Best TN Rest Areas: Can You Sleep at Rest Stops in Tennessee?

Even though it is exciting to travel and see new places, meet new people and experience different cultural practices, you need your rest to stay healthy. However, sleeping at rest stops is not exactly welcomed in different states and you need to be aware of the rules

Can you sleep at rest stops in Tennessee? If you can get enough rest in 2 hours, then you should be able to sleep at this state’s rest areas. There are 35 in total in the State and each one has a 2-hour time limit for parking.

16 of those 35 rest stops have welcome centers to help you find what you need while in the state.

To learn more about Tennessee rest stops and if you can sleep at them or not, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about so you can enjoy your stay within the state. Take a few minutes to learn what you can do at these rest areas.

Can You Sleep at Rest Stops in Tennessee?

We checked the official website of the Tennessee DOT, that agency that oversees rest stops in the state, and there is no mention that sleeping is banned. But that may not necessarily be good news to most travelers.

The reason we say that is because The DOT only allows vehicles to stop for 2 hours. After that time frame is over, you need to move on. All but one rest stop has staff monitoring the activities at these sites, so you won't be able to sneak in an extra hour or two.

The rules include no overnight parking, no solicitation, no abandoning livestock, no grilling or open flames and there is no dumping either. In this state, rest stops are for rests only and not to save money on hotel or motel bills.

These rest stops are referred to as comfort stops only which limits the type of activities you can do in those two hours.

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car in Tennessee?


This state seems to have some of the toughest legislation when it comes to sleeping outside of your home or a hotel or other lodging place. Many cities have made it illegal to sleep in your car whether you are on public or private property.

That means that public parks, churches, big-box stores’ parking lots, and other places are off-limits if you want to sleep more than 2 hours. If you are planning to tour Tennessee, it is best to plan your route that includes campgrounds, RV parks, and hotels.

At those locations, it is legal to sleep in your vehicle. This regulation is not statewide so you would have to research the different cities and towns and look up their by-laws and laws to see if it is okay to sleep in your car.

Sleeping in Tennessee Rest Areas

The only way you can sleep in a Tennessee rest area is if you can power nap and get it done in less than two hours. We say less because you will need time to wake up, start your car or RV, and move on down the road.

Other than that, the staff at all but 1 rest area will probably ask you to leave if you overstay their time limit. Now one website recorded the time limit at 2 hours, but another said 3. We trust the former website as it seems to be more accurate.

When you stop, you can always ask the staff how long the time limit is as it can change without notice. It is always best to get the information directly from the people in charge and there doesn't seem to be any gray area with this state concerning the issue of finding relief from driver’s fatigue. Two hours is for everyone.

Tennessee Rest Areas With RV Dump Stations

This topic has no confusion about it, just like the sleeping issue has no confusion. The DOT’s website made it very clear writing in plain language that of all the 35 rest stops in the state, 0 have a dump station.

If your rig doesn't have large holding tanks, then you will have to plan your route to find where you can dump them without stopping at a rest stop. We will provide 3 links that have lists to RV dump stations around the state and those links should help you plan your excursions.

The first is located here, the second here, and the third here. The first link has a large enough map to help you find the right roads to the stations while the other two add in fees and so on. The second link also talks about dump stations in different cities

Rest Areas On I-75 in Tennessee


The Tennessee DOT’s website lists all the rest stops in their state and includes their phone number just in case you need to call ahead. It also provides a little information on the location beyond just stating the mile marker.

There are 4 rest stops on this interstate and the first northbound one you will come to is the Chattanooga-Hamilton Welcome center at mile marker 0.7, there is a welcome center there. The others include McMinn at mile marker (MM) 45.2 and it also services both directions.

The last one is Jellico-Campbell and it has a welcome center as well. Its location is MM 161. This one is just inside the state line dividing it from Kentucky and the Hamilton one is less than a mile north of the Georgia Tennessee state line.

I-24 Tennessee Rest Areas

There are 6 rest stops overall along this highway. 2 counties have one for each east and west direction and they are Marion and Grundy with the latter located at MM 133.6 and the former at MM 160.

The Clarksville- Montgomery rest stop is located at MM 0.4 and there is a welcome center at that location as there is with the one located at MM171.8 or Tiftonia-Hamilton counties.


There are also links to the State and national parks in the state in case you want to sleep a little longer. Just keep in mind that the DOT maintains these sites and there may be unannounced closures due to maintenance etc.

Tennessee Rest Areas On I-40

14 of the total 35 rest areas in this state lie along this route. 5 of them serve both east and west directions with Madison County’s at MM 73; Benton’s are at MM 131.5; Dickson’s are at MM 170; Jefferson’s are at MM 420 for eastbound and MM 425 for westbound traffic, and finally, Cumberland county’s are at MM 326.6.

The single rest stop is Memphis MM0.3 and serves eastbound traffic while the westbound vehicles can go to Haywood County art MM 44. Both of these locations have a welcome center.

Smith County is at MM 267 and it has both east and westbound access while Hartford-Cocke County is at MM 446 and both have a welcome center. At these welcome centers, you should find visitor information and help with directions.

We do need to mention that the Shelby rest area closes for the evening every day so you may not be able to pull in there.

Tennessee Rest Areas On I-65


Unfortunately, there are only 2 rest stops along this interstate. Both have welcome centers so you should finalize your plans while you take your 2-hour break from the road. The Ardmore and Giles stop is at MM 3, while the Mitchellville- Robertson rest area is at MM 121.

The maps are easy to read if you click on the links on the website above. You should have no trouble finding your way to each one. Each rest stop in the state has restrooms as well as vending machines but the DOT website did not go into too much detail about other amenities.

With a 2 hour window of rest, there is little need for amenities. There are no evening closures for any of the rest stops in this state except for the Shelby one mentioned in the last section. Each one is open 24 hours 7 days a week and staffed.

I-81 Tennessee Rest Areas

This interstate comes with 4 rest stops with the Bristol- Sullivan county the only one with a welcome center. It serves southbound traffic only and it is found at MM 75.3. Then the one at Greene County has two rest stops, with the one for southbound vehicles at MM 42 and the one for northbound travelers at MM 38.

The Jefferson county rest stop may be accessed by I40 but it is not sure if that can be done or not. It services southbound travelers and does not have a welcome center. We cannot give you much more information on these rest stops as they are all basically the same and the DOT doesn't release a lot of details about them.

That lack of information is found at other websites as well as they only list the names and provide a link to a map. Anything else is not listed but with federal handicap rules, the restrooms and some parking spots should be handicapped accessible.

Best Rest Area Near Jackson Tennessee

There is little to describe when it comes to Tennessee rest stops. They are basic places where the barest of necessities are placed. If they are lucky enough to have a welcome center, then you may get inside for a little bit before having to move on.

The closest rest stop to this city will be the one at Madison. It services both directions but does not have a welcome center. That means you will only get restrooms, a picnic area, a dog area, and some vending machines.

According to the DOT website, this rest stop is 5 miles west of SR (state road) 138 and a few miles west of US45 which runs right through the city of Jackson. It does have separate car and truck parking, water, and little else.

This is not a state that spends a lot of money on its rest areas. Everything is kept to a minimum.

Rest Area Near Jellico Tennessee


The Jellico-Campbell county rest stop located just inside the Tennessee border from Kentucky is the closest to Jellico. The images showing this rest stop show it to be the same as all the rest of the rest stops in this state. It is basic except that there is a welcome center at this one.

The other amenity that has not been listed is that it does have picnic tables. If you can set up your lunch, eat rather quickly, you should be able to meet that 2-hour deadline. The city of Jellico looks like it is about 1 or 2 miles away from the rest stop so if you need any supplies, they are just around the corner.

The rolling hills surrounding the area make the scenery somewhat attractive and easy for the eyes. There is separate truck and car parking here as well.

Rest Area Knoxville Tennessee

This city is fairly large and while I 40 runs east-west through it, there is a bypass connecting the city with I 75 to the north. However, because of its geographical position, you actually have about 4 rests tops you can choose to stop at depending on the direction you are going.

The Jellico-Campbell is on the I 75 route if you are headed to Kentucky, then if you are headed east, the Jefferson county rest stop at the junction of I 81 and I 40 is a good choice. It is also your only choice.

Then, if you are headed west Cumberland would be your best one, as it is your only choice there. Finally, if you take the I 75 south, you can stop at the McMinn County rest stop. You have to take the I 40 west till you get to the I 75 junction. The selection in this state is not that great and you will find other cities with the same choices.

Rest Area Near Nashville Tennessee

This city is in the same boat as Knoxville. The rest stops are not close by and you have to do some traveling to get to the ones that are. There are several directions to go, Northwest will bring you to the Clarksville Montgomery rest stop on I24, then due north you will get to the Mitchellville option on I65.

If you take I65 south, then you have to wait till you get to Ardmore rest stop near the Alabama border. West along I40 brings you to Dickson rest stop while traveling east you will need to wait till you get to the Smith county welcome center.

Finally, if you take the I24 southeast, then you will have to travel to Grundy County rest stop. If you travel a little further south you will hit the Marion county welcome center and if you turn left on I75 you will run into the Hamilton County welcome center/rest stop

Rest Area Near Shelbyville Tennessee


This little town or small city is located between two interstates, the I 65 and the I 24. Both highways will take you to the closest rest stop near this town. The I 24 has you stopping at the Grundy rest area and that is okay as there are about 3 welcome centers/rest stops just past that one.

Drive a little further and you may be able to get all the information you need about the state or at least information on the bordering states, including their rest stop rules. The closest rest stop along the I 65 would be the Ardmore welcome center/rest stop.

That is about it unless you want to navigate through Nashville and try to find some of the ones that are close to that city. If you find more rest stops on different bypasses they are not on the DOT’s list except for I-155.

Some Final Words

Keeping things simple seems to be the motto of the Tennessee DOT. Their rest stops may be staffed but they are not that large nor do they have a lot of amenities to offer. Some are conveniently located for travelers going long distances but you may find that they are spaced a fair distance apart.

When you pick your route, don‘t forget to check out some of the state parks and national parks as those locations should give you more time to rest or use the different campgrounds in the state.

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