Can You Park Overnight at Walmart?

Can You Park Overnight at Walmart?

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Can You Park Overnight at Walmart?

Yes, overnight parking is allowed at Walmart. Walmart is a ubiquitous fixture in the American economy. With nearly 5,000 stores across the United States alone, it's not surprising that many Walmart patrons are also RVers or van-dwellers looking for an overnight stay while traveling between destinations, or just looking for a place to stretch their legs during an extended road trip. After all, who doesn't love going to Walmart?

If you're wondering if you can park overnight at Walmart, the bad news is that some Walmart stores don't allow overnight parking. The good news is that most Walmart locations do permit it. It is up to you to find out which stores allow overnight parking.

How do you find out which stores allow overnight parking?

Simple. Just look for a store manager or employee and ask them to confirm that overnight parking is allowed. I would not recommend asking them while they are on the floor of the store. There are usually better times to talk with employees about this sort of thing, like after hours.

To be sure that you're getting accurate information, you can always ask if the location allows "24-hour parking". After all, it wouldn't make sense for Walmart to allow cars to park there overnight yet prohibit RVs and vans from doing so. And remember, don't take an answer like "Well, sometimes…" as a negative; instead treat it as an affirmative with stipulations attached ("Yes, we do allow 24-hour parking except when the store is busy and we have a lot of people to get in and out").

In general, the policy for parking at Walmart varies by location. In most cases, you can park overnight in their parking lots (unless otherwise posted). However, if you're staying somewhere for more than one night or want to avoid being hassled about your parking spot by security or managers, it's best to call ahead and ask permission before pulling into a lot.

I highly recommend that you always visit the Walmart website for each location rather than relying on what someone might tell you over the phone when asked whether 24-hour camping is allowed. This way there will be no confusion about details like "Is this a corporate-owned location?".

Why is overnight parking prohibited at some Walmarts?

Well, there are a couple reason why some Walmarts prohibited overnight parking. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. Local Laws: In some cases, the Walmart parking lot is located within a city or town (like in my case). This means that you could get ticketed by the local police if you park there overnight.
  2. Security Concerns: I've been told on several occasions that 24-hour camping makes Walmart employees feel insecure about sleeping in their own vehicles at the back of their store. There have even been reports of longer-term campers acting as "lookout" for thieves, not good! Some Walmarts are simply too crowded to safely allow RVs and vans to park overnight because they're worried about traffic congestion and safety issues with blocked fire lanes, handicapped spots, etc.

Which Walmarts Allow Overnight Parking?

You will find that overnight parking is allowed at most Walmart stores. However, there may be a minority of 24-hour Walmarts where you will be asked to leave the lot after business hours.

PRO TIP: Don't ask "is overnight parking allowed?" Ask "do you have any overnight restrictions that I need to be aware of?".

  1. Walmarts that do not share property with supermarkets, pharmacies, or gas stations.
  2. Most Walmart stores where overnight parking is allowed do not share property with Kroger/Fred Meyer, CVS pharmacy, Rite Aid pharmacy or a gas station. Cities that have said yes to 24-hour Walmarts typically enforce the "big box" rule -- no big box retailer signs on to the lease in order for an exception to be made for overnight parking. This includes any kind of superstores (Costco), retail warehouses (Sam's Club) and strip malls (Target). So when you are looking at possible places where you can park overnight, this will help narrow things down right away.
  3. Walmarts that are in small towns usually allow overnight parking, and a good rule of thumb is if there's an old-school five & dime store (like Woolworth) attached, you're probably golden to park your RV there overnight. Another way to tell, see how busy the Walmart lot is at closing time. The more empty spaces are left, the better chance that someone in management is cool with overnighters.

Let's say you've found a Walmart where you can sleep overnight, now what?

  • You want to be respectful. Put up your blinkers out front when it's safe to do so and buy something small from inside the store (under $10). Be respectful to anyone that might come to the door and politely ask you to leave. Don't flip out, act up, etc.
  • It's also a good idea to keep a couple extra lights on your rig overnight so folks can see where you are in the dark , and maybe bring along an air horn or something loud because it's been known for Walmart Managers to come out at 1am-2am with some of their employees (or security guard) and create a big ruckus that could wake up everyone in the lot. So just be aware of this possibility.
  • Park you rig properly. Do not take up more space than you need. You might piss someone in management off if you just park your rig n any spot without considering the space you could have left for the next person.
  • Keep noise to a minimum. Don't blast your music and have a party in your RV at 2:00am and 3:00 am, because you might wake other Walmart campers up.

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Benefits to overnight rv parking at Walmart

There are many benefits to park your rv at Walmart overnight. Below are some of the reasons why rvers do it.

  1. It is free. The cost of overnight Walmart rv parking is free. Even if you are not shopping at Walmart, it does not matter. You can still park your motorhome there for the night while you are elsewhere doing whatever it is that you do (with or without a Walmart stop).
  2. Parking at Walmarts is safe and secure. The majority of the campers who park overnight at Walmart stores do so because they feel safer from theft and vandalism. Other perks include security systems, surveillance cameras, etc. I personally have never witnessed any theft of vehicles from a Walmart parking lot, though I have heard stories about this happening to others in the past.
  3. Before leaving the Walmart parking lot, you can get your vehicle serviced by a local repair shop or Walmart. You can also buy RV supplies at the store and have them delivered to your site via Walmart's online shopping service.
  4. You do not have to make any type of reservation. If you are worried about availability, then just go early in the morning and all the sites will be available for you to choose from.

How Many People Can Park at Walmart?

As far as how many people can sleep overnight at a Walmart parking lot, in my experience there's no limit on this. [EDITOR'S NOTE: we have heard some locations (such as in Atlanta) sometimes stop allowing overnighters after a certain number of campers.] Typically the maximum stay is 2 nights, though it depends on local laws. Some cities and/or counties only allow 1 night of overnight parking. In any case where you are unsure what the local laws are regarding camping in your area, I always suggest finding out beforehand if this is something that concerns you.

What about the "No Overnight Parking Sign"?

Some Walmarts have these signs put up. It is best to avoid any Walmart which has posted these signs.

However, a minority of Walmart stores which have this policy still allow overnight parking and RV camping. Try to be respectful when you are visiting Walmarts in your RV. We hear from people who say things like "I know it's stupid but I really wanted to go inside the Walmart so I parked my tow vehicle outside after hours." Of course, there is no way for us to verify that any given store allows overnight parking and we can't recommend people park outside the store just because an individual management team tolerates it. So don't get mad at us if they catch you doing something illegal. It's always best practice to look online before you stop at a given location; many Walmarts DO explicitly restrict parking overnight.

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

Conclusion

Walmart is a great place to park overnight, even if you are in a car or truck. Some sites have restrictions on the number of consecutive nights you can stay, but it's usually no more than 3 nights in a row. Walmart doesn't have any "full hookups" at their locations.

Just remember that not every Wal-Mart is going to allow this type of activity; you'll want to do some research prior to parking overnight outside a store lest you be caught unaware. (EDITOR'S NOTE: we recommend NEVER staying just anywhere without doing your homework first.)


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