One of the best ways to see BC is by hitting the road. (Who doesn’t love yelling “Road Trip!”?) To help plan your trip, and keep safety a priority, we recommend stopping at one of our BC provincial rest areas along the way.
A rest area is defined as a “roadside facility that is easily and directly accessed, offering the motorist toilets, picnic tables, litter containers and any number of amenities as may be available.” Across the province, the ministry has about 170 rest areas, for you to take a short break. All BC rest areas are equipped with garbage cans and toilets – ranging from classic rustic pit toilets to large full-service heated facilities with flush toilets, sinks and other amenities. The majority have picnic tables and some rest areas even have trails, scenic lookouts, WiFi or electric vehicle charging stations.
Who is Responsible for Rest Area Maintenance?
Ministry staff and maintenance contractors are responsible for delivering all aspects of maintenance at highway rest areas. Rest areas receive daily maintenance in the summer, while smaller pullouts are looked after three times a week. In addition to the scheduled maintenance, random inspections of rest areas occur regularly. Ministry staff also conduct audits of maintenance contractor inspection records to ensure inspection frequencies and maintenance standards are met.
How Do I Report an Issue at a BC Rest Area?
Our staff and maintenance contractors regularly patrol and maintain our rest areas; however, any number of issues can develop between our site visits.
If you stop at one of our rest areas and see something that causes you concern, we encourage you to contact our maintenance contractors directly. You can also get in touch with our district offices around the province or phone in an issue with the facilities on the mobile Report-a-Problem website.
A note on illegal encampments at BC Rest Areas: We are aware of an increasing number of transient individuals attempting to set up encampments in some of our rest areas. Every effort is being made to remove these encampments, while working with partner ministries and local outreach programs to ensure the human aspect of homelessness is addressed. Motorists who feel unsafe or witness behavior unbecoming to a provincial rest area are encouraged to please contact local law enforcement immediately.
How Long Can I Stay in a BC Rest Area?
You are free to use any BC Rest Area to catch some zzzz’s while you are travelling, but we try to discourage motorists from using rest areas for more than eight hours at a time. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which leads to safety concerns regarding those camping overnight. BC Parks has many campsites available to travellers (plus day use areas) and we encourage you to camp overnight there. Many are not far off the highway. They provide not only the amenities of a rest area, but usually running water, short trails and sometimes even a lake in which to take a refreshing plunge.
Safe driving on long trips means taking regular breaks to rest your mind and body. Driver fatigue is a major cause of vehicle crashes, so try to take a 15-minute break about every two hours. Stretch your legs, move around and revive. Have a beverage (non-alcoholic, of course) and maybe something to eat.
Whenever you’re on the road, watch for signs of fatigue like:
- tired eyes
- wandering concentration
- slow reaction time
What’s the Difference Between Rest Areas, Pullouts and Brake Check Areas?
Commercial vehicles, such as tractor trailers carrying cargo between communities, have special requirements for travel. To help these important travellers – we provide dedicated roadside areas, such as brake checks and pullout areas for them to use. These areas are sometimes the only spaces that can accommodate these longer vehicles safely and we ask that PASSENGER VEHICLES DO NOT USE BRAKE CHECK AND PULLOUT AREAS AS REST AREAS. For travellers with fifth wheels and larger non commercial vehicles – our rest area web page shows which rest areas can accommodate large vehicles over 20 metres in length, and whether there are deceleration and acceleration lanes to enter and exit the area. You can also find our rest area inventory on the DriveBC map, if you activate the “Provincial Rest Area” icon on the legend.
So, if you’re feeling groggy, it’s time to get off the highway and recharge! Take care out there folks and enjoy the drive.
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Page 1 of 33 comments on “Stopping at a BC Rest Area? Here’s What You Need to Know”
Any rest areas to vanderhoof with playgrounds so my kids can stretch and play while traveling up north? I don’t understand the map
We have been in touch with staff in the region and learned that the Cluculz Rest Area does not currently have a playground but will have one installed this year. The Savory Rest Area, approximately 80 km west of Vanderhoof, does currently have a playground facility.
For more information, you can see a recent news release on planned rest stop upgrades, which mentions playground equipment updates among other planned rest stop improvements this year. Hope this is helpful, and thanks for reaching out.
Yesterday (May 11, 2023), every rest stop restroom on the Coquihalla highway was closed. Why?
Hello Patricia – thanks for your comment. Rest rooms were shut down along the Coquihalla to prevent pump issues during an emergency BC Hydro outage. We apologize for any inconvenience. We spoke with our staff in the area and they advised that they are working to design generator systems at these locations to enable them to function properly during periods of power interruption. Hope this information is helpful.
I have lived and travelled BC highways for over 60 years. The lack of clean, maintained, and informative rest stops has always embarrassed me as a resident. I can only imagine what most tourists from other Provinces and Countries must think of this vision of Beautiful BC when pulling into one of the so called rest stops. Your image on the website displays what must be one of the few true full facility rest stops. The majority are not inviting or informational to any who pull into these infrequent locations. Many tourists arrive in Beautiful BC to rent recreational vehicles and see this beautiful Province, only to find the infrequent rest stops to be so lacking in facilities and not maintained to a standard that would accommodate a traveler to stop, freshen up, including wash-up, and even learn more about BC.
In comparison, the State of Washington (I-5, Cascades) have frequent full facility rest stops that are well maintained and inviting for travelers. Most offer snacks/beverages and lots of information about the area.
I travel Highway 1, Highway 97, and Highway 5 every month, and see how infrequent and deplorable the existing rest areas have become. Foreign travelers must have wonderful stories to take home of the scenery, but not so wonderful stories about their Highway driving experience.
There needs to be more effort put into making a driving experience through BC a more pleasant, cleaner, and informative adventure for locals as well as tourists.
What I see out there now for rest stops on BC Highways is sadly lacking, and embarrassing.
The Minister of Tourism announced today that millions of dollars will be spent on making BC a destination, but most of the money appears to be targeted for large city projects such as the Science Center in Vancouver.
There has been an advertising push for many years by the Province to attract tourism to Beautiful B.C. Once the tourists arrive, especially those from Europe who love to rent Motorhomes and travel the Highways, they are subjected to a sadly lacking infrastructure of infrequent, non-service rest areas that offer very little information on the area. Only a few rest areas offer hand washing facilities, or even running water, and usually just a pit toilet that I have witnessed are very poorly maintained.
Beautiful British Columbia…….just dont stop at a rest area, as you will have a completely different experience. I have heard this many times from European travelers.
Good morning, Dan. Thanks for your message. We have shared your concerns forward with our staff responsible for our rest area program. The rest areas in BC are funded and maintained under our provincial budget, which is different than the federally funded interstate program found in the US. If you ever notice a concern on BC Highways, we ask that you please share your concern immediately with the maintenance contractor responsible. Our contractors are responsible for logging all incoming concerns and these logs are provided to ministry staff during regular audits. We are in our second year of our Rest Area Ranger program, which dedicates summer students to rest areas across the province, to help improve visitor experiences while using our rest areas. We are including a link below to ways which you can directly with our maintenance contractors. Hope this information is helpful. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-infrastructure/contracting-to-transportation/highway-bridge-maintenance/highway-maintenance/contacts
Ha! Encouraging no more than 8 hours in a rest stop? What a joke. There are trailers parked there for months. Cole and Bradner are two I pass regularly and see the same units there all the time. Who police’s this?
Our staff, along with our maintenance contractors and the BC RCMP and other local police having jurisdiction regularly patrol these areas. Unfortunately, simply removing these encampments without long term solutions in place for housing isn’t effective – which is why we continue to work with other provincial and local agencies to identify solutions, as described above.
This is a joke to say the least. The Bradner rest stop on the TransCanada highway west of Abbotsford is shameful to say the least with motor homes parking overnight for weeks on end as well as shacks built with tarps and scrap lumber. Is this what tourist should expect when visiting BC.? It’s embarrassing.
Some of these motor homes are worth $200-300,000.
it recommends to go to a bc campground ….except they are all full
Hi, George – thanks for your comment. There are also private campgrounds in BC where you can reserve for overnight camping. Hope this is helpful.
Many years ago (mid-90s) I was cycle touring, and on one occasion I was having some knee pain and leg cramping issues that slowed my pace so that I wasn’t able to reach my intended destination before nightfall. I pulled in to a rest area and was bracing myself for another hour of basically injured riding, in the dark, on a very busy highway with variable shoulders. I decided to risk getting a fine rather than getting killed, so I camped at the rest area that night. In the morning I was awakened by someone emptying the garbage cans and restocking the outhouse. They apologized for the noise, and when I apologized in turn for camping right next to a “no camping” sign, they told me they didn’t enforce the rule with cyclists because sometimes there’s no other safe or practical option.
Was/is that an actual policy, or are things stricter now?
Hey there, Saddlesore – thanks for connecting with us here. We have sent your question to our rest area program folks for clarification and will let you know what we hear back.
oyster bay rest stop is becoming over run with squatters. This needs to be cleared
Hello, Concerned – thanks for your comment. Our staff in the area are aware of these concerns and are working with local authorities, regional districts and the Ministry of Housing, etc. in an effort to ensure housing supports are available for these folks when the area is cleared.
I pulled into the rest stop just west of the Mt Leman on Hwy #1last week and had to wait for a spot to pull into as there are so many trailers set up they take up more than half the parking spots. A couple are in such disrepair I can’t see them being moved.
As the signs say, no staying more than 8 hrs. Well most of these have been there 8 months. What a joke on the highway department. Obvious nobody there cares.
Hello Mike and thanks for your comment. We are aware of an increasing number of transient individuals attempting to set up encampments in some of our rest areas. Every effort is being made to remove these encampments, while working with partner ministries and local outreach programs to ensure the human aspect of homelessness is addressed. Motorists who feel unsafe or witness behavior unbecoming to a provincial rest area are encouraged to please contact local law enforcement immediately.
attempting 😂😂😂😂😂 you really need to leave your office and do a road trip and make a more accurate reply
Hi, Mike – thanks for your comment. We are aware that the issue is persistent and that encampments are being set up again after they are ordered to dismantle. We are also aware that this issue isn’t restricted to our rest areas, but can be found in many communities across the province. We are working with local housing authorities to find long term, compassionate solutions to the issue which, unfortunately, can take some time to do.
My Brother Drove on Sept 1 on the way to Sayward BC and we cross the Robert lake and I Saw the Rest Area Signs Got replaced here the link like this:
You should update the rest area signs image like this?
Oyster bay Rest Area Signs Arrow not been replaced yet and they can’t see the metres number because the text is too small to read the number.
We have sent your comment to our staff in the area for review.
Just curious, I am interested in getting a roof tent for my Jeep 2007 compass, and looking to get a foldable kayak to enjoy the many lakes in the future warmer seasons.
Am I allowed to tent 1 night at per rest stop as I make it deeper into the BC away from where all the big truckers park? I just would like to have washroom, and not have to worry about a flurry of campsite booking.
Sorry for being weird, gas is pricy as it is, trying to save money from booking motels,
Hello Kerry and thanks for your message. You are free to use any BC Rest Area to catch some zzzz’s while you are travelling, but we try to discourage motorists from using rest areas for more than eight hours at a time. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which leads to safety concerns regarding those camping overnight. BC Parks has many campsites available to travellers (plus day use areas) and we encourage you to camp overnight there. Many are not far off the highway. They provide not only the amenities of a rest area, but usually running water, short trails and sometimes even a lake in which to take a refreshing plunge. BC Parks often have open spots which you can occupy and pay for in person (rather than booking online). We hope this information is helpful.
I’ve noticed at Oyster bay rest stop on Vancouver island. The same over 30 foot motorhome camped there for the past month. This can encourage others to do the same. Who is responsible for enforcing the rules.
Hi Anonymous, I will contact our people responsible for that area, to let them know of the concern. They may contact RCMP if needed, as our operations staff do not have enforcement capabilities.
Well there was 5 RVs today at the Oyster River Rest stop today. One 5th wheel has been there for weeks.
Thanks for your comment, Bob – we have shared it forward with our staff in the area for follow up.
We need a Two pit toilet building to be install at Robert Lake Rest Area on Highway 19
Because the People are Complaining about porta-potties are very smelly and toilet has not been empty in same day.
People will have to go to Keta Lake Rest Area or the gas station at Sayward Junction to use the washroom.
Hi Harry – thank you for this. We have shared it forward on your behalf.
Update on it?
Hi Brooklyn – sorry – no update at this time.
Hi there Brooklyn – we followed up on this concern with our staff in the area who informed us that Mainroad sub-contracts to a third party company to clean out the porta potties at the Roberts Lake rest stop. They are scheduled to be emptied every Monday and Friday. On Friday May 19th this contractor failed to do the scheduled clean out. Mainroad also received a PCR (Public complaint) on this topic that weekend as well and they reached out to the sub-contractor and was assured it was a one off mistake. They promptly went to site Tuesday the 23rd of May and cleaned them. We hope this information is helpful. Safe travels.
Hi Harry – we followed up on this concern with our staff in the area who informed us that Mainroad sub-contracts to a third party company to clean out the porta potties at the Roberts Lake rest stop. They are scheduled to be emptied every Monday and Friday. On Friday May 19th this contractor failed to do the scheduled clean out. Mainroad also received a PCR (Public complaint) on this topic that weekend as well and they reached out to the sub-contractor and was assured it was a one off mistake. They promptly went to site Tuesday the 23rd of May and cleaned them. We hope this information is helpful. Safe travels.