Friday, March 24, 2023


Boondocking in parking lots not always a wise decision

We found this article on, which is, hands down, the best resource on the Web for owners of truck campers. It’s one example of how selecting a free place to park overnight with an RV can be a challenge. Here is part of what Gordon White wrote in a larger article titled “Free and Safe Places to Park Overnight In an RV.”

He wrote:
A few years ago we pulled into a nearly empty parking lot with a Panera Bread and a Target. The lot was huge and there was a perfect out-of-the-way spot to park the rig. It looked ideal.

We went to dinner at Panera Bread, soaked up some of their WiFi and returned to the camper just as it was getting dark. Then, after what had been a long day of work and travel, we made the decision to stay put overnight. The parking lot was empty and breakfast at Panera sounded wonderful.

About three hours later, we were awakened up by a heavy pounding at the door and a bright flashlight piercing through our camper’s blinds. It was probably an overly aggressive security guard, but the person never verbally identified themselves.

The individual eventually left and we immediately got out of there. Five miles down the road we pulled into a Walmart that we had previously checked out on AllStays.

When we arrived at the Walmart, there were about a half-dozen other RVs all parked quietly. The Walmart security guard drove past, and kept going.

Looking back, we had grown too complacent about parking overnight in places not designated for that purpose. We are much more careful now and only stay in one of the aforementioned establishments – and then only if it checks out on AllStays.

Have you experienced an unexpected knock at the door when staying overnight with your RV in a parking lot? If so, please leave a comment.



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Shane Haskins
17 hours ago

My wife and I have traveled to places like Alaska, Florida and last year Newfoundland. Mostly boondocking whenever possible. Last year was Newfoundland and the province encourages boondocking. We used the iOverlander site to find places. We here there for 35 days and 26 days we boondocked. Only had one incident where local riding around on dirt bikes late at night. Other than that all good.

William Kirk
2 days ago

The first thing I would recommend.. is, ask for permission to park. Do not assume it is ok.
I would then make a purchase at the place you are “borrowing” a space from.

3 days ago

My Wife and I always call ahead to the intended boon docking location when planning our route asking to speak to a manager. After confirming that it is permitted I note the name of the manager, date, and time. When we arrive we go into the store to confirm that things haven’t changed and that we are still welcome to stay. We then make a purchase of items needed or eat a meal. We park where told to and leave early the next morning. We never have gotten a knock on the door.

3 days ago

I have experienced the late-night pounding on the door. We called ahead to a Sam’s Club near Colorado Springs and obtained permission to boondock in their parking lot. About 11:30 PM, a loud knock at the door announced the arrival of a 20-something security guard who told me we were trespassing and had to leave. I replied that we couldn’t be trespassing because we had permission to stay there. Turns out, that particular Sam’s Club is simply a tenant, and doesn’t own the property. Police arrived soon after and told us there was a city ordinance against overnight stays in parking lots. Said they couldn’t differentiate between us and the homeless. We went to the next town and stayed at Cracker Barrel.

The Stromboli
3 days ago

First of all I’ve been full time in my rig since 2021. Boondocking is being in ur rig in a area with no services like BLM land. Parking in a Walmart or shopping center is not boondocking. Second, Don’t u people read signage when u pull into a shopping center? There are signs that basically gives u a 3 hr window to shop. Legally after that ur considered “loitering” and u can be towed. Third, anytime u pull into a business driveway u need to be interacting with that business. If not ur trespassing and can be towed. As far as church’s, it’s now pretty common to see signage that says ” hey if ur not here for the service don’t park” we will tow ur vehicle. Kinda of a drag, but its a insurance thing. The only place I’ve found to be simi legal is public street parking. Make sure u have looked up and down the street to check parking signs. Now this is still iffy because cities are enacting “no sleeping” in vehicle laws. So this leads me to why I got a commerical looking rig. 😎

3 days ago

Did you ask anyone for permission to stay overnight? Either Target or Panera Bread might have given permission and told you where it was OK to park. Your nighttime visitor may have been a routine police patrol checking things out. I once had permission from a church to park overnight in their parking lot and they told me they notified the local police that it was OK (the police routinely patrolled the church parking lot). I never had a problem with the church or the police.

3 days ago

We’ve only been on the road for two months and have had our door knocked on twice in scenarios I didn’t expect.

First time was at a Harvest Hosts location. This particular location was a museum, and shared the lot with a helicopter transport company. Someone from the helicopter company came early the next morning to talk to us, and questioned us even when we said we were allowed to be there.

The other was in the middle of the day. We were parked on street parking while we took our clothes to the laundromat. The resident of the closest house came up (my wife and I switched off staying in the rig with our son and dog) and asked what we were doing. I assume to make sure we weren’t parking overnight, but this was right near a laundromat in Alpine, TX. I can’t imagine it’s unusual to see RVs there.

4 days ago

Parked in front of a friend’s place on the street and got a knock at the door late at night. City employee with city truck and he needed me to back up 20 feet. Watermain break and the emergency shutoff was under my rig. Glad we didn’t sleep in our friend’s house or they might have had to tow our rig.

4 days ago

Yes, we were parked with permission in a WalMart parking lot and got a knock on the door in the middle of the night…we had to move as they were painting the lines on the pavement!

4 days ago

One knock on the door in a Flying J many years ago. We had stayed there several times during our travel south. This one night many other RVers pulled in after us and blocked access to the RV pumps. The staff came around and asked us to leave. They handed out a printout of a map to the nearest Walmart where we finished the night.

4 days ago

Casino next to Hoover dam about 7 years ago, knock on the door. They didn’t allow overnight parking then but they do now.

Jim Johnson
4 days ago

We have only parked once for an extended period without asking, and we didn’t spend the night, but several hours of the day. We left a campground in the wee hours of the morning to dodge an incoming snow storm, then driving south hit an ice storm just past dawn. We pulled into a grocery store parking lot, piled into the trailer, took a nap and waited it out.

4 days ago

I never had ANY problems with staying overnight at ANY church parking lot. Plus, most are always very large parking lots. Stay away from Shopping mall parking lots though.

Joe Allen
4 days ago

An FYI, don’t park in front of a bank at night. Not good! Law enforcement came by and let us know, we needed to move and now. Headed down to the Walmart down the road, but this was in Little Rock, Arkansas! Never again!

4 days ago

One spot for overnight parking is at a hospital. Check with the security office if it’s okay. When my son had bypass surgery in Florida, I parked in the back part of the lot and had a 30 amp plug to run the A/C. No charge and security patrolled the area. Just be sure you are away from the emergency room entrance for ambulances.

Last edited 4 days ago by Mike
Tommy Molnar
4 days ago
Reply to  Mike

We have spent the night in a couple of hospital parking lots. We just make sure we leave early in the morning because what looks like an empty lot in the afternoon fills up fast in the morning as nurses and doctors show up for work.

4 days ago

Staying overnight in a parking lot is not “Boondocking”. It’s parking. Yes, it’s a pet peeve of mine.
One should always check with management before parking overnight. To do otherwise is rude, possibly illegal, and part of the reason why RVs are being banned from overnight parking.

4 days ago

What IS always a wise decision is to ask the store manager if overnight parking is permitted!

Selene Montgomery
5 days ago

We have not had the ‘knocking on door” experience. W try to plan ahead, and never park without a verbal okay from the store personnel in person or by phone, just to make sure any reviews are still up to date, and to know where in the lot the management prefers us to park.

4 days ago

And be sure to get the name of the person to whom you are speaking in case you’re asked.

3 days ago
Reply to  Impavid

Better yet get it in writing. So if the cops come by and say move. You can show you have permission to be there

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