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

How Long Can You Stay At A Rest Area

Have you ever wondered how long you can stay at a rest area? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

If you are RVing around the country, you may wonder about rest areas. Obviously, many of these rest areas have been designed for trucks, but you will often see a few fellow RV users parked there too.

So, how long can you stay at a rest area?  On average, you can expect to stay at a rest stop for 2 hours as in Pennsylvania to 24 hours as in Nevada or in Wyoming. However, rules vary from state to state.

What is a Rest Area?

First things first, let’s determine what a rest area is, shall we?

Contrary to popular belief, a rest area is not going to be a place for you to camp. It is not a place for RV users or campers to use in lieu of a campsite.

They are purely to provide a little bit of rest after a long day on the road. Basically, those that use a rest area will tend to stick around for a few hours, at the most.

rest areas

Now, don’t get us wrong, there are some people that will use rest areas as a way of camping for free. However, it is not the real purpose of them.

If you are caught doing that, then there is a strong chance that you will be moved on from the area.

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

How Long Can You Stay at a Rest Area?

This is going to vary from state to state. Some will allow you to stay for a couple of hours, while others will let you stay for an indefinite amount of time.

The one thing that we do want to point out here is that, more often than not, the actual amount of time that you can spend at a rest stop is not going to be set in stone.

As we said, the purpose of rest stops is to let people rest i.e. to reduce the risk that they are going to cause an accident on the roads.

If you are simply too tired to travel on the roads, then even if a state has a low maximum time limit, chances are that you won’t be moved along all that quickly.

There isn’t a single state that wants you to go out and cause an accident simply because they moved you on too quickly.

See the table below for a list of common states and the maximum hours you may stay at a rest area:

States / LocationsMax. Hours at Rest Area
Arkansasmax. 8 hours
Californiamax. 8 hours in a 24 hours period
Coloradomax. 8 hours
Floridamax. 10 hours
Idahomax. 10 hours
Illinois max. 3 hours
Minnesota4 hours for RVs and 10 hours for Truckers
New Mexico24 hours a day
Nevadamax. 24 hours a day
Nebraskamax. 10 hours
Ohiomax. 3 hours
Oregonmax. 12 hours
Pennsylvaniamax. 2 hours
South Carolinamax. 8 hours
Texas24 hours
Utah24 hours a day
Virginia24 hours a day / 7 days a week
Wyoming24 hours a day

Will There Be Other Limitations at Rest Areas?

As we have said, these places are just for resting. They aren’t for camping. We can’t think of a single state that will allow you to pitch a tent at the rest area.

👉 We also can’t think of a single state that will allow you to pull the awning out on your vehicle. If you give the perception that you are doing anything more than resting for a few hours, then you are probably breaking the rules of the rest area.

👉 A lot of rest areas will prevent you from leaving your vehicle. You may be able to pick up food from the local services or something like that. You won’t be able to go exploring the local area (if there is anything to explore)

👉 News will have to be kept to the minimum too. Again, we have to drum into your mind that these are rest areas. Whatever you may be doing, there are going to be other people that are resting at the rest stop. You can’t disturb them.

It doesn’t matter what state you are in, they all require you to leave the rest stop when it is safe to do so. This means when you are capable of driving again.

Remember, the rules for a rest area can vary, even in the same state. Therefore, whenever you arrive somewhere new, you should always look to see whether there are any posted rules that you need to follow.

Do not just rely on the information that you picked up online. There is always a small risk that whatever you read online is wrong.

What Happens if You Break the Rules of a Rest Area?

It depends on the rule break. If you are clearly too tired to drive but you have gone a few hours over the maximum length of time to stay at a rest area, then you will likely not be moved on. However, you will be warned.

If you are clearly doing something other than resting, then you are going to be moved on incredibly quickly. The same as if you break major rules such as leaving your vehicle unattended for long periods of time or, perhaps, if you are spending too much time making noise or outside of your vehicle.

if you leave right away when asked, then chances are that nothing will happen to you. If you do not leave, then you are running the risk of getting a criminal citation for trespassing.

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

Are Rest Areas Staffed?

This is not just going to be dependent on the state, but it will also be dependent on the rest stop that you are at.

A lot of major rest stops will be fully staffed. In some cases, you may have to ‘check in’. This is just a requirement to ensure that you are not breaking the rules of the rest area.

If the ret area is not staffed, then it is likely that there will be somebody that checks in on the rest area fairly regularly. This will likely be the police.

However, in rare cases, there may be some people that have the sole job of going from rest area to rest area. Again, it is going to be dependent on the state.

Is it Safe to Stay at a Rest Area?

Mostly, yes.

If a rest area is well-lit and fairly well-populated, then chances are that there isn’t going to be that much crime. The people that target vehicles are targeting vehicles that are empty.

If there is somebody inside of vehicle, then it is going to be an even greater risk.

The fully-staffed rest areas will tend to do a good job at keeping potential troublemakers out of the rest areas.

Of course, we can never guarantee that you will always be fully safe. So, if you are going to be staying at a rest area, try not to make yourself an easy target. This means that you shouldn’t have any valuables on display in the vehicle.

You may also want to ensure that the windows of the vehicle are covered up while you are sleeping. This means that you do not have to deal with any prying eyes.

Honestly, rest areas (mostly) shouldn’t be that unsafe. It is very, very rare that you hear of any crime occurring at rest areas. Just make sure that you keep yourself to yourself. Don’t annoy people. 

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

Overnight Parking and Rest Areas Rules (Examples of 10 States)

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

We aren’t going to go through all of the states here. This would be quite a cumbersome process.

Our intention here is to not give you a complete guide to all states but to show you just how much the rules can vary between the various states.


Wyoming doesn’t really have a problem with you staying at a rest stop for as long as you like. There is no maximum time limit for staying at a Wyoming rest stop.

You are allowed to stay as long as you want, providing that you are still tired. Some people have reported staying over 24-hours!

South Carolina

This is a state that doesn’t really have a maximum limit, but you aren’t allowed to sleep there. South Carolina seems to move people on from the rest stops within a couple of hours. If you fall asleep, then you can expect to be woken up.

This actually seems to be one of the rare states whether they really don’t want you resting for too long.


This state has a 10-hour time limit to stay at a rest area, which means that the rules here are incredibly relaxed. As long as you are not camping, then you are completely fine to hang around the rest area.


This state limits you to just three hours. Many of the rest stops in Florida are actively monitored too. This means that it is tough to stay for far longer.

Although, as with most states here, Florida may let the rules slide a little bit for those people that are genuinely too tired to continue their onward journey.


This is a pretty unique state. Arkansas only allows you to stay for several hours in the same rest stop if you have a safety reason for doing so.

For example, if you are too tired to drive. We are positive that there are likely other safety reasons out there, but the one that is often the most touted is the too tired to drive one.


If you love some more relaxed rules than Nevada is one of the best states for that. The state of Nevada allows people to stay for a maximum of 24-hours. It is a huge amount!

They tend to allow rest stop hopping too, which means that you can really ‘camp’ for free. Although, of course, you will have to stay inside of that RV. You can’t relax too much.

New Mexico

This is a state that also allows you to stay there for a maximum of 24-hours. This is a great state to relax in if you have been on the road for a decent while. 


Ohio has a 3-hour time limit in most places. However, if you are on the Ohio turnpike, then you will be pleased to know that you are allowed to stay overnight if you are in an RV.

This seems to be one of the more welcoming states to traveling RV users, to be honest.


This is one of the more stringent states to stay in. In Pennsylvania, you can only stay for a maximum of 2-hours at a location.


Texas is a huge state, and you will often be able to hit several rest stops during your travels there. Luckily, there is a 24-hour time limit to stay at any of them.

Read also: Truck Stop Showers: The Ultimate Guide for Non-Truckers [Updated]


Rest stops are a fantastic place to spend your time if you are a little bit too tired to drive on the roads of the United States.

However, do bear in mind that there will always be limitations about the use of rest stops. You should also bear in mind that these limitations can vary from state to state.

Whenever you arrive in a new state, it is important that you pay attention to the rules. This way, you will know exactly what is expected of you.

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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