Driving across Texas is a big undertaking because of its seemingly endless miles of highway. Sometimes you just need to pull over and take a break.
Thankfully, Texas shows lots of mercy and hospitality by breaking up those highway miles with many comfortable rest stops.
It turns out that these are excellent options for catching some sleep when you need it most. Keep reading for a heads-up on how these roadside stops can perk up your journeys through the Lone Star State.
How Many Rest Stops Are Along Texas Highways?
The state’s Department of Transportation, commonly known as TxDOT, has an online list (and map) of 80 Safety Rest Areas. Some of them are Travel Information Centers, similar to a welcome center.
Many lie along interstates while others lie on U.S. or state highways. One rest area, near Johnson City in the Hill Country, sits off a Ranch Road. It’s a sweet one, too. Just off U.S. 281, it overlooks the Pedernales River near the home of former President Lyndon Johnson.
Additionally, Texas has numerous roadside parks and picnic areas around the state, but they don’t have bathrooms. They work great for a quick stop along the way to stretch your legs.
This means you should be considerate of them and not take more than the necessary time to take a shower, especially if there’s a line.
Where can you get a nice, hot shower on the road? The answer might surprise you.
What Is Special About Rest Stops in Texas?
You may experience many impressive things about Texas rest areas and travel information centers. They have air-conditioned and heated restrooms accessible at all hours. They have ADA-approved features, and most even have attendants on duty around the clock.
The rest stops also provide plenty of room to park, with separate areas for commercial trucks. Additionally, they will often have Wi-Fi and surveillance cameras for security.
Texas rest stops have walking trails and play areas for kids. They can also serve as emergency tornado shelters.
Can You Sleep Overnight in a Texas Rest Stop?
Texas’ transportation department didn’t build these nice facilities specifically to accommodate overnight guests. Instead, they give motorists a safe and comfortable place to pull over for a while. They want to prevent accidents caused by drowsy drivers.
But the law says you can use them for up to 24 hours, so that opens the door for sleepovers. This is fairly uncommon, and Texas isn’t the only state that allows this. But many states have a shorter time limit.
What to Expect at a Texas Rest Stop
To be clear, these aren’t RV campgrounds by any stretch of the imagination. They are not a place to pitch a tent or extend your slides. In fact, the law that allows overnight stays at rest stops expressly forbids erecting a tent, shelter, booth, or structure.
With such a boom in RV camping in recent years, you may see more RVers taking advantage of Texas’ welcome attitude. Still, don’t abuse the privilege.
Try not to do anything to call undue attention to yourself. Not giving law enforcement any reason to approach you will benefit us all in the long run.
You can think of spending the night at a Texas rest area as a form of lotdocking. That’s what RVers call staying overnight at businesses like Walmart, Cabela’s, or Home Depot. However, these places have clean climate-controlled bathrooms, often with attendants.
You’ll also see many other travelers coming and going through the night at a Texas rest area. Some of them will bed down for a few hours like you, but most will just simply make a quick stop.
This has its good and bad sides. It can disrupt you if you try to sleep, but it can also make you feel safer because you’re not alone.
Take a Nap the Next Time You’re in Texas
One thing that veteran travelers have in common is knowing when to pull over and take a break. You should never risk falling asleep at the wheel just to gain a few extra miles. Staying overnight, or even for just a few hours, at a Texas rest stop can be a lifesaver.
And that’s why Texas does such a great job maintaining and promoting them. They make sure they are clean and comfortable and have some amenities so people will take advantage of them.
Staying at a rest area in Texas isn’t glamorous, but it beats many alternatives for a brief stopover. Have you ever spent the night at a Texas rest stop? Tell us about your experience.
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