Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BOONDOCKING (Or, free camping in super-center parking lots)

We started our first serious long-distance trip a few days ago.  Because this is the 21st Century, and information is freely available to EVERYONE, we availed ourselves of free advice (and apps) to work our way to the Pacific Northwest from Colorado.

We were so anxious to leave (this is a reunion trip with our granddaughter) that we took off late Friday afternoon (like mid-rush hour).  Originally, we planned to take I-25 to I-90 and travel west to the Seattle area.  But because we left a day early, Marci suggested we detour through Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  WHY NOT!?!?!?!?

Our new goal was Riverton Wyoming (350 miles away). 

Those of you who travel all the time will smile – but we needed a quick alternate place to sleep for the night.  ENTER the “rvparky” app and WAL-MART!  Yup, we stayed free of charge in a large parking lot.

Actually, we stayed at Wal-Mart Riverton AND Wal-Mart Bozeman.  Kudos to Wal-Mart for welcoming weary travelers and making cross-country travel easier. (note: we were careful to shop at each store to ensure they continue to have a profit incentive to welcome other travelers)

We pulled into the Riverton Wal-Mart at 2:10 AM.  And there were at least ten other campers (some looked like they had been there a LONG time) and a few diesel trucks.  Please remember – this was not only our first night at Wal-Mart, but our first night BOONDOCKING anywhere.

We nervously picked out a “spot”, pushed out our bedroom slide, and went to sleep to the drone of a diesel tractor engine a few feet away.

WOW!  What a great experience!  We got a few hours of sleep, felt safe, and didn’t have to pay a dime.  If you haven’t tried it and are wondering…DO IT!

I hesitate to rate Wal-Marts (or Cabelas - or Cracker Barrel – who also allow free stop overs).  But – THERE IS A DIFFERENCE…

This is a BOONDOCKING SCALE (not to be compared with ratings of parks where we pay to stay):

4 Stars – Easy access, huge open parking lot, 24 hour store, “camper friendly”

3 Stars – Tight parking lot, “urban lot” (many concrete “islands and dividers” – not wide open), many campers (close to Yellowstone?), and very clean.  Don’t use the Exxon near the Wal-Mart if you have a long rig (there are truck stops west of town, or east over the pass).

We are now totally comfortable using this method and will continue to do it!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info...been wanting to try but been a little nervous. Will definitely try in the future.