Texas Camping Laws and Regulations

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Rules for Using Rest Areas in Texas


Transportation Code, Title 7, Vehicles and Traffic, Sec. 545.411. Use of Rest Area: Offense

Synopsis: This is the only state law addressing the use of rest areas in Texas

Sec. 545.411.  USE OF REST AREA:  OFFENSE. 

(a)  A person commits an offense if the person remains at a rest area for longer than 24 hours or erects a tent, shelter, booth, or structure at the rest area and the person:

(1) has notice while conducting the activity that the activity is prohibited; or (2) receives notice that the activity is prohibited but does not depart or remove the structure within eight hours after receiving notice.
(b) For purposes of this section, a person:
(1) has notice if a sign stating the prohibited activity and penalty is posted on the premises; or (2) receives notice if a peace officer orally communicates to the person the prohibited activity and penalty for the offense.
(c) It is an exception to Subsection (a) if a nonprofit organization erects a temporary structure at a rest area to provide food services, food, or beverages to travelers and the Texas Department of Transportation:
(1) finds that the services would constitute a public service for the benefit of the traveling public; and (2) issues a permit to the organization.
(d) In this section, "rest area" means public real property designated as a rest area, comfort station, picnic area, roadside park, or scenic overlook by the Texas Department of Transportation. Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

10 thoughts on “Rules for Using Rest Areas in Texas”

  1. I live in Carrollton, TX. If I buy a “truck tent” that is designed to be set up in the bed of my pick up truck (another on the ground)… can I use it to sleep in at a rest stop in Texas? It’s a grey area in the rules?
    I understand it would be just a nighttime stay, then leave to travel on in the morning. I haven’t bought it yet, but it’s a cheaper way of retired sightseeing!

    • Ramon, as long as the tent is within the vehicle, you should be fine. The main issue that states have with sleeping overnight at rest areas is when people sleep on the ground, or on picnic tables, or inside restroom facilities, or when they erect tents on the ground. It always possible there will be an officer with a bad attitude that will take exception and order you to leave. But, I’m pretty sure as long as you keep your tent within in your pickup truck, you’ll be fine.

    • Nicholas, Texas DOT regulation (as stated in the article above) does not allow visitors to erect tents on rest area grounds. If a law enforcement officer sees you with a tent on the ground, I’m pretty sure they will approach you and notify you of the rules. They will probably allow you to stay with your tent until the morning, but will probably cite you. If somehow, your trailer had the ability to host the tent on top of the trailer, then I think officers will allow that, being that the trailer is part of the vehicle itself.

  2. What are the rules/law on parking in non parking slots. Meaning big truck or anybody on curb… inbound shoulder… outbound parking. We all see it every night trucks parked all over the place.

  3. Are you allow to park an 18 Wheeler on the shoulder over night as long as everyone can get in and out? If there is no more parking available.

  4. I have a mobile showroom truck. It is actually an old beverage truck like soft drink and beer distributors drive to deliver their products that I have converted into a mobile showroom for selling general merchandise at swap meets. Do I need, and can I get a permit to open the roll up doors to display and sell that merchandise at a rest stop?


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