Learn about camping and boondocking in Montana

Montana Rest Area Rules

Montana Rest Area Rules


Does Montana allow you to stay overnight at their rest areas? How many hours can you stay at a Montana rest area? Is camping permitted at a Montana Rest Area? What are the full Montana rest area rules?

montana rest area mosby
Mosby Rest Area, MT-200, Montana

Montana Rest Area Rules

The Montana Department of Transportation publishes the following statement regarding use of its rest areas…

Overnight parking is allowed but limited to one parking space per vehicle and for a maximum of 12 hours. Camping at Montana rest areas is prohibited.

Montana Department of Transportation, Rest Areas

Does this mean you can stay for as long as you want at a Montana rest area? Probably not. Montana Highway Patrol officers routinely monitor rest areas. If they notice you have remained stationary at a rest area for an unusual length of time, they will check on you.

Is Overnight Parking Permitted at Montana Rest Areas?

Yes. Because Montana rest areas are open 24 hours a day, you can arrive during night time hours. You are allowed to stay there long enough to rest and relax, which might be until the following day, as long as you don’t exceed 12 hours of stay. As long as your goal is to rest long enough to resume driving safely, it’s highly unlikely law enforcement officers will bother you.

Can You Sleep Overnight at a Montana Rest Area?

Yes. You are permitted to sleep overnight in your vehicle while at a Montana Rest Area. The state has no rules against sleeping in your vehicle while parked at a Montana rest area. That’s not to say that a law enforcement officer won’t tap on your window. Your best bet is to not make any noise, stay inside your vehicle, and try not to attract attention.

Can You Camp at a Montana Rest Area?

No, camping is not allowed.

The Montana Department of Transportation has not defined “camping”.

That being said, many of their rest areas have dump stations, picnic tables, and threaded water faucets for attaching hoses. With a maximum 12-hour stay limit, you could arguably park your vehicle, enjoy a picnic, stay overnight, dump your tanks and refill.

  • As long as you don’t erect a tent or other sleeping shelter, a law enforcement officer will probably not cite you.
  • In addition, it’s best not to roll out the awning on your RV, or set up patio chairs.

A law enforcement officer may knock on your window or door if he or she decides your vehicle has been parked too long at a rest area. They may also also inquire with you if they witness your camping equipment outside, or if you’re having a party at night.

List of Montana Rest Areas

The Montana Department of Transportation publishes a list of its rest areas at the following webpage (click here)

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.

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1 thought on “Montana Rest Area Rules”

  1. As a caretaker of a Montana rest area , there’s no camping signs up at the entrance of the parking lot.
    And you can only stay 12 hrs or one night, which one comes first.
    And any time over 12 hours is considered homesteading, and it’s illegal.
    Otherwise you cannot make the rest area at your place of residence.
    And there are no dump stations for RVs


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