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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.
This post will cover:
- Which states allow overnight parking at rest stops
- How to find a rest area
- Rest area amenities
- Overnight parking spots/options
- Rest area security
- Our experiences parking overnight at rest stops
Rest Area Overnight Parking
As of publication, these states allow overnight parking at rest stops. For the most current information, visit the state’s DOT website.
Arizona – park overnight at rest areas in Arizona without any limitation on length of stay. Arizona DOT
Arkansas – park overnight at rest areas in Arkansas without any limitation on length of stay. Arkansas DOT
California – stay up to 8 hours at a California rest area. California DOT
Idaho – parking at Idaho rest areas is limited to 10 consecutive hours on interstate highways and 16 consecutive hours on State Highway System. Idaho DOT
Indiana – park overnight at rest areas in Indiana without any limitation on length of stay. Indiana DOT or call 855-463-6848
Kansas – overnight parking at Kansas rest areas is allowed for one night and no more than 24 hours. Kansas DOT
Mississippi – overnight parking at Mississippi rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. Mississippi DOT
Nebraska – according to the rest area rules in Nebraska “Overnight camping or parking is prohibited. Maximum length of stay permitted is ten (10) hours.” When I spoke to Liz in the transportation department, I was told it would be fine if I parked overnight for less than 10 hours. Nebraska DOT or call 402-471-4567
Nevada – overnight parking at Nevada rest areas is allowed for up to 18 hours in a two week period. Nevada DOT
New Mexico – overnight parking at New Mexico rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. New Mexico DOT
North Dakota – park overnight at rest areas in North Dakota without any limitation on length of stay. North Dakota DOT or call 701-328-2500
Oklahoma – park overnight at rest areas in Oklahoma without any limitation on length of stay. Oklahoma DOT or call 405-521-2557
Oregon – overnight parking at rest areas in Oregon is allowed for up to 12 hours within any 24-hour period. Oregon DOT
Texas – overnight parking at Texas rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. Texas DOT
Utah – overnight parking is allowed at Utah rest area and “monitored by the on-site staff and the Highway Patrol.” Utah DOT
Washington – overnight parking at Washington rest areas is allowed up to 24 hours. Washington DOT or call 360-705-7000
Wyoming – overnight parking is allowed at Wyoming rest areas, however you are not allowed to “pitch a tent, extend your RV’s slideouts or otherwise set up for an extended stay.” Wyoming DOT
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: Free Dump, Hookups and More
Restrooms, picnic tables and drinking fountains are standard at most rest stops.
Some rest areas provide additional amenities including
- RV dump station
- Electric hookup
- Vending machines
- Pet exercise area
- Travel information center
- Recycling containers
You can often find a list of rest area amenities in the rest area details section of Allstays.
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.
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.
Now that we travel in a pop up truck camper, we still fit in an auto spot at the rest area.
Having spent the night at different rest areas around the country, we’ve never had a concern for safety.
At some rest areas, we’ve seen posted signs saying the area is patrolled by security. It’s not something we take into consideration because there’s no way to know how often the area is patrolled.
Some state DOT signs will warn that you are parking at the rest area at your own risk.
Read: RV Safety on the Road
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 across 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.
Back up plans. 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 an option, but they can also fill up quickly.
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.
One thing we like about overnight parking at a rest area over other overnight parking options is the easy access to the highway.
Looking for a unique overnight RV camping experience? Read our Harvest Hosts Review and discover their camping on farms, winery camping, and museum programs.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 31, 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.