Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Hawaii, Saskatchewan, Washington, Tennessee, British Columbia, South Dakota… just some of the RV plates I saw in Wal-Mart’s parking lot this morning (I’m still scratching my head, how do they drive from Hawaii?). No matter. Today’s post is about Wal-Mart camping.
I read an article on Levonne’s Meanderings… about a couple who left their old life behind and have made a living out of RVing. I followed the links to their website and saw a link to Un-friendly RV communities. I clicked it to find out if Montana had any unfriendly RV towns. Honestly, I did not expect to find any. Camping is a popular recreation for Montanans and even though people here get paid chicken feed, they own some pretty snazzy RV’s. But, lo and behold, according to “Gypsy Journal”, the city of Billings used to have a ban on overnight parking in Walmart’s lot as well as other business lots. Apparently, it was due to the urgings of a local campground owner. Perhaps the proprietor thought free camping in parking lots was digging into his business and convinced the city that it should be banned. After many complaints from the RV community, the ban was rescinded. RVer’s can now park and rest in parking lots for up to 10 hours. Not so in Missoula, though, overnight parking is not allowed anywhere except in established campgrounds.
As I was enlightening myself to all of this, I was picturing the southwest corner of the Kalispell Wal-Mart parking lot. It‘s been filled with plenty of RV‘s this summer and sort of resembles a concrete campground. For years, I’ve had the impression that Walmart is RV friendly, so I finally decided to do some research into Wal-Mart camping. I’m not sure how up to date this information is but here is what I found.
- Walmart operates 1,494 discount stores, 1,386 Supercenters, and 532 Sam’s Clubs. Most allow Rver’s to stay overnight in their parking lots. Let’s say 9 out of 10.
- Staying overnight in Wal-Mart’s parking lot is absolutely free. Wal-Mart extends good will and in turn you’ll probably be a happy camper and go inside the store and buy food and supplies.
- You do not have to ask permission to stay overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots, but should be mindful of signs prohibiting it. They will be posted at various locations around the perimeter of the Wal-Mart parking lot. Some cities have ordinances that do not allow overnight stays in parking lots. You may be asked to leave, evicted in the middle of the night, or receive a citation if you are parking where prohibited.
- Long stays are not encouraged. Living and working from Wal-Mart’s parking lot is a no-no. Don’t ruin it for everyone. It is intended for the road weary traveler to get a good nights rest and then move on.