They are convenient. That is the main reason why many people choose to pull off the highway and sleep at a rest stop. Plus, they have handy washrooms, a little nature, and even some vending machines for a midnight snack. Rest stops do provide a nice place to stop and sleep.
Can you sleep at rest stops in California? You are allowed up to 8 hours in any 24 hour period to rest. Whether you sleep or not is up to you but you cannot go for hikes, hunt, or set up a campsite. However, you cannot park overnight which will interrupt your sleep.
To learn more about sleeping in California’s rest stops, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about before you travel to this state. take a few minutes and catch up on all the news about these rest stops.
At the time of this writing, there are supposed to be 86 rest stops in California. The Caltrans website, the agency in charge of maintaining these sites, says that you can nap, rest, change drivers, check your map, and other smaller activities at these stops.
Also, according to Caltrans, these rest stops are created to prevent unsafe parking on the sides of roads and highways. Plus, they exist to help reduce the number of drowsy and distracted drivers that are on all highways.
The good news is that at least two of these rest stops now have solar-powered charging stations. That means that you can recharge your electric car while you rest for 8 hours. Those rest stops are Shandon and Tejon Pass with the latter having 4 such charging stations.
The one thing you have to watch out for is that Calstran will close different rest stops from time to time for different reasons. They do have to maintain and upgrade systems that are already built at these stops. To keep up on that news and find out which ones are closed, check this link.
This is the gray area you will run into at many rest stops throughout the nation. many states have time limits so sleeping is not an issue. You just can’t do it in the time frame they allow you to stop and rest.
However, California is a bit weird as it allows you 8 hours to stop and rest at any given rest stop. BUT, they do not allow overnight parking. If you arrive late at night, this may be a problem as you are allowed 8 hours but you can’t stay for 8 hours.
This is why it is called a gray area. The rules are designed to help drowsy drivers get a little rest but sleeping until the sun comes up is banned. Yet, you may find many big rigs, buses, and RVs staying the night at these rest stops.
The best that can be said is when you arrive late at night, stop and see what happens. we do not want you breaking any laws but when you need to rest, you need to rest.
No, you are not allowed to stay overnight at a California rest stop. That is made clear in several places around the internet. You are also allowed to stay for 8 hours at a California rest stop as we just explained.
This conflicting information and regulations put travelers in a bind. Do they stay for 8 hours when they arrive at midnight or do they rest for a couple of hours before moving on to another location?
Then as we pointed out, many truck drivers are seen spending the night in a rest stop overnight. That means that your stay may depend on the good nature of the authorities. That is what one website reported. Most State troopers will not bother you if you stay overnight as they want you refreshed for driving the next day.
One piece of advice given by an experienced RVer is that if you are going to stay longer than 8 hours, do not draw attention to yourself. By that it is meant that you do not make a lot of noise, let your dog run wild, dump too much trash in the bins, and so on.
As you have read by now the official time frame is 8 hours and no overnight parking. However, there may be exceptions to the rule as different rest stops do not get a visit from the State troopers as often as other, busier rest stops get.
You can try to stay longer than the allotted time but if you are asked to move on, do so quietly and without fuss. Other travelers will need your spot. Also, you should not get hassled by the state troopers if you are behaving yourself and not making a nuisance.
Follow the rules and make sure to move on as quickly as you can after your 8 hours are up. But all of this is not set in stone and it will depend on the mood of the state troopers, the attitude of government officials, and if they want strict enforcement of the rules or not.
It will also depend on how busy the rest stop is as some get quite busy since they are at the border and see most of the traffic that comes into the state.
The following rules are not straight from Caltrans' website as a search for them on that site did not produce any concrete and clear results. This list came from boondockersbible which is not an official website for California.
Here are the main rules for California rest stops:
Camping is prohibited.
Parking is limited to 8 hours in a 24 hour period.
Parking is for temporary traveler rest, not as a parking place for hiking, skiing, fishing, et al.
Do not pitch tents or other shelters
Use of gas-fueled stoves, barbecues, or other portable cook tops is permitted
Solicitation for money is strictly prohibited.
Park only in designated parking spaces.
Throw all litter in trash receptacles
Do not use noise amplifying devices, megaphones, amplifiers, etc.
Keep all animals on a leash.
You cannot hook up to the rest area’s electrical or gas utilities.
Selling items or commercial activity is prohibited
You cannot dump waste materials or sewage, unless in an RV dump station
Do not post any notices, advertisements, or posters
Do not block vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
**Disclaimer- Some rules and statements found online are contrary to California law. We do not like that as bloggers, etc., are not officials for the state and cannot grant permission to break the rules.
So be careful when planning your stop at a California rest stop. Do not rely on the word of internet bloggers. Check with Caltrans first.
You are in luck if you travel to California in your RV. There are plenty of rest stops on the many different interstate highways that have RV dump stations. The only one that is closed at the time of this writing is located on State highway 99 2 1/2 miles north of Tipton and it is called Phillip Raine rest area.
All the other ones are open 18 open right now on different interstates and different state highways. Many of the rest areas with dump stations service both directions of travel. The list we checked did not have any rest stops with dump stations listed for interstates 280, 80, 40, 15 & 10.
Only interstates 5 & 8, and state highways 101, 99, 111, and 299 had that convenience.
We will give you a list of rest stops that have dumpsites as well as the link to the website we used. That way you can check to see if they are open, have been closed, or are still closed. Of course, our list is only current for the time of this writing and you should call Caltrans and ask them where they all are.
1. Interstate 5 - these rest stops service north and southbound traffic
2. Interstate 8 - both directions of traffic
3. State Highway 99 - southbound Only, northbound is closed
4. US Highway 101 - northbound only
5. State highway 111 - both directions
6. State highway 299 - both directions
**Source for this information is at this link Please check it or check with Calstran for up-to-date information.
There are 28 rest stops in total along this highway and the split is even. 14 service travelers heading north and 14 are for travelers heading south. The majority of these stops are located in the same place but there are a few solo ones.
They have a variety of amenities you can take advantage of but only those rest stops with a picture of a trailer and a dump spot have a dump station. Here is a map:
All seem to have a dog area but make sure your pet remains on its leash at all times.
Not all have vending machines though so check the list to see which ones do.
There are 9 rest stops along this highway and it is a very beautiful state road to travel. However, only 8 are open at the time of this writing. The one at Gaviota at the south end of the tunnel at that location is closed.
Only a couple of these rest stops have access from both directions and those are Camp Roberts and Trinidad. The latter one is supposed to have a dump station but the amenities signs listed for this location don't have that sign among the others.
You may have to check with Caltrans to find out the status of that situation. Only 6 of these stops have vending machines while all have dog parks and handicap access. Here is a map:
The main page says that there are only 5 rest stops along this state highway but when you click to get the list, 6 are listed. Technically, there are only 3 as those locations service both directions of traffic at the same spot.
The other piece of conflicting information is that we reported the northbound Phillip Raniee rest stop closed as that was the information on another web page from the same website.
This is why we say double-check with Caltrans as sometimes someone may forget to update a web page. This is also the only rest stop on that highway that has a dump station so it may be imperative you check for updated information.
The highway exit sign should also tell you if there is a dump station or not.
There are only 5 rest stops along this route. 2 are at Donner’s Pass and you all know the story of that ill-fated wagon train. 2 more are located at Gold Run and both sets service east and westbound traffic.
The lone rest stop at Hunterhill only has westbound access, so those going wast will have to drive for a bit before they get some relief. One important thing, none of these stops have an RV dump station.
If you are heading east or west, you need to find an alternative plan of action to make sure you can empty your tanks when they get full. Other than that, the standard facilities and amenities are at each stop so your dog can get a break.
There is some good news and some bad news at this time. The good news is that there are 4 rest stops along this interstate. The bad news is that 2 of them are closed, at the time of this writing.
Then, this may be bad news, the 4 rest stops are only in 2 locations John Wilkie, which is west of needles by about 45 miles. It is also the closed one.
The other location is Desert Oasis which is located 9 miles east of Newberry. There are no dump stations at either site even though they service both directions of traffic. They do have all the standard facilities and amenities except for vending machines.
Out of 85 rest stops only 20 have dump stations so that is roughly 1 in 4 which are pretty good odds. Just make sure to travel the right roads to find those dump stations.
The closest rest stop is the O’Brien. It is located between mile markers 692 and 695 and it is open at this time. While it has many standard amenities you have come to expect at rest stops, it does not have vending machines, a cigarette ash dump, or even an RV dump station.
The surrounding areas are nice, relaxing as the rest stop is full of nice California evergreen trees providing a nice backdrop for a picnic. The buildings look modern and well kept up making it a nice place to stop. However, there is limited parking at this rest stop.
For northbound traffic, this stop is a lot better than the one found at Weed. Right at the O’Brien rest stop is another one called Blue Star, they sit next door to each other, but that latter one is closed right now. It may be just for overflow traffic when more tourists are on the road.
There is very little choice when you get between L.A. and San Diego. The closest rest stop is on Interstate 8 east of that latter city. It is called Buckman Springs and it services both traffic directions.
The rest stop is situated between both highway roads and it has a nice desert touch to it. Access to it is not hard as you need to take the off-ramp in either direction and go to Buckman Springs Rd. On the one side, that road turns into Sheephead Mountain road so be careful which direction you turn.
On the other side is the old highway 80 so if you hit that you may have gone too far or not far enough. The good news is that this rest stop is supposed to have a dump station and the bad news is that there are no vending machines.
There is no cigarette dumping here nor can you dumb cigarette ashes but you have a pet area, restrooms, and a nice hot, dry place for a picnic.
This city is in an odd spot when it comes to rest stops. The closest one on Interstate 40 is located on the east side of Barstow. It is called Desert Oasis and its landscaping reflects that name. it is an oasis in the desert.
There is no dump station, no vending machines, and no cigarette dash dumping at this rest stop. Right now it is open it is found at mile marker 28. To get to closer rest stops, you need to get to the I5 as there are 2 quite close to this city.
The Tejon Pass option is quite huge and it does have a dump station and vending machines if you need a snack. There is plenty of parking that we could see for big rigs.
The other one that is close to Bakersfield on I5 is the Herbert Mills rest stop. it is not as equipped as Tejon Pass as there are no vending machines, dump station, and cigarette ash dumping, but it has everything else.
It may also be known as the Button Willow Rest Stop as that was the name on the map at the Herbert Mills web page.
California is a large state so it stands to reason that it will have more rest stops than other states. Plus, since a large segment of the population likes to travel there, the state has provided RV dump stations in 1/4 of those rest stops.
All you have to do is use the links we have provided to plan your routes accordingly.