Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Ohio rest areas do it right for RVers


By Chuck Woodbury
Rest areas on Ohio’s Turnpikes, or Service Plazas as they are formally called,  could serve as a good model for rest areas in other states.

An area is set aside for overnight RV parking at eight Service Plazas. I visited two locations: one had a dozen spaces, the other more (maybe 20). In one area a sign said RVs up to 40 feet were allowed. One location had only back in spaces, but another had pull-throughs, as you can see in one of the photos.

There’s nothing fancy about this type of “camping,” but for a quick stop to sleep and then move on, they’re perfect. You simply pull into a designated site, which looks like a long parking space. What is really nice is that 30- and 50-amp service is provided. The areas are lit, and I assume the state police keep an eye out throughout the night.

The cost is $20 and only one night is allowed. You pay at a self-service machine. It could hardly be easier.

A restaurant, restrooms, gift shop with basic groceries, and gas and diesel fuel are on the premises.

I imagine on a hot, muggy night, a stay in one of these places, with electricity provided, is a hugely welcomed perk for RVers on the move, who simply need to rest for a night and move on. Sure, Walmart is free, but with electricity provided at the Service Plazas, and the fact that they are sanctioned, I would think many RVers would opt for staying at a place like this rather than a store parking lot.

A quick look at Google Earth or Google Maps would show the layout for RVers who needed a pull-through site.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodburyhttps://rvtravel.com
I'm the founder and publisher of RVtravel.com. I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. I’ve used these stops close to a dozen times and gladly pay the fees and tolls for a safe, convenient place to stay with food and gas right at hand. State police regularly patrol the lots and water and dump facilities are provided. Good government policy that should be replicated. I’m sure these sites have already paid for themselves.

  2. I am glad to hear that the Ohio service plazas are charging for electricity. As an owner of a small campground, we have tracked electricity costs per big rig overnight stay and have found the cost to be between $4 and $6 each per night, depending on how many air conditioners, appliances and gizmos the rig is running. It amazes me to think that people want a free or very cheap stay in a rig that they have spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on. And now, a push for cities to build RV parking areas? Who among you has to compete with the government in your business? And please don’t complain about the long-term residents in small parks. Most of ours are there for work – as in traveling nurses, or building roads for RVs to travel on – or in the case of one of our crews – building a plant to make toilet paper – an essential need! LOL… We have wonderful full time residents in our little park and they pay our bills – we would not make it without them.

  3. We stayed at the Ohio Turnpike several times when going to-from the DC and New England States from our home in Wisconsin. We both have sleep apnea, use a CPAP machine, and can not “dry camp”. This is a great choice. We also use the E-Z pass, good from Illinois to the East coast, for the tolls. The rate is lower than stopping at a toll plaza to pay cash.

  4. First you have to pay the toll and then $20 if you want electric. Seems to be a bit pricey for just an overnight. I will use PA parks, which are less, boondockers welcome (free), rest areas (free), Flying J (free) or look for a place under freecampgrounds.com for an overnight. I am not looking for fancy, just someplace I can rest for the night and something a bit more reasonable.

  5. When the weather is hot, we like staying at these RV areas at the service plazas that have them so that we can run the A/C.

    Some additional pros:
    – They are right there on the highway.
    – They also have dump stations for RV’s near the exit of the RV area.
    – They have a potable water spigot also in the RV area.
    – They have wifi inside the building. It maybe reaches to our RV.

    & a con:
    – The spaces are not long enough for many rigs. Our trailer is 30′ and the pick-up is 18.5′ We either have to angle in using the X painted safety zone if we can, or else we have to unhitch.

  6. Not all of the Ohio Turnpike Service Plazas have RV spaces with hookups.

    There are 14 Service Plazas on the Ohio Turnpike, and 6 of them (3 eastbound and 3 westbound) offer RV spaces with water and electricity. All 14 Service Plazas offer free Overnight RV Parking without hookups.

    Jim O’Briant
    CEO & Administrator

  7. Because we usually travel in a Classic GMC that while it does not have three axles, we get billed for the tandem rear (as opposed to a dual) tire as though it does. It grinds me to pay the same freight as a Greyhound for a less than 10K GVW coach. We will never see an Ohio Service Plaza. I have figured out how to cross Ohio just as fast for free.

    • US 20 , US 6 and US 20 are all worth exploring. Last summer, we took the turnpike and our son took US 30. We arrived at our destination near Pittsburgh less than an hour ahead of him.

  8. I will note that a “service plaza” differs from a “rest area,” at least in Ohio. The “service plazas” are located as you mentioned on the Ohio Turnpike, not elsewhere. They provide restaurants and carry some resemblance to truck stops. I once worked at a “rest area.” Those are located on free interstates in Ohio and sometimes on US Highways. Rest areas have restrooms, picnic tables, and free parking for trucks or RVs and for cars. Most have vending areas. Overnight stays are free with no services at all. The noise level is probably about the same.

  9. We stayed at the Ohio & Indiana Rest Stops. One fact you missed, unless the rule has changed.
    The spaces are free if you don’t require power.
    Another item, driving the Turnpike is a huge waste of money, and they charge by the axle.
    At close to $200.00 in tolls, we paid under 200, but not by much. That’s been 3 years ago, never again.
    Hope You’re Having A Great Day Rich.

    • $26.75 one way end to end for Ohio Tpk using the E-ZPass discount rate. for 3 axle RV $36.75 for cash

      4 axle $33.25
      7 or more axles is $80

      I think the 70 mph speed limit easily beats dozens of stop lights and speed limits down to 35 of side roads. But your choice.

  10. We have been using Ohio Turnpike RV rest areas for years on our almost yearly trips from VT to the Rockies. They are AWESOME.


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