Missouri is located in the Midwestern United States and is a popular drive-through state for those traveling across the country on Interstate 70 or Interstate 44. With its beautiful scenery and abundance of attractions, Missouri is also a fantastic place for a road trip. An important consideration for drivers is where to stop to use the restroom, get gas, have a meal, or just stretch your legs. So exactly how many rest stops are there in Missouri?
What Qualifies as a Rest Stop in Missouri?
When tallying up the number of rest stops in Missouri, it’s important to establish what qualifies as a rest stop. For this discussion, a rest stop will be defined as a dedicated parking area along a highway that is specifically designed for drivers to pull over and take a break. Rest stops typically have restroom facilities, vending machines, picnic tables, and other amenities. They are maintained by the state’s Department of Transportation.
Private businesses like gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions located near highway exits do not count as rest stops, even if drivers commonly utilize them to rest and refuel during long trips. Only state-run rest areas situated directly off of a highway are included in the total.
Counting Up the Rest Stops in Missouri
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) maintains 40 rest areas at 35 different locations along major interstate and U.S. highway routes throughout the state of Missouri. Here is a closer look at how those rest stops break down:
- 8 rest areas along Interstate 29
- 11 rest areas along Interstate 35
- 2 rest areas along Interstate 44
- 4 rest areas along Interstate 55
- 7 rest areas along Interstate 70
- 8 rest areas along other U.S. highways
Some of the locations have rest areas on both sides of the highway, which is why there are more individual rest areas (40) than rest stop locations (35).
Rest Stops Along Interstate 29
Heading north to south, here are the 8 rest stops along I-29 in Missouri:
- Northbound and southbound Blue Mound Rest Area at mile marker 47 near Blue Mound
- Northbound and southbound Watkins Rest Area at mile marker 79 near Watkins
- Southbound Dearborn Rest Area at mile marker 92 near Dearborn
- Northbound and southbound Edgerton Junction Rest Area at mile marker 148 near Edgerton
Rest Stops Along Interstate 35
Going north to south, the 11 rest stops along I-35 are:
- Northbound and southbound Bethany Rest Area at mile marker 2 near Bethany
- Southbound Pattonsburg Rest Area at mile marker 48 near Pattonsburg
- Northbound and southbound Winston Rest Area at mile marker 57 near Winston
- Southbound Cameron Rest Area at mile marker 59 near Cameron
- Northbound and southbound Jamesport Rest Area at mile marker 111 near Jamesport
- Northbound and southbound Powersville Rest Area at mile marker 121 near Powersville
- Northbound and southbound Bucklin Rest Area at mile marker 154 near Bucklin
Rest Stops Along Interstate 44
The 2 rest stops situated on I-44 are:
- Eastbound and westbound Conway Rest Area at mile marker 107 near Conway
- Westbound Strafford Rest Area at mile marker 167 near Strafford
Rest Stops on Interstate 55
I-55 has 4 rest areas:
- Northbound and southbound Lilbourn Rest Area at mile marker 23 near Lilbourn
- Northbound and southbound Matthews Rest Area at mile marker 95 near Matthews
Rest Stops on Interstate 70
The 7 stops located along I-70 are:
- Eastbound and westbound Mineola Rest Area at mile marker 36 near Mineola
- Westbound Boonville Rest Area at mile marker 87 near Boonville
- Eastbound and westbound Blackwater Rest Area at mile marker 101 near Blackwater
- Westbound Arrow Rock Rest Area at mile marker 109 near Arrow Rock
- Eastbound and westbound Loutre River Rest Area at mile marker 153 near Loutre River
- Eastbound and westbound Wentzville Rest Area at mile marker 208 near Wentzville
Rest Stops on Other U.S. Highways
The remaining 8 rest areas in Missouri are situated along other major U.S. highways:
- Northbound and southbound Marshfield Rest Area at mile marker 86 on U.S. 60 near Marshfield
- Eastbound and westbound Hazelgreen Rest Area at mile marker 118 on U.S. 60 near Hazelgreen
- Northbound Troy Rest Area at mile marker 47 on U.S. 61 near Troy
- Northbound and southbound Glennonville Rest Area at mile marker 158 on U.S. 63 near Glennonville
- Westbound Devil’s Elbow Rest Area at mile marker 89 on U.S. 160 near Devil’s Elbow
Consult MoDOT’s rest areas website for addresses and amenities offered at each location.
The History of Rest Stops in Missouri
Missouri first began constructing rest stops along highways in the 1930s. Prior to dedicated rest areas, drivers had to pull over onto the shoulder if they wanted to stop briefly along their route. Missouri was one of the first states to recognize the importance of building specific rest areas to improve road travel safety.
The earliest rest stops were basic with just parking, restrooms and drinking water. Over time, amenities were expanded to include vending machines, picnic facilities, dog walks, weather shelters, playgrounds, informational kiosks, wireless internet and more.
Rest areas saw the most growth along Missouri highways during the 1950s and 1960s when the interstate highway system was constructed. Though modern rest stops now have more amenities, the core purpose remains the same – to provide drivers with a safe place to get off the road and take a break during long journeys across Missouri.
The Busiest Rest Stops in Missouri
All rest areas in Missouri see a fair amount of traffic, but some rest stops are more popular than others. Here are 5 of the busiest rest areas in Missouri based on location along heavily traveled routes:
- Wentzville Rest Area – At the intersection of I-70 and I-64 near St. Louis, this stop benefits from heavy volumes along both interstate routes.
- Bucklin Rest Area – Located where I-35 and U.S. 36 intersect, near two tourism centers with the Lake of the Ozarks and Kansas City.
- Edgerton Junction Rest Area – Provides an ideal midway stopping point on longer trips along I-29 in northern Missouri near the Iowa border.
- Hazelgreen Rest Area – Its location at the junction of U.S. 60, I-44, and Route 413 makes it a popular stop for motorists.
- Mineola Rest Area – Serves as the first rest stop in Missouri along westbound I-70 from St. Louis, a major highway for cross-country travel.
These rest areas have high traffic not only due to their location but also the abundance of amenities available. Features like large parking areas, big restrooms, multiple vending options, traveler information, and picnic shelters attract more visitors.
The Largest Rest Stops in Missouri
In addition to the busiest locations, it is also useful to look at the largest rest areas in Missouri based on overall size and facilities. The following 5 rank as some of the biggest rest stops in the state:
- Wentzville Rest Area – At 10 acres in size with a capacious building and over 100 parking spots, Wentzville is the largest rest stop in Missouri.
- Hazelgreen Rest Area – Spanning 130,000 square feet indoors and 25 acres overall, Hazelgreen is a huge complex with a food court and convenience store.
- Bucklin Rest Area – Its 30,000 square foot brick building and large parking lot take up 14.5 acres along I-35.
- Edgerton Junction Rest Area – The two large grading separated ramp rest areas cover a combined 18 acres.
- Jamesport Rest Area – Jamesport includes two large rest areas spanning a total of 17 acres along I-35.
Due to high visitor volumes, Missouri has invested in constructing some very large-scale rest areas to accommodate demand. These mega rest stops have the parking and facilities to handle major traffic flows.
Missouri Rest Areas by Amenities Offered
Rest areas across Missouri offer different levels of amenities beyond just restrooms and parking. To help drivers choose the best rest stop for their needs, here is an overview of Missouri rest areas categorized by amenities:
Basic Rest Stops
About 12 Missouri rest stops offer just the basics:
- Vending machines
- Picnic tables
These no-frills rest areas are perfect for a quick break to use the restroom and stretch your legs. Locations in this category include Pattonsburg, Cameron, Conway, and Strafford.
Rest Stops with Expanded Food Options
Roughly 10 Missouri rest areas feature extra snacks and drinks:
- Vending machines
- Picnic tables
- PLUS hot food like pizza, sandwiches, or burritos
Rest areas of this type are ideal for grabbing a quick meal. Some examples are Blue Mound, Bethany, Arrow Rock, and Blackwater.
Large Rest Stops with Fuel and Convenience Stores
Only 4 very large rest areas in Missouri have fuel stations and convenience stores on-site:
- Vending machines
- Picnic tables
- PLUS gas station
- PLUS convenience store
These facilities are like mini travel plazas, allowing drivers to refuel and shop. The 4 locations are Hazelgreen, Wentzville, Mineola, and Jamesport.
Rest Stops with Premium Amenities
A handful of premium rest areas provide the most amenities:
- Vending machines
- Picnic tables
- Food options
- PLUS travel information
- PLUS free Wi-Fi
- PLUS souvenirs
These service-packed rest areas satisfy a full range of traveler needs. Examples are Watkins, Edgerton Junction, and Loutre River.
Types of Missouri Rest Areas
In addition to different amenity levels, Missouri rest areas also fall into a few types based on size and structure:
Small Rest Stops
Most Missouri rest areas have a small footprint with a modest building, limited parking, and 1-2 picnic shelters. These stops measure 5 acres or less. Examples are Conway, Dearborn, and Devil’s Elbow.
Mid-Size Rest Stops
Slightly larger rest areas have ample parking, decent-sized buildings, and more picnic tables. They usually cover 5-10 acres. Bucklin, Boonville, and Marshfield are mid-size stops.
Large Rest Plazas
A few Missouri rest stops are essentially plazas with huge buildings, expansive parking, convenience stores, food courts, and sometimes fuel. They span 10+ acres. Wentzville, Hazelgreen, and Mineola are prime examples.
Paired Rest Areas
Some rest stop locations feature parking ramps and facilities on both sides of the highway. While technically counted as two separate rest areas, they operate as one combined stop. Examples include Jamesport and Edgerton Junction.
Rest Areas by Missouri Region
The distribution of Missouri rest areas by geographic region is:
|# of Rest Areas
|West Central Missouri
|East Central Missouri
As shown in the table, rest areas are found in all regions, but are concentrated most heavily in northwest and west central Missouri where major interstates like I-29, I-35, and I-70 traverse the state.
Future Rest Area Plans in Missouri
While Missouri currently has 40 well-maintained rest areas, there are hopes to expand services in the future to meet demand. Potential rest stop projects that have been proposed include:
- A new rest area near Halltown off I-44 in southwest Missouri.
- Larger service plazas along I-55 in southeast Missouri.
- Upgraded facilities at older rest stops like Bethany off I-35.
- Additional parking and amenities at busy sites like Bucklin and Edgerton Junction.
Limiting factors are funding as well as available land resources along congested highways. Public-private partnerships may allow some future expansion of Missouri rest areas.
Rest Stops vs. Missouri Welcome Centers
When discussing places for travelers to stop in Missouri, rest areas are different than welcome centers.
Missouri operates 8 official welcome centers staffed with travel counselors who provide tourism advice. These are located near state borders or key attractions.
Rest areas are focused on offering amenities for a brief stop while welcome centers promote the state and offer in-depth visitor information.
Missouri has about 40 well-maintained rest areas across the state, with concentrations along major interstates like I-70, I-44, I-55 and I-29. Size and amenities vary, ranging from basic stops with just parking and restrooms to huge service plazas with convenience stores and food. Geographic distribution is fairly even, though more rest areas are found in high traffic northwest and central Missouri. While existing services meet most needs, future expansion is hoped for to satisfy demand from travelers.