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Old 08-08-2012, 09:48 AM   #1
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State and Private Parks vs. Paid Membership

Was reading another thread and there was some mention of Thousand Trails and another membership system I can't remember. This may have been hashed before, but I'm newish and I'd like your thoughts about belonging to closed campground systems. Due to crowding in the public parks, for part-timers are they worth the money?
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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Google reviews of Thousand Trails. High pressure sales, misrepresentation of park features, etc. Many membership camp programs have lots of fine print, I'd take time to research. Some discounts only apply during weekdays, off season, etc. Don't know where you encountered crowded public parks, we just took a 6 week loop from Ohio to Seattle and back in June/July and didn't have any problems with finding places to stay.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:12 PM   #3
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We looked at a couple but have decided to steer clear of membership park systems. Just seemed too restrictive for our type of travel plus having to deal with the tactics mentioned above.

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Old 08-08-2012, 12:24 PM   #4
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Membership parks are only of potential value when they are used frequently, and are near where you like to stay or travel. Some are VERY hard to get out of if you lose interest in them, and resale value is usually VERY low.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkQ View Post
Was reading another thread and there was some mention of Thousand Trails and another membership system I can't remember. This may have been hashed before, but I'm newish and I'd like your thoughts about belonging to closed campground systems. Due to crowding in the public parks, for part-timers are they worth the money?
Crowded Public Parks? You lost me. Do you mean state, national and COE parks with camping sites? The only time I've ever seen them crowded is on Holiday weekends. We avoid holiday weekends and just stay home. Aside from the crowed CGs, there are too many drunks on the road. A "closed" CG system? You mean where you buy some kind of membership to a private CG?

As for things like Passport America, read the fine print and you will see they're really pretty useless. You can only camp one night at half price. You can't camp weekends or holidays or you're not welcome during the height of camping season. Or they toss in extra charges. Don't waste your money.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:40 PM   #6
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It depends

It depends on where you travel as to the quality of state parks. OR and WA are top notch for the most part and you can reserve in advance using their on-line web sites.

Other state parks we have encountered are not always that great. NM comes to mind.

We have no experience with membership parks but have stayed in private parks many times in the past when it seems convenient while traveling. We always call ahead and make sure there is a spot reserved for us and have never had trouble.

Perhaps it is because we travel most often in the spring and fall and stay home in the summer (hiking, biking) and winter (skiing).

Happy travels,

GT
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:42 PM   #7
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No, not worth the money for part timers, just my opinion. We are fulltimers and a few years back Coast to Coast offered a one year trial membership. We signed up and really liked it but we only travel 6 months a year and park host the other 6 months. A resale membership would be about $700 plus transfer fees, fees for maintenance of the home park and a small yearly fee for Coast to Coast. We couldn't justify the over $1,000 cost for the first year and maintenance fees after that. We find plenty of places to stay with Passport America, Corps of Engineers, City & County parks and some state parks. We are too long for most forest service campgrounds & blm land
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:44 PM   #8
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South Dakota state parks have been booked solid for rest of summer. This was a few weeks ago already.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:49 PM   #9
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South Dakota state parks have been booked solid for rest of summer. This was a few weeks ago already.
The problem with booking well ahead on a long journey is too many things can happen and you can't make it to the CG on the dates you paid for. What then? If you have many CGs lined out the lo$$ can be considerable.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:51 PM   #10
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As for things like Passport America, read the fine print and you will see they're really pretty useless. You can only camp one night at half price. You can't camp weekends or holidays or you're not welcome during the height of camping season. Or they toss in extra charges. Don't waste your money.
I guess I don't agree regarding Passport America. There is no standard policy, it is set by each campground. Some are more restrictive than others, but for the $40 a year, you save that much using PA 3 or 4 days a year. I think PA is one of the best values available.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:31 PM   #11
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Crowded Public Parks? You lost me. Do you mean state, national and COE parks with camping sites? The only time I've ever seen them crowded is on Holiday weekends. We avoid holiday weekends and just stay home. Aside from the crowed CGs, there are too many drunks on the road. A "closed" CG system? You mean where you buy some kind of membership to a private CG?

As for things like Passport America, read the fine print and you will see they're really pretty useless. You can only camp one night at half price. You can't camp weekends or holidays or you're not welcome during the height of camping season. Or they toss in extra charges. Don't waste your money.
I'll have to disagree on the Passport America. Each PA park is different with their qualifications or restrictions. Of course they are not going to give you half price during their busiest times. But they can sure save you a bundle during the off times. I save enough in two nights during the year at a PA park to pay for my year's membership. There are five weekdays where they are ususually honored and only two weekends that may be restricted. I travel during the week and sit on weekends. You never pay more, but can save a lot.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:51 PM   #12
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I guess I don't agree regarding Passport America. There is no standard policy, it is set by each campground. Some are more restrictive than others, but for the $40 a year, you save that much using PA 3 or 4 days a year. I think PA is one of the best values available.
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I'll have to disagree on the Passport America. Each PA park is different with their qualifications or restrictions. Of course they are not going to give you half price during their busiest times. But they can sure save you a bundle during the off times. I save enough in two nights during the year at a PA park to pay for my year's membership. There are five weekdays where they are ususually honored and only two weekends that may be restricted. I travel during the week and sit on weekends. You never pay more, but can save a lot.
Although Passport America isn't a membership park arrangement like those which are the subject of this thread, I have always felt it was probably THE greatest value for the RVers dollar. Pays for itself very, very quickly.

This is the first time I've heard it called a waste of money.

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Old 08-08-2012, 01:58 PM   #13
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We enjoy private, not membership, parks because we like the full hookups, the pool and spa, and the location near shopping. Just our thing. Also we often change our plans, so making reservations 6 months, a year or even two years in advance just does not fit our lifestyle. Often we will call ahead and make our next days reservation around 3pm while still traveling. Thus, private campgrounds fit our RVing lifestyle.
Happy Trails.
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:06 PM   #14
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I guess I don't agree regarding Passport America. There is no standard policy, it is set by each campground. Some are more restrictive than others, but for the $40 a year, you save that much using PA 3 or 4 days a year. I think PA is one of the best values available.
I've yet to find one CG that gives a 50% discount for more than one or two nights. And those are not weekends or holidays. For one night, we'll stay at a Wal*Mart rather than drive miles out of our way for a 50% discount somewhere. But that's just us.... with out Senior Card we get 50% off at all COEs for the entire 2 weeks allowed.
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