Overnight Parking in Rest Areas – California

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April 23, 2008

Some RVers like to park overnight in rest areas, and others don’t.

Those who do generally cite convenience. Rest areas are right along the highway, it’s easy to enter and exit, and there are usually rest rooms and often other amenities.  Those who don’t will mention a number of reasons, ranging from noise and fumes from idling trucks, to traffic noise from the nearby highway, to concerns for personal safety.

Each state has its own laws, rules and/or regulations regarding what is or isn’t allowed at their rest areas. Today we’ll look at California.

Caltrans (California’s Department of Transportation) has a website with lots of good information about rest areas in the state, beginning with this page, which lists all of them:


The list shows all 86 California Rest Areas, their location including GPS Coordinates, and the amenities to be found at each rest area. It also indicates rest areas that are currently closed, along with their estimated date of re-opening, and this feature is updated regularly. When rest areas are in pairs (both directions on a divided highway or interstate), Caltrans’ GPS coordinates are usually in the center median between the two. Most of the other GPS coordinates on this page are accurate, but I’ve found it necessary to refine some for the www.overnightrvparking.com/ database.

You’ll find a link to a page with California’s rest area rules and regulations. Here are some — but not all — of the rules that pertain specifically to Overnight RV Parking:

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.
  • Use small stoves and heaters (except on wood tables) if you do it safely.

You may not:

  • Block vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
  • 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.

This page also has links to three interactive maps, Northern, Central and Southern California, on which you can click on any rest area location to reach a page devoted to that rest area.

Future blogs will discuss OvernightRVParking in rest areas in other states, in no particular order.

Jim O’Briant

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