7 Ways To Overnight Legally And Stay Safe When Camping At Walmart

Kelly Headshot

By Kelly Beasley

Do all Walmarts allow overnight RV parking? Most do. However, some DO NOT permit camping at Walmart.

But how do you know if it's legal and safe to park your rig in Walmart store parking lots for the evening?

We've got you covered. Here you will learn:

  • Does Walmart allow overnight parking?
  • Overnight etiquette.
  • How to make sure you are allowed to stay overnight at Walmart.
  • Why at some Walmarts, free RV parking overnight isn't legal.
  • How to stay safe.
  • Do's and don'ts of Walmart camping.
Idaho Falls Walmart store front

No matter what you're driving, you can legally (and safely) park overnight for free at most Walmarts across the country.

Here are seven things you must know about camping overnight at Walmart.

The Dyrt Logo
The Dyrt App Screenshot

Camp Addict recommends The Dyrt Pro!

Our favorite way to find camping locations.

  • Get reservations at sold out campgrounds
  • 5,000 free camping location collection
  • 1,000 discounted campgrounds
  • Pay $0 extra booking fees

Try PRO for free today, no strings attached.

The Dyrt Logo

Camp Addict recommends The Dyrt Pro!

Our favorite way to find camping locations.

  • Get reservations at sold out campgrounds
  • 5,000 free camping location collection
  • 1,000 discounted campgrounds
  • Pay $0 extra booking fees

1. How To Make Sure Walmart RV Parking Is Legal

At some Walmarts (mostly big-city and popular destinations), you cannot sleep in the parking lot overnight, not in a car, not in motorhome campers, and not in a travel trailer.

This is most often due to city ordinances. It's best to call and find out if staying overnight is allowed before you drive hundreds of miles to get to that Walmart location.

Otherwise, scan the lot for signs stating NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING or similar.

No loitering sign

2. Only Stay One Night!

This is a strict rule not to break. When people do, they usually break other rules, too, causing the city to ban overnight stays. Don't overstay your welcome while boondocking at Walmart!

3. Bring Your Earplugs

This likely won't be a quiet and serene stay. Vehicles are coming and going. If you're a light sleeper, you may not do well. Bring your earplugs and try to park where the least amount of traffic is going. Even so, you might wake up in the middle of the night with a semi-tractor (or motorhome) right next to you with an engine or generator running all night.

Airstream parked at Walmart

4. Be Alert While Sleeping At Walmart

If you're going to be Walmart parking lot camping, use common sense and intuition. Most Walmarts that allow free camping are in reasonably safe areas. Still, there are jerks up to no good ANYWHERE in the country.

The more populated the area, the more likely crime happens.

Lock all doors. Bring bikes inside if you can.

Use your common sense, and if you feel uneasy, leave. It's that simple.

5. Park With Others When Camping At Walmart

Either go in and ask the manager where you should park or park where all the other RVers are. Every Walmart RV parking policy is pretty similar, in our experience.

They pretty much want rigs as far from the store as possible. If there are many recreational vehicles there when you arrive, it's probably pretty safe to park within that crowd.

RV group walmart camping

Group of RVs camping at Walmart

6. Things That Are Frowned Upon While Boondocking At Walmart

Here is a list of things you should avoid doing when you are Walmart car camping or RV camping at Walmart:

  • Don't put slide-outs out if possible.
  • Don't put levelers down- often puts divots in the pavement.
  • No grilling/putting out chairs/hanging outside your camper.
  • Don't leave your pet's poo. Pick it up.
  • Don't run a generator all night.
  • No dumping your waste tanks in the parking lot (I shouldn't have to list this one, but you'd be surprised).

7. DO Patronize The Walmart

It's free RV camping. The store has groceries and almost everything you need for your camping trip.

So buy something as a thank you. It's common courtesy.

Walmart produce

Plenty of produce and other products to be had, so stock up!

As you can see, Walmart overnight camping is free, easy, and safe. Just follow a few simple courteous rules, and you should be set! Here are some frequently asked questions about parking a camper at Walmart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do They Allow Overnight RV Parking At Walmart?

Good ol' Sam Walton wanted his recreational vehicle customers to have a place to stop for the night when traveling, so he allowed overnight RV parking at Walmart.

Sam Walton

Sam Walton

Walmart sees RVers as great customers of the store, and they have welcomed us for a long time.

How To Know If A Walmart Allows Overnight Parking:

  • Store Managers: Call the Walmart in question and ask the manager. The manager SHOULD know about local restrictive ordinances. Even if a Walmart allows overnight parking, the city might not.
  • Local Laws: Check local city ordinances for restrictive parking overnight policies. (Usually, it's easy as there will probably be signs stating "No overnight parking" in the Walmart parking lot.)
  • AllStays App: "Allstays Camp and RV" is an app that allows you to filter for Walmarts that do and don't allow free camping at their business. Read the recent reviews for any particular store to find out what people posted about staying.
  • Google Maps: If you want to find nearby participating Walmarts, use Google Maps. Enter "Walmart" in the search bar. Get the phone number of the store you're interested in and call to ask.
Google Maps Walmart locations

Screenshot of Google Maps Walmart search

As you can see, this privilege varies from store to store. Walmart's corporate website says this about their Walmart RV policy:

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 lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on the availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.

There you have it.

Always contact the Walmart you're considering before you try RV or car camping at Walmart. (Honestly, most people never call. We usually just check Allstays to be sure free overnight camping is allowed).

Walmart stores that are more rural are less likely to have any restrictions.

Can You Sleep In Your Car At Walmart?

Is it legal to sleep in your car at a Walmart? Yes, you can sleep in any vehicle for one night as long as the location you're looking at allows it, and the local ordinances don't prohibit it.

Fort Walton Beach Walmart parking lot

Are There Rules For Sleeping In A Walmart Parking Lot?

Yes, there are codes of conduct and rules you should abide by as their guest.

Escapees have their good neighbor policy that covers most of it.

1. Stay one night only!

2. Obtain permission from a qualified individual.

3. Obey posted regulations.

4. No awnings, camping chairs, or barbecue grills.

5. Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).

6. Always leave the area cleaner than you found it.

7. Purchase gas, food, or supplies as a form of thank you from the RV-friendly Walmarts, when feasible.

8. Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe while Walmart RV camping.

Remember, you are not CAMPING in a Walmart parking lot. It's not a lifestyle. It's simply a place to sleep while you are traveling to a new destination.

Idaho Falls Walmart parking lot

Where Should I Park At The Walmart Stores?

Each Walmart RV parking set of rules is different. Your first indication is to look where the other RVs are parked. If you want to be sure, go inside and ask.

Staying near the front of the store at Walmart is never permitted. Most likely you will be asked to park on the outer perimeter of the parking lot.

Other Free Parking Alternatives

Walmart is not the only business allowing overnight parking. There are others that sometimes allow guests as well.

Here are some popular parking alternatives that might work for you.

Kellys rig at Lowes

Kelly's very first night as a full-timer on the road. She rejected campgrounds from the beginning. So, Lowe's it was!

  • Flying J
  • Pilot
  • Other truck stops/large gas stations (Learn about truck stop overnight parking etiquette.)
  • Cabelas parking lots (ask to park)
  • Cracker Barrel (ask to park)
  • Camping World parking lots (ask to park)
  • Some large shopping centers (ask to park)
  • Rest areas with large spots (Check each stop. Rules vary by state.)

100% Legal (And Safer) Alternatives To Staying Overnight At Walmart

Parking overnight at Walmart is free, but it's not the quietest or most serene stay.

If you want something quieter or with hookups, here are some possibilities.

These RV club memberships allow overnight stays (and sometimes longer).

They all charge for membership, though one or two nights' stay will pay for itself compared to regular campground fees.

  • Harvest Hosts- Usually only one night. You're required to patronize the business. The good news is many are breweries, wineries, or distilleries.
  • Boondockers Welcome- Park at other people's private properties. Limits are usually 1- 5 nights. Sometimes hookups are available for a fee.
  • Passport America- Discount campground membership. It offers half-price on many campgrounds across the country. Limitations exist, such as times of year, weekends, and length of stay.
Boondockers Welcome campsite

Kelly and Marshall's very first Boondockers Welcome stay in Kalispell, MT - Summer 2019

There are many options for the RV traveler to stay for the night.

Walmart camper parking is just one of many.

But parking at Walmart overnight is free and easy, with no reservation required, which is why it's my favorite quick-stop option when traveling long distances.

Conclusion

Free overnight Walmart parking still exists, but locations allowing it are on the decline due to overcrowding and users abusing the Walmart camping rules.

Obey the good neighbor policies and use your head as far as what not to do.

Generally, you are safe if you use common sense when Walmart overnight RV parking.

You're better off/safer when boondocking in the sticks than you ever are in a parking lot. Still, it's easy, convenient, and free to sleep at Walmarts that allow RV parking.

Bonus- you can arrive at night, and the place will be lit up! This allows for more travel time during the evening than if you tried to find a spot on public land.

Sleeping at Walmart- is it for you? Give it a try. Let us know in the comments about your Walmart overnight parking experience!

  • If you found this information helpful, check out our other articles about RVing and camping etiquette here on Camp Addict.
Kelly Headshot

I dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 6.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road.

  • After reading this I’ve come to the conclusion you are a complete KAREN. It’s a free country. I’ll camp however I want. Not putting slides out. Fucking ridiculous. πŸ™„

    • That’s just it. You’re not CAMPING at Walmart. They are doing you a favor. To get all cozy and to ‘camp’ there is not warranted. This is why city ordinances in more and more places are disallowing anyone to sleep in any kind of vehicles in town, even at Walmarts. It’s partly a homeless problem and partly a problem with people that feel like they have some sort of privilege and do whatever they want to despite the rules.

      If you cannot get to your bed without putting out a slide, then do it with the slide over a grass area. Try not to take up space that otherwise could be used by another RV, car, etc. But the main point here is to NOT use it as a campground and don’t get all comfortable. You’re there to sleep then move on. Do not stay more than one night. Arrive late and leave early. It’s common sense, but many do not seem to understand this.

  • I know people who actually live in Walmart parking lots for the last 10 years in their RV. Imagine all the savings in rent money

    • Hi Ken,

      Yep, we’re not surprised. It happens.

      These are the people that ruin it for everyone else, if they are caught/seen/are a nuisance/scaring off customers/or look like they are obviously living there (i.e. doing full vehicle repairs, leaving trash around, ‘setting up camp’, etc). It can be done in an acceptable manner, if they are always on the move and not staying overnight more than one night in a given month or so.

      But with the worst offenders they either stay multiple nights at the same one, or pop around the same ones in a given area. And usually with scary-looking, trashy rigs. Just as many boondocking spots have been shut down due to overcrowding and people breaking the stay limit and other rules, more and more Walmarts will be forced to disallow overnight parking from customer complaints about these types of offenders.

      I’m glad I did my full-time RVing when I did. A couple of my favorite places have been since shut down or offer limited use now due to overcrowding, trash, and overstaying. And more shutdowns and limitations are bound to come.

  • The folks abuse privileges such as this are who ruin it for all. I have seen folks with awnings out, chairs set up generators set up with all the slides out. I even saw this at a rest area once, occupying three parking places. This is why so many states limit time in rest areas now. Lets all thank the abuser for ruining it for the rest of us!!

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment. Yeah, there are plenty of places where things have been shut down for everyone just because of some inconsiderate or obstinate humans.

      All we can do on our end is to try to educate those who are in the wrong. I have little faith that a blog post or a comment section will change any of the really bad apples, but at least we can educate newbies.

      This doesn’t only pertain to the RV industry, it’s across the board with anything and everything humans do. Some ruin things for all of the others.

      Just don’t be one of them, and maybe we can collectively try to educate others so they might change their ways.

  • Hi Kelly – My wife and I are putting together a one-way relocation trip with Cruise America, Portland to Phoenix. The bulk of the trip will take place in Oregon, California and Arizona. Given the current COVID-19 issues, we’re concerned that overnight parking/camping options might be severely limited. Do you have any insight?

    • Hi Joe,

      Ever since the lockdown, both Marshall and myself have stayed put, so we don’t have real-life experience with this never-before-seen in our lifetime situation. My best advice to you would be to plan the route and call ahead to the establishments you are planning to overnight at to find out their current rules and to ask for permission.

      That would be your safest bet. California is likely going to be your most challenging state. Call ahead. It’s your best bet. You can go for truck stops, big gas stations, big box stores, restaurants, churches, and more.

      One last attempt would be to join Boondockers Welcome. With BW you get guaranteed stays.

      Good luck!

    • I am homeless and am a clean Van dweller, I have 4 Walmart store’s I want to get permission to park overnight at, at different night shuffling, Belmont n.c.,mtn. Island, two in Gastonia, please help me, some jerk keeps running me off,.
      I make two purchases a day at either store thanks

      • Hi Carroll,

        We are sorry to hear of your plight. Hopefully there are programs in your town(s) that can help if you need a job or other resources for assistance.

        We simply cannot support one bouncing from Walmart to Walmart. Walmart stores are not to be used as living space.

        They are kindly made available for campers traveling to or from a camping destination. To stay more than one night/bouncing from store to store is frowned upon. More and more Walmarts have been closed to overnight stays because of this problem.

        If you need to stay in the area you could try going to different places each night- side streets maybe, each night.

        Oh, have you looked into Workamping or Workers On Wheels? This is where you work at a campground in exchange for living there. It could be the perfect option for you! Call local campgrounds or look up listings on the internet.

        Also, there’s a site called Workaway.com. Again, you exchange work for staying at someone’s property. Some have living quarters, you wouldn’t have to live in your van.

        Again, we hate to hear that you are without a secure place to live. But we also don’t support using Walmarts parking lots for living.

        It’s an unfortunate situation. We suggest looking into Workamping and Workaway. And maybe look into government assistance of some kind.

        Good luck and stay safe!

      • I understand your situation but this group and those with experience have made it clear, Walmart is NOT a permanent solution to being homeless. Imagine if every homeless person schemed it out as you have….every Walmart would be full. Their parking is 1ST for THEIR CUSTOMERS. No matter that you buy 2 things, you can’t expect 2 cooked chicken wings or a pop and a bag of chips to cover your nightly use of some Walmart parking lot. Its not for us to LIVE there. Maybe if you asked the manager if a couple nights in a row now and again might be ok but even then it’s a slippery slope as others will see you doing it and we ALL have “special circumstances” in our eyes. No, stick to their generous offer of a night and move on. You are only going to get into a vicious rut by relying on Walmart EVERY NIGHT. When would you stop this? 1 year? 3 years? You simply need to sort out a better permanent arrangement for yourself and it’s not Walmart. I wish you luck but PLEASE play by the rules or we all loose. Do you have anyone with a back yard or just any other option? I think it’s nice to give the people a little something too. Having “us” their daily and nightly is an imposition afterwhile even if they are too kind to say so. Don’t be a user. I know how tough it is but you’ll feel much better about yourself if you don’t try to cheat or use others.
        Best of luck.

        • This couldn’t be more spot on. Thank you, Rita, and we sure hope you find some relief from your situation.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >