campgrounds with freshwater hookups. Another app is Harvest Hosts which offers a membership service that indicates whether hosts offer water hookups. The Dyrt and Campendium are also resources that provide detailed information on RV parks, campgrounds, and other locations where hook ups are available. For those who want even more features like customizable trip planning, RV LIFE Trip Wizard provides everything from most gas stations to rest areas with hookups.

When filling up your RV fresh water tank, it’s important to follow safety measures like using a designated RV water hose solely for potable water with an inline filter and a pressure regulator. Additionally, monitoring your progress when filling up will ensure it doesn’t overflow your fill port, and knowing what water weighs, becomes too heavy for safe travel.

In conclusion, having access to clean water is crucial for any vanlifer. There are many options available for those looking to fill their water tanks safely and efficiently while on the go. But there’s one ultimate vanlife hack that we’ll discuss in our next section: how a 5-gallon water jug can revolutionize the way you refill your tank!

The Ultimate Vanlife Water Refilling Hack for Vanlife Adventures

This may be the ultimate water refilling hack that allows us to get water anytime, anywhere for free. It involves using the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System, a compact and off-grid portable 2 stage water filtration unit with an onboard pump from With this system, we can turn any water source into drinkable water in our van, opening up more opportunities for a fill up than the typical methods

Natural body of water and foliage

Any body of water can be your filling station

How to get water anytime, anywhere (FOR FREE!)

Drinkable water can be had from any natural source with the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System, allowing you to refill your water tank anytime and anywhere for free. This compact portable 2 stage water filtration unit with an onboard pump filters down to .2 microns, enabling you to use any water source for your refill. Here are some ways you can use this system to get water:

  • Find a nearby river, stream, or lake and fill up a 5-gallon bucket with unfiltered water, or put the hose into the water source if you’re parked close enough. Then pump the water through the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System and into your RV water tank.
  • Use a city water connection by attaching the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System using the included Water Bandit adapter.
  • Look for RV dump stations that have potable water available for refilling. Connect the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System to the potable spigot at the station.
  • Check out Clearsource Nomad or other similar systems designed specifically to refill your van’s water tank using natural sources. 
  • Join Harvest Hosts members, as their hosts may offer a hookup where there is access to drinkable water.

Using Blu Tech MRX+ will not only save you money on expensive bottled drinking water but also offers an opportunity for adventure by exploring new areas in search of beautiful streams and rivers.

Using Blu Tech MRX+

Using the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System from is a game-changer when you want to fill your RV fresh water tank, turning any source into drinkable water. This compact, lightweight system filters down to .2 microns, allowing use of any water source without worrying about potability. With a 3 gallons per minute filtration rate, refilling your RV tank has never been easier.

What's more, we’ve created a table below outlining tips for filling your water tank using the Blu Tech MRX+ Water Filtration System. From finding water sources to ensuring proper sanitation of your tank, these tips will help you make the most out of this innovative system.


  1. Find a Potable Water Source: With apps like Allstays Pro or iOverlander, locate campgrounds, parks, and other locations with water spigots or stations. You know you are filling your fresh water tank with safe water.
  2. Use an Inline RV Water Filter: Attach an inline filter between the Blu Tech MRX+ and your RV’s water connection to further purify the water before it enters your RV water tank. Provides an extra layer of protection against contaminants in the water source.
  3. Monitor Your Progress When Filling Your Tank: Keep an eye on how much water you’re adding to avoid overfilling your fresh tank and adding unnecessary weight to your RV. Helps prevent damage to your RV’s plumbing and improves fuel efficiency while traveling.
  4. Sanitize Your Fresh water Tank Regularly: Follow manufacturer instructions when you sanitize and fill RV fresh water at least once per year or after long periods of neglect. This prevents bacteria growth and ensures that your drinking water remains safe and clean.

With these tips in mind, you can confidently use the Blu Tech MRX+ Filtration Water System when you want and enjoy off-grid living without worrying about water quality. Next, we’ll discuss how to sanitize your tank to keep it clean and safe for drinking water.

How to Sanitize Your Fresh Water Tank

Ensuring your RV’s fresh water tank is sanitized is crucial for safe and enjoyable travels on the road. The first step to sanitizing your fresh water tank is to drain all the water from it. Then, mix a solution of bleach and water in a container with a ratio of 1/4 cup of bleach per 15 gallons of water. Pour the mixture into the empty fresh water tank and fill it up with potable water.

When doing a tank fill, turn on all faucets and let them run until you can smell bleach coming out. Let the solution sit for at least four hours or overnight if possible. Drain all the remaining solution from your freshwater tank by opening all faucets again until there’s no more bleach smell.

Fill RV fresh water tanks only with potable water after sanitizing them, as harmful bacteria might still be present if non-potable water was used previously. During your tank fill, use a filter when filling up to prevent contaminants from entering through your hose connection.

In conclusion, keeping your RV’s freshwater tank sanitized ensures healthy and comfortable travels on the road. Follow these steps to sanitize it properly: drain your freshwater tank, create a mixture of bleach and potable water, pour it into the empty freshwater tank, turn on all faucets until you can smell bleach coming out, let it sit for at least four hours or overnight if possible, drain all remaining solution by opening all faucets again until there’s no more bleach smell. Remember to fill your fresh water system only with potable water after sanitizing them and use a water filter when filling up your freshwater tank to keep any contaminants away from entering through your hose connection.

Next, where to find stations on the road.

Where to Find RV/Van Dump Stations on the Road

Looking for a safe and convenient way to dispose of your RV/van waste? Here are some tips on where to locate dump stations while on the road. As with finding fresh water fill stations, there are various methods and apps available to locate an RV dump station. In addition to using AllStays Camp and RV app, SaniDumps, RV Dump Stations, and RV Dumps are great resources for locating dump sites.

Public and private campgrounds often have potable water fill stations as well as a dump station. Some National Parks and state campgrounds allow visitors to use the RV dump station without a campground reservation. City, county, and state parks may also have potable water spigots or stations that include a nearby dump site.

Truck stops like Flying J, rest areas and welcome centers may provide potable water as standard amenities. Some local fire stations, churches or other businesses might allow filling up with potable water as well as dumping waste from your tanks. Lastly friends or family could be asked if they would allow you to utilize their home’s septic system for dumping wastewater from your van’s holding tank.

There is no need for van lifers to worry about finding a place to empty their wastewater tanks since there are many options available out there even when on the road. By utilizing apps such as SaniDumps or RV Dumps together with public parks or commercial campgrounds, it is possible to find both safe drinking water fill-ups as well as waste disposal facilities while traveling in an off-grid van en route to a fun adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any specific safety precautions to take when filling up your RV’s fresh water tank?

When filling up your RV’s fresh water tank, safety is key. Did you know that filling more water than needed can add several hundred pounds to your van, making travel harder and sacrificing fuel economy? It’s important to only use potable water from campgrounds, travel centers, rest stops, and parks. Cabelas offers RV parking, a dump station, and a potable water fill. To safeguard your plumbing, have a designated hose solely for fresh water and use an inline filter and a water pressure regulator when filling up. Monitoring your progress is also essential to avoid overfilling and adding unnecessary weight to your RV. Always plan accordingly and be safe when filling up your RV’s fresh water tank.

How can you ensure the water is potable and safe for consumption?

Ensuring potability is crucial for healthy living in a van. We recommend Berkey water for purifying drinking water or inline filters when filling up on fresh water. Use potable water from campgrounds, travel centers, rest stops, parks, or trusted sources like friends and family. Non-potable water can harm the plumbing system and require sanitization. Having a designated fresh water hose and closely monitoring your tank while filling up are essential safety tips. You can enjoy clean, safe water while on the road.

Most RV inline water filters measure in at 20 Micron, while Blu Technology provides filtration for particles that are up to 100x smaller. The “Off-Grid” 5-inch filter is designed with an added layer of protection only offered by Blu Technology, and is one-of-a-kind in the industry. The Blu Technology “Off-Grid” filter has an additional electro-adsorptive media technology that is able to capture even more submicron contaminants through ion exchange.

Are there showering options when you don’t have campground or gym access?

Vanlife without campground or gym access can be challenging, trying to maintain personal hygiene and find options for showering. While it’s not necessary to shower every day, being clean is important. Alternatives include a sink or bucket with washcloths, body wipes such as Kleen Freak for refreshing, brushing hair regularly with dry shampoo and wearing a hat, and taking dips in rivers or lakes. It’s important to follow Leave No Trace guidelines when using soap in water sources or while washing dishes. Investing in window coverings and creating separation inside the van can allow for quick sponge baths.

Can non-potable water be used in a fresh water tank? Will you need to sanitize the system?

Using non-potable water in your fresh water tank is not recommended. However, if you must, it’s essential to sanitize the system after use, flushing it out with a bleach solution and then rinsing it with clean, potable water. A designated fresh water hose prevents contamination from other sources. Using an inline filter and a water pressure regulator when filling your fresh water tank keeps you safe and prevents plumbing system damage. Plan accordingly when filling up your RV fresh water tank to ensure you have clean, drinkable water.

Any recommended resources for RVers, including tips, tricks, and product reviews?

TheRVgeeks’ newsletter is for RVers seeking free tips, tricks, and product reviews, and so is We were afraid of running out of water but found encouragement from TheRVgeeks. CamperSmarts provided advice sanitizing your RV water tank. With ongoing filming of The RVers for Discovery and PBS, TheRVgeeks are knowledgeable resources. As part of the RVLife network of 1.6 million RVers, has over 400,000 reviews.


With these tips and resources, we can ensure off-grid adventures are not compromised by a lack of clean water. As we roam the countryside, remember to Tread Lightly! and the importance of responsible resource management.

While water is essential to sustain life, so too is the RV lifestyle that drives us to explore new horizons. Let's embrace both while seeking the beauty and wonder of this world. Happy trails!