How We Found A Boondocking Spot In An Unconventional Way
My wife and I were set to rendezvous with our RVing friends on the way to North Dakota recently. Our friends were several hours ahead of us with the plans that they would find a boondocking spot along our route for the night and we would meet them there. However, things didn’t go quite as planned when we received a call from them informing us they were having tow vehicle problems and had stopped in Kellogg, Idaho to see what the local Chevrolet dealership had to say.
The dealership was just closing but had time to read the failure codes to inform our friends it didn’t look favorable and to come back in the morning. We caught up with our friends parked along the curb of a city street near the dealership.
As it would be getting dark soon, I thought we should find a spot to stay for the night. Our friends needed to stay close to the dealership so they could be first in line the next morning.
Nowhere to park
With the nearest Walmart miles away and the nearest RV park even farther, I decided to call the local police to see what their policy was regarding parking overnight with an RV on city streets. Looking up the non-emergency phone number online, I called the Kellogg Police Department and was greeted by an automated phone system that informed me the office was closed for the evening, but also informed me if I needed immediate assistance to call the sheriff’s department, which I did.
I explained to the person that answered our situation and while she didn’t know the answer, she put me on hold and contacted a deputy that informed us that we could spend the night at the local Yoke’s Food Store just blocks from the Chevrolet dealership (which I could see just a block away from where I was standing). Parking the RVs at the grocery store, I went inside and confirmed we were welcome to spend the night.
While the camp space for the night was not out in the boondocks as we originally planned, it was still free and convenient, and those of you that follow this blog on a regular basis know I am all about free!
Next time you find yourself in a bind and need a spot to park the RV for the night, just remember to call the local police or sheriff. Be certain to use the non-emergency number as they might not be as accommodating if you call 911.
Luckily, the diagnosis of our friend’s tow vehicle was not as dire as first feared and they were able to continue the trek with us to North Dakota.
Calling the sheriff to find a campsite for the evening, just another adventure in RVing.
You may also like: How To Use Historical Imagery To Find Boondocking Locations
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
Alan Wheeles says
I liked this story. It was short, to the point, and interesting.
Sandi O'Regan says
Great Story! And I know that area well! Such a beautiful place to stay for the night. Kellogg and Wallace are two of my favorite towns in the Idaho Panhandle. Happy to hear your friends were helped out.
The Sheriffs department is a good local knowledge source. We were recently in North Dakota and wanted to travel into Canada. As I always prefer to travel armed I contacted the local sheriffs office for advice. He put me in touch with a local gun store who stored our handguns and ammunition while we were in Canada, no charge. Nice folks, both the sheriffs department and the mom and pop gun store owners.
Rick Scholl says
Great to hear that. I would hope that most Sheriff’s Offices would be able to help with these issues.
That was a great idea!
Jerry Teitsma says
After picking up our new Escape 21 in Chilliwack, we traveled back to Lynden, WA to spend the night and and then traveled to the Eastern side of Spokane to spend the night at a Walmart. I had not looked for the signs but we were snuggled in and soundly asleep only to be rudely and loudly awakened and informed that we would have to leave. There is a City ordinance against “boon docking” presumably to protect the local motels and campgrounds. My message is to check and make sure boon docking is allowed.. Not all Walmarts allow boon docking. And, when they do allow, be courteous, buy supplies there and leave NO trash.
Joe Sesto says
I ran into the same city ordinance ban in Flagstaff, AZ late at night, but there were red warning signs all over the WM lot. Fortunately, there is a Camping World outside city limits with an open road side unpaved parking lot literally in the middle of nowhere. It probably could have qualified as wilderness boondocking, except for their store.
We did something similar in a small town out in nowhere land. It was July 4th and looking to stay overnight. Flagged down a passing patrol car, and the officer was most helpful directing us to a very nice nearby town park, and he said it would be quiet all night as he would make certain of it….and it was very peaceful with no firework booms to break the silence.
Now when in an unfamiliar place, will do the same…..ask a cop!
Very informative and thank you.
Vanessa Simmons says
Last week I left Portland headed to MT. I started having tow vehicle problems west of Spokane. I tried to find a space there but no luck. I went on knowing that Dave Smith was on the other side in Kellogg. I limped into The Blue Anchor RV Park in Osburn ID (8 miles east). Ended up having to have tow towed into Kellogg and spent 4 nights at the park. The manager drove me to town when my vehicle was ready. Other than it being like pulling teeth to get the service department to communicate with me the service was ok and the people in Osburn were great.
Norma Peters says
Great article. We have had tow vehicle problems a few times but were lucky enough to be right near a campground when we did. But now we know what to do when it happens in the middle of nowhere. We will be spending a lot of time in Idaho in the future since that is where my son lives. Thanks for the great advise.
Carol Martz says
Great story. I would not have thought to ask the police. Thanks so much for writing it.
Bill Hamilton says
Common sense really… Church parking lots are almost always empty during the week and there may or may not be a manse attached to the property where the minister lives.. Ask cops and firefighters (smoke eaters) .
Joe Sesto says
We pulled into Jackson, WY late at night and found a large market parking lot with a few RVs, mostly Van types and a tiny TT, parked on the perimeter.. (We had scounted the local RV parks and they were all full.) There were no signs prohibiting overnight parking and the market was the principal of several tenants. So I called the police non-emergency number and was connected to the on duty patrol Sgt. .. He said it would be up to the mgr. of the market when they opened in the morning, but the Sgt. would not get involved….and there was no local overnight restriction. I asked where it would be safe and he suggested a truck pull out just outside town. Something that he said about not getting involved troubled me. When I pulled outt of the lot…he slowly drove by..
I don’t understand. Is there more to this story? It looks like the whole story wasn’t displayed.
Yeah, NO WAY was that just a routine patrol officer
We had tow vehicle issues at the end of the day and needed service in the morning. We were allowed to overnight in the dealership’s lot and we were fixed and on our way by 9:30 AM.
Paul Goldberg says
We are experienced dry campers. In Talkeetna Alaska we noted that parking on Main St was listed in Daysenddirectory.com as available for free overnight parking. I parked at the curb – 36 motorhome with car in tow – and went into the NPS visitor center and asked. The comment was its town property we have no say. Stayed the the night. Also in Alaska I noted plenty of room by the entrance sign to Wrangle St Elias NP visitor center. While speaking to the rangers, I mentioned we were planning on staying there. One of them got very upset at the idea. Since it was not park land I ignored her and had a pleasant night. One more, in deep south LA along the coast we were running out of daylight and had no idea where to spend the night when I spotted a wide turnout on the road that had been used during construction. Eased the coach off the road so were 20 feet or so from the roadway. The only traffic we saw was a police vehicle that cruised on by without even slowing.
We traveled a lot by motorcycle so we would contact the police department for safe area and decent motel, can’t trust website got burned a couple times. They were always very helpful
JANET FOLKERTS says
Contacting the local chamber of commerce will let you know if there are friendly local businesses you may park on their lot, or where a city or county park is, or which churches would allow overnight parking.