Boondocking in Commercial Parking Lots

Boondocking in Commercial Parking Lots

Boondocking in commercial parking lots has become very common for RV travelers in all areas of the country.  These are establishments such as Wal-Mart, Cabela’s, casino locations and the likes.  The majority of these dry camping stays are only for a short overnight period, arriving late and leaving early.  In many cases, the RV traveler shops or at least spends a few dollars at the business at that location.

Because these businesses are so RV-friendly and supportive, it is only fitting that we give them some of our business, as well as not abuse this offering.  Unfortunately, there are people that do not adhere to that model.  These people will spoil it for all as has happened in some areas.  Let’s look at some of the do and don’ts of RV dry docking on private property.

  • Do: Confirm with the management of the property that your overnight stay is allowed.
  • Do:  Park in a safe area away from the busy section of the lot.
  • Do: Patronize the establishment.
  • Do Not: Employ your levelling jacks.  We have all seen the damage to the asphalt these cause.
  • Do Not: Disconnect your trailer or car and leave to visit other local attractions.
  • Do Not: Deploy awnings, set up deck chairs or BBQ.  This is not a campground.

Of course there are more, but generally it just requires common sense and courtesy.

While generally these properties are patrolled by security personnel, they are not responsible for any vehicles parked overnight.  Their responsibilities are only to the business and its assets.   Therefore, you must be mindful of securing your own property.

The use of slide-outs or pop-outs may be restricted in busy locations.  If a less busy area allows for their use, it is wise to only extend one side, preferable over a non-parking location such as a grass median.  Be aware that some of these overnight stays can be noisy, particularly ones like casinos as patrons come and go seemingly all night long.

So, treat these overnight stays as just that, one night.  This is a privilege and should be treated with the respect that goes along with it.   If we all do, these “ports in a storm” will continue to welcome us.  Enjoy!

Leave a Reply


  1. Thank you for your comments. Although some RV travelers use public lots for overnight stops, Good Sam Camping recommends that you stay in a campground or RV park for a comfortable, safe and enjoyable RV outing.

  2. Always thank them! This is a privelege, not a right!

  3. Always thank them! This is a privelege, not a right!

  4. Carol Andrews

    In most cases we who boondocks in these locations are arriving after 10/11 pm or later and leave early in the am. These are ports between those stays at campgrounds…

  5. Just remember that is there parking lot NOT yours. Its nice to have a safe place to stay Please follow the rules! !:-)

  6. Sandra Waldman

    yes, they do, but if you are rushing to get someplace and just need to sleep a few hours and buy some food there is no harm in stopping at a Walmart etc.

  7. The worst offenders I've seen are Quebecers!

  8. Campgrounds owners need our support!

  9. These rules are just common since…please do not ruin it for those that know how to play by the rules…..