New Hampshire

Learn about camping and boondocking in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Rest Area Rules

New Hampshire Rest Area Rules


The following list of rules for New Hampshire rest areas was researched from the New Hampshire Revised Statutes, New Hampshire Administrative Rules, publications issued by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, and signs posted at various rest areas in New Hampshire.

new hampshire rest area
Rest area in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Rest Area Rules

To date, the State of New Hampshire has adopted only one law in regards to the public use of its highway rest areas, and it has to do with camping…

No person shall pitch a tent or place or erect any other camping device or sleep on the ground within the public right-of-way or on public property unless permission is received from the governing board of the governmental authority having jurisdiction over such public right-of-way or property.

You can read the full text of this law at, “Section 236:58 Camping Along Highways and on Public Property“.

Aside from the above, there are no other statewide laws or regulations limiting or restricting the use of rest areas in New Hampshire.

Rules By Posted Signs

Many of the rest areas and welcome centers in New Hampshire have signs posted with specific prohibitions. Examples of such prohibitions are “All dogs must be on a leash”, “Disorderly conduct”, “Indecent behavior”, “Consuming alcohol”, “Unattended vehicles”. These prohibitions are mostly those expected at any rest area in any state.

How Long Can You Stay at a New Hampshire Rest Area?

There is no statewide maximum time limit. There are no laws or regulations that limit how long you can stay at a rest area in New Hampshire. The only possible limitation is if there is a sign posted at a specific rest area defining how long you can stay. From our own visits to rest areas in New Hampshire, we have not seen any such signs posted to date.

Note that there is at least one other website focusing on highway rest areas that claims New Hampshire has a four (4) hour limit. However, we have researched the New Hampshire Revised Statutes, New Hampshire Administrative Rules, and all publication issued by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, and have found no such time limit.

Is Overnight Parking Allowed at New Hampshire Rest Areas?

Yes, overnight parking is allowed. Because all rest areas in New Hampshire are open 24 hours a day, you are well within your rights to arrive at night and remain for as long as necessary to resume driving safely. This may effectively take you into the following morning.

Can You Sleep In Your Car at a New Hampshire Rest Area?

Yes, you can sleep in your car. New Hampshire does not have any laws or rules against sleeping in your vehicle while at a rest area. The State expects drowsy drivers to pull into a rest area to sleep. They would prefer you sleep in your vehicle instead of sleeping on the grass or on a picnic table.

Is Camping Allowed at a New Hampshire Rest Area?

No, camping is not allowed. The State has a law that specifically bans camping along its highways and on its public areas. However, the law specifically defines camping as pitching a tent, erecting a sleeping device, or sleeping on the ground. Thus, as long as you’re doing your sleeping inside your vehicle, you’re not violating this law.

Where Can I Get a List of All New Hampshire Rest Areas?

You can download a map of all New Hampshire rest areas

1 thought on “New Hampshire Rest Area Rules”

  1. Great information, but not to be confused with the “Park & Ride” lots also near highways. Those lots are provided as part of the NH Rideshare program, and have a 21 day parking time limit that can legally be interrupted by police or DOT employees if those seeking shorter-term parking need your space (pursuant to RSA 228:103.) Search “nh rideshare faq overnight” for more info. Also note that if the police or DOT notice that you’re parked longer than a day at any highway rest areas or Park & Rides in the state then they may knock on your door just to check on your well-being.


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