Anyone who has driven through Texas knows it’s big. Like really big—big enough that El Paso is closer to San Diego, California than it is Houston.
With thousands of miles of roadways, visitors will find plenty of rest stops that welcome overnight travelers as they make their way through the Lone Star State.
About Camping in Texas Rest Areas
Rest stops are not your typical campsites but can be a great option for a quick overnight between destinations. These no-frill parking lots are popular with semi-truckers and RVers who are “just passing through.” In Texas, travelers are allowed to stay up to 24 hours at rest areas managed by the Texas Department of Transporation.
Some of Texas’s rest stops have amenities like heated bathrooms and wifi, while others are quiet parking lots on the road from here to there. No matter where you stay, it’s essential that you are self-sufficient and self-enclosed—camping outside of a vehicle is not allowed.
When staying at a rest area, or any parking lot overnight spot (like a Walmart or a casino), it’s important to not make yourself at home. Be sure to:
- Keep everything inside your vehicle or camper — don’t set up tents, chairs, grills, etc.
- Don’t leave behind any garbage or debris.
- Don’t overstay the time limit.
- Look for dedicated parking spots for RVs, and use them if they are available.
If the only option is to park in a semi-truck spot, and the location is busy, consider moving to another rest stop or overnight-friendly parking lot. If you absolutely must stay, do so with caution. Keep your slides in at all times, and take up as little space as possible. Remember that truck drivers use these spots as part of a job in which they have strict regulations about how long they can drive and when they must stop. Apart from that, they are notoriously no-nonsense…if you are in their way, they won’t be shy about telling you. Plus, many semi-truck drivers run their engines while stopped, which can make for a noisy, unpleasant night’s sleep.
Now, where to overnight in Texas? Here’s a look at some of the most popular Texas rest stops according to Campendium users.
After driving through miles of Texas’ flat ranch land, the scenery begins to change dramatically when you enter central Texas, home to the hip city of Austin and the surrounding Hill Country.
Here you’ll find rolling hills and a number of popular small tourist towns.
Located just a few hours drive west from Austin and San Antonio is the I-10 Eastbound Rest Area. Campendium users say the nearby area doesn’t offer much, but the rest stop is easy to get to from the highway and provides a worry-free spot to spend the night.
The rest area is also just 25 minutes from Fredericksburg, a historic Texas town with a heavy German influence and plenty of local wineries.
The counterpart to the eastbound stop is found down the road in Kerrville, a small town that has plenty of restaurants and some history to offer.
Reviews of this site report that the wifi worked well, and that overall, campers felt like it was a safe space to stay for anyone passing through.
With miles and miles of land dedicated to oil and at times not much else, West Texas can seem desolate to drivers passing through. Eventually, if you get far enough west, you’ll run into rolling hills and even mountains like in Big Bend National Park, making this one of the most beautiful parts of the state.
Fort Stockton is probably best known to Texans as the gateway to the Big Bend Region. Once you hit the town on I-10, many drivers then head south to Big Bend National Park. If the park isn’t your destination, unfortunately, you have hours to go until you hit El Paso.
At this rest area, many visitors appreciated how safe it felt with cameras and easy-to-connect wifi. There’s also some uniqueness to this stop, with picnic tables and a playground making it feel like just a little bit more of a destination.
Even closer to Big Bend National Park is the Highway 385 Picnic Area in Marathon. Highway 385 is one of the main roads leading in and out of the park, and Marathon is a popular stop for some food or to check out the historic Gage Hotel.
Many travelers who stopped by say it’s a great place to stay if you’re swinging by Big Bend.
Not many rest stops come with a view like this. Visitors to the Highway 90 picnic area in Comstock can see down to the Pecos River, as the highway passes above it.
This area of the Texas border is a little off the grid, with Del Rio being the next closest destination, but for anyone looking for a quiet and oftentimes private way to spend the night, many reviewers say this is the place.
Travelers cannot get any further west in the Lone Star State than Anthony. The city is the first thing you hit when heading into Texas from New Mexico.
While the actual spot is pretty basic, with little more than a spot to park and clean bathrooms, it’s located a short drive from the city of El Paso.
Also located off I-10 is the Texas 17 Picnic Area in Saragosa. According to reviews, this is a simple picnic spot where drivers can stay overnight, but there are no amenities (not even a bathroom).
However, the area is conveniently located near some West Texas destinations including Balmorhea, which has one of the world’s largest spring-fed pools; Davis Mountains State Park; and the McDonald Observatory, home to several astronomical telescopes that are open to the public.
Reviewers say that this area is more like a nature park than a rest stop, complete with a nature park with hiking trails and great views of stars at night.
A short drive from I-10, maybe people also say they spent the night here for the proximity to destinations like the Davis Mountains and the nearby artsy town of Marfa.
Located just outside San Angelo, this spot on Highway 87 sees a fair amount of drivers passing through from places like Austin or San Antonio and heading to northern New Mexico.
Campendium users say the spot was fairly quiet and overall had very clean restrooms.
Almost equally distant between Dallas and Denver, Colorado—depending on where you are in the Panhandle—there’s plenty of open roads and big skies in this far north part of Texas.
Besides the city of Amarillo, the Panhandle’s other claim to fame is Palo Duro State Park, known for its staggering rock formations.
By far the most popular roadside rest stop in all of Texas, the Amarillo Travel Center is located on the east side of Amarillo, just off I-40.
The stop is known for its very clean bathrooms and easily accessible spots to grab a bite to eat.
In another plus reported by many reviewers, the RV parking area is separate from the semi-truck parking area, which helps to keep the noise down overnight.
Whether you just got into Texas from Louisiana or Arkansas, or just couldn’t drive the final few miles to get out after a long day on the road, East Texas offers overnight spots within its landscape of thick pines and marshy bayous. Plus, many of this area’s stops are just a short drive south of the City of Houston.
The most popular rest stop in East Texas is Chambers Rest Area Westbound, located on I-10 halfway between Beaumont and Houston. This spot is not far from the Louisiana state line.
Campendium Users say the area can be a little busy and therefore noisy, but overall it’s hard to beat the safety and location of this spot.