Could Rest Areas become a thing of the past?

In the November issue of “Highways Magazine” published by Good Sam Club, there was an article about Rest Areas or Safety Rest Areas (SRA). I found it interesting that some states are closing or haved closed a majority of their Rest Areas in the name of budget shortfalls. For example, Arizona is closing 13 of their 18 Rest Areas, Louisiana closed 24 of 34 Rest Areas last year and Virginia has closed or plans to close 18 of 40 Rest Areas. I don’t know about you but I find this to be an appalling development. They are doing away with some of the nostalgia of the American landscape.

I was born before the end of WWII and before Dwight D Eisenhower conceptualized the Interstate Road System in 1959. Since the Interstate Road System bypassed most of the towns where travelers normally stopped to eat and rest, there developed the need to have areas where travelers could stop and take a break and have toilet facilities. Many people taking long trips would also pack food so that they could eat at the rest areas instead of stopping at a commercial facility. I have fond memories of stopping at what we called Roadside Parks to take a break on our road trips. This gave my sister and I some time to run around and burn off energy before getting back in the car.

As the Intersate Road System grew so did the need for more and more Rest Areas. Individual states developed their Rest Areas so that they reflected the character of the state they were in. This gave way to some rather interesting designs such as the Indian Tee Pees at the Rest Areas in Oklahoma. There is quite a bit of history that goes along with the development of the Rest Areas in America. I found a website where you can find more information on the history of Rest Areas than you probably ever wanted to know. It is interesting and I have read through most of it.  The website is  For those of us who travel the American road system, it is worth a visit. They are trying to preserve the Rest Areas and the history that goes with them.

For those of us in the RVing community, we should be very much interested in what is going on accross this country in regards to the closure of Rest Areas. Each of us has a vested interest in seeing that the Rest Areas remain open. For us, one of the most obvious reasons is that we need more room to park than is provided at most McDonalds. Going through the drive through is pretty much out of the question. RVers need the large parking areas provided at most Rest Areas. When we are traveling, we always plan on stopping at a roadside area of some type to eat lunch. On our very first trip in our camper, we made the mistake of thinking we could find a place to eat going down Interstate 10. It’s a long story but after a few aborted attempts we gave up and skipped lunch that day.

While some states are closing their Rest Areas, Texas has been improving the quality of their Rest Areas by tearing down some of the older Rest Areas and rebuilding. We have some very nice rest areas here that even include free WiFi and play areas for the kids as well as special areas for giving our four legged traveling companions a place to relieve their bladders.  The pictures at the bottom of this article are of a Rest Area a few miles north of Huntsville, Texas.  It is on the site of an old Rest Area that was torn down to make room for this one.  This is truly a very nice Rest Area with restrooms as clean as you’ll find anywhere.

There are still many very nice Rest Areas across the country but if something isn’t done there will be less as the years go by. A lot of these closures are caused by the  money crisis in various states. My suggestion would be to us the stimulus money that was created during this past economic crisis and rebuild old Rest Areas and put up new Rest Areas. This would solved the problem of Rest Area closures and would generate a lot of jobs which would in turn strengthen the economy and create even more jobs.

Some people might say that we don’t need the Rest Areas anymore since there are plenty of commercial places along the highway.  To that I say baloney!  There are advantages to stopping at a Rest Area.  Here you can take a nap in your vehicle if you need to, walk in the grass, have a picnic or walk the dog if you have one.  It is just a more relaxed atmosphere.  Let’s all do our part in trying to prevent the closure of our Rest Areas.


Rest Area

Rest Area north of Huntsville, Texas

Rest Area

Play Area

Rest Area

Picnic Area


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