California, Camper Trips

Sleeping at a Highway Rest Stop, Really?

PNW Trip – Day 1 – June 29, 2019

Northbound Trinidad Rest Stop off the 101

This was a definite first for us, spending the night at a rest stop, but apparently it’s a thing! I will admit that I was skeptical, how safe can this be? How can CalTrans possibly allow a free sleeping spot? Will we be woken up in the middle of the night by CHP asking us to leave?

When we pulled up around 8 pm, there were many other cars, RVs, and camper vans that had already settled in for the night. A sign from CalTrans stated that the purpose of a rest stop is “to provide a highway related resting opportunity where you may stay for a short time during the daytime and nighttime hours to rest, relax, and thereby return to the highway a rested, more alert and safer driver.” Well alright then! Rest we shall!

The rest stop was Northbound Trinidad Rest Stop and it was surprisingly beautiful. It is a bit removed from the freeway and has a mini redwood forest to help you relax and get some fresh air. It had picnic tables, running water, drinking fountains, a pet area, clean and stocked restrooms (the next morning a worker was mopping the floors at 7 am), and a little walking path through the trees. Overall, we slept well, no CHP knocking on our door, and were able to refill our water supply before continuing on North.

The main pitfall: people slamming car doors open and shut on and off throughout the night (became less frequent around 10 pm and started up again around 6 am). We did park in the car parking lot instead of the larger RV/truck parking because we thought it would be quieter, not sure if that was really the case. We brought a white noise machine and that seemed to help some.

Trip Logistics:

We left Oakland around 10 am (per usual 2 hours after our “leave by time”). I made some sandwiches so we wouldn’t have to stop for lunch (the only stop we made was to get gas). We took the 101 all the way up to Trinidad (about 5 hours). We stopped for dinner in Trinidad at Lost Coast Brewing (I would not necessarily recommend eating there as we did not care for the food, but their beer and cider was good).

We also took a little bit of time to explored Trinidad and Samoa Beach before heading to the rest stop for the night.

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