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The Bad News about Cracker Barrel Camping This Year

Camping has become quite popular. According to RV Travel, over 600,000 RVs were sold in 2021. This is a 19% increase from the previous record set in 2017. With more RVs on the road, campgrounds are filling up. This means some RVers need alternatives.

One location that has traditionally welcomed overnight RV parking is Cracker Barrel. But for how long will this privilege continue?

Has the growing number of RVers created a problem at these free overnight locations?

Let’s look at what staying overnight at a Cracker Barrel might look like this year. 

Can You Sleep Overnight in a Cracker Barrel Parking Lot? 

You can sleep overnight in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, but not all locations will allow this. Sometimes you’ll have city or county regulations that prevent overnight camping. 

On the other hand, some locations even have designated RV spots to the side or in the back. So make sure to call ahead before staying in a Cracker Barrel parking lot to make sure that location allows it.

Pro Tip: Use these tips on How to Legally Camp at Cracker Barrel on your next adventure!

Will Cracker Barrel Camping Be Overcrowded This Year? 

It is possible that Cracker Barrel parking lots could look a lot like small RV campgrounds with the number of RVers on the road. After being cooped up for two years, many Americans want to hit the road this summer. However, since you should only camp overnight at a Cracker Barrel, you’ll probably be fine finding a place to squeeze in to get some sleep. 

You need to follow some general rules of etiquette when camping overnight at places like Cabela’s, Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, and Cracker Barrel. If RVers abide by these unwritten rules and standards, it will help with the possible overcrowding. 

First, don’t put out your slides. This takes up more space and could prevent an RV from pulling up beside you. Second, don’t put out your awning. You aren’t here to enjoy the outdoors. You should only use the space to sleep. 

Third, make sure to park in designated areas. These may be marked, or you may need to ask the manager where to park. Don’t pull across three parking spaces or park diagonally across an entire row.

The uptick in camping may mean less availability in Cracker Barrel parking lots. However, just look around the area for another safe place to park overnight. If there’s a Cracker Barrel, you may also find a Walmart, Home Depot, or Costco. Check out rest areas and casinos that allow overnight parking, too.

Man and woman inside RV at night.
Not all Cracker Barrels allow overnight RVers.

Are Cracker Barrels Cracking Down on Overnight Camping?

With the overuse and misuse that some Cracker Barrel locations have experienced, it’s no surprise that some places refuse overnight camping. Others have cracked down on guests who don’t abide by those unwritten rules of etiquette. 

When one or two RVers leave trash, play loud music until midnight, and grill their own hamburgers in the parking lot, they ruin it for everyone like this Reddit user explains.

This is also why it’s important to call ahead. The manager may explain that their location has seen irresponsible RVers in the past, and as a result, they no longer permit overnight camping. 

Or the manager may give some rules for their specific location that you must follow. They may ask you to leave by a certain time in the morning or park in a designated area out of the way. If you choose to ignore common etiquette, the business may take the privilege away from everyone.

Is It OK to Run a Generator at a Cracker Barrel?

Most often, the answer is no. You might find a location that permits you to run a generator during a specific time, but that is rare. Remember, Cracker Barrels are restaurants. They aren’t open fields or farms. 

They’re usually in the middle of an area with other stores and restaurants. And they have a business to run. No one wants to go out to dinner at a Cracker Barrel and hear a generator humming in the parking lot.

Pro Tip: Avoid these Don’ts of Cracker Barrel RV Camping to ensure you are respectful of the restaurant.

Keep quiet and don’t run your generator while camping in a Cracker Barrel parking lot.

What Is the Etiquette for RV Parking at Cracker Barrel?

As already mentioned, you must follow the unwritten rules for overnight parking. These apply to any location, whether a Cracker Barrel, Walmart, casino, church, rest area, etc. Keep yourself as small as possible. If possible, don’t put out slides, don’t put out the awning, and don’t park across multiple spaces.

Other rules of etiquette for RV parking include keeping your area free of trash and picking up after your pet. This is one of the worst complaints managers have, and the one way free overnight camping gets taken away. Just as hikers should “Leave No Trace,” RVers should also leave no trace.

Overnight stays are also supposed to be for one night only. Don’t overstay your welcome or take advantage of free camping. Park for one night and head out as early as you can the next morning. Check in with the manager when you arrive and then support the restaurant. This is just common courtesy. Grab a delicious dinner as a thank you for a free place to park overnight.

What States Have Cracker Barrel? 

Cracker Barrels are everywhere. They’re usually located just off the interstate, making them popular among travelers. They also typically have large parking lots that you can easily navigate RVs in. Some even have RV parking spaces. 

You can find Cracker Barrel in 45 states, but not in Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, or Washington. Florida boasts the most Cracker Barrels, with locations in 50 different cities, and some cities have multiple restaurants. So you have a high likelihood of finding a Cracker Barrel along your route.

Is It Still Worth It to Camp Overnight at Cracker Barrel?

Free overnight parking is always a plus if you camp on a budget. You may also have some days when you just need to stop driving. Maybe you got a late start, ran into heavy traffic, or had a flat tire that delayed your drive. 

It’s nice to have a place that welcomes RVers for a night. Cracker Barrels provide safe, convenient locations to stay. Let’s all follow the rules of etiquette to have this privilege for years to come. 

Have you stayed overnight at a Cracker Barrel location? Would you do it again? Tell us your experience in the comments!

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  1. Karol Pruett says:

    Love being able to stop at a Cracker Barrel while on our journey and I do agree with showing respect for the hospitality that the they give us. Some people do not show respect back and dump large amounts of house trash overfilling their waste barrels-not cool. What we do at a CB is clearly just stop for the night and maybe have a breakfast. I definitely do not refer to it as camping. I think that’s is where the disconnect is for people we are not camping just resting. Thanks for your information and articles!
    KB Pru

  2. Anthony Verhagen says:

    We would love to be able to park at Cracker Barrels. The problem is that there designated spaces are to short for any one towing a vehicle. We’ve tried and we hang out and no one can get around us, they need to make them longer …. Which will probably never happen.

  3. Regis Hampton says:

    Yes we’ve stayed a night at Cracker Barrel. I usually pick up other peoples trash, always get breakfast there, and always pick up my dogs poop and sometimes other poop. Oh, and no slides or awnings out. Parked in designated RV space.

  4. Elmer Clark says:

    I’ve spent a few nights at Cracker Barrels always ate dinner Or breakfast there if I got in late my wife loves shopping there and has Cracker Barrel stock. Always respectful.

  5. M C says:

    I stayed in a Cracker Barrel parking lot where the RV parking was behind the restaurant. I didn’t mind that it was behind the restaurant until a big rig pulled up to deliver the restaurant’s goods with the air brakes blasting at 4am. Needle to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night since we arrived late at night.

  6. Cynthia C Finney says:

    CB has been a life saver for us! We have a 21 ft RV and tow a Kia Soul back and forth from our winter digs in New Orleans. We can fit in their designated spaces and always buy dinner or breakfast. Management has always been welcoming and we hope this freebie it isn’t wrecked by disrespectful RVers!

  7. Bob says:

    It’s not even the increased number of RVs out there, it’s the ridiculous SIZE of the RVs. One 45′ class A or 5th wheel come in and parks across 5 or 6 sites taking up pretty much all the spots marked for RVs at the Crackle Barrel. RVers used to be practical people. Now they go around with one’s with 2 bathrooms and with the slides out more Sq footage then the apartment I lived in for 33 year. Ridiculous! Even with big lots like Walmart I have seen some places that have made an entrance with a 12′ bar height. An “If you can get under this we don’t want you.” and I loved seeing that. Units smaller than this used to be called Park Models. You drove to an area and parked in long term. I had one. It was 35′. Even then I coukd not imagine towing this around and say I’m going camping. So it’s the Ridiculous size people want to that is going to get us banned.

  8. Hillary says:

    @M C,How rude of CB that they are trying to run their business while your trying to sleep. I would never stay free at a Cracker Barrel for free EVER again. The audacity of some businesses smh

  9. Thomas Gallagher says:

    Maybe that’s the problem it’s not camping like you’re saying, it’s a overnight stop to sleep only. Why these websites say camping when it’s not is part of the problem.
    I seen rvs at the local Walmart stay till 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon

  10. Joyce says:

    What can I do when I see someone flaunting the implied etiquette while stopped at a Cracker Barrell. Recently I saw a young couple with there awning out grilling and I wanted to say something but don’t know how or even if I should. What do others do?

  11. Microguy says:

    In some RVs, you simple must put the slides out. In ours, you can just get in the door, and up to the the bathroom and just open the door to the bedroom. Thats it.
    So if we have to stay there you’ll see our slides out.
    Not everybody has the same setup ya know.

  12. Kyle & Olivia Brady says:

    Sure, but not everybody can overnight at the same spots.

  13. Valerie says:

    We are Cracker Barrel junkies. Full timers.
    Staying at multiple ones when on a road trip between destinations. We call it our CB trail when traveling from Ca to Az to Mi.
    I have seen the abuse mentioned. By all means call prior. Get the rules. We r one of those long rigs 35ft with a tow. Can’t fit in designates spots. We find space On parameter parking. Many times have to wait late to park do to restaurant patrons. It’s ok.
    It’s their business. I buy Cracker Barrel gift cards at grocery store to get fuel rewards..double dipping.. to save $$ on fuel and support my overnight stay. Prepping for my
    next trip. 8 CBs from May – Oct.
    Heads up…no parking in Colorado Springs. And another sad note..Cabellas and Bass Pro are stopping overnighter.
    Mitchell, SD use to get so many it looked like a RV park. It’s now banned there. Along with may ordinances.
    So prior calls to assure you can stop is vital. It will save a lot of aggravation when you r tired and need to stop.
    Safe travels and have fun!

  14. Valerie says:

    @Anthony Verhagen,

    Try to find parking on the parameter behind or side of building. I need 8 parking spots. Sometimes have to wait til late for patrons to 9pm
    Always check if enough space to pull out. I have left space and a car decides to pull in right in front of me. The only way to back up with my tow is to unhook it ..UGH!
    Check with manager ahead.

  15. Steve says:

    We have stayed at Cracker Barrel’s for several years. Leave no trace! Always eat at the restaurant and ask if it’s ok to stay. Never been turned away.

  16. Ellen says:

    I have read the comments and waited about an hour before commenting.

    As I see it, CB is doing US a courtesy by providing us RV’rs a safe place to sleep while traveling. (We have not done so yet but we may this year.)

    As for the huge rv’s, if you can afford these, stay overnight at a hotel/motel and leave the spots for the smaller setups. (I’m not talking about the people who are polite and courtesy like @Valerie, but the complainers.)

    As for @microguy, keep the sliders in! What more do you need than the bathroom and your bed for a place to just sleep overnight? Or stay at a hotel/motel.

    As for @Regis Hampton, you are a true “camper” by tidying up the area from the slobs who probably think “its not my job”. I commend you!

    I hope that the businesses who allow overnight stops don’t stop due to inconsiderate RV’rs.

    Great article and I hope many people read it. I will share it, too.

    Happy camping!

  17. Patti says:

    @Ellen, We have stayed at CB and always respected their property.We had a nice dinner which was great for tired travelers,and started out with a wonderful breakfast.

  18. Jane Ward Guaraldi says:

    Yes, we have stayed overnight at Cracker Barrel many times. We use them as a stopover-place of rest on long travel days. We order takeout from their restaurant before arriving, ask permission to stay when we pick up our food, and enjoy the fact that we can settle in without the hassle of cooking. We leave at first light to open up space for those coming in for breakfast and to get on the road before the traffic builds. Only once, and it was recently, did we experience all those don’ts you mentioned above. Two RVs running generators, slides out, and noise. Annoyed, yet grateful, for the place and opportunity to rest.

  19. Pierre Pimpare says:

    Perfect for road trip! L l’île est Cracker Barel.