Alabama Rest Area Rules
The State of Alabama has not adopted any laws or administrative rules with respect to the public’s use of its highway rest areas. The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has not published any guidelines with respect to its rest area either. As of this writing, there are no laws or rules to speak of.
However, we found a small handful of rest areas in the State that have posted signs stating, “No Long Term Parking of Vehicles”. But, we have not been able to find any definition or guidance of what “long term parking” means.
How Long Can You Stay at an Alabama Rest Area?
There is no maximum time limit. While a few rest areas have posted signs prohibiting “long term parking”, that only applies to just those rest areas. If you drive into a rest area and see no such sign posted, you are free to park there for as long as it takes to rest up enough to resume driving safely.
If you drive into a rest area and see a sign that prohibits “long term parking”, then you’ll have to take more precautions. It’s our assumption that ALDOT is trying to prevent people from using their rest areas for purposes other than rest, and doing so for too long of a period. We tend to think these are folks trying to stay there for several nights in a row. As long as you can demonstrate that you are only there to rest up enough to resume driving safely, you should have no problems with staff or law enforcement. To this end, we recommend that you spend most of your time inside your vehicle, do not draw attention to yourself, and try to act like someone who is too exhausted to do much of anything.
Is Overnight Parking Allowed at Alabama Rest Areas?
Yes, overnight parking is allowed. There are no official rules against overnight parking. While a few rest areas in Alabama have posted signs prohibiting “long term parking”, that doesn’t apply to all rest areas.
But because all rest areas are open 24 hours a day, you are well within your rights to arrive at a rest area during the evening, and remain there until the following morning. As long as you’re just there to get some rest before continuing driving, you’ll be fine.
Can You Sleep Inside Your Car at a Rest Area in Alabama?
Yes, you can sleep inside your car. The State of Alabama would prefer you sleep inside your car rather than sleep on a picnic table or pitch a tent on their grounds. In addition, they expect you to get some sleep to ensure you can resume driving safely.
Is Camping Allowed at Alabama Rest Areas?
Yes, camping is allowed. There are no laws, rules or policies against camping. None of the rest areas have signs posted prohibiting camping.
However, a handful of rest areas do have signs prohibiting “long term parking”. But, that applies only to those rest areas, and not all rest areas in Alabama. Also, ALDOT has not published or adopted any kind of definition of what “long term parking” means.
Note that all rest areas in Alabama include facilities that are consistent with recreational camping. These include picnic tables, scenic walkways, scenic viewing areas, pet areas, and informational kiosks. Most rest areas have RV dump stations and threaded water faucets for hooking up hoses. Thus, it appears that ALDOT encourages its visitors to enjoy a certain level of camping. And because most rest areas do not prohibit overnight parking, nor define any kind of maximum time limits, you could extend your camping activities through the night and into the following morning.
However, because rest areas are really not intended to serve as campgrounds, we highly recommend respecting the free facilities that the State of Alabama has provided, and try not to extend your stay too long.
Where Can I Find a List of Alabama Rest Areas?
The Alabama Department of Transportation has published a map and list of rest areas on their website… https://aldotgis.dot.state.al.us/awcra/