What’s the difference between parking and camping? If I’m in a designated dispersed camping area, Forest Service or BLM, for example, without hookups or other facilities, am I camping or parking? If I’m in a parking lot doing the same, is it parking or camping? I don’t know. What do you think? I’m not going to call it either camping or parking. Whatever you label it the Ameristar casino parking lot is someplace you can “be” or “stay” in your RV for free.
FACILITY NAME: Ameristar Casino
LOCATION: 3200 N. Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, MO
KIND: Private facility
FEES: None. FREE.
My Parking Spot N 39.15291 W 094.47946
Oversize Vehicle Parking Lot Entry N 39.15203 W 094.47840
GOOGLE MAPS: Oversize Vehicle Parking Lot Entry
ACCESS: Paved Roads
SITES: No delimited sites. Park in the lot furthest from the casino where the big rigs are
SURFACING: Alsphalt; gravel in places where the asphalt has broken down
MAXIMUM RIG SIZE: None
TENTS: I don’t know if that’s allowed. I didn’t ask.
LEVELNESS: There is some slope in much if not most of the lot. I found a spot that was just about perfectly level (see GPS coordinates above)
SPACING: Depends how people park. For some reason many of the big rigs line up right next to each other with barely two feet between them. When I asked one driver why they park so close to each other he looked puzzled, thought about it for a second then said “that’s about all the space we get in a truck stop”. “Force of habit?” I asked. “I guess so.” he said.
TENT PADS: No
FIRE GRILLS: No
PICNIC TABLES: No
PETS: No rules posted. Check with casino security
DUMP STATION: None
CELLULAR: 5 bars plus LTE on both my AT&T iPhone 5s and my Verizon iPad Air
Over-the-air: Yes. Many channels
WiFi: None, but there is a Burger King with WiFi in the Casino
RESTROOMS: None officially for just for RVers but there are restrooms in the Casino, of course. I’d guess they don’t mind RVers using them. I expect they hope RVers will come into the casino.
RESTROOM RATING: Pass (I assign a Pass or Fail rating based on many considerations including: cleanliness, usability, hot water availability, hand soap availability, ease or difficulty it is to use the toilet paper, condition of fixtures, if using the restroom is a pleasant or unpleasant experience, etc.)
TRASH: There were a couple small trash containers in the parking lot
BUGS: None worthy of note when I was there in late October
Gas: There is a Shell station at Route 210 and Ameristar Drive about .3 miles away and others not too far away
Dump: I spent around 15 minutes researching this without much luck. This isn’t to say there are none around, just that I kept running into roadblocks while searching.
Propane: U-Haul in Independence, MO, according to AllStays. I phoned and was told they do fill RV tanks as well as portable containers. 816-461-7282. This is about a 12 mile, 17 minute drive from the casino according to Google Maps.
Groceries: There is a Festival Foods about 5.5 miles. It’s a decent market.
Laundromat: I think I passed one along Route 210 somewhere west of here maybe 10 minutes or so, but don’t hold me to it
Before arriving I here I spoke with casino security. When I asked what rules they wanted me to follow I was asked to park where the big rigs park, not to leave a mess or to leave my RV unattended for more than 72 hours. When I asked if they had a limit to the length of time I could stay they said no.
Shortly after setting camp up a little blue car marked SECURITY with yellow flashing lights rolled up and came to a stop on the other side of the grassy island from where I’d parked. Having spoken with casino security prior to my arrival I wasn’t too concerned as I walked over the the car and leaned into the open window on the passenger side.”Hi” I said. “How ya doin?” came the reply. “I see you’ve got a solar panel set up by your RV.” “Yeah. I didn’t see much chance of anybody tripping over it considering where I’ve put it and where I’m parked.” “Do you need a ride to the casino?” asked the security guard. “No sir, I’m fine thank you. By the way are you the gent with whom I spoke on the phone the other day when I called?” “No, that would be Bill.” From there a casual conversation of some 5 minutes ensued. I learned that the guard with whom I spoke was a proud and happy grandfather, two of his grandkids at home with his wife for the day. I also learned he was a veteran and I thanked him for his service. “Well, he said, enjoy your stay and if you ever want a ride to the casino just give us a call and we’ll send someone out to pick you up.” So far I haven’t taken him up on the offer. Not because I haven’t been inside, but rather because I prefer to walk. It takes about 5 minutes to get to the casino from my RV by foot.
As to what it’s like being parked here, my first comment is that it is noisy. Route 210 runs by the lot not too awfully far away. 18 wheelers come and go in and out of the lot with some frequency, sometimes in the middle of the night. As you may know they often run their engines for long periods of time when parked and that makes noise too. Since many truckers essentially live in their trucks, eating or sleeping when not driving, they have life support systems such as heat, A/C and electronic devices, much like RVers, all of which need powering either from batteries, their engines or auxiliary generators. Another factor contributing to the noise level is that the parking lot isn’t too far from freight train tracks and they run by often, tooting their horns usually in the pattern of long-long-short-long bursts which is railroad code for approaching a crossing, if I recall correctly. Yeah, there’s a code to their tooting. They don’t just get to yank the cord whenever they like. Boy, wouldn’t that just take all the fun out of it? Last night I tried out some foam earplugs and they made a huge difference effectively blocking almost all sound. They make my ears itch after a while, however. I have another type I can try tonight. Maybe those will be better or I’ll get used to wearing them.
This location isn’t too close to much of the “action” and by that I mean places you’re likely to want to visit in the area, not the casino itself. The Ameristar is in north Kansas City, on the north side of the Missouri River. There’s not much here except industry. Most of the places I’ve visited so far are about 20-30 minutes away.
Being a casino parking lot and not a campground there are no hookups of course, but the casino has placed a couple of trash cans in the middle of the area where the semi-trucks park. That’s nice. By the way, have you ever wondered why they call them semi-trucks? They seem rather wholly truckish to me. Sometimes they call them tractor-trailers. Well which is it? Tractor or trailer? Make up your minds already. I thought tractors you drove on a farm and trailers you towed, and a semi something or other was half of whatever you were talking about. What-ever! LOL.
The parking lot is asphalt but has degraded severely in areas which the casino has been filling with gravel. I wouldn’t hesitate to use leveling blocks if needed as they don’t seem to cause any damage. Of course, any sort of leveling system that might damage the asphalt should be avoided.
I like Kansas City. I haven’t seen much of it really, but in driving around I have encountered very little traffic compared to what I’m used to in the San Francisco bay area where it gets really, really bad, frequently. There is a handful of what you could call skyscrapers, but the area is less developed and congested than San Francisco which is in its favor if you ask me.
I understand there is a burgeoning art scene here. Personally, I’ve so far visited the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the National World War I Museum, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Kemper and Nelson-Atkins are essentially next door to each other. Also right there is the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden. It’s quite small but a lovely place to sit for a while on a nice day.
The WW I museum is not far from the others I’ve mentioned. It’s small, but jam-packed with all kinds of things. They have uniforms, all kinds of handguns rifles and cannons, at least one airplane, and several audio-visual presentations. They even have a very rare WW I tank. Wednesdays it’s half price, $7. The Kemper and Nelson-Atkins are free.
If you want free money I’m here to tell you that there is such a thing. The Money Museum in the Federal Reserve building gives a bag with $165 of bills to any visitor that wants one. Seriously. Only one per customer, please. Did I mention the bills were old bills which have been taken out of circulation and shredded? It’s free to visit and it’s just across the street from the WW I museum.
Also worthy of note is the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in nearby Indepencence. Born in Missouri, Truman rose from a farm boy to President of the United States, serving first in local governmental capacities, then US Senator, Vice President and finally the nation’s highest office. This museum as well as the others I’ve mentioned is well worth a visit.
About a 20-30 minute drive north of the Ameristar is a Harley Davidson facility where they give factory tours. As a motorcyclist of many years this was something I was interested to see, but upon arriving I was told the factory was shut down for maintenance and while tours were still offered there really wasn’t very much to see. I passed. There was no mention of this shutdown on their web site. That fact, plus the unpleasant voice-jail runaround I got when trying to phone them ahead of time has left a rather bad taste in my mouth for Harley Davidson. Companies that treat the public so poorly just don’t deserve to be patronized.
There’s a lot more to KC, I’m sure, and I’ll leave that to you to investigate. I just thought I throw in a few tidbits with my overnight parking report.
So, whether it’s parking or camping, being or staying, you can do whatever it is for free at the Ameristar casino in Kansas City, perhaps for as long as you like. Thank you, Ameristar!
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