Is overnight parking allowed at Georgia rest areas? How long can you stay at a Georgia rest area? Can you sleep in your car at a Georgia rest area? Is camping allowed? What are the full Georgia rest area rules?
Georgia Rest Area Rules
The State of Georgia has adopted some laws regarding camping on highways and use of rest areas into Title 32 of the Georgia Code, “Highways, Bridges, and Ferries”. Below is a synopsis of those laws…
- Camping along highways or on property owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is illegal.
- Resting and sleeping at rest areas, as long as it falls under “normal, customary, and temporary use”, is permitted.
You can read the actual word-for-word text of the law at, “Rules for Using Rest Areas in Georgia“.
Rest Areas and Visitor Information Centers
Note that Georgia has both Rest Areas and “Visitor Information Centers”. Visitor Information Centers are also rest areas, and are marked as such on highways. However, Visitor Information Centers offer travel information for tourists, and are located near state lines. Rest Areas are the standard, classic, parking areas with restrooms for cars, trucks, and RVs.
Visitor Information Centers are not open 24 hours. Their tourist information services are only open from 8:30am to 5:30pm, 7-day a week, while restrooms are only open from 7:00am to 11:00pm. Rest Areas are open 24-hours a day.
How Long Can You Stay at a Georgia Rest Area?
There are no laws or regulations that define a maximum amount of time you can spend at a rest area. Georgia’s laws, as discussed above, only states that “normal, customary, and temporary” use is permitted for rest areas and other roadside facilities intended for resting and sleeping.
But this is different with Visitor Information Centers. Because these are not open 24-hours, and have limited operating hours, they have signs posted prohibiting overnight parking.
Is Overnight Parking Allowed at Georgia Rest Areas?
Yes, overnight parking is allowed. There are no laws or rules prohibiting overnight parking at rest areas. Visitor Information Centers, however, are different (see next paragraph). As long as you are using a rest area for “normal, customary, and temporary use”, you are allowed to do so. If you plan to park your vehicle overnight at a rest area, we recommend you spend most of your time inside your vehicle, draw little to no attention to yourself, and act like someone who really needs a lot of rest.
With respect to Visitor Information Centers, which are not open 24-hours, overnight parking is prohibited. There are signs posted at these centers stating this.
Can You Sleep in Your Car at a Georgia Rest Area?
Yes, you can sleep in your car, truck, or RV. There are no laws or regulations against sleeping in your vehicle. You are just not allowed to pitch a tent or sleep on the grounds.
You can even sleep in your vehicle at a Visitor Information Center as long as you leave before 11:00pm (when restrooms close).
Is Camping Allowed at Rest Areas in Georgia?
No, camping is not allowed. The State has a law against camping along highways and GDOT property (see top of this article).
However, rest areas in Georgia include facilities that are consistent with recreational camping. These include picnic tables, scenic walkways, scenic viewing areas, information kiosks, RV dump stations, and threaded water faucets to hookup hoses. It appears that GDOT welcomes drivers to enjoy these facilities for some level of camping. As long as you put all of your camping stuff inside your vehicle after sunset, and then remain inside, you should be fine to remain overnight until the following morning. What the State does not want are people camping outside all night, sleeping on the grass, or pitching tents.
Where Can I Get a List of All Rest Areas in Georgia?
The Georgia Department of Transportation publishes a list of all rest areas in Georgia here… http://www.dot.ga.gov/ds/travel/restareas
The Georgia Department of Economic Development publishes a list of Visitor Information Centers here… https://www.exploregeorgia.org/georgia-welcome-centers