Table of Contents Show
- What Does Boondocking Mean?
- Is Boondocking Illegal?
- Can You Camp Overnight at Walmart?
- Why Does Walmart Allow Overnight Parking?
- Rules You Must Follow For Boondocking at Walmart
- Keep Walmart Boondocking Available For RVers
As a full-time RVer (or just someone planning a long cross-country RV trip) you may have considered staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot. While this is a convenient option for an overnight stop, there are some important Walmart boondocking rules to follow. It’s imperative these aren’t abused, so Walmart continues to allow RV travelers to boondock in their parking lots for years to come.
What Does Boondocking Mean?
Boondocking simply means camping in your RV with water, electric, or sewer hookups. This style of camping is typically free, or a small fee is paid to a city, state, or national park for staying on the land.
There are other terms for boondocking, including dry camping, moochdocking, lot docking, and more. At the end of the day, if you’re free camping without hookups, you’re boondocking.
Is Boondocking Illegal?
Boondocking where allowed is not illegal. It’s important to read posted signs where you plan on free camping to ensure you are not breaking any laws.
Pay special attention to the rules posted, confirm if there is a fee or not, and review how long you are allowed to stay to ensure you are not breaking any laws.
Can You Camp Overnight at Walmart?
Yes, you can camp overnight in Walmart parking lots. However, not Walmart locations allow overnight RV parking, so you’ll want to be sure you are allowed. There are some unspoken rules about boondocking at Walmart, so be sure to read on!
Why Does Walmart Allow Overnight Parking?
Walmart stores have generously allowed overnight RV parking for years. According to their website, Walmart “values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers”.
However, they do further elaborate that each store manager needs to give permission to park and not all stores allow you to camp at Walmart. This all depends on the parking space available and any city or local ordinances regarding RV parking.
Lastly, don’t expect anything like electrical service or a dump station at Walmart. Accommodations typically only include a safe place to sleep for free.
Rules You Must Follow For Boondocking at Walmart
The below rules are extremely important for each camper to follow. By being a responsible RV owner and respecting the rules, hopefully, RVers will be allowed to continue to boondock at Walmart stores for years to come!
1. Call and Ask For Permission
Zoning laws and city ordinances often change. Do not just assume that you can part in any Walmart parking lot.
True, Walmart parking appears on many RVing apps, but it is best to call to discuss your stop with a store employee. Things may have changed since the last review that said they stayed there.
Therefore, it’s is a good idea to call in advance. We normally ask the customer service representative who answers but if they don’t know then ask to speak to the store manager.
After driving all day, you do not want to arrive to find a “No RV Parking” sign. When it comes to saving yourself from a stressful situation, this is the number one Walmart overnight camping rule.
Pro Tip: If the Walmart you were hoping to stay at doesn’t allow RVers, you’re not out of luck yet. There’s still Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, and more! Learn how How to Find Free RV Parking Anywhere!
2. Don’t Get Comfortable
This Walmart boondocking rule is all about keeping to yourself. Again, this is a parking lot and not a campground.
Don’t use your stabilization jacks or put out your slides while parked at Walmart. It’s not recommended to bring out your awning, set up any lawn chairs, or grill food as well.
Taking more space than necessary or blocking space for other RVers and truckers is, simply put, very rude.
Additionally, remember to lock your vehicles and your RV while sleeping or while inside the store. Ensure that your bikes and other gear are also locked. It’s not the responsibility of Walmart to ensure your stuff is safe.
Lastly, be ready to leave early the next morning. Ensure that all of your trash is put in its place, and you leave the parking lot better than you found it.
3. Arrive in the Evening
Try to arrive late in the day, after the Walmart rush. After you arrive on-site, again talk to the store manager. Let them know you’ve arrived and ask them for their preferred RV parking location. You can also ask this over the phone when you call to ask permission to stay.
It is guaranteed that they do not want you parking in the middle of their busy lot. From our experience, they typically want RVers lined up in the back, next to the garden center, or sometimes even in the back of the store.
To be compliant with this Walmart boondocking rule, be sure to park in the suggested area.
4. Respect City Ordinances
Over the past years, several county or city ordinances have been enacted to disallow overnight RV parking in Walmart lots.
RVers have been ushered off the lot during the night, or even cited with expensive tickets. When it comes to Walmart boondocking rules, this is probably the most important.
If RVers continue to break the city ordinances, we could be faced with all privileges of Walmart boondocking being revoked. This is why it’s imperative to call ahead, get permission, and leave the parking lot better than you found it.
Pro Tip: Need to brush up on other terms for boondocking? Read the 5 Types of Boondocking Defined.
5. Stay Just One Night
A Walmart stay should be a quick, overnight visit. It is a one-night stay, and not intended to mimic a campground site.
It’s also not recommended to leave your RV there to go sightseeing. It is accommodating enough that RVers are allowed to spend the night.
Let’s not take advantage of their space by overstaying our welcome.
6. Make a Purchase
While it’s not required, it is nice to purchase something from the Walmart you are staying with. Since they are allowing you to park overnight, it’s a small gesture of appreciation.
You don’t need to go full-blown shopping, but picking up a few supplies you need is respectable. You could even pick up dinner in the deli section.
As RVers, we want to ensure that we are giving patronage to the businesses that support our lifestyle.
Keep Walmart Boondocking Available For RVers
And those are the six rules to follow when boondocking at Walmart! While they may seem intuitive or basic, they are important to stick to. This way we can make certain RVers are able to continue to use Walmart parking lots. Be sure to share these Walmart boondocking rules with all your RVing friends!
Keep Reading: If you’re going to step up your boondocking game to include public lands, don’t miss our 11 Mandatory Rules for Boondocking on National Forest Land.
It is hard not to put out the slides in your unit. All you have access to is the bed from one side and the bathroom. I assume that you put out the main slides temporarily to get things out of the Fridge and cook and put them back in for the night. Maybe leave the bedroom slide out for the night as long as it against the curb. Maybe the rule should be don’t leave the slides out overnight or while not using them for a specific reason.
We do follow those rules with the exception of the slide & stabilizer jacks. We do put something down on the cement before lowering our jacks. We park strategically so we can put our slides out (driver side only) & not block any roads or run the risk of someone diving into them.
I worked at Walmart. They like to know who is in their lot. In case of storms, they will bring you into the store so you’re safe.
Also, if there’s another emergency (ambulance, fire, convicts on the loose). They want to keep you safe.
All the above are things that happened.
I love Walmart.
I also work at Walmart and have seen MANY abuses to the “rules”. Another courtesy RVers might consider is the white parking spaces. They are for employee parking. And they are usually at the end of the lot where RVs tend to plant themselves. My shift starts at 4 am and the spaces are full. Then when the manager rolls in at mid morning and the RVs are gone it looks like we are purposely breaking our rules. A gentleman asked me one time about parking on the lot. When I explained the predicament he said he had never heard that before. Which is why I am commenting now. Happy trails to you all and thank you for being courteous.
Tytyty for the great info and comments. We have used Walmart parking for O/N a couple times due to exhaustion and once for a really bad storm. So greatful for the opportunity to get off the road! We stick up when they’re open and thank the store manager personally!
We have to put our slides out to access the bed and bunk rooms. We go as far away from main doors as possible, and put the slides out over the curb (grass) taking care to not hit trees and poles. I call ahead, and get the ok from the manager. We usually pull in after 10 and leave by 8 am. Always going inside to grab something, and thank the manager on duty.