The OTR Lifestyle
Do you dream about life on the road? If so, the lifestyle is a great reason to get your Class-A license. The highways of The U.S. and Canada have a whole industry of infrastructure that supports trucking.
The Pony Express of the mid-nineteenth century required stops across the old west. Stagecoaches followed, then railroads, and cars and trucks for the last one-hundred and twenty years. Historically, truck stops of the early and mid-twentieth century were not much more than gas stations with mom-and-pop diners.
The two biggest upturns in the lifestyle side of truck stops were first in the sixties as the Interstate freeway system spread across the country. Then, in the eighties they expanded as general rest stops, open to the public, attracting cars and RVs.
Features of Modern Truck Stops
The best truck stops have the right combination of the features that truckers want. Since there are so many competing locations, you get all kinds of features designed to catch your interest and serve your needs. Some of these may not be what you want, but somebody might. You’ll see churches, movie theaters, motels, casinos, and even amusement parks.
At a minimum, a good truck stop needs a few specific things to be adequate for the average trucker. First and foremost is the need for lots of overnight parking with power hookups, so you don’t have to run your engine.
The facilities must be clean, with a warm and friendly customer service experience. Plenty of fuel pumps to avoid extended wait times. Now, Wi-Fi coverage is getting to be a must-have item at the truck stop.
Fast food is still popular. However, drivers are trying to stay healthier out on the road and operators are trying to accommodate the demand. So, healthier meals – meat and vegetables, soups, and salad bars are more readily available now.
Business services like copiers and printers or a place to pick up packages as you pass through are vital if you spend most of your time on the road. Some stops have healthcare facilities that do driver physicals and certified scales to keep you within limits, as well as Laundromats, fitness clubs, and barbershops. These things would otherwise be difficult to do if you’re always out on the road.
Exceptional Trucks Stops Across the Continent
There are plenty of opinions floating around about the best truck stops. Truckers all have personal favorites. So, this is a selection of some of the favorites from across the North American continent.
Jubitz Travel Center, Portland, OR
The self-styled “World’s Classiest Truck Stop.” Parking comes with electric power hookups so you can save fuel. The Cascade Grill, Ponderosa Lounge, Moe’s Deli, and movie theater are popular with the community and truckers alike. There’s also entertainment with live music and poker nights.
Iowa 80, Walcott, IA
The largest truck stop in North America. The location on the I-80 corridor is probably the reason. It’s right at the heart of the Midwest, with much of the country’s east-west freight passing through. There are 950 parking spaces for trucks and a mega-shopping complex to match. The salad bar in the main restaurant is on the same scale too.
Florida 595 Truck Stop, Davie, FL
Tire and truck repair services, pet-friendly, with a spa and dental clinic. A sub shop and pizza along with free overnight parking with a fuel purchase. This location appears to have some of the cheapest diesel in the U.S.A.
The Florida 595 Truck Stop offers discounts and coupons to appeal to new customers and keep truckers coming back. Like all other modern retail businesses truck stops like the Florida 595 have to consider the experience that influences your choice to either pull in or roll on to the next one.
Johnson’s Corner in Johnstown CO
Johnson’s Corner is right up against the continental divide and popular with truckers and travel writers alike. Established in 1952, but up-to-date with all modern conveniences. The Johnsons Corner restaurant has such famous cinnamon rolls you can buy them online. Wi-Fi, Convenience store, and truck supplies and accessories account for much of its popularity. Overnight parking with power hook-ups and on-site laundry facilities help too.
Little America, Flagstaff, AZ
Another western crowd pleaser is Little America in Flagstaff. It is as much a resort as a truck stop. Drivers will appreciate secure parking and comfort facilities such as laundry and shower rooms. The Little America Grille specializes in burgers and rotisserie chicken as well as delicious 75-cent ice cream cones.
Pilot Travel Center Bath, NY
The Pilot Flying J chain of travel centers has a chink of the truck stop market throughout the continent. Pilot Travel Centers span the U.S.A. The stop in Bath, New York is an excellent example of the brand, with all of the modern facilities, 75 truck spaces, and hot and cold food.
Whiskey Pete’s, Primm, NV
How could we not mention the truck stop next to Casinos? This Flying J Truck Stop has a business center, plenty of parking, and 24/7 restaurants. All near the California border and with Las Vegas styling that includes a roller coaster, hotels, and casinos. A distracting place to rest perhaps before you head down I-15 into Southern California.
The Flying J Travel Center, Sainte Agathe, Manitoba, Canada
This is a newly developed Pilot Flying J Canadian location, and it’s made the Truckers Path Top 100 at number 48 the same year. The site includes fast fuel pumping with five diesel lanes, a Western Union, lounge, and convenience dining and salad bar. It is located on Canadian Highway 75 on the mid-continental corridor between Canada and the United States while avoiding Winnipeg’s higher taxes and traffic.
South of The Border, Hamer, SC
One of the stops that gets the most mentions is South of The Border, in South Carolina, calling itself “home of America’s Favorite Highway Oasis.” It has an observation tower disguised as a sombrero and many other tourist attractions. It has all the basics for OTR comforts and a wedding chapel onsite too.
Thousands of Locations for the OTR Lifestyle
These are just a sampling of the thousands of truck stops along the highways of North America. As a professional driver with many miles on the road you probably have a detailed list of personal favorites.
If you’re considering earning your commercial driver’s license, you can still build a career and enjoy the lifestyle while you tour North America. You have thousands of places and interesting people to meet along the road ahead of you.
What about you, which truck stop is the best and why? Share in the comments. I would love to know what everyone has to say.