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What's the law on sleeping at side of road inconspicuously?


Runroblarun

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I'm passing through LA, TX, NM, AZ and CA and was wondering if we find a quiet back road and can park at the side of the road with no obstructions, keep everything clean, just sleep in the van, i.e. no slides, awnings and don't dump, is this legal?

 

If you're referring to the right of way next to the highway, then it's probably not legal. It's certainly not very smart. It's been shown many times that drunk drivers and sleepy drivers have a tendency to follow tail lights in front of them. That's okay as long as those tail lights are in the traffic lane and moving.

 

If you're not talking about the right of way, then you'll be on private property. Sometimes, that can be a bad idea also.

 

Texas and New Mexico both have rest areas, picnic areas, and parking areas along the interstates and sometimes adjacent to lesser highways. These pull off areas are used by truckers and others to catch a nap. I personally have used them and would feel safer there than on the side of the road.

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If you're referring to the right of way next to the highway, then it's probably not legal. It's certainly not very smart. It's been shown many times that drunk drivers and sleepy drivers have a tendency to follow tail lights in front of them. That's okay as long as those tail lights are in the traffic lane and moving.

 

If you're not talking about the right of way, then you'll be on private property. Sometimes, that can be a bad idea also.

 

Texas and New Mexico both have rest areas, picnic areas, and parking areas along the interstates and sometimes adjacent to lesser highways. These pull off areas are used by truckers and others to catch a nap. I personally have used them and would feel safer there than on the side of the road.

Cheers for the reply chirakawa, I was just referring to the fact that sometimes there are little quiet roads that hardly anyone goes down a mile or so from a highway and just pulling into a little dirt layby. Would that be ok? The reason why I'm asking isn't to be super tight with money, it's just that I'm running across America like Forrest Gump (www.goingthedistancerun.com) and was hoping for a few nights a week to stop very close to where we finish so I can run late into the evening and start very early in the morning without having to drive miles to a place to sleep and then back again as that cuts into my time where I can that isn't hot like a furnace!!

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Cheers for the reply chirakawa, I was just referring to the fact that sometimes there are little quiet roads that hardly anyone goes down a mile or so from a highway and just pulling into a little dirt layby. Would that be ok? The reason why I'm asking isn't to be super tight with money, it's just that I'm running across America like Forrest Gump (www.goingthedistancerun.com) and was hoping for a few nights a week to stop very close to where we finish so I can run late into the evening and start very early in the morning without having to drive miles to a place to sleep and then back again as that cuts into my time where I can that isn't hot like a furnace!!

 

Hey, good luck with your run. You'll just need to use common sense. If you have your van scout up ahead, you might find that there are always friendly businesses (many which close at night) which can spare a space in their parking lot for the night. You also might find areas where there is road material piled. Most places in the West are pretty friendly to folks doing what you're doing.

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Someone will most likely own the property that you park on down a small road. I'd recommend finding better places to stay. There are plenty of highway options without having to drive miles. . . as mentioned, rest areas, picnic areas, truck stops, WalMarts or other businesses that are closed at night.

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May I add Casinos, Home Depot, McDonalds and similar businesses to the mix. Often a restaurant we've patronized and sometimes RV Dealerships, have an exterior overnight/early morning pull in. FWIW, we've also stayed at city parks, recreation centres, swimming baths and even a zoo the night before or of.

 

Besides www.Freecampsites.net and www.CasinoCamper.org, as well the days end directory from Escapees, there is www.Boondockerswelcome and www.HarvestHosts.com, many if on your route would be more than willing to accommodate you in your quest I'd like to think. For sure if you were passing our place we'd say "come on in" and I'm sure others will feel the same. Maybe ask Boondockerswelcome and HarvestHosts if they'd donate for the purpose free access to their lists. Just a thought.

 

Kudos to you Rob for doing what you are doing.

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There can be places it would be fairly safe to do it but the laws could vary all the way from Federal all the way down to some small government entity. I would bet that there are places that may have a law against it but won't necessarily enforce it beyond asking you to move on. IE I had a spot I stopped that was pretty safe and remote and I thought was technicallly part of the right of way. Turns out I was on Indian land. Later an Indian cop stopped and talked with me and I explained that I have some medical issues and felt it was safer for me to stop than push on but I was willing to vacate if it was a problem. He ended up giving me his card and said to call if I needed any help and I could move on in the morning. Point here being there isn't always a hard fast rule but under any circumstance your safety is the first consideration of stopping anywhere.

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Passing through so many jurisdictions on a trip like that, and without doing a ton of research and making a lot of calls, it's really difficult to be certain to any degree if you are legal or not.

 

I agree with BigRich. Parking overnight in areas not "commonly" known for RON rigs tend to attract law enforcement and other unwanted attention. It can appear to be a broken down/abandoned overnight rig that may be targeted by elements opposite of the law as well. It's not likely you would be ticketed once an officer was satisfied that you were simply a weary traveler rather than "in distress" or up to something fishy, but there are so many other options (as mentioned above) that it really shouldn't be necessary.

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Check out the Escapees list of places to stay. It is very comprehensive. We belong to a group called Boondockers Welcome. We provide a place for RVers to do a one or two night stays. We do this in exchange for being able to stay with some other member. This always gives a great sense of security as compared to just somewhere along the road. Travel safely.

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Ah guys, thank you so much for all those resources and replies, especially those with a spot of humour, personal experience and encouragement. Means a lot. We're slightly hamstrung by the fact that we're off the interstate network as I can't run on them, but I think we'll stick with the above suggestions, especially the HarvestHomes/Boondockers Welcome type of things. Currently at a truck stop by the way! Last night we stopped at Crazy Al's bar abut 25mile east of NOLA on Highway 90 and asked if we could stay. Four beers later we never wanted to leave!

If any of you want to follow the story - I have a blog and social media links on www.goingthedistancerun.com and facebook/twitter is runroblarun. Any follows and shares more than appreciated!!

Cheers

Rob

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Small towns often have city parks where you can stay overnight. It's often best to ask a local policeman to recommend somewhere. They may send you to a closed gas station or something like that but, at least, they know you are there and will keep an eye out for you.

 

Linda Sand

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I would echo the city parks and church parking lots in small towns...especially in Texas...I would NOT stay down any small lane as it might lead to a run down house being used by meth/crack heads...sad but they are everywhere, especially in rural, out of the way places with no neighbors to spot them going or coming. Good luck with your endeavor!!

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We found that the US routes are much more friendly to free places to stop. Many of the small towns will allow you to park in the city park and will be happy to have you. Look to the communities that are of 10,000 people or less. Traveling these routes you will be able to run on them and you will see what we believe to be the very best of America. Such small towns appreciate the small purchases made by travelers and are far more friendly to you. More than once we have stopped in a small town park and had the local police officer stop by to introduce himself and welcome us.

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I know in Riverside county in southern California it is illegal to park an rv on any street.

There are MANY communities in So Cal that have ordinances against RVs on streets esp. in planned communities. In some planned communities, you can pack your RV at your house but there are lots of folks "monitoring" how long that takes.

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We always sleep enroute in a pullout roadside but we generally don't stop near cities.

 

It seems my way or thinking is backwards where security is concerned when compared to some here. First, I would much rater be parked miles from the nearest town where there is a nice view to watch the sun set or rise depending on when you stop. Second, my thought is there are WAY fewer dirtbags to cause problems in the stix than there are in the Walmart parking lot in the middle of a city. I have a hard time sleeping when I KNOW there is activity going on around my space.

 

We travel well armed so I sleep just fine. Even if someone wanted to cause us harm, it will probably end up worse for them.

 

20+ years of boondocking without a single incident. Laws? Not sure since where we stop it's not likely the law even passed by........

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