Camping in an RV is a fun way to travel the country, but it’s not always possible to find a spot at a campground. While the locations on this list won’t have all the amenities you’re used to, they’re great places to park and camp for a night.
Can You Park at a Store Overnight?
Yes, you can park at many stores overnight. The stores on this list have made it known that they welcome RVs and car campers to park in their lots. The 24-hour stores offer more safety than other options. If you don’t see a store on this list, you can always ask for permission while you’re on the road.
Asking first shows the stores that you’re being courteous and not just taking advantage of their space. Some stores don’t allow overnight parking because of safety and liability concerns. But asking is a great strategy because you might get permission, even if the store doesn’t publicly broadcast that they allow campers to park.
What Stores Allow Overnight RV Parking?
Several stores allow overnight RV parking at their locations across the United States. These include Walmart, Costco, Home Depot and more.
When you take advantage of the space these stores offer, consider giving them your business as well. If you need to stock up on supplies, go into the stores, or eat a meal at the restaurants to show your appreciation.
Walmart was one of the first stores to welcome overnight guests into their parking lots. These days, most stores still allow RV parking, but it depends on the area. City and county ordinances always overpower the store’s policy. If you want to park at Walmart, it’s best to find one away from the busy city center, as a rural area is more likely to have lax governance about parking.
Sam’s Club is a Walmart entity, so it’s not surprising that they allow overnight RV parking as well. This store requires a membership, so it might be harder for you to go in to get some supplies. But you don’t have to be a member to eat in their food court, so you could enjoy a hot meal before you hit the road again.
Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops allows overnight RV parking, but you might need to check at each store to see where they want you to park. Some ask you to stay in specific areas to not block prime spaces or the entrance.
Cabela’s allows RVs to park overnight in their lots and they also have dump stations. Certain locations give you a free dump code when you buy something. If you don’t need any supplies, you can just pay to get a dump code. This feature is a nice benefit for parking lot camping since it gives you a chance to lighten your load.
Camping World is a store that rents and sells RVs, so they’re a great place to park overnight and stock up on relevant supplies. They offer RV services on-site, so you can get a tune-up if needed. When you search their locations, you can see if they allow overnight parking under the “RV Services” heading.
Like Sam’s Club, Costco is a store that requires a membership to shop inside. You even have to have a membership to gas up at their fuel stations. You can’t even get a meal from the food court without a membership, so it might be worth the investment to save money in the long run. Not all locations allow overnight parking, but many do.
Parking at Cracker Barrel is amazing because you’re on-site for your next great meal, whether you want a big dinner before you hunker down, or want a delicious breakfast before you take off.
Some Cracker Barrels have small parking lots, but the newer buildings typically have bigger lots with spaces earmarked for RV parking. This feature is under “Amenities” when you search for locations.
Home Depot allows overnight RV parking. It’s a good store to visit because you can get the goods you might need to work on your RV or keep it nice inside.
Lowe’s stores allow overnight RV parking in general, but some can’t because of their city’s ordinances. The best way to find out for sure is to call and talk to the manager.
Planet Fitness and other 24-hour gyms allow overnight RV parking in their lots. There are always people coming and going, and security patrols the lots so you’ll feel safe. It’s often possible to get a free or cheap day pass so you can use the gym facilities as well as take a shower inside.
Things to Consider Before Parking Your RV at a Store Overnight
When you park at a store overnight, you’re the company’s guest, so you want to follow some tips to ensure you’re doing everything right.
If the store isn’t one of those listed above, ask permission before you park. It’s always better to go in and ask instead of just parking and hoping no one asks questions. The worst that can happen is they say no, and that might be due to a safety concern, so don’t take it personally.
Arrival and Departure Times
Even when you’re parking in lots that allow RVs, be courteous with your arrival and departure times. Arrive later at night, when there will be fewer people shopping. You don’t want to block parking spots for paying customers. Likewise, you should leave as early as possible to clear out of the lot and free up the spots.
Keep It Clean
Treat the parking lot just as you would a campground. That means you’re not throwing your trash on the asphalt or dumping your gray water on their property. Don’t set up lawn chairs outside and hang out in the parking lot while customers are coming and going.
A store that allows overnight RV parking is also offering your safety on your trip. You can park under a streetlight in a place off the road. The store could have cameras in the parking lot or even 24/7 security guards making the rounds.
If the store permits you to park overnight, you’re covered legally. But in some cities or counties, you can’t sleep in a store’s parking lot, even if it’s a Walmart or Home Depot as listed above. Double-check what’s legal in the city or country by checking their government website while you’re planning your trip.
Where Else Can You Park Overnight for Free?
The stores listed above are great places to park overnight, but you might not always find a location on your journey. In that case, it’s good to know other places you can park for free.
It might seem silly to park in a hotel lot when you know they’d rather you come in and rent a room, but it’s possible. They have space in their lots for RVs because many campers will splurge for a room occasionally. You can blend right in with the other parked RVs.
Convention centers, coliseums, and arenas have huge parking lots because they host major events that draw a crowd. They also need to have space for 18-wheelers of equipment and tour buses to park. You can check online calendars to see if they’re having an event, and then ask to park in a convention center parking lot on an off night.
Churches are often very welcoming of others, so you can ask to stay in their parking lot. This option is ideal for nights when they don’t have events or gatherings so you won’t be in anyone’s way.
Shopping malls are large and spread out with parking lots all around them, so you’re sure to find an out of the way spot at one. They have good lighting and usually have security patrolling all night.
Police stations are a great place to ask about where you can park overnight because they know the local laws. You never know, if they can’t recommend a place, they might let you use their lot. That would be a safe location!
Warehouses have huge parking lots for 18-wheelers to load and unload. Always ask permission before parking in a warehouse lot because you don’t want to block the way of the trucks.
Most pharmacies are 24-hour stores, so you’ll always have people and security around for safety. It’s also a great place to park because you can run in for supplies.
How to Find Free Overnight Parking Spaces Near You
There are plenty of resources available to help you find free overnight parking while you’re traveling. Some of the top apps and websites include:
Remember, you can always call or visit a store and ask personally if they’ll allow you to stay in their parking lot overnight. Some businesses might not have a public policy but will let you if you ask first.
Now that you know some of the best places to park your RV overnight, you might have a few lingering questions. These FAQs will give you the answers you’re looking for.
Is it illegal to park your RV in a store parking lot overnight?
Yes and no, depending on the area. Some cities don’t allow RV parking overnight, but the same company can allow overnight parking in a more rural area. It all depends on the local government. It’s best to look at the city government’s website or check with the store once you arrive.
Will my camper get towed if I pack at a store overnight?
If you’re at a store that allows overnight parking, and the city also says this is legal, then you won’t get towed parking overnight. That’s why it’s always good policy to ask—you want someone backing you up and saying it’s okay for you to be there! If you’re trying to park on the street or in a lot that didn’t give permission, someone might call a tow truck on you.
How safe are store parking lots at night?
Most store parking lots are very safe at night, especially if you’re at a 24-hour location that has shoppers coming in and out at all hours. If nothing else, you should have light posts to park near so you can see what’s going on around you. But many stores have cameras trained on their parking lots at night, or even a security guard making the rounds.
How long can you park in a grocery store parking lot?
If the store manager gives you permission to park in a grocery store parking lot and the city ordinances also allow it, you can park for a night or two safely. You don’t want to wear out your welcome, and you don’t want to stay parked during the day. Leave the lot so customers have plenty of parking spaces available.