Rest Areas and parking overnight is always an issue for travelers. Is it safe? Is it legal?
They are convenient, sitting right there on the side of the highway. The rules of rest areas vary from state to state. Some states let you park for a few hours, some states up to eight hours, some states allow all day but not overnight, and some states allow overnight as long as you don't light it on fire (in other words, no campfires).
These state rules are sometimes interpreted differently by authorities as well. So make sure you know the laws and read any signs at the rest area .
Most often you will sharing it with trucks. They are probably idling and smelly and make a lot of noise as they come and go.
We've also seen plenty of stories where missing people's cars are found at rest areas. Some famous serial killers used rest areas. Bodies have been found in fields within walking distance of rest areas . The scary stories go on and on. Considering how many people drive by them every day in this country though, the statistics are pretty good. It all depends on what you are comfortable with for yourself.
I've taken plenty of short naps at them when I'm too tired to drive safely and I've never felt uneasy. I usually park in the higher traffic area. It's more noisy but there is lots of activity. I wouldn't recommend any far away hidden parking spots at rest areas.
You can view our handy map with all the US rest areas on it here . Please give it time to finish loading, even if it looks like it stalled.