Some of you may not know what I’m talking about, while others have lived by this code for decades. It’s luxury to some, while others would never even entertain such an idea. What exactly am I talking about? Camping in a Walmart parking lot of course!
Yup, did you know, most Walmarts allow you to sleep in their parking lots overnight?! That’s right, those RVs you see parked in the far corner of the parking lot aren’t there to buy groceries or a new TV. They are there to catch some shut-eye before they drive off on the next leg of their trip. It’s free. There’s no reservations required. Hell, you don’t even have to let the store know you’re doing it either. You just show up, get your sleeping arrangements figured out, then head to sleep! It’s that simple.
I first heard about this from my buddy Nate, from when I lived in CT, who would regularly take long road trips down south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Which meant, if he wanted to be back for work on Monday, he’d need to drive as far as he could until he reached the haven of a Walmart, sleep in the parking lot, and finish his drive the following morning. He referred to this as “Walmart B&B”. I thought it was hilarious, but something I’d never do. Why sleep in a Walmart when you could just go drive to some public land or a campground instead? Then you wouldn’t have to deal with parking lot lights always on and any punk kids messing with you at night.
Well, on our road trip up to Banff, not only did we sleep in a Walmart parking lot, we planned on it weeks in advance. See, as much as I would have liked to sleep on some BLM land, waking up to some incredible view of mountains or a lake, there just weren’t any close by. We would’ve had to drive hours out of our way, just to pull into a spot at 10pm, and leave the following day when we woke up. That just wasn’t worth the hassle. But do you know what wasn’t a hassle? A Walmart parking lot in Grand Rapids, MT.
After spending the day driving from West Yellowstone, stopping at all the sweet mountain towns along the way, we knew we weren’t going to reach a campsite until well into then night. This made the Walmart parking lot almost an Oasis by the time we arrived. The far end of the lot was empty besides a couple RVs. We found a spot under some tree cover and started our normal campsite routine to head to bed. Except, this time, we were on the blacktop, in a parking spot.
After we got everything situated, we headed into Walmart to use their facilities. Then, like it was no big deal, we headed back out to the truck to go to sleep like it was no one’s business. This was the first time sleeping in the back of the truck on the new platform I had made in the weeks prior to the trip. To be honest, it was the best night of sleep I had on the entire trip. And that includes dealing with the same truck who kept performing burn-outs in the parking lot until 1am.
So there you have it folks. Next time you’re in need of a place to sleep on a long road trip, or just need a place to crash between point A and point B, pull into a Walmart parking lot. Plus, when you wake up, you’ll have a bathroom ready for you and all the groceries you could ever need!