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Old 09-16-2015, 04:57 PM   #1
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2016 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
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Overnights at Churches or Vacant Office Buildings?

Anyone tried boondocking in a church parking lot or lot behind a vacant office building that is currently advertised to be leased? I read that these may be viable overnight stay spots. Thoughts? Experience?

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Old 09-16-2015, 05:31 PM   #2
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I haven't traveled with trailer yet, but have traveled extensively by car and usually had to stop to rest. I have never and would never consider parking at or certainly behind any vacant building. You would be lucky if it were just the police that woke you and questioned you. I also have never parked in a church parking lot as I'm averse to lightning. Safe Travels.

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Old 09-16-2015, 05:41 PM   #3
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We have parked in church parking lots a few times--do ask if the parish house is next door. Other places we have boondocked are: on the street by a city park (that does not have camping), hospital parking lot, and monastery.
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:24 PM   #4
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Best to ask...in my state it is a misdemeanor to trespass on church property after dark.
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:37 PM   #5
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Cliff, nearly any spot could be a viable overnight spot. It could also be an invitation to something that you'd rather not experience.

Our former property (10 acres in the Missouri Ozarks) was vacant for 10 months. Suppose you owned that property. Would you mind if some stranger pulled in and boondocked overnight? If so, do you think that the church or other property owner might also mind?

Now, if someone had contacted me about spending a night at our vacant place, I would have not only given them permission but also told them how to access electricity, water, and sewer. I also would have called the sheriff to let them know that someone was going to be at the place. On the few times we had to return to the place during those 10 months we always called the sheriff to tell them when we would be arriving and when we would be leaving.

My suggestion for parking at a church would be to first get permission from the church to park there. Then contact the city to see if that is actually legal. Don't depend on the church to know. Also, it would probably help if you were asking at a church of the same denomination as yours.
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Old 09-17-2015, 06:02 AM   #6
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We have spent a few nights in church parking lots, almost exclusively the very rural ones, and never on a Wednesday or Saturday night.

We meticulously practice "leave no trace", and once made a donation to the church winter heating fund when we woke the next morning to the bustling preparation activities of the women of the church.....for the ice cream social they were having outside to pay for winter fuel for this church established in 1865 or thereabouts.

Generally, No Overnight Parking is your clue that this is prohibited.

Our favorite overnight spots are river or ferry access areas....some of them are posted, but most are not.

We have never been accosted or had any problems.

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Old 09-17-2015, 07:49 AM   #7
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We stayed in church parking lots many times on Saturday nights because we were traveling there specifically to visit the church and asked the pastors days in advance. If you aren't intending to attend the church and haven't asked, I would not recommend it. Abandoned buildings aren't a great idea. Check with Lowe's and Home Depot...they will usually allow overnight parking if you ask permission.
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Old 09-17-2015, 10:16 AM   #8
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Stick to Walmart, Home Depot, or any larger shopping center parking lot. I agree with the other commenters that parking behind an (especially empty) office building is not advisable, and to ask for permission from church officials first. Best stick to rest areas and, here out west, to the numerous free BLM and FS camp sites. jon
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Old 09-17-2015, 10:24 AM   #9
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The churches that welcome overnight RV parking have RV electric, sewer and water hookups somewhere in their yard or parking lot. I have overnighted at churches, but usually to attend a retreat or seminar or singing at that church.
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Old 09-17-2015, 10:40 AM   #10
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Um...you'd be struck by lightning if staying in a church parking lot?
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:25 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by CJ Winch View Post
Um...you'd be struck by lightning if staying in a church parking lot?
Devine intervention?
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:35 AM   #12
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Thanks to everyone for sharing experience and recommendations. And for including other boondocking potential ideas like beside city parks, in hospital park lots, large shopping center lots, Lowes and Home Depot lots, Walmart, BLM and FS camping, Rest stops and Flying J ... all these are good to remember as long as legal and safe. I will use caution and courtesy with where I park and make sure to seek permission. Cliff
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:38 AM   #13
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Maybe more like Deus Ex Machina ...

The real solution, though, would be to move west! Still about a gazillion acres of public land to camp on!

Originally Posted by DHart View Post
Devine intervention?
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:53 AM   #14
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Don't forget fraternal organizations - the Moose will welcome you if you are a member. Ditto for the Lions & a couple of others too. It's often just water or water and electric... and it's unlikely to be scenic... but the members are often very friendly and will direct you to lots of local stuff you might never find if you were just passing through.

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