Learn about camping and boondocking in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Rest Area Rules

Massachusetts Rest Area Rules


How long can you stay at a Massachusetts rest area? What are the full Massachusetts rest area rules? Is camping allowed? Is overnight parking allowed at a Massachusetts rest area? Can you sleep in your car?

massachusetts rest area
Massachusetts Rest Area

Massachusetts Rest Area Rules

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has not adopted any laws with respect to the public use of its highway rest areas. The Massachusetts Department Transportation (MassDOT) has not adopted any rules nor published any guidelines about how long one can stay at a rest area. MassDot did, however, adopt a rule about not leaving a vehicle unattended for more than 30 minutes at a rest area (720 CMR 9.03). Aside from that, the only rules in effect are based on whatever signs are posted at individual rest areas.

How Long Can You Stay at a Massachusetts Rest Area?

There is no statewide time limit enacted by law or regulation. However, a handful of parking areas located along highways have signs posted for “Two Hour Limit”. But these appear to be few and far between. Most rest areas, parking areas, and service plazas have no such signs.

Are You Allowed Park Overnight at a Massachusetts Rest Area?

Yes, you are allowed to park overnight at most rest areas. A handful of rest areas, however, have signs posted prohibiting overnight parking. But these are also few and far between. Otherwise, the  Commonwealth has no statewide laws or regulations against overnight parking. Massachusetts does, however, have a regulation prohibiting you from leaving your vehicle unattended for more than 30 minutes at a rest area. But as long as you are in your vehicle, you should be fine.

Can You Sleep in Your Car at a Rest Area in Massachusetts?

Yes, you can sleep in your car. There are no laws or regulations in Massachusetts prohibiting anyone from sleeping in their vehicle while parked at a rest area. The state expects drowsy drivers to use rest areas for sleeping. They would rather you sleep in your vehicle instead of sleeping on the grass or on a picnic table.

Is Camping Allowed at a Massachusetts Rest Area?

There are no laws or regulations prohibiting you from camping at a rest area. However, in the interest of not drawing attention to yourself, and not attracting law enforcement officers, it’s best you remain in your vehicle. Some of MassDOT’s rest areas have picnic tables and cooking grills, however. This may encourage visitors to set up a barbecue and picnic for the afternoon. As long you don’t extend your outdoor activities through the evening and into the following morning, you should be fine.

Where Can I Get a List of All Masschusetts Rest Areas?

MassDOT publishes a list and map of their rest areas and service plazas.

More About Overnighting at Rest Areas & Truck Stops

Available at

The Ultimate Truck Parking Guide 9th Edition Paperback – January 18, 2020, by LeRoy D Clemmer

Note: the above list of books are not endorsed by Boondocker's Bible, but are recommended because they provide information relevant to this article. Boondocker's Bible will earn a commission on the sales of these books to help support our goal of providing free boondocking education to the public.

Read Related Articles

Download Related Documents

Cape Cod Canal, Motorized Vehicles on Service Roads - US Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, 2020

302 CMR 12.00: Parks and Recreation Rules - Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2022

4 thoughts on “Massachusetts Rest Area Rules”

  1. I was sleeping in a rest area in Massachusetts. I was in the back seat and my brother was in the front seat. I had just got gotten out of the Army two days before. A Massachusetts State Trooper pulled us out of the car. He said, “gays hang out in rest areas.” He also told us it was illegal to sleep in a Massachusetts rest area. He said, “rest areas are for resting. Sleeping in a rest area in Massachusetts is probable cause to search your vehicle. I said, “first of all this is my brother and we needed to pull off to be safe and sleep.” Then he said, “where are the drugs?” We said, “what are you talking about there are no drugs. I just got out of the Army.” He made us stand with our hands on the car and our feet spread while it was snowing. He dumped my cigarettes and wallet out into the snow. He found a butterfly knife I had bought in Georgia in my leather jacket pocket. I had forgot it was even there. He arrested me for, “possession of a dangerous weapon.” He also kept saying, “ I know there are drugs in this car.” I just can’t find them.” He had torn the whole car apart and threw clothing and other items into the snow. When we were on our way to the state trooper barracks. Someone on a CB radio said something about a Smokey. The Statie said, “who’s talking about me ? I put this CB in my car myself! So I can hear if these shit bags talk about me!” Then he said, “there’s the guy”, pointing to a car with antennas on it. He then turned the old pot light on and shined it in the motorists face/eyes. I, handcuffed in the back seat said, “you are blinding him!” He said,
    “Fuck him.” He was probably one of the many fine upstanding Massachusetts State Troopers who were stealing overtime.

    • Wow, crazy! Keep in mind that law enforcement officers are allowed to lie in the course of coercing information from you. We stand by our article in that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has no laws or regulations prohibiting in sleeping vehicles at a rest area, or parking there overnight. There are a couple of a rest areas in Massachusetts that do have signs posted either prohibiting overnight parking, or limiting it to just two hours. But the large majority of rest areas in Massachusetts have no such limitations. Sounds like this officer was trying hard to find a reason to charge you, even going so far as to lie to you.

  2. This is definitely true, have a had a vehicle parked in a park and ride in a small town I’ve been living out of for 2 years now. Only have one older state trooper who states “it defeats the purpose of a park and ride” mind you the lot is pretty much empty and a lot of vehicles park overnight continuously for the whole 2 years I’ve been here, so I’m not the only vehicle, even an RV parks here. Did have one local cop try to tell me they go by a “21 day limit” but by law terminology their are no laws or regulations written stating any of it is illegal.

  3. Yo fam, you summed up the basic massachusetts state trooper experience. Raised by Nixon children, and belive they are above the law so long as they find anything. It’s why raise my glass to the fine people in the armed forces and the constitutional auditors who keep fight to keep the boys in blue honest. Also get a good dash cam yo. It will save yo booty


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