Edale Mountain Rescue Team said they were called in the early hours of Monday morning (Sep 19) after a group had reported themselves missing.
They were believed to be in the Upper Tor area of the Grindsbrook valley in Edale.
Team members, alongside two team search dogs and their handlers, met at the Nags Head pub before being dispatched into sections to search the reported area.
The rescue team said it was becoming clearer that the missing party was not in the area reported.
In a social media post, the team said: “The team leader and one of the deputies decided to gather some more intelligence regarding the possibility of a car in the equation.
“Intelligence on the car was given by the Police and ANPR checked, officers also went to the registered address of the owner, but all drew a blank.
“The local campsites and car parks were then the next focus of our attention.
“After a relatively short while the car was spotted in the main car park. When approached it was evident that it had some occupants who were asleep in the rear of the estate car.
“They were very surprised to be woken up at 03:30 hrs.”
The occupants were given a “robust lecture” on the need to report to the police when they are safe.
The team told the public to ensure they report to the police when safe.
“It saves us a lot of time and sleep”, they said.