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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
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.
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:
- RV dump station (how to dump RV tanks)
- Electric hookup
- WiFi (how to boost WiFi)
- 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.
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.
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 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
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.