Walmart RV Parking, When Your Boondocking Plans Fail

Tonight I’m taking advantage of Walmart RV parking. You never know what the road will bring. One of the best things about a new adventure is not knowing what you’ll discover, but sometimes we find ourselves unprepared for those things that come our way. If your boondocking plans have failed and you don’t want to stay in a campground, there’s an alternative: Walmart!

Walmart RV Parking

This is the first time in nearly nine years of RV travel I have dry camped in a Walmart parking lot. You might just enjoy this new experience more than you thought possible.

We departed Saint David, Arizona this morning with a boondocking destination in mind. We also had two additional locations just in case.

walmart rv parking

Our first destination was just east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. We planned to stay at Sierra Vista BLM. It was a beautiful area and I was so excited to have the mountains as part of my view for the next few days.

Unfortunately, the area was completely full. I’m sure we just arrived too late in the day. Not far down the same road, we checked out Baylor Canyon. I could see campers in the distance so I turned in and drove forward a couple of hundred feet and came to a really bad spot in the road which I choose not to attempt.

dry camping

I’ve mentioned to you multiple times that I’m not a stellar backer-upper but I managed to back all the way out. It took a LONG time but I did it. Onward to the third spot I had lined up, Baylor Pass Trail Head parking. It was also full enough that I didn’t even pull in.

Etiquette for Walmart RV Parking/Dry Camping

If Walmart or another store allows you to stay the night, be courteous and observe the following;

  • Don’t overstay your welcome. One night is the limit unless you have been given approval for more.
  • Dispose of your trash properly.
  • Park out of the way, along the edges of the parking lot or near the back. Be sure the deliver trucks can get through.
  • Don’t get your gear out and set up camp.

More and more businesses have stopped allowing campers to dry camp in their parking lots because some just don’t follow these basic courtesies.

dry camping at walmart

Where to Park

Choosing a place to part can be tricky. If the store designates a specific area, please park there. I find my rig has a magnetic force and actually draws people to park as close as possible. If I park along a curb, I pull in and turn my wheels away from the curb, continuing forward a little. This makes it easier to get out if someone parks too close. I also find, if you have a curb behind you and you can back close enough, nobody and get behind you.

Either way, leave yourself some room to maneuver if someone blocks you in. I often see people put those orange cones out to give a visual of “their” space. While I don’t have any orange cones, I’ve thought of getting some.

In the above picture, there was space between me and the other RV but when I woke up, there was a car parked between us. It was tight getting out.

That is how I came to be spending the night in a Walmart parking lot. Oh well, I needed groceries anyway. If you end up in a Walmart parking lot at some point, make sure you check to see if it’s OK with the store or city. If you see signs posted warning against camping, don’t. You’ll most likely hear a knock on your door in the middle of the night asking you to move along.

You might also enjoy, Boondocking and Dry Camping Successfully.

Boondocking and Dry Camping Successfully

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8 thoughts on “Walmart RV Parking, When Your Boondocking Plans Fail”

  1. That scene of the mountains is gorgeous. Will you be heading out to some of those areas earlier in the daytime soon to get a spot before they fill up? What time of day would you recommend getting to a boondocking area in order to get a space?

    1. juley.torkomian

      Hi Karen,
      I left New Mexico this morning. I had a run of unfortunate events that sent me packing back to Arizona. I’ll write about it soon.
      I feel like arriving at boondocking spots in the early afternoon is the best time. Those who are leaving have done so and most of the new campers haven’t arrived yet. It was getting pretty late when I arrived. I think it was around 6PM.

  2. We have been full time for almost eight years. I had big plans to boondock exclusively, but my oxygen concentrator uses so much energy i would’ve needed
    8 batteries and about 1500 watts of solar to keep up.
    We still like to boondocks and Walmart are fine when we travel needing one night.

    We mostly do parks for extended stays, but only places with big lots. I would love more boondocking, but the cost of solar systems and batteries combined with weekly moves for tank flushing was prohibitive.

    We’ve stayed overnight at dozens of Walmart, always interesting!

    1. juley.torkomian

      Hi Dave,
      My late husband had an oxygen concentrator and they are power hogs.
      I’m cautious about business parking lots and like to check out the neighborhood first. Camping alone requires me to consider things I wouldn’t normally think about. Keep on Wallydocking!!

  3. First, let me say we hate RV parks. We can afford them. Just don’t like them. Either too crowded or too expensive…of both. So, we often boondock in our Class A 37 foot motorhome. And boondocking by our definition includes occasional stays in Wal-Mart parking lots. We have been full-time RVers for 6 years. And even though we now have property in Arizona, it is RV oriented and we live in our motorhome during the winter. The rest of the year, we’re on the road. We will no doubt stay in Wal-Mart lots on occasion. We have an app that tells us which Wal-Marts allow it, and which do not. And when we stay there, we always shop there.

    1. juley.torkomian

      Ed, I feel the same way about campgrounds. It was sure handy to have that Walmart as an option and now that I’ve done it, I may just do it again.

  4. You can do anything if you can back a trailer up a couple hundred feet. I haven’t dry camped at a Walmart but I did at a Cracker Barrel 20 miles from my home just to see how it felt. Safe and a full tummy!
    I am enjoying your blog

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