How long can you stay at a South Carolina rest area? Is overnight parking allowed at rest areas in South Carolina? Can you sleep in your car? Is camping permitted? What are the full South Carolina rest area rules?
South Carolina Rest Area Rules
The State of South Carolina has not adopted any laws or administrative rules with respect to its highway rest areas. However, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has posted signs at each of its rest areas with a set of rules. These rules are as follows…
For the convenience of motorists, area is not to be used for camping, overnight parking, sports, meetings or other group activities. Commercial use prohibited.“
As an FYI, each rest area also posts a sign saying, “Rest Area Patrolled by Law Enforcement“. Also, we’ve noticed contracted security personnel on site.
Is Overnight Parking Allowed at South Carolina Rest Areas?
Technically, overnight parking is not allowed.
However, because South Carolina’s rest areas are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you are still allowed to arrive at night, and stay for as long as it takes to rest up. It’s entirely possible that may require staying until the following morning. SCDOT does not provide any kind of guidance in determining the difference between overnight parking and using a rest area for its intended purpose.
How Long Can You Stay at a South Carolina Rest Area?
There is no maximum limit. Aside from signs posting that overnight parking is prohibited, there is no defined number of hours one can stay at a South Carolina rest area. However, because the purpose of rest areas is to provide a safe place for drivers to rest, it’s assumed you are allowed to remain here for as long as it takes to continue driving safely.
Can You Sleep In Your Car at a South Carolina Rest Area?
Yes, sleeping in your car is permitted. There are no rules or signs posted prohibiting sleeping in vehicles. SCDOT expects drowsy drivers to pull into a rest area and get some sleep. They would prefer you do it inside your vehicle and not on the grass or on picnic tables.
Is Camping Allowed at Rest Areas in South Carolina?
No, camping is not allowed. Signs posted state that camping is prohibited. However, all South Carolina rest areas have facilities that are consistent with recreational camping. These include picnic tables, scenic walkways, viewing areas, pet areas, and historical and information kiosks. It seems that SCDOT does welcome a certain level of recreational use of its facilities. What we understand is that they don’t want visitors to continue their recreation through the evening nor into the following morning.
Where Can I Get a List of All Rest Areas in South Carolina?
FreeRoam has published a map of all rest areas and welcome centers in South Carolina [click here]