Most RVers know about free RV Parking at Walmart. But do you know all of the facts? For example, not every Walmart allows RV parking overnight. And if a Walmart does allow overnight parking, there are definitely some things you should know before you stay overnight.
So, whether you are boondocking for one night as a way to keep your campground expenses down, or just tired of driving for the day and need to get some shut-eye, rest assured, there are still plenty of Walmart stores that allow RV overnight parking.
But, as we all know, the world is changing. And, so is Walmart. There are rumors that Walmart is changing its policies regarding overnight parking. And even more stories about the safety of staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot.
This article serves to address those rumors. And it also answers many of the questions that RVers ask about overnight parking at Walmart.
Check out our YouTube video at the end of the article too!
What’s the Back Story About Why Walmart Allows RV Parking Overnight?
There is a story here that is beloved and generous that many folks may not know about. Walmart founder, Sam Walton, always wanted his RV customers to feel welcomed. So, he decided that he wanted them to be able to have a place to stop for the night when traveling the country in their RV motorhomes.
Walmart’s philosophy is RVers make great customers of the store, therefore, they have been welcomed to park overnight at Walmart for a long time now.
The sad reality today however is RV camping overnight for free at Walmart has become a problem in many areas. In some places, the homeless people (and inconsiderate RV campers) have taken advantage of the overnight stay. They have littered, caused disturbances, loitered, panhandled, and generally caused problems for the other customers.
Negatives to RV Parking At Walmart
As mentioned above, there are some concerns of homeless people and overall disturbances to be aware of. Also, there may be city ordinances in place that will prohibit you from staying there overnight even though Walmart allows it.
Simply put – just use common sense here. Generally speaking, parking your camper trailer or RV motorhome overnight at a Walmart is safe. Check out more of our suggestions below, including the positives to staying here!
Positives About RV Parking At Walmart
There are many positives to staying overnight at Walmart. First of all, it’s free! There are no fees to stay overnight. Second of all, it’s very convenient to stock up on groceries and camping supplies while you are there. And third of all, since there are so many Walmart locations, you won’t have to go out of your way to find one.
Also, most Walmarts are near restaurants, gas stations, and many other stores. So you can gas up, or grab a meal while you are in the vicinity of a Walmart. When you think about it staying overnight at a Walmart is a very convenient way to save time and money on your RV travels.
Where Should I Park My RV at the Walmart Stores?
Because every Walmart location is different, this one is a tough question to answer. Basically, look and see where other RVers have parked their motorhomes and camper trailers. If you do not see any parked in the Walmart parking lot, then go inside the store and ask to speak to a manager. It is always better to ask for permission and parking advice from the store anyway.
Do All Walmarts Allow Overnight Parking?
Many Walmarts stores allow RVs to park overnight. But not all of them do. I have heard RVers mention that only Walmart SuperCenters allow overnight parking. But I know of regular Walmart stores that allow overnight parking too. And, I also know of cases where individual Walmart stores have changed their policies regarding overnight parking.
For example, stores that have allowed parking for years suddenly do not. And the opposite is true too. Stores that have not permitted parking for years have suddenly changed their policy and now allow RVs to park overnight. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to whether they allow overnight parking or not.
So, how do you know which stores allow overnight parking and which stores do not?
How Can I Find Walmarts That Allow Overnight Parking?
There are several ways to find out which Walmart stores allow overnight parking and also, which stores do not. One way is to use the Walmart Locator. This will take you to a site where you can click on a state and then click on a particular store location. I think it’s a bit incomplete. Here is a screenshot of what you can find.
Allstays is also a useful app for finding Walmarts that allow overnight camping. But our favorite way to find free overnight RV camping is by using an App called OvernightRVParking which is now available through TOGO RV. This is a fantastic App that tells you which Walmarts allow overnight parking AND which Walmarts do not. And, whenever users of the App stay at a Walmart they can share their tips and experience and update the location. This way each location has the most current information possible.
Below is a screenshot of an update made by a fellow RVer staying at a Walmart. Notice that the info includes the store address and phone number, recommended place to park, instructions to contact the manager for permission to stay, gas station locations, restaurant locations, GPS coordinates and the date the update was made.
This App includes locations for all sorts of places where you can, and can not, park your RV overnight. Some locations included besides Walmart are Cracker Barrel, Flying J, Lowes, Home Depot, Safeway, and Sam’s Club.
RELATED READING: There is so much more to say about this app so I wrote a whole article about OvernightRVParking. It’s a great resource that will save you some money when you need a place to park your RV overnight conveniently.
Why Would Walmart Deny Overnight RV Parking?
There are several reasons that a Walmart would not allow campers to park overnight. Recently local towns have begun to pass ordinances that prohibit overnight parking. So if a Walmart is in that jurisdiction they will not be able to allow campers to park overnight.
Another reason is for safety concerns. Walmart managers typically will not allow overnight parking in high crime locations. I think this is a good idea because most RVers have money on them while they are traveling which makes them a desirable target for criminals.
And finally, homeless people have started living in RVs. They park at Walmart because it’s free and then they stay for long periods. There are reports of some of these folks begging for money and making a mess in the parking lot. If this happens too often, then a Walmart may have no choice but to close their parking lot to RVs in an attempt to avert the homeless problem.
Is It True That Walmart Stores Are Changing Their Policies?
There are reports by some campers that they were told they could not park overnight in their RV. And this is entirely the case. Many RVers are concerned that Walmart is changing its policy about overnight RV parking. On the FAQ section of Walmart’s corporate website, one of the questions asks: Can I Park My RV at a Walmart Store? The answer from Walmart is:
“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. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV”.
So, based on this information I think its safe to say that Walmart has not changed its policy. However, there may be more managers who decide they will not allow overnight parking at their location.
Is There a Crime Problem in Walmart Parking Lots?
Many crimes take place in Walmart stores and in their parking lots. The vast majority of these crimes are shoplifting and minor assault. There is a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart alleging that they know how unsafe their parking lots are and haven’t done enough about it. The suit is from the family of a man who got into an argument with someone who drove to close to a baby carriage. He got into an argument with the driver and punched him in the face. The driver then shot him in the chest. How is this Walmart’s fault?
All that being said there are crimes committed against RVers every year, at Walmart and other locations too. But they don’t happen that often and can be easily avoided if RVers are smart and careful.
Is It Safe to Park Overnight at Walmart?
It is safe to park at Walmart overnight, but you do need to use some common sense. Below are some things to make sure you stay safe.
- Call the manager to ask if you can stay. Ask if they have had any crime issues.
- Call the local police department and ask if a particular Walmart is safe. Ask them to keep an eye on the parking lot.
- Find out if there is a security guard for the Walmart and introduce yourself. Ask him to keep an eye on you.
- Park in a well-lit area of the parking lo
- Plan to take care of everything outside the RV early in the evening and then lock up and stay in your RV for the night.
- If you hear anything suspicious, do not go outside. Call the Police!
- Lock your RV doors and exterior storage compartments.
- Trust your gut. If you have a funny feeling about staying, then leave!
What’s it Like to Stay Overnight at Walmart?
Walmart is a favorite place for RVers and some truckers to spend the night. But what’s it like to stay there? Well first of all since it’s a popular location, you will likely see other RVs there spending the night. Assuming everyone has asked the manager for permission most of the RVs will be parked in the same area. Not everyone does this though, which is why you might see one or two RVs in different areas of the parking lot.
Also, there are no hookups of any kind so your RV needs to be self-sufficient. Since there is no electricity some folks may run their generator overnight and you might hear that noise. You should also expect the parking lot to be bright since you will most likely be asked to park in a well-lit area.
You should expect to hear some road noise when you stay at a Walmart. There could be noise from tractor trailers rolling in to make deliveries. And there can be RVers pulling in at any hour of the night. There can also be road noise if the Walmart is near a major highway or a busy road.
Be a Courteous Guest When You Stay Overnight
Since you will probably be parked among other overnighters please be sure to be courteous, considerate and polite to the other campers. And be kind to the Walmart employees as well. Here are a few universal rules of etiquette while staying at Walmart:
- Always call ahead and ask the manager for permission to park overnight.
- When you arrive at the Walmart introduce your self to the manager and security guards and ask where to park.
- Only stay overnight. You need to leave early the next morning so you don’t overstay your welcome.
- Ask the manager what the rules are. For example, ask if you are allowed to lower your stabilizer jacks, extend your bump outs, or run your generator.
- If you are allowed to run your generator, try to observe a quiet time of 10 PM to 8 AM.
- Buy any supplies you need at Walmart. Since they are kind enough to let us stay then buy something while you are there.
- Clean up your trash.
- Clean up after pets if you have any.
- If outdoors, keep all pets on a leash.
- Do not extend your awning and sit in the parking lot
- Don’t have a barbecue or use an outdoor kitchen in the parking lot.
- Keep noise levels down when inside and outside of your RV.
What if I Can’t Stay at Walmart?
If you can’t stay overnight at a particular Walmart, don’t worry. There are plenty of other places to stay overnight, such as:
- Flying J Truck Stops
- Camping World
- Cracker Barrel – Check out my article on boondocking at Cracker Barrel. It’s very informative.
- Highway rest areas
- Costco – Not many people know you can stay at Costco. Check out our article about staying at Costco too.
- Home Depot
1. Are There Nicer Places Than Parking Lots to Stay Overnight For Free?
Yes! There are some great alternatives to staying overnight in a Parking Lot and they are pretty close to free. There are two camping memberships that I highly recommend if you want to park in some great locations for free.
Harvest Hosts is another membership we belong to which has over 670 free places to park overnight. These overnight parking places are gorgeous. They are orchards, wineries, farms, breweries, and other unique attractions that allow RVs to stay the night.
The annual membership is only $79 a year and gives you access through their website and App to stay at any of these incredible locations. And, they just added an additional membership for only $20 to stay at over 300 golf courses across the country too! So, for $99 a year, your price will never go up and you have over 1000 gorgeous locations to park overnight! We are members and love our membership!
Boondockers Welcome is an RV club that offers places to park for overnight stays from people who own private land. They now have more than 1000 locations across North America. The idea is that Boondockers Welcome provides a website directory of fellow RVers who are willing to let you stay a night or two on their property.
Even though the name is Boondockers Welcome, which gives the impression there are no hookups, many hosts are able to provide electric and water, as well. Guests are encouraged to offer the host a gift or pay a few bucks if hookups are provided. Most of the time the parking area will be right beside the property owner’s home or it will be on land that they own but do not live on. And you have the benefit of meeting some great people who can give advice about the area where they live!
Related Articles to Overnight RV Parking at Walmart:
For more information about free overnight parking or camping check out some of our other articles below.
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