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RV Parking at Elks Lodges

As many RVers know, one of the many benefits of joining your local Elks Lodge is the availability of RV accommodations at Elks Lodges.

There are more than 2,000 Elks Lodges in the USA, and about half of them have RV facilities of some sort. The facilities range from full-fledged RV parks with 30/50A electric and water hookups, sewer connections, and even Cable TV, to a spot to dry camp in one corner of the Lodge parking lot, and everything in between.

In nearly every case, these RV facilities may be used by Elk Members in good standing only. Some lodges will allow the RV of a non-Elk who is traveling with an Elk RV to stay as the guest of the visiting Elk. A very few of the Elk-owned RV parks are open to the general public; these usually have a discounted nightly rate for Elks members.

We’re now in the process of adding every Elks Lodge in the USA to the www.OvernightRVParking.com database. For this project, we’ve added another color to the “color code” for our map pointers. As of mid-February, 2014, we have about 200 Lodges listed in the database. Only 1,800 more to go!

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
February 24, 2014

Princeton, WV: Abuse of RV
Overnight Parking Privilege

Signs have gone up on nearly every light pole in the parking lot of Walmart Supercenter # 2933 in Princeton, WV. They read: "No Overnight RV or Truck Parking." The store manager stated that he had changed the store policy because he got tired of RVers abusing the Overnight RV Parking Privilege which Walmart Managers often grant to RVers.

The Walmart Corporate Policy on Overnight RV Parking, as stated on the corporate website is:
"While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV."
The store manager said that RVers were parking overnight without permission from the store, parking for multiple nights, leaving trash in the lot when they finally departed, and in some cases had damaged the asphalt surface of the parking lot with the levelers on their RVs. Therefore, this store no longer grants permission to RVs or to trucks to park overnight.

There are far too many RVers who believe that they may park at any Walmart for as many nights as they like, and that they don't need permission to park there. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Due to abuses like those described above, more and more municipalities are making it illegal to sleep in an RV unless you're in a licensed RV park or campground. Even where Overnight RV Parking is still legal, many Walmart managers are changing their store policy and banning it, due to RVer abuse of the privilege.

If you want to park overnight anywhere on private property, you need to get permission from the owner or manager of the establishment. And you need to follow the rest of the guidelines set forth in the FMCA Good Neighbor Policy, which you may read and/or download here

There are many RVers who chafe at "rules" and who don't like being told what they should or shouldn't do. Following this code of conduct is a significant way we can help slow the erosion of the Overnight RV Parking Privilege. It's just common courtesy, anyway, and it's easy.

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
October 6, 2011

Van Horn, TX -- An "Anti-RV" City

The town of Van Horn, TX lies along I-10, about 140 miles east of El Paso and 110 miles west of Fort Stockton. For many years it's been a popular place for RVers to stop and park overnight before proceeding, safely rested, the next morning. There have been several popular Overnight RV Parking locations in Van Horn.

Van Horn Texas logo In 2011, however, the town has begun enforcing a local ordinance that makes it illegal to park an RV for more than four hours for the apparent purpose of overnight occupancy, for making preparations to sleep, including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping, or for carrying on cooking activities. These all come under the local law's definition of camping. The above activities are permitted only in a designated area of private property if the RVer has obtained written permission from the owner or agent in charge of the property. One RVer reports that he parked in one of these locations in February 2011, and later received a $45 citation by mail. Another RVer says that he parked overnight in Van Horn in late July, and the next morning found a similar citation on his windshield, this time for $85, payable by money order only. There are numerous other online reports of similar enforcement of the Van Horn ordinance.

I'm a firm believer that RVers should patronize communities that welcome them, and avoid visiting (or spending money in) cities and towns that make it difficult for us, especially those that pass laws that unreasonably restrict Overnight RV Parking. Should you spend a night in Van Horn, TX? Should you purchase fuel, restaurant meals, groceries or other supplies there? That's up to you.

Many RVers want to contact officials in Anti-RV communities and tell them why the RVer will no longer visit, stop, or make any purchases of any kind in their community. The Town of Van Horn website [www.vanhorntexas.org] is not very useful for contacting city officials. The Email link requires a user account but provides no way to create one. The Contact Us page finally came up after multiple tries over a 30-minute period. To contact the Mayor or the City Manager of Van Horn, TX, please see the city's contact page If you contact them, please be polite.

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
August 3, 2011

Tooting Our Own Horn

Our www.OvernightRVParking.com website reached another milestone this week. We now list more than 9,000 locations in our database. You can see the exact number on our home page. The number updates automatically whenever I upload new database records.

I started building this database in January 2007, and by the time our website launched in April 2008, we listed 3,954 locations. It seems hard to believe, but we've added, on the average, between 4 and 5 new listings every day for more than three years!

People sometimes ask how large our database will get. I used to say that it might grow to as many as 10,000 listings. But we don't have all the Walmarts listed yet, nor all the other thousands of other retail stores that allow Overnight RV Parking; nor do we have all the rest areas in the USA and Canada listed yet. And, we keep on learning of more and more small town and county campgrounds, many of which are hidden gems that deserved to be used by RVers. Now, I think that a database with 15,000 or 20,000 listings is within the realm of possibility. Only time will tell for sure.

In the meantime, I have an IN box full of new and update reports to work on...

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
July 30, 2011

Gilroy, CA -- An "Anti-RV" City

There are many cities and towns across the USA (and some in Canada as well) that have passed "Anti-RV" ordinances. Most of these ordinances have two purposes: (1) to prevent otherwise homeless people from living in RVs on the public streets; and (2) to force traveling RVers to stay overnight or longer in local commercial RV parks, generating revenue for the city.

One such "Anti-RV" city is Gilroy, California.

The Gilroy municipal code makes it illegal to use any motor vehicle, including an RV, for "human habitation purposes" or to connect it to any utilities, anywhere in the city, unless the RV is in a zoned RV or trailer park.

There is one exception. An RV may be used for "temporary visitation purposes" for up to 72 hours, once in any 30-day period. The RV must be entirely on private residential property, not on commercial property or on the street. And theres another catch - the RV must be fully self-contained, not requiring any hookups, AND it may not be more than 18 feet in length.

Gilroy CA sign The result is that the local Walmart doesnt allow Overnight RV Parking, and the local RV parks have rates starting at $40/night.

I'm a firm believer that RVers should patronize communities that welcome them, and avoid visiting (or spending money in) cities and towns that make it difficult for us, especially those that enact wholesale bans on Overnight RV Parking. Should you spend a night in Gilroy, or purchase fuel, restaurant meals, groceries or other supplies there? Thats up to you.

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
July 20, 2011

Bloomfield, Iowa --
A Small Town That Welcomes RVers

There are thousands of small communities in the USA that welcome RVers. They like it when we spend a night or two in their community, and when we purchase fuel, restaurant meals, groceries and other supplies there.

One such town is Bloomfield, Iowa (pop. About 2,600), where there are several options for spending one or more nights in your RV.

Lake Fisher City Park, west of town, surrounds the citys reservoir and has 4 back- in and 2 pull-thru RV sites. The Davis County Conservation Board offers camping at the McGowen Recreation area at the east edge of town, with 11 pull-thru sites and one back-in site. Lake Wapello State Park, about 15 miles NW of Bloomfield, also offers RV camping with nightly or weekly rates. These three locations are all in the wwe.OvernightRVParking.com database.

There is one private commercial RV park as well. Lakeside Estates, 1 Elmira Ct (off US 63 and SR 2) has 12 E/W/S RV sites.

Two free RV dump stations are available for RVers. One is outside the main entrance to the Davis County Fairgrounds, and the other is at the Iowa Welcome Center on N Washington St, about 3 blocks north of the town square.

I'm a firm believer that RVers should patronize communities that welcome them, and avoid visiting (or spending money in) cities and towns that make it difficult for us, especially those that enact wholesale bans on Overnight RV Parking. Bloomfield, IA, is a community that welcomes us.

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
July 15, 2011

The Beartooth Highway

This week I've been using information from the Montana DOT website to confirm the locations and amenities at Montana Rest Areas. There are several that haven't been in our database, and I'm adding them, too.

One of these is the Beartooth Pass Vista Point and Rest Area on US 212, between Yellowstone Park and Red Lodge, MT. Overnight RV Parking is allowed there, and theres a large parking area with spectacular views. Whats the catch? Getting there. Beartooth Highway top view This rest area (marked by the little building symbol on the map) is at an elevation of about 9,180 ft. The highest point on the Beartooth Highway is 10,947 ft. There are steep grades of 6% or more on many parts of the highway. One 18-mile section has an average elevation of over 10,000 ft., and for these 18 miles the roadway is only 18 feet wide. That's two nine-foot lanes, pretty narrow under any circumstances, much less when a couple of 8'6" RVs meet each other.

The Beartooth Highway opens when the snow is cleared, usually in late May. In 2011, opening day was June 10. Winter arrives early at this altitude, so expect it to close again due to snow in Mid- October.

Driving the Beartooth Highway in an automobile is challenging. In an RV its very difficult, and in a very large RV it may be something to remove from your bucket list. A Montana DOT Engineer told me by phone today that some RVers have become so frightened on this highway that DOT equipment operators have had to drive the RVs down to the bottom of the mountain grade for them.

If you decide to drive this spectacular but treacherous highway, take your time. Decend grades slowly, in the lowest practical gear. Dont let your brakes overheat, and stop at the many turnouts to give yourself and your brakes a rest. As one website says about mountain grades, "You can go down a mountain a thousand times too slowly, but only once too fast."

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
June 29, 2011

Leveler Damage to Parking Lots

Here at www.OvernightRVParking.com we strongly support the FMCA Good Neighbor Policy, as do virtually all responsible RVers. One of its eight points is

Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).

This week we received a report from an RVer who parked overnight, with store permission, of course, at a Walmart Store in Alberta, Canada. He reported that there was significant damage to the surface of the lot in the form of indentations or holes left there by the leveling jacks of an RV.

I've seen similar damage in other asphalt RV parking areas. Sometimes it's a dent in the asphalt which will collect water when it rains - or collect water when snow melts, and then freezes at night to become a dangerous slick spot. I've even seen holes punched all the way through the asphalt to reveal the dirt below. In one case (an Elks Lodge RV parking area) one such hole allowed rain to erode the dirt below. The resulting pothole was dangerous while it was there, and it was expensive for the Lodge to repair.

Many RV accessory stores and websites sell pads to go under your levelers, designed specifically to prevent this kind of damage. Many RVers make their own from squares of plywood, with a loop of rope attached to make it easy to place and remove the pads using your awning hook.

If you use your RV's leveling jacks on an asphalt surface, whether in an RV park or anyplace else, please use protective pads to prevent damage to the asphalt.

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
June 27, 2011

FREE Overnight RV Parking.com Bumper Sticker!

RV Bumper Sticker

Our subscribers are our biggest source of information. The more subscribers we have, the more complete and accurate our database becomes. A bumper sticker with our logo will help tell others about our website. And when a new subscriber tells us that you referred them, you get a free month added to your subscription!

Put a www.OvernightRVParking.com bumper sticker on your motorhome and another on your toad. Or put one on your trailer or fifth wheel and another on the vehicle with which you pull it. Our mailing address is:

OvernightRVParking.com, LLC
ATTN: Free Bumper Stickers
1141 Valbusa Drive
Gilroy, CA 95020

Send us a self-addressed stamped business envelope, and well send you two bumper stickers, right away!

Jim O'Briant, CEO, www.OvernightRVParking.com
June 22, 2011

Parking Lots and Campgrounds

Our www.OvernightRVParking.com database began as a listing of retail stores, showing which ones would give an RVer permission to park overnight in their parking lot for a single night, and which ones wouldn't. Our subscribers began reporting on small free campgrounds, which were also good for an overnight stop, but which offered multiple night stays, as well as things that retail parking lots don't have - like grass, trees, and sometimes RV hookups. Some also allow multiple night stays.

We decided to include these places in our database, while still focusing on saving money while traveling. We set a general limit of $20 per night, though few listings may exceed that.

We started building the database in January 2007. When www.OvernightRVParking went live on April 6, 2008, there were 3,954 locations listed in the database. As I write this in June 2011, there are 8,922. We've added 4,968 locations in 38 months, which comes out to more than 125 new listings each month.

How big will our database get? Good question. We'll certainly reach 10,000 listings. 15,000 is pretty likely, and 20,000 listings may be possible. How long will it take? Ask again in a couple of years.

Jim O'Briant, CEO & Administrator, www.OvernightRVParking.com
June 22, 2011

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