Parking after dark: Chain truck stops fill up earlier, more often than independents

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Updated Sep 27, 2021
parking lot of trucks
In every region of the U.S., chain truck stops tend to be favored by drivers and fill up earlier and more often than independent truck stops, rest areas and other truck-friendly parking areas across the country.

Finding truck parking can be hard, especially if you pull up to the truck stop at the worst possible time. 

But when is the worst possible time, exactly? 

Trucker Path, providers of real-time parking availability, access to information and reviews on truck stops, fuel prices, weigh station status and more, analyzed data captured by its driver-users and compiled by region the least ideal times to be in need of a place to pull the air brake.

In every region, chain truck stops tend to be favored by drivers and fill up earlier and more often than independent truck stops, rest areas and other truck-friendly parking areas across the country.

"Fleet fuel programs tend to be tied to the major chains, thereby leading most of their drivers toward those locations," said Chris Oliver, CMO for Trucker Path. "The major chains tend to be in the 'prime locations' that are closest to the highway and easiest to find/access [and] major chains tend to offer more ancillary amenities that attract more traffic than those with fewer ancillary amenities."

Truck stops on the East Coast tended to fill up earlier than those located on the West Coast at night.

In the Northeast region, most truck stop parking can be fully filled as early as 7 p.m. Trucker Path data suggests users of independent truck stops have about an extra hour, noting those and rest areas are generally full by 8 p.m. 

In the Southeast region, chain truck stops get filled up the earliest by 7 p.m. Rest areas get filled up the second earliest by 8 p.m., and independent truck stops fill by around 9 p.m. In the Southwest region, chain truck stops get filled up the earliest by 8 p.m., independent truck stops by 10 p.m., and rest areas by 11 p.m.

In the Midwest region, most truck stop parking can be fully filled as early as 8 p.m., with truck stop chains filling up earlier than independent truck stops and rest areas.

In the West region, chain truck stops get filled up the earliest by 10 p.m., and independent truck stops and rest areas both tend to get filled up around midnight.