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!
This is obnoxious, they purposely spotlight a vehicle and yak that the guys sleeping. Then they fearmonger about the problem being that “nobody knows who’s inside the campers”. The fact is they all have tags on them just like any other vehicle that parks. Nobody knows whos in any of the vehicles, and its really none of their bussiness. As far as the woman who doesnt like the view: she doesnt own it and in no way pays for it. She chose to live with a view of a parking lot, not that she has any legal control over her view anyway. Who cares if someone invests in tayloring their life to be free instead of not paying, thats their bussiness and they deal with those trade offs. I dont believe I heard a valid complaint in this. Like say garbage, or noise or no parking left for others. Certainly the only wrong doing in this video was moral, like the professional fear mongering and the spotlighting of a peaceful, legal camper, and giving credence to a woman whom thinks she owns all she surveys and offers no valid complaint. So what if her son was scared? Lots of people of all kinds, good, bad, scared, medicated, black and white, go to Walmart. Some go there and get paid to fearmonger and shine spotlights on campers and yak evidently.
Unfortunately I look at all news reporting these days with a jaundice eye. It’s sad that instead of actually reporting the news, most of what we see today is biased to further an agenda, sensationalized for ratings, or both. The reporting in this article is a prime example. Plenty of commentary, all from one side of the issue. A large portion of the public are easily manipulated by this irresponsible reporting, and could easily trigger more violent encounters between a poorly served, misinformed public, and responsible RVers just trying to get a few hours of sleep.
They have taken a microscopic portion of the subjects in their hit piece, and represented them as mainstream. Makes me sick at my stomach to watch this garbage. These people no doubt consider themselves “journalists”. Since this is a family friendly web site I’ll refrain from calling them what they really are.
Colin Abbott says
When on the road and can not find a camp ground, we use Wal-Mart, we always shop at the store, park away from everyone, and often pick up garbage dropped by shoppers to lazy to place it in the garbage bins.
If everyone did the same, we would all be welcomed to stay overnight at Walmart.
If you want a miserable night stay at wally world. About once will wind you up.
William Maloney says
Wal-Mart allowing rv overnites is a Corporate hoax. Rarely, rarely can I find a store that allows overnites. Local manager electives to allow are not customer friendly, despite Corporate customer friendly kinds of statements. I’m a tired rv driver who needs a few hours of rest.
We’ve overnighted probably 25 times in WalMart lots with only one issue- so we moved to a Nearby Sam’s Club.
I agree never stay more than one night and be gone early in the morning. I see way too many putting jacks down too- bad move. Use some common sense when picking an RV parking spot also- don’t take up 12 parking spots when 6 or fewer will do.