There’s a lot of talk amongst RV travelers regarding Walmart’s RV overnight parking policy lately. Is it fact or is it fiction? And, if it’s true, what led Walmart to roll up their welcome mat?
There seems to be a slew of rumors (and myths) of why Walmart has put the brakes on RV’s and other large vehicles parking overnight in their parking lots. One myth is RV owners are treating Walmart parking lots like a campground. There may be some truth there but I’m willing to bet there’s far extenuating circumstances than that.
Walmart Overnight Parking May Be Ending for RVs
Look, RVers spend big wads of cash at Walmart; buying anything and everything under the sun from food and beer to RV and automotive supplies. But seriously, does making a purchase entitle an RV owner to park overnight in their parking lot for free?
While it would be nice to assume so, the answer is a big fat NO.
Walmart Overnight RV Parking Policy:
First, let’s look at Walmart’s website Frequently Asked Questions. If you click on Walmart Stores and then click on the third question down. Better yet, I’ll just post the screen shot right here to save you the trouble…
Walmart Overnight Parking policy reads…
“While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store parking lots as we are able
Permissions to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store tot ensure accommodations before parking your RV”. -Walmart
So yes, while putting out your camp chairs and firing up the barby may not be the best of RV lotdocking etiquette, there may be far more pressing issues.
Local governments have put the hammer down on overnight parking on commercial or private property.
Whether it’s a business’ parking lot or a friend’s driveway, municipal governments have stepped in to say no room at the inn. And, there’s nothing you can do about it. Most likely, the ordinances stem from one, some or all of the reasons listed below.
Nearby Campground or RV Park
If there are campgrounds or RV parks in close proximity to a Walmart, you can bet your last dollar that those campgrounds and RV park owners approached their municipal government to complain that these types of free overnight camping is taking away from their business.
Small Parking Lots
Hey, face it, not every Walmart has a big enough parking lot to fit a mini rally of big rig motorhomes or fifth wheels. And, we’ve experienced that when we had our fifth wheel. Some have landscaped islands to navigate, shopping cart corrals and vehicles.
But also remember, during the Spring and Summer, several parking spaces may be taken up by seasonal lawn and garden supplies which make navigating or parking even more of a challenge.
Abuse of Privilege
We’ve all seen it and heard stories about campers setting up camp in Walmart parking lots as if they were at a campground. They make no qualms about extending their awnings, putting out their camp chairs and firing up the grill.
Needless to say, that’s the wrong way to boondock in parking lots. The shopping carts aren’t trash receptacles and even if they do have trash cans, they aren’t put there for large bags of household trash.
But worse, we’ve read accounts of people letting their black tanks loose on the way out or in a nearby sewer. And by doing any of those, dry camping in ANY parking lot is, if not already, going to be curtailed permanently. And, I can honestly appreciate why.
It’s no secret that a many Walmarts are in ‘less than desirable locations’. We’ve noticed an influx of people hanging out at Walmart parking lots panhandling and loitering. One doesn’t have to have a Criminology degree to know that they’re not for the good which leaves question why anyone would want to even park overnight at a Walmart anyway.
How to find Walmarts overnight parking for RVs?
Aside from actually visiting a Walmart and going in to ask the manager, there’s got to be an easier way.
It would be in your best interest to double check with the manager and firmly ask, “so there’s no local ordinance that will tell me otherwise, right?”
While Walmart may not mind but here we go back up to the first reason listed above why Walmart overnight RV parking may not be permitted. You certainly don’t want to get a knock on the door at 2:00 am being asked to leave.
So, there is an actual phone app that you can download called All-Stays Walmart Overnight Parking. The app is rated “Excellent” by Wired Magazine and seen in Harvard Business Review.
As stated on the All-Stays Walmart Overnight Parking app:
“The store founder was an RVer and the general policy remains that RVers can spend one night free in a store parking lot. You get some rest, maybe shop a bit and move on early in the morning.
How will this app help you? RVer or not, this app shows all Walmart locations in US and Canada. Use it to find shopping now and for RVing later.
Want to know where every Walmart is located and which ones have been reported to allow and don’t allow overnight parking?
Filter map to see if has fuel, pharmacy, garden center, a restaurant and much more.
This app plots every Walmart store in the USA and Canada on the map view. It uses location services to find your location and as you move.”
By using this app, it will ask you to update any information to help others who may want to park there.
There are information tips on where to park, if anyone’s been towed or told to leave, etc. According to the app, it uses location services; meaning iPhone or internet connection on iPads. GPS functions only work on iPhones and iPad xG/Cellular models.
Other overnight parking options
We’ve found that really, there are far better options than parking overnight at Walmart. We absolutely love our Harvest Hosts membership.
The annual membership permits us to park for an overnight but with so much nicer ambiance and quiet on farms, wineries, breweries, some museums, and other cool venues.
For more details, check out our Harvest Hosts: Free RV Parking at wineries and more!
We’ve also grown to love another membership and crowd sourced free overnight parking option called Boondockers Welcome. Property owners all across the country have open their gates to receive guests to stay.
But there are plenty of other options that allow RVers to park for an overnight. Just make certain you don’t just plop your RV down thinking that you can.
That said, if you are permitted to park in Walmart (or other businesses’) parking lot, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with overnight parking lot etiquette.
Escapees Good Neighbor Policy:
According to Escapees’ Good Neighbor Policy, putting out your camp chairs is probably last on the list of reasons why RVers are told ‘no overnight camping’ by Walmart officials.
Let’s refresh our memories with Escapees’ industry-sanctioned Code of Conduct:
1. Stay one night only!
2. Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
3. Obey posted regulations.
4. No awnings, chairs or barbecue grills.
5. Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).
6. Always leave area cleaner than you found it.
7. Purchase gas, food or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.
8. Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel to unsafe.
That’s a Wrap!
In closing, if you’re on the road and need to pull over to catch some zzzz’s, always be respectful and leave no trace.
There are places you can park overnight. But do appreciate those business’ that do extend overnight parking privileges as they may be revoked at any time. Ordinances can change, business ownerships may change as well as other extenuating circumstances. The point is, never assume you can park on private property.
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with, sponsored by or in any way compensated by Allstays LLC, the provider of this App or Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. owns all of the rights in its trade name and trademark “Walmart” which is used herein and in the name of this App with permission.