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Many RV campers search for free and convenient places to spend the night. One easy place to stop for the night is the large parking lot of Walmart stores. However, camping overnight is not permitted at every Walmart. Keep reading our complete guide to Walmart overnight parking to learn how to camp at Walmart and when it is allowed.
- 1 Walmart Overnight Parking Policy
- 2 How to Find Walmart Stores with Overnight Parking
- 3 Walmart Overnight Parking Etiquette
- 4 Preparing to Camp at Walmart
- 5 Walmart Overnight Parking Alternatives
Walmart Overnight Parking Policy
Here is the official overnight parking policy for RVs from Walmart’s corporate website.
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.From the Walmart Corporate Website
Per the above policy, the company does allow overnight RV parking at their stores. However, there are two reasons a Walmart store may prohibit RVs from staying in their lot: availability of space and local laws. With these exceptions listed in their corporate policy, it is up to each store manager to decide if overnight parking at their store is legal and if it is, do they want to offer the space to RVers.
How to Find Walmart Stores with Overnight Parking
There are a few simple ways to determine whether a particular Walmart store allows overnight parking. While these tools will help you determine which Walmart stores allow overnight parking, all campers should double-check with the manager before trying to spend the night.
AllStays Camp and RV App
AllStays Camp and RV is an essential RV travel app that helps campers locate campgrounds, overnight parking options, dump stations and more. A one-time fee of $9.99 is charged to use the app. The app’s map and directory includes Walmart store locations across the country. Walmart stores in the app are separated into two categories: Ask to Park and No Overnight.
No Overnight stores are stores where other RVers have been denied RV camping. On the other hand, Ask to Park stores are not known to prohibit overnight parking. RV campers can camp at these Ask to Park stores after securing approval from the manager.
If you do not have access to the paid AllStays app, there is another resource for locating Walmart stores that allow overnight stays. WalmartLocator.com has a interactive map that shows Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across the country. Each store has either a green check mark or a red X to indiciate whether or not the store typically allows overnight parking.
As with AllStays, the map does not guarantee the store managers approval, so campers should also ask before staying overnight.
Walmart Overnight Parking Etiquette
One of the reasons store managers decide to prohibit overnight parking is because they have seen campers acting rudely in the past. If you are granted permission to camp overnight in a Walmart parking lot, follow these basic etiquette rules so camping privileges won’t be revoked in the future.
Ask Permission from the Manager
Stealth camping is not allowed at Walmart. As noted above and in Walmart’s official corporate policy, all RV campers should request permission from the store manager before staying the night. As policies may change, it is not sufficient to check an online tool to see if overnight parking is allowed. You must always get verbal permission from the store manager.
Ideally, campers should call the store while they are driving and request permission to stay before arriving. If you are unable to reach the store by phone or are looking for last-minute parking, you can also park in the lot and go to the customer service desk inside to request permission.
Park in a Designated Area
When speaking to the manager, ask if they have a specific area where they prefer RVs to park. Follow their instructions and park in the designated area. Most RVs will require more than one standard-sized parking space, but campers should try to occupy as few spaces as possible.
Keep Slide Outs In
In an effort to minimize the amount of space your RV occupies, keep your slide outs pulled in while camping overnight at Walmart. If you must extend a slide out to reach the kitchen, put it back in once you are finished grabbing food. If you must extend a slide to access the bedroom or bathroom, only extend it as far as you need to create a walkable pathway. Make sure slides never extend outside of parking spaces, where they might block the road for other customers.
Don’t Set Up a Campsite
While many Walmart stores offer overnight parking as a courtesy to travelers, the parking lot of Walmart is not a campground. Campers should only use Walmart to rest and then move on. Therefore, campers should not pull out chairs, grill or otherwise set up camp. If you look like you plan on getting comfortable and staying a while, you will likely be asked to leave.
Leave at a Reasonable Hour
Per the above rule, Walmart overnight parking is only to be used overnight. Once you are well rested, you should get up, get ready and move on. If you do not plan to continue your travel, book a stay at a campground or other facility where it is appropriate to spend the whole day.
Never Dump Waste
I wish this rule could be left unsaid, but there are horror stories of campers disposing of their waste in parking lots. It is never okay to empty your gray tank or black tank outside of a dump station. Some new campers mistakenly think that gray water is clean and can be dumped in parking lots or other open areas. This is absolutely untrue. Gray water contains all sorts of things from soap to food waste and needs to be disposed of properly at a dump station.
Preparing to Camp at Walmart
If you plan to camp overnight in Walmart parking lots, there are a few preparations you should make to ensure a comfortable night.
Bring Light and Noise Blockers
Many Walmart stores are open 24 hours. Therefore, the lights from the store and parking lot are not turned off at night. If your RV is not equipped with blackout shades, head into the store and purchase an eye mask to block out the light. Almost all Walmart parking lots will also have lots of noise from cars and customers. If you are a light sleeper, pack earplugs to block out the noise.
Prepare Dinner and Breakfast
Many RVers will have limited access to their kitchen with their slides pulled in. To make your overnight stay as easy as possible, prepare make-ahead dinner and breakfasts that don’t require cooking. Having breakfast ready will also allow you to get back on the road more quickly in the morning.
Time your Arrival
As noted in our etiquette section, RVers should try to limit their stay at Walmart to just enough time to eat and rest. Also, Walmart parking lots are not that fun, so you probably won’t want to stay any longer than you need to. If you plan to stay at a Walmart, try to find one at the end of day’s drive so you will arrive no early than dusk.
Walmart Overnight Parking Alternatives
RV campers who plan to spend the night at a Walmart store, should always have a plan B in case they are turned away by the store manager. Here are four alternatives when Walmart overnight parking does not work out. Check out our articles on free dry camping locations and free RV camping with hookups for a complete list of alternatives.
Stores with Overnight RV Parking
Many Cracker Barrels allow RV parking overnight in their dedicated parking spaces for RVs and buses. As with Walmart overnight parking, campers can use the AllStays to app to locate Cracker Barrel locations, but should always ask permission at the restaurant before staying. Campers should also purchase a meal from the restaurant as a thank you for the place to sleep.
Most Cabela’s stores also allow RV campers to stay in their parking lots. Typically, the stores have separate RV and truck parking available. Some Cabela’s even provide dump stations (for a fee) so you can dump your tanks before leaving the next day.
Other Overnight RV Parking
Many casinos across the country also offer free parking for RVers. Casinos make for a much more exciting overnight stop than retail stores and restaurants. You can eat a good meal and try your hand at black jack without unhooking your trailer or tow vehicle. Always ask permission before parking at any casino.
Harvest Hosts is a club that offers overnight RV parking at wineries, breweries, farms, museums and golf courses across the country. Some of the most unique camping spots include alpaca farms, an active salt mine and an air museum. Click here to learn more about the Harvest Hosts membership.
That concludes our definitive guide to Walmart Overnight Parking. If you have made it this far, you now understand:
- Walmart’s Overnight Parking Policy for RVs
- How to Find Walmart Stores with Overnight RV Parking
- Etiquette for Overnight Parking at Walmart
- How to Prepare to Sleep in a Walmart Parking Lot
- Alternatives to Overnight Camping at Walmart
If you have any questions about parking your RV at Walmart or other camping options, drop them in the comments section below.