Monday, June 5, 2023


Part two: What would you do if Walmart stopped allowing overnight RV stays?

Part Two.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A few weeks ago, we asked you what you would do if Walmart totally banned the practice of overnight RV parking in its lots. While the number of Walmarts still allowing RV overnight stays is dropping fast (Click here for that story), many stores remain that allow it. Our thanks to the more than 150 readers who responded to our question. Because of the number of responses, we posted the responses in two issues. Read the first installment here. — Mike Gast

Below in Part two, is a sampling of what they had to say:

“I think it would be a big mistake. First of all, we always asked to stay first. We always made it a point to buy something before we left and made sure things were clean around our rig. Only once were refused to stay and it was over a holiday weekend. So we called Menard’s and they said sure, come on over. I would stop maybe at a farm and ask to boondock for ten or fifteen dollars.” – Kenneth Troxell

“We don’t often stay at Walmart stores and we do commend them for the continued support of the RV travelers. It is, however, a comfort to know that we are able to stay there if we are ‘stranded’ or arrive late in the day to a location. Almost all locations have been most accommodating and offer a safe stay. Unfortunately, we have been to a few where people staying there take advantage of the Walmart goodwill.” – Scott Johnson

“This question has prompted me to write to them and thank them for this courtesy and ask them to never change. Never take things for granted, and all that. Next, when traveling I would do as I do now and use the ‘apps’ to find the closest overnight stay that will work for us. RVPARKY is my most often used for this.” – Tim McRae

“Before COVID, and hopefully in the future, we take 3-4 days or more to reach our Arizona destination from Minnesota. The first night is spent in a hotel as our RV hadn’t warmed enough to sleep in. From then on, we sleep in truck stops. They are welcoming and safe. Most have restaurants and showers. We always ask if there is a specific spot for RVs.” – Tina Snell

“There are so many other locations to choose from that it would not cause any major difficulty in our travels. The one good aspect of choosing a Walmart is that there are so many located all over the country, plus we always do some shopping at the Walmart. So if they do ban Walmart’s completely they will be losing sales from me and many other RVers, too.

“Some of my other choices for places where we have stayed previously are Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Cabela’s, church parking lots, shopping center parking lots, commuter parking lots, rest areas, truck stops, vacant parking lots, highway pull-offs, scenic pull-offs, etc. If it’s large enough to get into and out of easily I will be there. We never pay for a one-night’s stay as we travel. If tired of driving daily then we will book into the RV park and stay 2-3 nights depending on the location.” – Richard Smith

“We’d find another place or, like we did year before last, look up a campground in our Good Sam campground book and find a campground and call. Never have a problem. I believe the majority of the overcrowding is with the destination parks near the action. We’ve never had a problem with an overnight spot.” – Robert Pulliam

“I imagine all the answers will be about the same. I’d seek an alternative. Cabela’s, some Bass Pro, some Costco or Sam’s stores also allow overnight. As do some rest areas. Truck stops rarely work for us because we are a big rig towing and cannot back up. Harvest Hosts would be a possibility and we already use the app Overnight Parking. And all of those are assuming that there isn’t a campground in the area with a spot available. If all else fails you drive on…with two drivers, we can keep going if the need arises. We have noticed that many, if not most, new Walmart stores have parking lots with lots of concrete islands that do not leave enough space for a semi or a larger coach to park. I suspect there is some direction, either corporate or governmental, to discourage overnight parking overall.” – Goldie Hanson

“In 6 years of full-time RVing, I’ve only parked overnight at Walmart twice. Both were because of fatigue slipping up on me. I was too tired to travel any further. I checked with management and followed good camping manners by parking where the store manager indicated, not leaving any trash, not putting slides out, no overnight lights or music, and leaving early the next morning after purchasing supplies at the store. Both times were unplanned and I try to gauge my driver readiness closer now. It would be great if (1) Walmart allowed limited overnight parking, and (2) campers realized it is an accommodation and not take advantage of the manager’s generosity. I loved it when plenty of campground space was available and reservations were usually unnecessary, but I’m afraid that time has passed.” – Marilyn Martin

We will stay where we have been staying for twenty plus years and some 200,000 road miles, in commercial campgrounds, state and national parks, etc. We do not frequent Walmart for camping.” – Ridge Gardner

“I wouldn’t say that we “routinely” stay and we don’t stay more than one night, but Walmart is a good alternative for us for a number of reasons. We build with Habitat Care-A-Vanners and when we are on the way to/from a build, or other trip, it is a safe place to stay – well lit and populated. Also a good place for groceries and other RV items as needed. If we run into bad weather and need to get off the road (unplanned), it is a good stop for the same reason. We always ask, and make sure that we give the store some business.

“It is truly unfortunate that some among us abuse the privilege! It would be truly unfortunate if we could no longer use Walmart (Wally World!) because of the small number of those.” – Alan Davis

“I stay most of the time at truck stops and rest stops and BLM land.” – Charles Pendola

“Actually, we’ve scaled back on our Walmart overnight stays over the last several years.We have sometimes felt unsafe or looked upon resentfully. We have also noticed how others have abused their hospitality and have left trash behind and sometimes worse. Also, we have found Harvest Hosts to be a good substitute, along with Cracker Barrels, Cabela’s, RV dealers and even overnighted on city streets that allowed overnight parking. We always call ahead as we plan the trip and then again the day before we arrive. If we’re in a pinch, we’ll resort to parking on a city or town street, but will call the local PD to make sure it is allowed and as a courtesy.

“Some small municipalities might even allow you to park in their parking lot. Doesn’t hurt to ask! We were actually able to do this when we visited Marathon, Ontario. Churches are also sometimes willing to provide an overnight stay to tired travelers. We are polite, ask permission and leave our spot better than we found it. There is an etiquette to doing this that I am sure all reading this understand.

“We also became members of Boondockers Welcome, so we can use the app to find private folks who don’t mind you overnighting in their driveway or on their land. The key here is politeness, respect and consideration. We always remember that these places are doing us a favor and are suitably grateful.” – Lynn Mekeel

Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


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2 years ago

Never stay at Walmarts

Tony Barthel
2 years ago

Depending on local regs and all the other variables it would be great if places with larger parking lots offered paid overnight parking. Having whatever resources might be available to RVers who pay for services would help to solve the homeless overnight mooching while also giving those who just wish to stay more options.

One of the cool things would be to employ the technology Jim Turntine has used in his RV Self Park and expand that to more places. I don’t always want amenities, sometimes I just wanna catch a break from driving and, perhaps, empty my tanks.

Carson Axtell
2 years ago

Good RVers are losing this battle. The closure of Walmart parking lots, of public lands under agency management, and the increasingly hostile attitudes of town residents and managers to the presence of RVs, can only be expected to increase as RVs continue to proliferate, and as more RVers trash public spaces. It will become the responsibility of conscientious RVers to intervene whenever they see newbies and callous campers abuse public spaces with their unknowing or inconsiderate behavior, educating the ignorant when appropriate and admonishing or documenting bad behavior of scofflaws where necessary. The innocent offenders can be taught in tactful ways, but the deliberately inconsiderate will have to be dealt with more firmly if we want to maintain our rights as freedom loving but responsible citizens. The few rotten apples will deprive us all of our inheritance if we don’t stand up for our collective responsibilities and freedoms.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Carson Axtell

Very well stated, Carson. Thank you! Have a good night. 🙂 —Diane at

2 years ago

We’ve only overnighted in a Wal-Mart parking lot once, way back around 2007. I can’t say it was a bad stay, but the security guard truck with it’s flashing yellow light drove right around us every half-hour/45 minutes all night long, which woke half of us up constantly all night long. I don’t know if they were being good guys by keeping an eye on us, or if they were trying to drive us away, but that was a first and only for us. We drove out into the woods in the morning so I could take a nap, as I still needed to drive all day. I’ve never considered overnighting in a Wal-Mart parking lot since, and instead, being we are out here in the west with plenty of public land around, look for any spot out some dirt road or something where we’ll have some peace and quiet. Thus, while I hope Wal-Mart does not end their overnight parking policy, if they do, it will not affect us in any way.

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