Does Lowe’s Allow Overnight RV Parking?
Yes. At many Lowe’s locations around the United States, you are allowed to park your RV overnight in order to get some sleep before continuing on the road. This is not always going to be the case though, so don’t assume that any and every Lowe’s will host you for the night.
Keep on reading to hear my advice on securing a night of sleep at Lowe’s, and other places to park your RV overnight for free.
What to Know Before Boondocking at Lowe’s
First off, you may be wondering what this “boondocking” term means.
Boondocking refers to camping in an RV or camper without any electrical, water, or sewer connections, outside of any established campground. If you have ever slept in your RV in the parking lot of a business, you were boondocking.
So, before you attempt to boondock at a Lowe’s, give this list of tips a read and keep them in mind so you can have a smooth, peaceful experience.
Ask for Permission
The easiest way to ensure you don’t get a midnight knock on your camper door from store security or the local police is to simply ask for permission to stay overnight from the store manager.
True, they may say no and you’ll have to keep looking. But if they say yes, you can sleep easy knowing you have every right to be there. If you are going to be rolling in after store hours, try calling ahead to ask for permission.
Don’t Set Up Camp
Overnighting in the parking lot of any business is not the time to be pulling out the camp chairs and grill. When urban boondocking, it’s best to practice as much discretion as possible.
This means doing all of your hanging out, cooking, and chores inside of your rig. This is partially to draw as little attention toward yourself as possible, and partially to show respect to the business. It may give paying customers a strange impression if the parking lot of their local home improvement store looks like a national park campground.
Staying overnight in a business parking lot is not the time to be blasting music late into the morning while smoking and drinking outside your rig. Avoid these types of loud, disruptive activities, and if you want to have a drink or two before bed, just keep it within the privacy of your camper.
Patronize the Business
I know you probably won’t be needing to pick up any lumber while on a camping trip, but I suggest trying to buy at least something from the store as a sign of good faith and gratitude. This is especially true if you are boondocking at a business like a grocery store or restaurant.
Arrive Late, Leave Early
You’ll hear this term a lot if you spend enough time hanging out around full time RVers and van lifers. This phrase refers to pulling into an urban boondocking spot late at night and leaving early in the morning before most people are awake and starting their day.
Doing this helps to minimize the amount of attention you get while at a location, and reduces the possibility of bothering someone with your presence.
If Lowe’s offers you free RV parking, they are simply doing you a favor and owe you nothing. They will make no efforts to provide security for you or your camper and can not promise your safety.
So with that in mind, when you spend the night at a Lowe’s, always securely lock your doors and windows and keep any self defense gadgets at hand.
All of the above tips are applicable anytime you are using the parking lot of a business for overnight RV parking. The quickest way to get a privilege taken away is to abuse it, so always be respectful and courteous.
Free overnight RV parking is a privilege, not a right. If you are ever asked to leave a place, just pack up your things quickly and leave quietly. Remember that you are entitled to nothing.
Other Businesses That Allow Overnight RV Parking
If the Lowe’s in the region you are traveling through does not allow overnight RV parking, check out these other businesses that are known for accommodating RVers:
- Bass Pro Shops
- Cracker Barrel and other destination restaurants
- Planet Fitness
Remember, these businesses are all going to have unique policies when it comes to allowing RVs to overnight in their lots. Never assume you are good to camp in any large, empty parking lot.
Policies regarding urban boondocking are changing rapidly nationwide and everyday fewer stores are allowing overnight RV parking.
If you want to read more about businesses that allow overnight parking, check out my article from last week, wherein I talk about 12 places to look for free overnight RV parking.
More Spots to Boondock
Businesses aren’t the only place to look for free boondocking locations. Between the concrete jungle of cities, and the wild places found in nature, you should always be able to find a free place to sleep for the night.
This form of urban boondocking is often called “stealth camping”. In this context, stealth camping refers to the act of stealthily driving into a residential neighborhood, sleeping for a few hours, and taking off early in the morning (adhering to the arrive late, leave early rule of thumb).
If you do attempt sleeping in residential neighborhoods, be ultra respectful and discrete.
It is very common for residents of neighborhoods to call local police on people sleeping in their vans and campers. In most regions it is illegal to boondock in neighborhoods, and the police will have every right to ask you to move along.
Pro-tip: It’s best to only attempt overnighting in a residential area if you travel in a campervan. Good luck pulling your fifth-wheel into a neighborhood while being discrete.
Truck stops are a good place to pull over and catch some sleep because they usually allow overnight RV parking—just make sure to give priority parking to the truckers.
If possible, it is best not to park in the large spots that are designed for 18-wheelers. It’s not unheard of for truckers to express annoyance at RVers who have taken up large parking spots with their campers. This is mostly because the truckers are actively working, while RVers are typically on some sort of fun vacation.
If you choose to overnight at a truck stop, follow the same guidelines for staying at a Lowe’s while additionally giving truckers priority in all situations.
Rest areas should generally only be used as a quick pit stop to grab a few hours of sleep. Most rest areas are routinely patrolled by Highway and State Patrol, and “no overnight parking” rules are regularly enforced.
With that said, these areas are made for travelers to rest for a while if they need to, so it’s not against the rules to pull over for a couple hours of sleep. As with staying at Lowe’s, just make sure you are not doing anything that makes it look like you are camping there.
Dispersed Camping on Government Land
Dispersed camping is a term that refers to camping outside of a designated campground, typically on land owned and managed by the government. These types of lands include national forests, recreation areas, and Bureau of Land Management land.
When dispersed camping you are also boondocking, so you won’t have access to hookups for your RV. Make sure you have more than enough food, water, and fuel before driving into the wilderness.
Personally, dispersed camping is my favorite form of boondocking. The options for campsites and places to park are almost limitless and it is quite easy to isolate yourself from others while you enjoy the natural landscape.
If you are interested in an affordable trailer camper that can easily be hauled deep into the backcountry for some dispersed camping, check out this off-road camper trailer made by Ecocampor.
Ready, Set, Boondock!
Camping for free overnight is an excellent way to save money while traveling in your RV. The more money you can save on accommodations, the more money you will have to spend on delicious local cuisine and fun activities in the cities you visit.
So stay smart, stay stealthy, and have fun as you explore the world of boondocking!