Where can you sleep in your car in Bakersfield, California? While it’s not ideal to spend the night in your car, sometimes it’s necessary due to travel restrictions or other circumstances. This article will discuss the legality of sleeping in your car, where to sleep in your car, how to safely sleep in your car, and other valuable tips.

Before scrolling down this list of places you can sleep in your car in Santa Barbara, California, check out these similar recommendations: Where Can You Sleep in Your Car in San Diego? or Where Can You Sleep in Your Car in San Francisco California

sleeping in car bakersfield road

Is It Illegal To Sleep in a Car?

The California State Department of Transportation states that a person can sleep in their car to reduce drowsiness and distracted driving at designated rest stops.

In Bakersfield, California, you’re not to erect any kind of structure like a tent or camping facility to sleep on public property, but the local laws do not specify that you can’t sleep in your car; however, the law does state that “or to place,” it could be interpreted that this law applies to your car. 

Public places are buildings owned by the government and the surrounding areas, such as parking lots, streets, sidewalks, and parks. These are areas considered to be of use for the general public.

Where To Sleep in Your Car?

Spaces belonging to the general public are primarily out, but some alternatives exist. There are several free campsites located in and around Bakersfield, California, and other facilities that are friendly to people sleeping overnight in their cars. 

Kern River Campground

Kern River Campground is a public campground where you will need to pay $12 to 24 dollars to park that is always open.

Kern River Campground Details:

Wind Wolves Preserve

Wind Wolves Preserve is a public conservatory, and it is free to park.

Wind Wolves Preserve Details:

Flying J Shafter

Flying J Shafter is a truck stop with RV parking. It’s notorious for being busy and noisy, but otherwise, it’s a decent place to catch a few hours of sleep.

Flying J Shafter Details:

Bear Mountain Truck Stop

Bear Mountain Truck Stop is another truck stop within Bakersfield, California, and may be a possible location to sleep for drivers.

Bear Mountain Truck Stop Details:

There is conflicting information over whether you can sleep in your car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Corporate-wide there is no policy directing whether this is strictly allowed or not, and so far has been left to the discretion of individual store managers. Due to the size of the lots and lax attitude, Wal-Mart parking lots are a frequent refuge for travelers. 

Additionally, you may check to see if any casinos, churches, hospitals, or private businesses are comfortable with you sleeping in their lot overnight by speaking with staff or management in charge.

How To Sleep in Your Car

Your car doesn’t have all of the creature comforts of your bed back home, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a total bust. With just a few accommodations, you can make an overnight stay in your car something endurable and possibly, genuinely restful. However, there are some potential obstacles to overcome to ensure a quality night’s sleep, including:

  • Light
  • Noise
  • Sleeping Position
  • Weather


The first common issue found is light. It would be helpful to utilize a sleeping mask so you’re not kept awake by parking lights or the headlights of other cars coming and going. If you find this a recurring scenario for you, it might be wise to invest in sun shades to cover your windows or have the windows themselves tinted to block out the sun. 


The next obstacle to sleeping in your car is noise. Parking lots, rest stops, busy streets, and even campgrounds can be very noisy late into the evening and early morning hours. Earplugs can assist you in dampening sounds that might keep you awake in places like rest stops or busier parking lots. 

Sleeping Position

If possible, try to sleep as reclined as you can. Sleeping in convoluted positions can result in poor blood circulation. While this is not a problem one or two times, you would not want to get into the bad habit of doing this regularly.


The temperatures in Bakersfield can be sweltering, with the hottest day ever reaching 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Please keep the weather in mind when you’re sleeping in your car in this location, remember to keep the windows cracked if you can, and choose a place to sleep that’s already in the shade. 

Things You Need To Sleep in Your Car

Car sleeping can be tricky because they aren’t built for anyone to be staying for an overnight sleep in the seats. One of the ways that you can alleviate discomfort is by bringing several pillows, a blanket, or a sleeping bag in an attempt to recreate your sleeping environment at home.

Here is a quick list of items you may need to sleep in your car:

  • Pillows
  • Ear plugs
  • Blanket
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mask
  • Window shades
  • Mosquito netting if your windows are open
  • Freshwater
  • Battery pack for electronic devices and chargers
  • Light clothes if temperatures are high

How To Safely Sleep in Your Car

You must ensure you’re doing so safely when you sleep in your car. Below we’ll talk about several risks you may have to mitigate while sleeping overnight.

Air Circulation

You should never under any circumstances sleep in your car while it’s running. The primary concern is that air will be recycled, and it’s too easy to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning as the fumes are odorless.

Bakersfield can be very hot, and while you may wish to keep the AC on at night, you shouldn’t. Your best bet is to find a place to park in the shadow and keep the window cracked to get some fresh air. 

If you’re worried about insects, you can get a netting to cover the gap.

Park Your Car Securely

You should ensure that your car is parked where it’s secure and won’t potentially roll away while you’re asleep.

One way to ensure the car doesn’t move is to put your emergency brake on. You should also park away from places you might collide with other vehicles.

Personal Safety

Other dangers present themselves from the public at large; you should remain alert and cautious wherever possible.

Ensure that your doors are locked, and your windows are rolled up. If your windows must be down for temperature concerns, ensure they’re not so far down someone could use the opening to break in. 

You should also cover the windows. Covering the windows will help you keep the light out of your eyes and stop nefarious types from spotting you asleep in the car, and it has the added benefit of preventing anyone from viewing your items.

sleeping in car bakersfield sign

Wrapping Up

Several reasons may cause you to sleep in your car, but it doesn’t need to be an ordeal! 

Follow state and local ordinances, keep your personal safety and that of your vehicle in mind, and double-check your list of must-have items for comfort.

If you can do all of that, you’ll be enjoying your rest in no time.

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