Can You Sleep At Rest Stops In California? (The Truth)

Can You Sleep At Rest Stops In california

Have you ever wondered if you can sleep at rest stops in California? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

When it comes to sleeping at rest stops, California is a state with fairly relaxed rules. Obviously, there will still be a limitation or two about what you can and can’t do at these rest stops, but we will explain a little bit about that throughout this page.

Can You Sleep at Rest Stops in California?

Can You Sleep at Rest Stops in California? Yes. As long as the rest stop is open 24-hours per day, which should be most rest stops in California. The only restriction that you have is that you are not allowed to stay at the same rest stop for more than 8-hours in a 24-hour period.

So, once that time limit is up, you have no choice but to move on from the rest stop.

What Are the Restrictions for Sleeping at Rest Stops in California?

Obviously, your main limitation is going to be how long you are actually allowed to stay at the rest stop. This is almost always going to be eight hours, but some people report that there are rest stops that are a lot more restrictive than this.

When you arrive at a rest stop, you should always make sure that you check the signposted rules to know exactly how long you should be staying there.

👉 You are not allowed to camp at the rest stop in CA. This is where things actually become a little bit more restrive than other states.

Most states will prohibit you from pitching a tent. However, California goes beyond this. You are not allowed to give the illusion that you are planning to stay there for long periods of time.

This means that you are not allowed to have an awning coming off of your vehicle.

You may not even be allowed to put chairs outside of your RV. Basically, you should be staying in that RV at all times.

👉 In addition to this, you are not allowed to leave the RV. So, for example, you are not allowed to park at a rest stop and go exploring the local area.

If you leave your RV or other vehicles unattended, then there is a strong chance that it will be towed, and we are pretty confident that you do not want this to happen.

👉 You are allowed to cook using a small stove at any of the rest stops. The rules do not say whether this can be a stove that burns wood. However, we are going to assume that it is fine.

Most other states explicitly prohibit stoves that are not running on gas, but California does not seem to be one of those states.

Beyond this, the rules are going to be much the same as any other rest stop in any other state. This means that you are not allowed to cause noise. You are not allowed to sell anything at the rest stop, etc. 

Read also: Can You Sleep In McDonald’s Parking Lot? (The Truth)

What Happens if You Break the Rules for Sleeping at California Rest Stops?

To be honest, probably nothing.

👉 If you go over the 8-hour time limit by a couple of hours, nobody is really going to be complaining that much.

There are not that many people keeping tabs on who is coming and going from rest stops.

Although, do bear in mind that some of the serviced rest stops may have cameras that keep an eye on you, but even then, it is unlikely that somebody will ask to have you removed.

👉 If you break other rules then, yes. Somebody is likely going to ask you to pack up your things and leave the area.

Since some of these rest stops can be pretty busy, a lot of people are not going to be given the opportunity to correct their mistake unless it is a minor one.

If you refuse to leave when you are asked to do so, then you will be regarded as a trespasser. This can carry some rather harsh criminal penalties so, obviously, you do not want to be classed as a trespasser!

Read also: Can I Park an RV at Walmart? [Recent Law & Rules]

Can You Hop From Rest Stop to Rest Stop in California?

Yes. The rules state that you are not allowed to stay at the same rest stop for more than 8-hours in a 24-hour period.

There seem to be no rules that state that you cannot go from rest stop to rest stop. Since CA is such a large state, this is something that should be pretty feasible too.

A lot of people have been known to tour around the state in their RV, staying at various rest stops whenever they can.

Read also: Where Can You Legally Live in an RV? (Incl. 10 Examples)

How Do You Find Rest Stops in California?

Because California is such a popular state for truckers and those driving around in their RVs, then you should easily find a ton of information online about the various rest stops that you can stay at.

CA will also keep a database of these rest stops for you to go through too, which is nice.

👉 The one thing that you need to be concerned with is that a lot of these websites can have outdated or incorrect information. Yes. The rest stops are still going to exist.

However, the rules of the rest stops can change on occasion, so whenever you pull into a new rest stop, you will want to pay attention to any signposts to discover what is expected of you there.

As long as you do not breach any of the rules on the signposts, then you should be fine.

👉 You need to remember that the services available at each of the rest stops can differ quite a bit. Some will have nothing, while others will be fully serviced.

If you have an RV, do bear in mind that you will only be allowed to empty any waste from your RV at rest stops with designated RV disposal locations, which is a surprising number of them.

Read also: Average RV Park Rates: Nationwide Campgrounds Prices per Night

Map Of Rest Areas Near Me In California

Just follow the link where you can find the current information >>

Overnight Parking Rules

If you are interested in the overnight parking rules then just follow the link to the Interstate Rest Areas Webpage where you can see the current status.

Is It Safe to Sleep at Rest Stops in California?

Mostly, yes.

For the most part, California isn’t really a state with huge amounts of crime.

Many of the rest stops should be well-lit, and many criminals will not target these rest stops because people will tend to be staying there, and that is just going to be too much of a risk for them.

However, you are still going to be sleeping in a location that is not very secure. This means that the risk of crime is always going to be there.

Therefore, it is important that you keep your wits about you. If you don’t, then you could run the risk of being the victim of crime at a rest stop.

Read also: Tips For NON-Truckers: Are Truck Stops Safe for RV’s to Park Overnight?


For the most part, you should be fine sleeping at one of the many California rest stops.

You will need to pay attention to the rules of the rest stop when you arrive, however, most of them will say not much more than only be allowed to stay there for a maximum of eight-hours.

If you go over the eight-hours, then you can expect to be removed.

It isn’t always guaranteed that you will be removed, but you do have to play by the rules. After all, there are a lot of people that want to use these rest stops. 


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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