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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
Table of Contents
States That Allow Overnight Parking at Rest Stops
As of publication, these states allow overnight parking (8 hours or more) at rest stops. For the most current information and closures, visit the state’s DOT website. NOTE: there are a number of states in this list that have no laws concerning how long you can park at rest areas. That does not mean that you can stay indefinitely or that law enforcement will not check on you.
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. The California DOT website has information about their Safety Roadside Rest Areas along with interactive maps to see rest area locations, closures, road conditions and more.
Connecticut – I was not able to find any clear information on their websites but when I called I was told that while there are no specific limits, if you’re tired and you need to stop and sleep, that is allowed. You can find a list of Rest Areas and Service Plazas on the Connecticut DOT website.
Florida – Florida Administrative Code (FAC) Rule permits a period of three hours for the general public, and a period of ten hours for commercial motor vehicle operators subject to hours-of-service regulations. Locations and information on rest areas can be found on the Florida DOT website.
Georgia – According to Georgia state law: “Nothing in this Code section shall prohibit the normal, customary, and temporary use of safety rest areas, welcome centers, tourist centers, and other property of the department or state highway system specifically designated for purposes of resting, sleeping, eating, or other similar activities by persons traveling by vehicle.” You can find the location and hours of rest areas on the Georgia 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.” Camping and campfires are also prohibited at Idaho Safety Rest Areas. There is also an interactive map showing safety rest area locations throughout the state. Visit the Idaho DOT website or call 208-334-8000.
Iowa – I could not find any specific rules against overnight parking at rest areas and several sources claim Iowa has a 24 hour limit for parking. No camping is allowed but you are allowed to sleep in your vehicle. Iowa DOT website with rest areas map.
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, commercial 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.
Louisiana – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas. A list of rest areas can be found on the Louisiana DOT webpage.
Maine – there are no specific limits or regulations around parking at rest areas. The Maine DOT does not list or maintain any information about their rest areas.
Massachusetts – there are no specific rules on how long you can park at a rest area but there are some rest areas that have signs stating there is a 2 hour limit. While the state does not maintain a list of rest areas, it does have a list of service plazas on the Massachusetts DOT webpage.
Michigan – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas. An interactive map of rest areas can be found on the Michigan DOT webpage.
Minnesota – “Commercial motor vehicle operators subject to hours of service regulations under 49 CFR 395 may stop and park continuously, for a period of up to ten hours as necessary to comply with the hours of service regulations, at any MnDOT safety rest area or travel information center that has parking stalls designed to accommodate a commercial motor vehicle. All other motorists are permitted to stop at rest areas for up to four hours, where posted.” More information and an interactive map of rest areas can be found on the Minnesota DOT website.
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 and this page for the guidelines for rest areas and welcome centers.
Missouri – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas. An interactive map of rest areas can be found on the Missouri DOT webpage.
Montana – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas. A full list of rest areas and their amenities along with an interactive map can be found on the Montana DOT website.
Nebraska – while the rest area rules and regulations state: “Overnight camping or parking is prohibited.” They do specify that you are allowed to stay up to ten (10) hours. Visit the Nebraska DOT website or call 402-471-4567 for more information.
Nevada – signs posted at Nevada rest areas show a maximum stay of up to 18 hours. To see a full list of rest areas with a list of amenities for each and map of locations, visit the Nevada DOT website.
New Hampshire – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas. A map of rest areas can be found here.
New Jersey – there are not a uniform set of rules for rest areas in New Jersey. Some have posted time limits while others do not. Each rest area also has specific parking rule such as on NJ 23, vehicles under 5 tons are prohibited to park from 6pm to 6am. There is a 2 hour time limit at all turnpike service plazas. Rules for individual rest areas and scenic overlooks can be found here.
New Mexico – overnight parking at New Mexico rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. Visit the New Mexico DOT website to get up-to-date information. There is also the State of New Mexico Rest Areas Handbook which has a page for each rest area and information on the number of parking spaces, bathroom facilities, amenities, tourist attractions, comments about the rest area and an overall rating from 1-10.
New York – 10 hour limit for commercial operators and three hour limit for the general public. A full list of rest areas can be found here.
North Dakota – park overnight at a rest area in North Dakota without any limitation on length of stay. Visit the North Dakota DOT website to see a compete list of rest areas and amenities along with a list of RV dumps throughout the state or call 701-328-2500 for more info. NOTE: RV dumps are not provided at any North Dakota visitor centers or rest areas.
Ohio – there aren’t any specific ordinances against parking overnight at rest areas nor are there any time limits. The only thing that’s prohibited is camping which typically means setting up a tent or similar activity. On the Ohio DOT website, they have an interactive map of rest areas along with a link to the Rest Area Regulations.
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 Oregon’s TripCheck rest area page for a map, a list of accessible rest areas, a list of rest areas with horse areas and RV dump stations.
Pennsylvania – while overnight parking in rest areas is not allowed, 2 hours max in a 24 hour period, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority does allow parking for up to 24 hours at the service plazas.
Rhode Island – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas.
South Dakota – 10 hour limit for commercial operators and three hour limit for the general public. A special note, while you may sleep in your car, you may not sleep in an RV as it’s considered camping and camping is not allowed.
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.” There is also an interactive map showing the location of rest areas as well as a resource to find RV dumps.
Vermont – there are no specific regulations against parking overnight at a rest area, however the law specifically states that, “No individual shall enter or remain on any State highway facility for the purpose of overnight camping unless the particular facility has been designated for that purpose by the Traffic Committee.” Sleeping in a car should pose no issues however since camping is not defined it may be up to the discretion of the officer to determine if you’re “camping” in any type of RV.
Washington – overnight parking at Washington rest areas is allowed up to 8 hours within a 24 hour period. Commercial trucks are allowed to stay one hour long than the federally mandated rest periods. Visit the Washington DOT website or call 360-705-7000.
West Virginia – there are no specific limits to parking at rest areas. An interactive map of rest area locations can be found on the West Virginia state website.
Wisconsin – overnight parking at Washington rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours however no camping is allowed. Visit the Wisconsin DOT website for more information on rest areas in the state.
Wyoming – there’s a little debate with this state. 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. However, the Wyoming Rest Areas Guide has this to say: “If you need more than a nap, you can sleep in your vehicle for a longer period, but don’t pitch a tent, extend your RV’s slideouts or otherwise set up for an extended stay.” 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.
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 roadside facilities include:
- RV dump station (how to dump RV tanks)
- Electric hookup
- WiFi (how to boost WiFi)
- Vending machines
- Pet exercise area (Oregon even has horse areas at some locations!)
- Travel information center
- Recycling containers
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: Commercial Trucks, RVs, Autos
Rest areas often have separate parking for longer vehicles like commercial trucks, vehicles with trailers and large RVs with clearly marked signs. These spots are marked by white lines on the ground and typically large enough to fit a commercial truck with trailer.
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.
In a Class B camper van, we just pull into a parking spot in the autos section. Watch video of our camper van rest area experience.
Even when we traveled in a 4×4 Ford F350, we still fit in an auto spot at the rest area. Our most memorable overnight at a rest area was 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.
Commercial Trucks and RVs: The Debate
Whether RVs can overnight at a rest area has been a bit of a debate with truckers. The argument from truckers is similar to the reasons why they don’t think Rvers should overnight at truck stops. Since truckers can only drive for so many hours before they have to stop, they feel that the large spaces at rest areas should be reserved for them and that there aren’t enough parking spaces for them.
The counter argument from RVers is that rest areas are public places that are paid for by tax dollars – hence everyone has a right to overnight at rest areas as long as it is allowed.
That said, if you have a Class B RV, van, truck camper or even a small Class C motorhome and you’re not towing a trailer, my suggestion is to park on the car side so you’re not taking up a spot that a commercial truck could use.
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
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, Idaho, 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.