The Legality of Car Sleeping in Colorado: What You Need to Know

Sleeping in your car, whether overnight or for a short nap, can sometimes be a necessity. Maybe you’re saving money during a road trip, facing an automotive emergency, or simply need a quick rest stop. However, is it legal to sleep in your car in Colorado? The answer is complex and depends on various factors.

Understanding the Laws and Regulations

  • No Statewide Ban: Unlike some states, Colorado has no statewide law expressly making it illegal to sleep in your car. This means you won’t usually be in trouble for simply sleeping in your vehicle.
  • Local Ordinances Matter: Cities and counties in Colorado often have their own specific ordinances and regulations related to sleeping in vehicles. These may restrict where and for how long you can park for sleeping purposes.
  • Public vs. Private Property: Where you park makes a massive difference. Public property, like rest stops or parks, are generally subject to more regulations than private property.
  • Intoxication Laws: Colorado has strict laws regarding driving under the influence (DUI). Even if your car is turned off, you can still be charged with a DUI if you are intoxicated and in the driver’s seat with your keys within reach.

Where Can You (And Can’t You) Legally Sleep in Your Car in Colorado?

Here’s a breakdown of places to consider and places to avoid:

Generally Permissible Areas:

  • Campgrounds: Colorado is renowned for its beautiful campgrounds. Many allow car camping in designated areas for a fee.
  • Truck Stops & Travel Centers: Designed for long-haul truck drivers, these locations usually offer overnight parking with amenities.
  • Walmart Parking Lots (With Permission): Some Walmart locations allow overnight stays in their parking lots. Always get permission from a manager before settling in.
  • Rest Areas (For Short Periods): Colorado rest areas are intended for brief periods of rest, not overnight camping. Check posted signage for time restrictions.

Areas to Avoid:

  • City Streets and Parking Lots: Most cities and towns have rules against overnight parking or sleeping in vehicles on public property.
  • Private Property: Parking on private property without the owner’s permission constitutes trespassing.
  • Highways or Shoulders: This is extremely dangerous and generally illegal due to safety concerns.

Cities with Specific Regulations

Let’s look at some major Colorado cities and their approach to car sleeping:

  • Denver: Denver has ordinances prohibiting urban camping. This generally includes sleeping in vehicles on public property.
  • Boulder: Boulder prohibits overnight parking on some public streets and limits rest area parking.
  • Colorado Springs: Local ordinances may restrict sleeping in cars on public streets, but specific restrictions vary by area and signage.

How to Find Legal Places to Sleep in Your Car in Colorado

  1. Online Resources:
    • [] ( : Lists free and low-cost camping options, including some suitable for car sleeping.
    • [Casino Camper] ([invalid URL removed]): Finds casinos that allow free overnight RV parking, which sometimes extends to car campers.
    • City websites: Check municipal websites for local ordinances and designated parking areas.
  2. Apps
  3. Contacting Local Authorities: Call the non-emergency police line of the city or county you’re in to inquire about regulations.

Staying Safe and Legal When Sleeping in Your Car

  • Be Discreet: Park in well-lit areas and avoid drawing attention to yourself.
  • Respect Posted Signs: Always obey signage regarding parking restrictions and time limits.
  • Be Prepared: Keep water, snacks, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit handy.
  • Plan Ahead: Research designated parking areas and potential campsites well before your trip.
  • Avoid Intoxication: Never sleep in the driver’s seat if you’ve been drinking, even with the engine off.
  • Leave No Trace: Pack out any trash and try to leave the area as you found it.

Additional Tips for a Safe and Smooth Experience

  • Window Coverings: Invest in curtains or window coverings for privacy and to block out light while sleeping.
  • Ventilation: Crack a window slightly for airflow, especially in warmer weather. Be mindful of insects in certain areas.
  • Personal Hygiene: Wet wipes and dry shampoo are lifesavers when on-the-go bathroom facilities are unavailable.
  • Comfort: A sleeping pad or air mattress can significantly improve your sleeping quality.
  • Emergencies: Keep your phone charged and easily accessible in case you need assistance.

Common Challenges of Car Sleeping

  • Temperature Fluctuations: Colorado weather can change rapidly. Be prepared for both hot and cold conditions. Bring appropriate clothing and bedding.
  • Limited Space: Sleeping in a car can be cramped. Prioritize essential items and pack minimally to maximize comfort.
  • Public Perception: Be aware that some people may have negative perceptions of those sleeping in cars. Stay discreet and be respectful of others in the area.

When Car Sleeping May Not Be the Best Option

  • Extended Stays: If you plan on parking in one location for multiple nights, car sleeping can become uncomfortable and logistically difficult. Traditional campgrounds or temporary housing could be better choices.
  • Traveling with Others: Cramped quarters become amplified the more people you add. Larger groups may need tents or an RV.
  • Medical Conditions: If you have health conditions requiring specific facilities or equipment, car sleeping may not be feasible.

Alternatives to Car Sleeping in Colorado

  • Hostels: Budget-friendly accommodation options, often offering dorm-style rooms and shared facilities.
  • Couchsurfing: Websites like connect travelers with locals willing to host them for free.
  • Budget Motels: Look for older independent motels in less touristy areas that may offer cheaper rates.
  • Seasonal Work: Some campgrounds and resorts offer seasonal work opportunities. They may provide on-site housing.

Important Disclaimer: Laws and regulations regarding sleeping in your car can change. Always double-check local information before your trip. This article is intended as a general guide, not legal advice.


Avatar photo
MBS Staff
Articles: 7044

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *