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  1. Default Need advice for sleeping in my car - NY to Seattle

    I am a male, driving cross country to Seattle. I have hotels in Chicago and Seattle but can't seem to find them near Badlands SD, Mount Rushmore SD, Yellowstone WY. Any advice on sleeping in the car in areas around there? Any places not recommended (bad areas)? I will have the windows blacked out with sheets, have bear spray, and a cellphone.

    I heard truck stops can be sketchy with lot lizards and bad people. Just want to be safe as well experience some great places.

    Any recommendations on drives and scenic will be good too. I am a amateur photographer going on a trip to restart my life after a bad accident.

    Any advice will be appreciated

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    When are you planning on doing this trip? Yellowstone is a very busy area with limited options for lodging, but the Black Hills isn't an area you should be having difficulty finding a motel, unless you are traveling during the Sturgis Rally. I'm also hoping those aren't the only places you are planning to spend the night, as NY to Chicago and Chicago to the Badlands are both trips that are too far to do in a single day - and would really put you in danger of having another accident.

    As far as places to stay, Truck Stops really are among the best places to spend the night. They are well patroled and well lit, and far superior to places like rest areas which really are a dangerous place to spend the night.

    Another option would be to stay in campgrounds, which would work especially well in places like Yellowstone - in fact, around Yellowstone, that may be close to your only real option, because you can't just park anywhere in a national park. A campground also gives you your own space at the end of the day to sit and move around at the end of the day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Badlands and Mt Rushmore have several options unless, as was pointed out, you are traveling during the time of the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August. Try Rapid City, Custer, and Keystone as the most logical places.

    For Yellowstone, you could try Gardiner or West Yellowstone, MT. Both have hotels in various price ranges; however, they could be booked. Truck stops and camping are the other options.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Lots of legal and safe places to park overnight.

    Not quite sure where you got the information that Truck Stops are dangerous places to overnight. As stated above, they are among the safest. I use them frequently. Make sure it is a 24 hour operation, that they allow overnight parking and that you park where directed to do so. When I speak to the person in charge behind the counter, I always ask if there are any restrictions on parking overnight. I have never been refused. It is good to have the management know that you will be spending the night.

    Occasionally I will do the same at a 24hr McDonalds or 24hr large store. Once where there was a local ordinance on sleeping in your car, I was told to park where the staff park, and that I would be OK there. I try never to park anywhere without permission.

    Don't ever sleep at a rest area unless there is night time security and they know that you will be staying the night.

    Is your car equipped for sleeping? Does it have a good sleeping surface and can you stretch out? It is not a good idea to sleep in a seat. You will not get the required rest you need to continue on your way the next day.


  5. Default Thank you ALL!!!

    Thank you all for the great advice. I will be starting my trek next week. Seems that the national park area's hotels are booked but I will look into the recommended areas. And yes my seats fold out into a bed, I purchased an extra mat for more comfort. I appreciate the feedback on the rest stops. That was part of my original plan. Another helpful site I found was:

    Gives you all the need information on truck stops. I plan on getting as many hotel/motels as possible but will take the advise and use truck stops for the not so lucky areas. I will ensure I am driving safe and not over doing the drives.

    Thank you again, all - all advice is welcome and please keep the recommendations and help coming. I would love to hear anybodies advice for photo ops and have to stops on the way. Really looking to have a great experience.

    Thank You!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A reliable source.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeb32 View Post
    Another helpful site I found was:
    That is an interesting site, but I am not sure on how accurate it is. Seems to be geared more to trucks than RVs or car drivers. I put in I-90 in MA and within 10 miles. It gave me a truck stop in WA and one in IN.

    Somehow I think you would be much better off investing a mere $15 in the Truck Stop Directory. It indicates ALL services available at each truck stop, and for accommodation and food nearby as well. It also indicates which truck stops facilitate overnight parking for RVs. These are the truck stops where you can safely sleep in your vehicle.


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