Rest Area Overnight Parking For RVs, Cars and Trucks

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Is overnight parking allowed at rest areas? The answer depends on the state you are traveling through. Some states allow overnight parking at rest areas and other states make it unlawful. Keep reading to see which states allow overnight parking at rest stops, how to find them, amenities, security, parking options and some of our personal experiences parking overnight at rest stops around the United States.

rest area overnight parking

Rest Area Overnight Parking

States That Allow Overnight Parking at Rest Stops

As of publication, these states allow overnight parking at rest stops. For the most current information and closures, visit the state’s DOT website.

Arizona – according to the Arizona DOT website, there are no rules against parking overnight in the rest area and there are no restriction on the length of stay. The rule does specifically prohibit camping and campfires in Arizona rest areas.

Arkansas – park overnight at rest areas in Arkansas without any limitation on length of stay. The Arkansas DOT website has an interactive map where you can choose a welcome center/rest area to see if the location is open and whether there is truck parking, an RV dump station, WiFi or propane service.

California – signs posted at the California rest areas state travelers can park up to 8 hours at the rest area. Visit the California DOT website.

Idaho – IDAPA 39.03.50 specifically states that “occupancy of the rest areas on interstate highways is limited to ten (10) consecutive hours. Occupancy of rest areas on other routes of the State Highway System is limited to sixteen (16) consecutive hours.” Visit the Idaho DOT website or call 208-334-8000.

Indiana – park overnight at rest areas in Indiana without any limitation on length of stay. The Indiana DOT website has an interactive map of rest area locations with information on the number of car parking spaces, truck parking spaces and handicap parking spaces. Other information include the year the rest area was built and the number to call travelers have any questions about parking overnight at that Indiana rest area.

Kansas – overnight parking at Kansas rest areas is allowed for one night and no more than 24 hours. Visit the Kansas DOT website for more information or call 785-296-3566.

Mississippi – According to the long term parking guidelines, travelers can park for up to 8 hours at a Mississippi welcome center or rest area. “If a vehicle is parked at a roadside facility for more than this time period, it may be removed either by MDOT forces or the Mississippi Highway Patrol.” Visit the Mississippi DOT website for more information.

Nebraska – according to the rest area rules “Overnight camping or parking is prohibited. Maximum length of stay permitted is ten (10) hours.” Visit the Nebraska DOT website or call 402-471-4567.

Nevada – signs posted at Nevada rest areas show a maximum stay of up to 18 hours. For the latest information on overnight parking at Nevada rest areas, visit the Nevada DOT website.

New Mexico – overnight parking at New Mexico rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. Visit the New Mexico DOT website.

North Dakota – park overnight at a rest area in North Dakota without any limitation on length of stay. Visit the North Dakota DOT website or call 701-328-2500.

Oklahoma – park overnight at rest areas in Oklahoma without any limitation on length of stay. Visit the Oklahoma DOT website or call 405-521-2557.

Oregon – signs posted at Oregon rest areas show a maximum stay of up to 12 hours. The ODOT rule specifically prohibits “Setting up a tent or other structure, camping, or remaining in a rest area for more than 12 hours within any 24-hour period.” Visit the Oregon DOT website or TripCheck rest area page.

Texas – according to Texas Transportation Code 545.411, travelers can stay in a Texas rest area for up to 24 hours. Visit the Texas DOT website.

Utah – according to the Utah DOT website, “Utah encourages drowsy drivers to take a break. Rest areas are provided to the traveling public for this purpose. All rest areas are posted for no overnight camping. However, extended stays are permitted and are monitored by the on-site staff and the Highway Patrol.”

Washington – overnight parking at Washington rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. Visit the Washington DOT website or call 360-705-7000.

Wyoming – based on my recent conversation with a representative at WDOT and in the tourism office, overnight parking is no longer allowed in Wyoming rest areas. Visit the Wyoming DOT website or call 307-777-4375.

How to Find a Rest Area

Besides looking for signs on the highway, we use Allstays to locate a rest area (Allstays Camp & RV app review). There are multiple “Rest” filters in the app that can be applied to display all the rest areas within a certain range on the map.

Allstays Camp RV App Rest Areas

Rest areas do shut down for a variety of reasons. Pay attention to rest area closure signs or call the state DOT to confirm the rest stop is open.

State welcome centers are a good resource to get the latest information on overnight parking rules and closures.

Rest Area Amenities

Standard rest area amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, and drinking fountains. Other amenities include:

You can often find a list of rest area amenities in the rest area details section of Allstays.

While the state of Alabama does not allow overnight parking at their rest areas, some rest stops do have RV dumps. The one we used in the photo below as clearly marked and free.

Parking Options: Trucks, RVs, Autos

Rest areas often have separate parking for RVs/trucks with clearly marked signs. These spots are marked by white lines on the ground and typically large enough to fit an 18-wheeler.

When we traveled in the 29’ motorhome and tow car, we always parked in the RV/truck section. Watch video of our Class A RV rest area experience.

Rest Area RV Parking

In a Class B camper van, we would just pull into a parking spot in the autos section. Watch video of our camper van rest area experience.

Overnight parking California Rest Area

Now that we travel in a 4×4 Ford F350, we still fit in an auto spot at the rest area. Most recently, we parked overnight at a rest area in Idaho with electric hookups. While we didn’t need to plug-in our off-grid camper, we enjoyed the well maintained space and the peace and quiet.

Security at Rest Areas

Some rest areas will have posted signs stating the area is patrolled by security. However, it’s not something we take into consideration because there’s no way to know how often the area is patrolled.

Other signs will warn that you are parking at the rest area at your own risk.

Having spent the night at different rest areas around the country, we’ve never had a concern for safety. Check out our post RV Safety on the Road.

Our Rest Area Experiences & Tips

Las Cruces NM Rest Area

There’s nothing quite like the joy of seeing that “rest area” sign when you’re in need of a break. We’ve pulled into many rest stops around the United States and one thing we’ve learned is that not all rest areas are created equal.

The first time we spent the night at a rest area was in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This was when we thought we were long haul drivers and made an 800 mile trip in two days. The first leg of our crazy drive was from Tucson, Arizona to Las Cruces and spent the night at the rest area. We had no idea until we pulled up that it was an award winning rest area with spectacular views. If you’re driving through Las Cruces, New Mexico, stop in for a break and enjoy the views.

Since our first overnight at a rest area, we’ve spent the night in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas.

Arrive early. For the best chance of getting a truck/RV spot, arrive late-afternoon. Some rest areas are more popular than others so have a backup plan if it’s full. Since we downsized to a smaller camper, we can park in the car parking area and don’t have to be as concerned about arriving early to a rest area.

Have back up parking options. Look to see if there’s a Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel or Walmart nearby and call to see if overnight parking is allowed. Truck stops (Pilot, T&A, Loves) are another option for overnight parking, but they can also fill up quickly. Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome members can check to see if there are hosts nearby.

Rest Area Closures. We’ve driven by several rest area that are closed for maintenance or closed permanently. Usually, there is a sign on the highway to notify drivers of the closure, but that’s not always the case. We have run into situations where we drive up to the exit for the rest area only to be met by bright orange cones. This is where having a backup plan comes in handy.

Pets. Most rest areas have designated pet walks. Look for clearly marked signs at the rest area.

While we prefer to camp on public land, there are those long travel days when we’re trying to get across the country for an overland event or RV show. That’s when pulling into a rest area for the night and getting right back on the highway makes this a convenient option.

Have you spent the night at a rest area? Share your experience with us by leaving a comment below.

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20 thoughts on “Rest Area Overnight Parking For RVs, Cars and Trucks”

  1. Hello Kait,
    During my homeless bouts and per diem pocketing periods, I’ve overnight parked in a pickup with a camper in Alabama,Arizona,Arkansas,Idaho,Illinois,Kansas,Mississippi, Oklahoma. and Texas. Texas is where I’ve lived in rest and picnic areas for months on in without any regard for the 24 hour rule. Once a Bell County Sheriff’s deputy woke me up and ran my license for warrants. Another time, outside of Post, Texas DPS checked to see if I was okay. I was living on a motorcycle and sleeping on picnic tables. I’ve also done this in Idaho and have slept on the rest area parking lot,next to my bike, in Arizona. Georgia State Police have run me out of their rest areas but didn’t give me a ticket even though signs clearly prohibited overnight parking. Tennessee troopers made me shut the door on my truck.
    I’d like to get back to some heavy duty motorcycle touring, so if anyone can tell me about more states that don’t mind sleeping on the picnic tables, let me know.

    Reply
    • I have ridden all over the states and found that sleeping on picnic tables with my helmet on safe enough during the day for hours but not over night. It all depends on the cops that night. Most just ask you do move on. At night if I need to, I sleep under a light were a cop or passer by can see what happing. I did have a cop in Indigo not let me sleep, I had just pulled up and he said I or my bike would not be there in the morning. So I try not to sleep in rest areas to near cities. Case the place, good luck.

      Reply
  2. Hello Kait – Thank you for this very helpful information. With regard to overnights at rest areas, do you think you would feel just as safe if you were traveling alone (with a dog)? Thanks.

    Reply
  3. I’m considering traveling between phx and mpls during this corona virus. I plan to sleep in the car. Are rest stops open and can I sleep overnight? I will travel i40 and I 35. Please advise.

    Reply
    • Hello Tish,
      You can do it all the way thru. In Texas you have picnic areas at your disposal also. I can list a number of other more preferable freebies, but seems like this discussion is limited to rest areas. Worst that can happen to you is being checked for warrnts and told to leave.

      Reply
  4. Long haul trucker here.
    I dont want to hate on RVs, but you guys have more access for places to park than we do. We work on the road, have hour restrictions, and need places to park. So many times I pull up to where I plan to rest for my 10 hour break, and half the spots are taken by RVs.
    I’ve started driving overnight, which is not safe, hard for me to stay awake, but there are more places to park during the day then at night.
    Truck stops are already pretty full, we end up parking on the street, which many of our companies ask us not to do because this is illegal in most states.
    All I ask is try and share the spots, if theres an RV park where you chose to stay, please pick the park over the rest areas. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I agree. I’m an RV er. I go to a campground when possible. Now though most campgrounds are closed due to covid 19. So you may see me there so please understand. What gripes me the most is all our needs move by trucks. I spent my life helping to build interstates . There should be plenty of spots for interstate travelers. If our country can load down these highways we should have lots of spots to park trucks and RVs at night. This is a no brainier. This shouldn’t even be an issue. The private business are expected to provide for the state.

      Reply
    • I’m an almost 70 year old woman living alone, full time, in an RV, to save money. I’m blessed to have lots of friends/family where I can move place to place & stay in their yards w/o overstaying my welcome. I’m glad to see a trucker on here. I truly get it. And I don’t ever park in a DESIGNATED truck area, and don’t believe any RV’s should, as I recognize y’all need those spaces. I don’t have the $ to spend on campgrounds. When traveling I stay in 24-hr Walmart’s, Cracker Barrel’s & Rest Areas. Most rest areas have separate Truck & RV areas. HOWEVER last Christmas Eve night I stopped for the night in the Mississippi I-20 west-bound Welcome Center rest area (just east of Meridian). The signs entering VERY CLEARLY sent trucks & RV’s to the SAME parking spots. I parked, settled in, and stayed the night. I had AS MUCH right to be there as any truck. The next morning I woke up to find multiple SLASHED tires! I had to replace 3 very expensive tires. One was an inner tire I didn’t realize was even involved until I later had a blow out. The knife stabs went all the way into the tires. I believe whoever the person was that did this is evil. Honestly. AND I also believe they do not represent the majority of truckers, who I find to overall be ‘good folk’. Yet mine is not a lone situation. I‘ve heard of air being let out of tires (bad! yet not pure evil like slashing); 5th wheel trailers disconnected from their truck in the night, RV sides being ‘keyed’, even when not marked as a Truck Area Only. So there IS a two-way street here. I should not have to pay money for a campground (any more than truckers should have to pay for a motel) when there is a LEGITIMATE spot I’m allowed to be in.

      Reply
  5. . Hi guys hope all is well with you and your travels I would like to know if there are any rest areas in the state of Arizona I would like to know if there’s any rest areas in the state of Arizona where they allow you to stay overnight I do not have a camper just a regular car which is really comfortable let me know because I am traveling East so I will also be going through Texas Mississippi Louisiana I appreciate your response take care of you safe thank you thank you thank you Dennis

    Reply
  6. ….we discovered rest stops long ago we are spending new the night at one now outside Dublin Georgia, rest stop 88 which has about 15 truck spots, clean rest rooms and a dump. I feel they are much safer than any Wal-mart if indeed you can that will allow you to park and it’s not always easy on and easy off and most of the Cracker Barrel restaurant we have tried did not have adequate parking so for the in between 1000 trails, KOA, Elks clubs etc, this is us!!

    WDK

    Reply
  7. Hi Kait,

    You certainly hit the nail on the head with rest areas being so different. The state whose rest areas frustrate me the most are Arizona. This is entirely due to the random nature of which ones they will have open or closed and the lack of rest areas on I-40. My worst experience at rest stops has been in CA. The rest area problems have always been in area close to or in large cities.
    Thanks again for your insights!!!!
    Neal

    Reply

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