Is overnight parking permitted at Minnesota rest areas? How long can you stay at a Minnesota rest area? Is camping permitted at Minnesota rest areas? What are the full Minnesota rest area rules?
Minnesota Rest Area Rules
The State of Minnesota has enacted laws under its Transportation Code with respect to maximum time limits for stay at a rest area or other areas of a highway. Below is a synopsis…
- Commercial Drivers may stay at a rest area up to 10 hours maximum.
- All other drivers may stay at a rest area up to 4 hours maximum.
- Some smaller wayside rests and historical monuments will have a 6 hour maximum.
Note that the 4 hour maximum for all other drivers is technically applicable only to unattended vehicles as opposed to persons with their vehicles. Otherwise, the state does not have an official policy on how long drivers may stay at a rest area. However, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) still goes on to publish on its website that the maximum limit is 4 hours. To read the actual texts of the above two time limitations, see, “Rules for Using Minnesota Rest Areas“.
How Long Can You Stay at a Minnesota Rest Area?
- Commercial Drivers can stay up to 10 hours maximum
- All other drivers can stay up to 4 hours maximum
Is Overnight Parking Permitted at Minnesota Rest Areas?
Yes. Because Minnesota rest areas are open 24 hours a day, you can arrive during night time hours and park overnight. Even though non-commercial drivers are limited to just 4 hours of stay, you can still technically park overnight at a rest area. The reality is that most RVers and van dwellers often stay longer at Minnesota rest areas. Rarely are they ever bothered by law enforcement, unless they have stayed for an unusual length of time.
Keep in mind (read the rules above) the 4 hour maximum technically applies only to unattended vehicles. So, as long as you remain in your vehicle, don’t make any noise, and not draw attention to yourself, it’s unlikely a law enforcement officer will tap on your window after 4 hours.
Can You Sleep Overnight at a Minnesota Rest Area?
Yes. There are no rules or laws against sleeping in your vehicle while at a rest area.
Can You Camp at a Minnesota Rest Area?
Generally, no. However, MnDOT does not specifically address camping at its rest areas.
Camping is considered a form of recreation, whereas taking a break from a long drive is a form of highway safety. MnDOT is more concerned about highway safety. On the other hand, many of their “Class 1” rest areas includes facilities that could be construed as recreational in nature. Examples are children’s play lots, picnic tables, scenic viewing areas, and even gift shops. It’s conceivable you could arrive at a rest area and use it for recreational purposes as opposed to just getting some sleep. It’s difficult to determine where they draw the line on camping.
As long you don’t pitch a tent, roll out your awning, fire up your grill, nor draw attention to yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll get asked to leave.
Listing of Minnesota Rest Areas
The State of Minnesota publishes a map showing all of its rest areas… https://hb.511mn.org/#restAreas/search?timeFrame=TODAY&layers=restAreas
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