If you are a regular RVer and have been across the country, chances are you have needed to find a place to rest or sleep. If you need to find a place to stop for the night, it helps to know the price and if there are any overnight parking rules.

Some RV parks can be $30 or $40 or night, but if you are just stopping and heading out early, this may be too much to pay. There is also the option to stay in a rest stop. Rest stops are different all across the country. Some allow RVers to stay as long as they need and others have time limits. Every rest stop also varies when it comes to how strictly these limits are enforced.

Rest stops do not allow camping, but sleeping in your RV is not considered camping. This means, there are many rest areas where you can pull the RV over and sleep for a night. Some rest stops may even provide access to national parks. When planning out your trip, look for rest areas that allow overnight RV parking. Some will have small fees, so you need to be prepared. The DOT can help with any questions you may have about rest areas and RVing.

See Rest Area Overnight Rules By State

Metal Carport For RV

Is It Overnight Parking Or Camping?

Camping is categorized as a recreational activity and pitching a tent and campsite. This is not allowed in rest areas anywhere across the country. Rest areas are designed to give tired drivers a break, and this includes RV drivers. Long-distance truck drivers have cabs to sleep in and RVers have their own bed. No tents or sites are set up, so it is not camping. The rest area is being used for resting, not recreation.

Where things get confusing, is that many rest areas have established facilities in the area that are consistent with recreation. There are often grills, tables, play areas, bathrooms, access to trails and viewing areas, and some even have museums or exhibits. These encourage visitors to stick around and have fun, but yet, camping is discouraged. And, not allowed.

Activities at rest areas are to be finished by the time the sun goes down. Most states consider any nighttime activity recreational and camping. They do not want tents posted or fires burning all night. RVers can enjoy these facilities during the day, so long as they are all packed up into the RV at night. The expectation is that you will get your rest and then be on your way the next morning.

What are Rest Areas?

You can usually find a rest area every hour or so along major highways. These were constructed for road safety as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The idea was to give drivers rest to prevent them from having accidents as a result of being tired. The highways in the country pass through all places, many of which end up in very isolated spots. Hence, some facilities are also in place to better facilitate those who stop.

With the addition of these facilities, a new policy was created by the American Association of State Highway Officials. This set guidelines for the rest areas including when you can stay overnight with an RV. Sleeping in an RV at a rest stop depends on the state you are in and the rest stop.

Rest areas are designed to keep the roads safe by giving sleepy drivers a place to rest. RVers that are doing more than this, may be asked to leave, depending on the state and rest stop.

Most states prohibit camping at rest stops and specify that resting is not camping. The length of time you “rest” is important to whether you are camping or not. RVers can pull in to rest stops, park, and sleep, but they cannot open a pull-out.

Time Limits on How Long You Can Stay

Most rest stops in the country have developed maximum time limits for staying. They can range from as low as two hours to as long as twenty-four hours. Some have no limits at all and in many cases, Highway Patrol does not enforce the limits strictly. States want the roads to be safe and have places for drowsy drivers to rest. Law enforcement only gets involved, if someone stays at a rest area for too long.

Parking Overnight at a Rest Area Without Getting into Trouble

You can stay at a rest area as long as you are tired. As long as you are not setting up camp and spend most of your time inside the RV, it should be fine. If it looks like you are just resting for the night, law enforcement will not bother you.

Stay inside the RV and do not open up the awning. Do not play music and set up chairs or a grill. Keep the lights low to keep up appearances that you are resting. Take care not to draw attention to yourself and you will not be bothered. You can rest as long as you need to, even if it does go beyond the specified limit.

 

Interstate Rest Areas Overnight RV Parking Rules By State

(Local DOT phone numbers and websites)

 

Alabama

334-353-6554
https://www.dot.state.al.us/
No overnight RV parking

Alaska

907-465-3900
www.dot.state.ak.us
Unless it is specifically posted otherwise, you can stay overnight in your RV, without a problem.

Arizona

602-712-7355
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/
You can stay in rest areas overnight

California

916-654-2852
https://dot.ca.gov/
8-hour limit to stay

Colorado

303-757-9011
https://www.codot.gov/
Overnight parking is not allowed

Connecticut

860-594-2000
http://www.ct.gov/dot
No overnight parking

Delaware

302-760-2080
https://deldot.gov/
4-hour stay limit, no overnight

Florida

850-414-4100
https://www.fdot.gov/
3-hour stay limit, no overnight

Georgia

404-631-1990
http://www.dot.ga.gov/
No overnight parking

Hawaii

808-587-2160
hidot.hawaii.gov
No overnight parking

Idaho

208-334-8000
itd.idaho.gov
10-hour stay limit

Illinois

217-782-7820
https://idot.illinois.gov/
3-hour stay limit, no overnight parking

Indiana

855-463-6848
https://www.in.gov/indot/
You may sleep in your RV if you are discreet

Iowa

515-239-1101
https://iowadot.gov/
You can park less than 24 hours

Kansas

785-296-3566
http://www.ksdot.org/
You can stay one night only

Kentucky

502-564-4890
https://transportation.ky.gov
4-hour time limit

Louisiana

877-452-3683
http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov
Can stay to rest, let the security guard know, but officially no overnight parking

Maine

207-624-3000
https://www.maine.gov/mdot/
No overnight parking

Maryland

410-865-1000
https://www.mdot.maryland.gov
3-hour stay limit, no overnight

Massachusetts

877-623-6846
https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-transportation
No overnight parking

Michigan

517-373-2090
https://www.michigan.gov/mdot
4-hour stay limit, no overnight

Minnesota

651-296-3000
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/
4-hour stay limit, no overnight

Mississippi

601-359-7001
https://mdot.ms.gov/
Overnight parking permitted, you can park to up to 24 hours

Missouri

888-275-6636
https://www.modot.org/
Overnight parking permitted

Montana

406-444-6201
https://www.mdt.mt.gov/
Overnight parking permitted

Nebraska

402-471-4567
https://dot.nebraska.gov/
10-hour stay limit

Nevada

775-888-7000
https://www.dot.nv.gov/
24-hour stay limit

New Hampshire

603-271-3734
https://www.dot.nh.gov/
4-hour stay limit

New Jersey

609-530-200
https://nj.gov/transportation/
Overnight parking is permitted up to 12 hours

New Mexico

505-827-5100
https://dot.state.nm.us/
24-hour stay limit

New York

518-457-6195
https://www.dot.ny.gov/index
3-hour limit, or 4 hours on Thruhways

North Carolina

877-368-4968
https://www.ncdot.gov
4-hour stay limit

North Dakota

701-328-2500
https://www.dot.nd.gov/
Overnight parking is allowed

Ohio

614-466-7170
https://www.transportation.ohio.gov
3-hour limit, no overnight parking. Some Ohio Turnpike rest areas allow RV overnight parking

Oklahoma

405-521-2557
https://www.odot.org/
Overnight parking is ok

Oregon

888-275-6368
https://www.oregon.gov/odot
12-hour stay limit

Pennsylvania

717-214-4035
https://www.penndot.gov
2 hours stay limit unless otherwise posted

Rhode Island

401-222-2450
http://www.dot.ri.gov
Overnight parking is allowed

South Carolina

855-467-2368
https://www.scdot.org/
No overnight parking

South Dakota

605-773-3265
https://dot.sd.gov
You can stay only up to 4 hours

Tennessee

615-741-2848
https://www.tn.gov/tdot.html
2-hour stay limit

Texas

512-463-8588
https://www.txdot.gov/
24 hours stay limit

Utah

801-965-4000
https://www.udot.utah.gov
No overnight parking but you might be able to stay if you discreet

Vermont

802-828-2657
https://vtrans.vermont.gov/
No overnight parking unless otherwise posted

Virginia

800-367-7623
http://www.virginiadot.org/
No overnight parking

Washington

360-705-7000
https://wsdot.wa.gov/
8-hour stay limit

West Virginia

304-558-3505
https://transportation.wv.gov/
Overnight parking is allowed

Wisconsin

608-244-5310
https://wisconsindot.gov/
No overnight parking

Wyoming

307-777-4375
http://www.dot.state.wy.us
Overnight parking is ok