Yes, you can stay overnight at a rest stop in most states throughout the USA. Only a handful of states specifically ban overnight stays. However, all rest stops are still open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thus, you can always arrive at night, and stay up to the maximum allotted time.
Can You Stay Overnight at a Rest Stop?
Only eight (8) of the states in the United States do not allow you to stay overnight at rest stops. The other forty-two (42) states, however, have no such prohibitions.
States that prohibit overnight stays at rest stops…
- Hawaii 1
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
1 Hawaii does not have any rest stops, but still prohibits sleeping overnight in your vehicle (read more about this).
Note: Even though the above states do not allow you to stay overnight at a rest stop, they are still open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thus, you can still arrive at night, and stay for the maximum time allowed. See below, “How Many Hours Can You Stay at a Rest Stop?”
States With Specific Exclusions on Overnight Stays at Rest Stops
- Georgia – Allows overnight parking at rest stops, but not at its welcome centers.
- Indiana – Allows overnight parking at most rest stops; however a few have signs prohibiting such activity
- Massachusetts – Allows overnight parking at most rest stops; however a few have signs prohibiting such activity
- New Jersey – Allow overnight parking at most rest stops; however a few restrict overnight parking to commercial vehicles only
How Many Hours Can You Stay at a Rest Stop?
These are the maximum hours allowed when staying at a rest stop. These hours apply all throughout the day, not just overnight. Click on each state to read the specific laws and rules…
- Alabama – no time limit
- Alaska – no time limit
- Arizona – no time limit
- Arkansas – no time limit
- California – 8 hours
- Colorado – no time limit
- Connecticut – no time limit
- Delaware – 6 hours at Smyrna Rest Area, no time limit at I-95 Welcome Center
- Florida – 10 hours for commercial vehicles, 3 hours for all others
- Georgia – no time limit
- Hawaii – no time limit
- Idaho – 10 hours in Interstate rest areas, 16 hours on all other highways
- Illinois – 3 hours
- Indiana – no time limit
- Iowa – 24 hours
- Kansas – 24 hours
- Kentucky – 4 hours
- Louisiana – no time limit
- Maine – no time limit
- Maryland – 3 hours
- Massachusetts – no time limit for most, some rest areas have a 2 hour limit
- Michigan – no time limit
- Minnesota – 10 hours for commercial vehicles, 4 hours for all others
- Mississippi – 8 hours
- Missouri – no time limit
- Montana – no time limit
- Nebraska – 10 hours
- Nevada – 18 hours
- New Hampshire – no time limit
- New Jersey – no time limit
- New Mexico – 24 hours
- New York – 10 hours for commercial vehicles, 3 hours for all others, 4 hours at service plazas
- North Carolina – no time limit
- North Dakota – no time limit
- Ohio – no time limit
- Oklahoma – no time limit
- Oregon – 12 hours
- Pennsylvania – 2 hours, 24 hours at service plazas
- Rhode Island – no time limit
- South Carolina – no time limit
- South Dakota – 10 hours for commercial vehicles, 3 hours for all others
- Tennessee – 2 hours
- Texas – 24 hours
- Utah – no time limits
- Vermont – no time limits
- Virginia – no time limits
- Washington – 8 hours
- West Virginia – no time limits
- Wisconsin – 24 hours
- Wyoming – no time limits
Is it Legal to Sleep In Your Vehicle at a Rest Stop?
Yes, it is legal in all 50 states to sleep in your car, van, or RV at a rest stop. The only questions are… for how many hours, and whether or not you can stay overnight. Read more about this at, “Can You Sleep In Your Car at a Rest Area?“
- Otherwise, rest stops are intended for “resting”, which means using a rest room, getting out and stretching your legs, as well as getting some sleep.
- No state wants drowsy drivers on the road. This is why rest stops exist… to give you some time to sleep in your vehicle.
Is Camping Allowed at Rest Stops?
About half of the states have specifically banned camping at a rest stop. Camping is not the same as staying overnight in your vehicle.
All states regard camping as a form of outdoor recreation. This may include pitching a tent, building a campfire, cooking on a campfire or grill, setting up chairs and tables outside, playing outdoor games.
By contrast, overnight night parking is generally seen as sleeping in your vehicle. As long you remain inside your car, van, or RV, don’t make a lot of noise, and try to act like someone who needs rest, no law enforcement officer is going to bother you.
The following states have specifically banned camping at rest stops…
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
The other states not appearing in the list above have not mentioned “camping” in their laws and regulations with respect to rest stops. This is not to mean that camping is allowed, it just means that they haven’t addressed it specifically. If a law enforcement officer sees you “camping” at a rest stop, it’s primarily his/her judgement call to say something to you about it.
More About Staying Overnight At Rest Stops
- Which States Allow Overnight Parking at Rest Areas?
- Is it Safe to Sleep in Your Car at Rest Stops?
- Can You Run a Generator at a Rest Area?
More About Overnighting at Rest Areas & Truck Stops
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