Can You Sleep At Rest Stops In Tennessee? 7 Facts (Explained)

Can You Sleep At Rest Stops In Tennessee

Have you ever wondered if you could sleep at rest stops in Tennessee?

If you are driving through Tennessee, we have no doubt that, sooner or later, you are going to need to be taking a small break from your driving.

Thankfully, the state is covered in rest stops. How long can you stay at them, though? In fact, more importantly, can you sleep at them?

All of your questions are going to be answered on this page!

So, can you sleep at rest stops in Tennessee? Yes, you can sleep at rest stops in Tennessee.ย There are no rules about whether you can sleep at rest stops in Tennessee or not. However, as you are about to discover, it probably isn’t something that you can do for long.

In fact, it is going to be unproductive sleep. More on that soon.

How Long Can You Stay at a Rest Stop in Tennessee?

This is where you are likely going to run into problems. You see, you can stay at a rest stop in Tennessee for a maximum of 2-hours. This means that if you do fall asleep at the rest stop, you certainly are not going to be asleep for all that long. 

Remember, the whole purpose of a rest stop is to allow somebody to rest. Nothing more than that. It isn’t meant to be a camping trip or anything like that.

It is to ensure that people are not heading out onto the roads of Tennessee while they are tired. This is just going to be dangerous. Many of the accidents on the roads of the state occur due to how tired many of the drivers are.

Read also: How Long Can You Stay At A Rest Area? (10 Examples)

What Are the Opening Hours of Rest Stops in Tennessee?

It seems that the majority of the rest stops are open 24-hours per day. However, if you are planning on traveling through Tennessee, then you may want to look up the rest stops in advance.

There is a chance that they may change their opening hours on occasion and, as a result, you are going to need to keep abreast of them.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a slight change in the operating hours of rest stops throughout the country.

rest areas on i 40 in tennessee

What Are the Rules for Staying at a Rest Stop in Tennessee?

Each rest stop will have its own rules. Once again, this is something that can potentially change each time you head to rest stop.

๐Ÿ‘‰ When you arrive, there should be a massive sign that will tell you what the rules for staying at that particular rest stop is. It is important that you read these rules so you know what is expected of you.

Thankfully, the rules should be fairly predictable…in most cases, at least.

We have already talked about the length of time that you can stay at a rest stop, as well as whether you can sleep there.

However, what about the other rules that you are going to need to abide by when you pull into a rest stop.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For starters, you need to make sure that you do not leave your vehicle at the rest stop. Well, not for too long. There is nothing that says that you can’t get out of the vehicle and stretch your legs a little bit. However, try to stay as close as possible to your vehicle.

๐Ÿ‘‰ If you wander too far from your vehicle, then there is a chance that your vehicle may end up being towed. Once again, we do want to point out the fact that the rest stop is purely for resting. You need to give the impression that you are actually resting.

๐Ÿ‘‰ In addition to this, you are not allowed to give the impression that you are planning on staying at the rest stop for a long period of time. For example, you are not going to be allowed to set up a tent or an awning near your vehicle.

You are also not allowed to set up any chairs outside of your vehicle. You may be able to do a small amount of cooking using a tiny stove. However, if you have a BBQ, then you will likely be told to move on.

๐Ÿ‘‰ You should also ensure that you stay quiet at all times when you are at the rest stop. If you have a TV or radio playing in your RV, then you will want to ensure that the sound is low. You do not want to disturb anybody.

๐Ÿ‘‰ If you have multiple people heading with you, then you should not be talking outside of your vehicle. If you do, then you also run the risk of being moved on.

๐Ÿ‘‰ For the most part, if you do not break the rules of the rest stop in Tennessee, then chances are that you probably won’t be moved on anyway. However, this is something that we are going to be talking about in the next section!

What Happens if You Break the Rules?

Now, the rules in Tennessee for how long you can stay at the rest stop may be strict. However, you may be surprised to know that they are not really that heavily enforced.

๐Ÿ‘‰ There are a lot of people that claim that they have stayed at the rest stop for well over 2-hours, and they have not been moved on, even when they have been called out on how long they have been there.

It seems that the police in Tennessee do not care if you overstay at the rest stop as long as you are staying there because you are genuinely tired.

The last thing they want to have happen is you drive out there on the roads of their state, causing an accident because you are too tired.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Of course, this does mean that you need to prove that you are genuinely tired. If you do not look tired when somebody approaches your vehicle, then they are probably going to ask you to leave.

For example, if you have been spending hours and hours watching TV in your RV, then they are probably going to think that you are fine to drive and you will be asked to move on.

๐Ÿ‘‰ If you break any of the other rules for the rest stop, then chances are that you will be asked to move on right away.

For example, if you decide to cause any noise that disrupts anybody else at the rest stop, or you give the impression that you are planning to stay there for hours and hours on end e.g. pulling out chairs and relaxing outside of your vehicle.

๐Ÿ‘‰ If you do end up breaking the rules and you are asked to leave, then you must leave right away. The last thing that the police want to do is give you a citation. However, they will be more than happy to give you a citation if you are clearly not listening to anything that they say and refuse to move on.

This citation could lead to some hefty fines, or even time in court if you fail to pay your fine on time. It isn’t a good thing to be dealing with. Trust us.

Is it Safe to Stay at a Tennessee Rest Stop?

Is it Safe to Stay at a Tennessee Rest Stop? Not every single rest stop in Tennessee is going to be staffed. However, it seems that almost all of them are going to be well-lit.

They should also be patrolled fairly often by the police looking to see whether anybody is breaking the rules at the rest stop.  Therefore, you should be safe.

That being said, you are still going to need to take precautions if you are staying at a rest stop. A lot of them are going to be in the middle of nowhere. In some cases, there may not be anybody else staying at the rest stop.

Our recommendation is that if you are staying at the rest stop, you should keep your windows covered. If you don’t, then you could potentially become the victim of a crime.

Read also: RV Theft Statistics โ€“ 11 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

Are there Alternatives to Staying at a Tennessee Rest Stop?

Obviously, you have the campsites that you can head to. However, you may also find that you can stay in the ยดparking lot of any Walmart.

The vast majority of them will allow people to park their RVs at night. Although, you are probably going to have to leave by the morning one the customers start to flow in again. You will need to look up the rules when you drive into the Walmart parking lot, though.

Read also: Can You Sleep In McDonaldโ€™s Parking Lot? (The Truth)


You can sleep at a rest stop in Tennessee. However, you do have to bear in mind that the legal maximum that you can stay there is 24-hours.

While it is unlikely that you will be moved on after 2-hours if you break the rules, you do have to remember that the police can move you on if they wish.

One thing is for certain, Tennessee rest stops are not really designed for those that want to somewhere to stay long time. 


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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