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Old 02-22-2019, 01:01 PM   #1
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Rest Area experiences and comments, please

This was the forum that I thought was most appropriate for this topic. I am curious about experiences at Rest Areas; mainly in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada.
I have looked up the policies for each of these states and some are on the vague side. Utah's says "No overnight camping, extended stays are permitted and monitored.
Many have 8 hour limits, which is really not going to work for us if we arrive about 3 in the afternoon and stay overnight and leave early in the am.

Comments and experiences?

Nancy & Mike- Washington State
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Old 02-22-2019, 01:10 PM   #2
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Be careful with the rest area. There are some pretty shady characters that hang around in the middle of the night. we have had people wake up every one in the rest area looking for some gas money. Another time the wanted to sell some gold at 2am Not the best of places to stay.But if you consider all the people that sleep there not that many problems that we know or hear about.

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Old 02-22-2019, 01:12 PM   #3
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Have been in quite a few rest areas over the years. Never have stayed in one overnight in any State.
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Old 02-22-2019, 01:22 PM   #4
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We only have experience with one of the states that you reference. We do, however, have lots of experience with many other states that have similar rules. We have only even been approached once, and when we said that our lead driver was ill, we got an OK to stay.

When they say "No Camping" what they do not want is the grill, table and lawn chairs out. A slide, maybe two, but it wants to look like you are leaving any moment. And, don't put jacks on the McAdam.

We seldom stop as early as 3PM because we are travelers and road hours count. (We also co-drive and the off driver can be navigator and that saves a lot of the navigator's stress - we have found.)

So, if 3PM is your driver's limit, that is no problem. Do what one of our RV friends does, he will pull off when tired, but not at the planned highway rest area. They will pull into any place that they fit, rest and rear or what ever. Walmarts, Sam's and such are good for this (large lots), and sometime toward evening, they get back on the interstate and find the planned rest area.

So, just don't "camp" and things are usually just fine.

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Old 02-22-2019, 01:22 PM   #5
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I have the same question, and from reading past posts I think it varies widely.

One of the biggest arguments is that what does "No Overnight Camping" mean. One can interpret the sign to mean do not setup a test on the grass, pull out chairs, your awning and such. To me this makes sense.

Others say, that somehow RV's cannot park and sleep for the night. The argument has issues in that if I'm a trucker that is fine, or if I'm in my car I can sleep the night.

The challenge I have read here is that if you are too tired to drive, is it better to have you park and sleep (even if you have your own bed) with you, or because you have you own bed you must stay on the road to find a campground.

When traveling through certain states I have gotten very drowsy and twice stayed overnight in a rest area that said "No Overnight Camping". I pulled in late, midnight or later and left by 7 or 8 in the morning. I was not bothered, other than a bunch of pissed off cows in a cattle truck.

I think the issue is especially in CA that there are so many people who live out of RVs that it becomes a nuisance rather than a safety thing. It's part of the reason I believe that most Walmart's in CA do not allow overnight parking.

I know Washington has this problem as well from what I've heard.

So far I have not had many issues but I have not pushed it much. We did consider stopping at a pull off in Wyoming for the night, but it was too close to the highway to feel safe. So we kept going until the next Walmart.

So I'd love to hear more about how the west is with Rest Areas.

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Old 02-22-2019, 01:30 PM   #6
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Thank you for the responses!

TooTallTom- Wyoming has contradicting information. It says "No overnighting or camping" Another source says it is ok.

I hope there will be more postings on the subject. TIA
Nancy & Mike- Washington State
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:50 PM   #7
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4 or 5 years ago I helped an old friend drive a U-haul truck from Louisiana to Montana. We ended up sleeping in the cab of the truck in a rest area in eastern Wyoming as it happened to be Sturgis week and all the motels for the last hundred plus miles had been full. We arrived at 2 am and left by 8 am, I can tell you that there were also several RV's parked their when we arrived.
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:56 PM   #8
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The only issue you'd have is pulling in a 3pm for the night. Why not drive farther or just get a campground?

Rest areas are just fine.

The 'no camping' means no tents, no BBQs, etc. It's just fine to 'rest' for 8 hours.

The states you mentioned, other than California, have wonderful places to pull over for the night if you travel the secondary roads and I'm not talking about businesses. Also, many small towns have a city park. We've used them quite a bit. It just depends where you're driving as to what you'll find. Drive Hwy 50 in Nevada and plenty of spots along the road for the night.... very quiet.
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Old 02-22-2019, 04:14 PM   #9
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I agree that 3:00 pm is too early to stop for the day. Good daylight still out there! And thanks about the info on Nevada 50!
Nancy & Mike- Washington State
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Old 02-22-2019, 04:41 PM   #10
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We stay in campground & we also like to stop around 3. Why so early ? So we can see & do something while in the area , dinner , maybe a fire, maybe a swim, or a walk/hike. Etc
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:39 PM   #11
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In California fully half the rest areas are closed. Some for “renovations” that have been going on for many years
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:44 PM   #12
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Some comments here have touched on a very appropriate difference: stopping to rest, or stopping for the night. (Yes, Gertie, there's a difference!) When I was long-haul trucking, it was vital for safety to be able to pull off into a rest area for some some critically needed sleep. Too often late at night all truck parking spots were filled, and public safety be damned. There was simply no parking to be had. The answer was (if possible) to change the timing: hit the rest areas at "off hours," usually late morning or late afternoon. Drive while others sleep. At any rate, to be sensible and considerate, limit the hours in a highway rest area to actual "sleep time" and do NOT camp or make it an all-nighter.

For all-night stops, or camp stops, don't do it in a rest area. Plan ahead for a permissable parking lot, a campground, or an RV park. Or as someone said, drive the blue highways (like US 50) and delight in finding the great roadside opportunities for boondocking.
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:59 PM   #13
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I will stop in a rest area for a nap, but never for overnight. They are too noisy with trucks coming and going all night and many run their motors the full time.

Instead, I like to find a small town near my route and look for a closed business with a flat parking lot. There usually isn’t anyone around to ask permission, but I've never had anyone knock on the door and tell me to move. I've also used parking areas adjacent to small town sports fields.

I leave the rest areas to the truckers after dark.
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Old 02-22-2019, 06:00 PM   #14
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I have overnighted in two Utah rest areas without issue. I-15 south of Cedar City and Hwy 191 South of Price. However, I have stayed at several rest areas in TX, LA, again without any issue.

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