Link: Roadside Rest Areas

The Atlantic Cities has a great article on roadside rest areas. When travelling while I was younger, whether with family or Boy Scouts, we would often stop at these rest areas for, most commonly bathroom breaks, but also to have lunch or dinner while travelling. And, as the article points out, many of these rest areas truly are in beautiful locations. One rest stop in particular stands out. I believe it was at the Missouri River off an interstate – the exact location I don’t remember, but the view I do.

There were historical markers talking about Lewis and Clarke, and a decent cold sandwich lunch, but the view of the river valley was quite impressive, especially for a northern Indiana boy who thought a hill was a 30 foot change in elevation. Though I had seen mountains before, it was a rare occasion, and the view was fantastic and unique.

The point of sharing this article is to remind you, and myself, that road trips need not be a rush to the campsite or the park, with McDonald’s or Iron Skillets to keep oneself fueled, which I myself have been frequently guilty of. Having visited many rest stops over the years, I don’t think any two are the same, and while some really are nothing more than a bathroom with vending machines, most have some combination of natural beauty, historical significance, or unique feature that led them to be placed at mile marker 146 instead of 157. Enjoy these unique American features with a picnic, reading about the local area in the travelers’ center, or pause and take in the view as your fellow travelers hurry by.

Do you have a favorite rest stop? Or do you try to frequent rest stops or stick with the travel plazas?

5 thoughts on “Link: Roadside Rest Areas

  1. We typically try to stick with travel plaza’s or pilots etc. due to making one stop for everything rather than having to stop at a rest area and then again for gas and again for food. Convenience wins!

  2. I as well recall as a kid often stopping at rest stops while crossing the country or while on camping trips, for as you said for a cold sandwich and a bathroom break. As a kid, my mom packed us lunches, or we’d have a travel trailer where she would make us lunch, and we’d enjoy it using a picnic table at a rest stop. Later when I’d travel on my own, I’d sometimes use them to take a late night catnap as they felt safe.

    Fast forward years later to a few years ago, I remember a rest stop in particular that I stopped at in Wyoming. What looked like a nice older gentleman was cleaning and restocking the bathrooms. He was not a janitor by trade, but just a local older gentleman, probably once a ranch hand and cowboy, that I assume was supplementing his now social security. I noticed that in the men’s bathroom, all kinds of sick profanity had been scratched into the walls and bathroom stall doors by animals that had stopped there. I felt sorry for what humanity had become in what I saw written. The place felt evil.

    I also felt sorry for the older gentleman, as he had the same look of disgust on his face at this defaced public property that I’m sure hated. I only had to see this place once, but he had to see it day after day.

    In all honesty, now I pretty much avoid rest stops. At least if I stop at a McDonalds, they want my money, so their facilities are at least kept somewhat clean and from being defaced. I recall reading one time that basically said that the problem with publicly owned property is that it has no real owner to see that it’s taken care of. Instead, rest stops are left to faceless bureaucrats that hire locals to restock their state purchased toilet paper.

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