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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Texas, California, and Florida rest stop overnighting information

If you haven't seen last Saturday's RV Travel newsletter and the post in RV Boondocking News about the ambiguity of the law regarding sleeping overnight in Utah rest stops, the issue has elicited questions about rest stops in other states, and whether sleeping overnight can result in a ticket.

California posts rest stop rules on their website, of which these are pertinent to the overnighting issue:

You May:

* Park in any designated parking place
* Stay up to 8 hours in any 24 hour period.
* Dump sanitary wastes from RV holding tanks and portable devices at designated dump stations.

You May Not:

* Camp or pitch a tent.
* Park, to do something away from the rest area such as hike, camp or hunt.
* Use The Department of Transportation's water, electricity or gas for unauthorized use.

It is unclear whether you can fill your water tank but I would bet you can't run an extension cord to a wall outlet in the bathroom as an electrical hookup.

California's helpful list of rest stops includes services available as well as whether there is a dump station (RV Sanitation Station, in their language).

I also contacted the Texas DOT and received this reply:

"Thank you for your questions. Although camping is not permitted, visitors can certainly stay/sleep in their RV overnight. Since the facility must accommodate all visitors, no part of their RV can restrict access to roadway or sidewalks. Use of pop-out features may need to be restricted. Overnight parking is allowed for up to 24 hours. RVers are treated the same as truckers.
"The purpose of the safety rest area is to provide a safe and interesting place for drivers to stop to take a break from driving. Please encourage the readers of your blog to use them.
Andrew Keith, P. E., Supervisor, Safety Rest Area Program
Maintenance Division/Facilities Management Section
Texas Department of Transportation"

And here is a Map of rest areas in Texas, which you have now officially been invited to use overnight.

Florida is more restrictive. The following is from their website:

"Overnight camping is not permitted, but visitors may stay for up to three hours." Additional information and a map of Florida rest areas at the FDOT website.


  1. Well, it's good to know that California and Texas have clear, reasonably welcoming policies. We never did like Florida much, and it seems they return the feeling.

    Thank you for your effort to help. Have you heard anything official from or about Arizona?

  2. With budget cuts I doubt that there are too many state employees to monitor how long you are there. Most troopers are either too lazy or too busy to care. But there is always some Trooper Fife out there that you may run into. You will find that Florida sets rules but rarely enforces them to the "letter" but instead to have then in case they need them for a special case. If you act civil and friendly they 99% of the time will do the same.

  3. It seems to me that any state that restricts overnights to something like 3 hours is opening themselves up to a lawsuit. If I need a good sleep so I can continue my trip safely - what the truckers are doing - and the state whose highway I am using says I can get that rest, presents a dream case for a good lawyer if I have an accident or even get a ticket.

  4. Tejas is after all the friendly State;
    John Lambeth

  5. Thank you, Texas. I appreciate your recognition of the fact that an RV driver is as much in need of rest as is a truck driver. Many times I have felt as if I am a second class citizen because I am in an RV and not a semi.

  6. You look back a couple of years ago you will find that Florida had gangs robbing, raping, and killing people in rest stops. So Florida is trying to save peoples life.

  7. We have stayed overnight at Florida rest stops a couple of times. They had overnight attendants, and we asked the attendant first and were given the OK. Maybe if it got too crowded, they might ask somebody to move.

  8. Utah has a similar policy regarding over night parking at rest areas. I am the attendant for and UDOT'S policy mirrors Texas.

    We do have a ATV/Horse and 4 wheel drive access point to Uinta National Forest but RV's are welcome over night as long as they are not disturbing the peace of others (official policy no longer than 24 hrs in Rest Area but we also have a free campsite nearby just ask for directions.