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Opinion: Will Walmart ‘camping’ become thing of the past?

Opinion: Will Walmart ‘camping’ become thing of the past?

By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report

As soon as I heard news that a gunfight had broken out near where RVers park overnight at a Walmart in Cottonwood, Ariz., I knew they would ban RV parking before the end of the month. It might not take that long.

According to news reports, which you can read by clicking here, Walmart officials are meeting with local police today to decide the best course of action to ban RVers from overnight parking. My guess the perk ends tonight.

As it should.

Walmart is a great place for getting groceries and other supplies at very reasonable prices. I am a near-exclusive Walmart shopper when traveling. And I can absolutely see the value in people who travel long distances in short periods of time pulling into a Walmart after dark to catch some rest before moving on in the morning. But, Walmart is not a campground.

Unfortunately, some die-hard cheapskates seem to think it is. “The current situation outside the store is a concrete jungle campground, where some campers call the parking lot home for days,” News Net 5 noted.

So, what turned out to be a wonderful perk offered by Walmart to RV owners everywhere, will  come to an end because some idiots opt to use Walmart as a campground, rather than as a safe place to park an RV for a few hours to catch some sleep before restocking supplies and continuing their journeys.

Nope, some RVers have to extend the slideouts, turn on the generator, pull out the awning, fire up the barbecue grill, lay down the patio mats and sit around in their chairs watching TV for days complaining about how much campgrounds cost.

If Quartzsite is the mecca for RVers who enjoy long-term, low-cost camping, what is Walmart?  It must be the holy grail for tightwads if they want to live more than 10 hours in a commercial parking lot.

Following this incident, my guess is that Walmart’s lawyers are already burning up the phone lines and sending certified letters to store managers throughout the country explaining that they can no longer offer overnight RV parking to its guests. The risk is simply too great. Who wants RVers with guns harassing employees and customers?

If the insurance companies aren’t delivering that message, city halls are going to take up the issue to keep “trailer trash” out of their communities.

It is so sad that a few morons have to ruin a good deal for everyone.

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a freelance writer and podcaster who has been writing about the RV industry since 2000. He is the former editor of RV Daily Report.


  1. The suspect’s vehicle is not a Suburban or an SUV, it is clearly a Jayco Melborne Class C RV, possibly the 23′ model, and from the looks of the outside, it appears to be spotless, almost brand new. Tight quarters for 9 adults, but the exterior appearance is very upscale.

  2. I don’t understand why the manager of the store didn’t just call the police and have them make them move. If someone stays more than overnight, that is what they should do. We have only stayed in a Sam’s Club parking lot once, but were gone early the next morning.

  3. Greg, I liked your article about the Walmart issue, but the point has been missed. You are right about the fact that Walmart is not an RV park or campground. Health laws are clear. You must have a permit to be a campground and allow any kind of camper to stay overnight. Health Departments are not enforcing the law. To be a campground by law exist for very good reasons for public safety such as having a dump station, having restrooms within 500 ft., having safety equipment nearby, etc. How does Walmart get away with following the laws? Sure, if you wish to stop during the day for supplies and maybe get some rest for a few hours, no big deal. But overnight is not the plan. If Walmart is looking for major liability issues, they have created one big one. The attorneys will soon be lining up. If Walmart is trying to be everything for everyone, post a list of the nearby campgrounds.

  4. I find the thoughts that in some way Walmart is an RV Park or Campground a misrepresentation of facts. I have “over-nighted” at a Walmart. I parked my totally self contained rig on their paved parking lot. I have done this in the company of other RVs. I have also done this with Walmart long haul trucks. I have slept in State rest stops and truck stops too. Frankly, when I am going from A to B I have little to no interest fooling around, in and out of RV Parks or Campgrounds to sleep one night. I find such locations a great convenience to us and a time saver. Health Department? Are you for real? It seems that the few abuse and spoil for us all, sadly. Oh, and I must put my bedroom slide out about a foot or so to get into bed. I think Walmart made a smart policy for parking lot use in off hours. I thank them for their support of RVs. Those who have “commented” will be pleased to know this use is banned in many cities and counties as locals strive to force RV Park use. I completely agree that no one should “camp” in a parking lot; any parking lot.

  5. I feel you should support your local campgrounds. One day you might wake up and find out the only option you have is it to sleep in a Walmart parking lot. If is always funny seeing motorhomes that have dumped their waste in the parking lots. Go through a truck stop and see how filthy those places are and you will realize what Walmart will become. Trash, pee bottles, condoms, needles, and so much more. Happy Camping

    • I think campers at Walmart are a bit different than the truck stop campers. Not to bad mouth truck drivers as a whole but stuff does happen at truck stops that I don’t believe will happen at Walmart parking lots.

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