Most RVers know about overnight camping at WalMart stores. Many locations around the country unofficially allow travelers to stay free overnight in their parking lots, but that free overnight camping opportunity might be coming to an end.
National WalMart Camping Ban Possible?
Last month a WalMart melee in Cottonwood, Arizona occurred between a family of roving Christian musicians, store employees and police that left one person dead and others wounded. The fatality and fracas put WalMart’s overnight camping privilege into the public eye, leaving many wondering if RVers will be permanently banned from staying overnight at WalMart locations across the U.S.
News reports indicate that this WalMart has a reputation for attracting large numbers of permanent overnighters who don’t fit the usual RVer profile. The family involved in the incident had reportedly been staying in the parking lot for several days. It served as their temporary home while living out of their SUV, busking for tips in front of the store and regularly using WalMart’s restrooms. Details about how the brawl transpired are hazy but in the end one family member died and two people were injured including a police officer.
WalMart camping is not unheard of but many locations around the U.S. do not allow overnight dry camping. Through the years irresponsible, inconsiderate overnighters have taken advantage of this privilege by treating store restrooms as private bathrooms, leaving trash, overstaying their welcome and generally behaving as if the asphalt lot is a campground. As a result of this bad behavior and recent WalMart shooting, RV industry media reports that it’s only a matter of time before even more retail stores ban overnight camping on their property.
Overnight RV Parking Etiquette Basics
Responsible RVers can do their part to keep free overnight parking lot camping alive and well. If you notice inconsiderate overnight campers at a WalMart or other big box retail store, take action. The Escapees RV Club has this downloadable “Good Neighbor Policy” flier you can download and keep handy in your rig. It states:
Industry-sanctioned Code of Conduct
(RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy)
1. Stay one night only!
2. Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
3. Obey posted regulations.
4. No awnings, chairs or barbecue grills.
5. Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).
6. Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.
7. Purchase gas, food or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.
8. Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.
9. If your plans include touring the area, staying for more than one night or necessitate conduct not within the code, please relocate to a local campground. It’s the right thing to do!