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Old 11-08-2019, 11:06 AM   #1
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Thousand Trails Sites

My wife and I are full-timing in a 39ft fifth wheel, and our travel style favors 3wk-1mo stays with FHU, with no more than 500mi of travel between destinations. We're currently in Texas, and will be slowly making our way up the west coast this year. We see tons of TT sites through the regions we plan to venture over the next couple of years.

We've been reading highly variable reviews ranging from loving to hating TT, and for us it boils down to this:
  1. We can comfortably afford weekly/monthly sites, but the idea of major long-term cost savings through TT sounds very enticing.
  2. We would be looking at one of the Elite level memberships, or maybe an older resold membership. Probably new, Elite Connections w/ Trails Collection, at the prices we were quoted.
  3. We are concerned about some reviews saying that TT sites are "trashy" and dilapidated, or have a certain "look" to them. We've never stayed at a TT park and usually choose parks based on online photos/reviews.
  4. We are concerned about finding sites that are "big rig" friendly and have 50A FHU.
  5. We are concerned about Internet access, as we work remotely. We carry AT&T and VZ grandfathered unlimited SIMs with a Cradlepoint router and weBoost.
  6. We enjoy fairly remote sites and prefer natural surroundings to urban ones.
  7. Access to lengthy hiking trails is extremely important to us, as we are avid trail runners. We don't mind a short daily drive to one.
I understand that items 4-7 most likely to vary from site to site, but we need to know if they will be a problem to find at most sites before we decide to make any sort of investment. Item 3 is a deal breaker for us if true. For those of you who have experienced multiple TT sites, or who have TT memberships, what are your experiences and would you consider purchasing a membership given our priorities?
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:40 AM   #2
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as a member of TT for now 9 years and a few months
I will not be renewing my membership in may.


I would suggest you go visit the TT parks in texas. this will help guide your decision.
you are in Austin, smack dab in the middle of two tt parks. MEDINA lake and Lake Whitney.
I would go this weekend and see medina. It used to be a pretty decent place. But management chose long term rentals over tt members. take a serious look at your rigs size and requirements and then go see the sites. if you are 40 feet and need 50 amp. you are not going to be happy


at lake whitney the park is HUGE . lots of sites, but lots of sites are unusable due to bad pedestals, trees, severe site un-level. for rigs 35 to 40 feet, wanting 50 amp...site selection is thin. there are about ten that are perfect. But you can imagine they are hard to grab.


for some reason the only parks on texas that get LOVE is lake conroe and lake texoma, texoma is over run with long term sites.

conroe just put in large concrete sites with 50 amp, easy in and out. Bt they are always full with little trailers not needing 50 amp. tt does not let you reserve specific sites and ALL site as open to ALL members. So its often to find a tent in a 50 amp site or a the like.
they say the local park will ask folks not to take sites that are in excess to the users needs, but this violates the rule of us for TT so the person squatting on a large site with a pop up or tent can stay right where they are.


i have not visited tt on west coast of northeast, their pictures look nice.
i will say i did speak with a person at the orlando park and she was a breath of fresh air and ensured no long term rental of sites and they had enforced the 3 weeks you must leave or change sites.


our trip changed and we did not get to see first hand.


the remaining parks in texas, lake tawakoni and colorado river (just north of houston) are ODD. colorado river park has many sites that are great for large rigs, but they alos have many long term rental of sites and of course the real nice ones are taken. but its a great location to see the area within 100 miles, brennan, college station, etc


tawakoni is horrible most sites flood at one drop of rain. grassy and not well packed.




so as much as a full membership costs, you need to go see the parks and really take note of how they are set up and run. this time of year is perfect as you will see all the winter long term rentals.


COE parks and state parks in texas are awesome, plus we use military fam camps often.

i dont expect tt to be RESORTS like amarillo or the ones on galveston island. but i do expect for the cost, to have NICE parks that are level and have adequate 50 amp power.
you will find 50 amp power available is lacking compared to the number of sites.
plus the $3.00 a night 50 amp fee is imo not necessary



again its your money. do the research, we got flam boozled and i hate to admit it. but we joined at texoma and it was fantastic for about a year, then they went full bore long term site rentals and all the good sites were rented out for the year over and over.


internet is usually only good at one of the main buildings. we use our verizon hot spot on the phones for most internet. if we need a big speed increase or large file, then we go the main buildings, which is hit or miss on speed or connectivity.
some parks broadcast wifi in the park. but it is horrible unless your very close to the antenna, which is usually on the restroom shower building
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:59 AM   #3
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...

Thanks for the detailed info. Kind of what I was suspecting.

We're out near Terlingua for the couple of weeks, then we're heading up to New Mexico. We are in the process of selling our home (from afar) in Austin. Fortunately, you provided plenty of detail in your description for me to get a decent picture without visiting in person. We love the COE and state parks here and have heavily utilized them these past few years.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the detailed info. Kind of what I was suspecting.

We're out near Terlingua for the couple of weeks, then we're heading up to New Mexico. We are in the process of selling our home (from afar) in Austin. Fortunately, you provided plenty of detail in your description for me to get a decent picture. We love the COE and state parks here and have heavily utilized them these past few years.

new mexico has a few COE parks that are frighteningly out in middle if no where north of albq. we stayed at one and it was like the set of the gargoiles movies from the 70's it was freaky.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:04 PM   #5
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new mexico has a few COE parks that are frighteningly out in middle if no where north of albq. we stayed at one and it was like the set of the gargoiles movies from the 70's it was freaky.
I ran (on foot) six miles up TX-170 the other night, around midnight after a big storm came through and delayed my routine. Talk about creepy and desolate.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:15 PM   #6
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We bought the Camping Pass for one year, did not renew. We visited most of the parks in Oregon, and Washington.

They are older, some are well kept (Monroe, Wa.) Some not so much. 50amp is scarce, as are sewer sites. 50amp & sewer? Get in line. We had trouble with WiFi, cell signal and satellite reception at almost all of them. Usually due to the seclusion they mostly enjoy being in more remote locations. Some are closed in with topography and others with trees, old growth.

They were built back when RVs were smaller, so larger rigs like ours, (38ft towing a CMax) are tight. We always unhooked the toad when we arrived, and used it to scout for a site before checking-in.

As I said, we chose not to renew.
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:59 PM   #7
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We bought the Camping Pass for one year, did not renew. We visited most of the parks in Oregon, and Washington.

They are older, some are well kept (Monroe, Wa.) Some not so much. 50amp is scarce, as are sewer sites. 50amp & sewer? Get in line. We had trouble with WiFi, cell signal and satellite reception at almost all of them. Usually due to the seclusion they mostly enjoy being in more remote locations. Some are closed in with topography and others with trees, old growth.

They were built back when RVs were smaller, so larger rigs like ours, (38ft towing a CMax) are tight. We always unhooked the toad when we arrived, and used it to scout for a site before checking-in.

As I said, we chose not to renew.
We have a 2-zone pass for all of the west coast. We make use of the parks extensively. In Washington and Oregon 50 amps are really not need on the west side. On the east side you can find more of them. Some parks have full hook ups, some don't. Birch Bay has full hookups and 30 amps is more than enough since it it RARE that you need air conditioning. We've stayed at Thunderbird (Monroe) and the 50 amp section is backed up against the river (hence no sewer) and is in the sun. In the shade it isn't needed. At ANY park where we have to pick our site, we always unhook - - don't like looking for sites when in the motorhome. On the east side of the mountains you are more likely to find 50 amp sites at TT preserves. We use them about 50 nights a year and other membership parks the other 50% of the 6 months we are out on the road. Between them we often have no costs other than yearly dues for weeks on end. And if using AOR or C2C, it is $10/night, so quite doable. The ROD is $0/night, so we use them coupled with TT, whenever we can.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:01 PM   #8
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new mexico has a few COE parks that are frighteningly out in middle if no where north of albq. we stayed at one and it was like the set of the gargoiles movies from the 70's it was freaky.
I love COE parks. We have stayed at them whenever possible. Yes, they are out away from cities for the most park, since they are on lakes formed by damning a river, but they are very good and we use them whenever we can find them.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:08 PM   #9
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Thanks for the detailed info. Kind of what I was suspecting.

We're out near Terlingua for the couple of weeks, then we're heading up to New Mexico. We are in the process of selling our home (from afar) in Austin. Fortunately, you provided plenty of detail in your description for me to get a decent picture without visiting in person. We love the COE and state parks here and have heavily utilized them these past few years.
The West Coast is full of TT parks, as well as other membership parks. As I said, we use TT parks extensively on the west coast. 50 or more nights during the summer and find it worth our while. We even added the Trails Connections to our zone passes, as that gets you into a lot of Encore Parks (like San Francisco RV Resort in Pacifica, just south of SF) for $0 or $20/night (SF park is $20/night). So that really gives us more options on the west coast.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:49 PM   #10
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Have been a TT member since 2000. There is lots of good and some bad. Until this year we've never had a horrible experience, but that changed this year. We've been unable to get reservations, even with our 120 day window, been unable to find a site that we would even fit in once at the parks, let alone have 50 amp FHU, and have experienced issues with no power and/or inconsistent power which trips our EMS. We spent most of our time on the East Coast this year. In the past we've only experienced major issues at 1 Oregon park and that was 5 years ago. The addition of Trails Collections has been great, but reservations can be difficult to impossible at popular destinations and times. Yes, there are becoming an overwhelming number of annual/seasonal sites. In some parks there are only a handful of sites available for transients.

I would recommend a Zone Pass for the first year to see if the parks work for you. After that, a higher level membership would be the best. When looking at used memberships you must do your due diligence as to what you are buying and what privileges remain after a membership transfer; there are hundreds of different memberships contracts. Not all privileges pass to a new buyer. Depending on your age, frozen dues and family transfer might offset the $$$ you are saving.

Be prepared to plan ahead and make reservations the first day you are allowed. The rules on holiday reservations are very restrictive, especially for full timers.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:42 PM   #11
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Have been a TT member since 2000. There is lots of good and some bad. Until this year we've never had a horrible experience, but that changed this year. We've been unable to get reservations, even with our 120 day window, been unable to find a site that we would even fit in once at the parks, let alone have 50 amp FHU, and have experienced issues with no power and/or inconsistent power which trips our EMS. We spent most of our time on the East Coast this year. In the past we've only experienced major issues at 1 Oregon park and that was 5 years ago. The addition of Trails Collections has been great, but reservations can be difficult to impossible at popular destinations and times. Yes, there are becoming an overwhelming number of annual/seasonal sites. In some parks there are only a handful of sites available for transients.

I would recommend a Zone Pass for the first year to see if the parks work for you. After that, a higher level membership would be the best. When looking at used memberships you must do your due diligence as to what you are buying and what privileges remain after a membership transfer; there are hundreds of different memberships contracts. Not all privileges pass to a new buyer. Depending on your age, frozen dues and family transfer might offset the $$$ you are saving.

Be prepared to plan ahead and make reservations the first day you are allowed. The rules on holiday reservations are very restrictive, especially for full timers.

and that is a biggie
we have made reservations far out and at the time it stated over 100 available, then show up months later and there are none available, but the campground counted the pedestals with bags over them that do not work as OPERABLE.
tt sure sells the memberships, and as far as texas parks very little has been put into the parks upkeep.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:14 PM   #12
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new mexico has a few COE parks that are frighteningly out in middle if no where north of albq. we stayed at one and it was like the set of the gargoiles movies from the 70's it was freaky.
We love these New Mexico COE campgrounds for our 40' MH:

Cochiti - easy day trip to Santa Fe and close to Kasha-Katuwe Nat'l Monument (Tent Rocks) - very unique

Abiquiu - in the famous painter, Georgia O'Keefe's favorite, beautiful area
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:31 PM   #13
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Thousand Trails is a smokin' deal. Their are some fundemental truths you must understand, however.

1. Thousand Trails are often "rustic". They are older too. But that doesn't mean they aren't clean, safe and pleasant. We refer to them as campgrounds rather than RV parks.

2. Reviews of Thousand Trails can be divided into two categories. One is folks paying full price, often $50-$80 a night (designed to help you see the advantages of membership IMHO) and the folks with memberships. Those paying full price often trash the campgrounds while those with memberships offer a rosier picture.

3. Expectation are key. You'll get a site with hookups (FHU most of the time), access to some amenities like pools, club houses, etc. If you temper your expectations, you'll likely come to enjoy TT parks. Especially when you can camp for "free" on the Oregon Coast, near Disney World, Texas for the winter, Yosemite NP, all up and down the East Coast, etc.

We really enjoy our membership. But try a Camping Pass first, stay at a few TT parks and make sure it's for you. You won't lose money when/if you upgrade. It can save you thousands of dollars a year but if you don't use it, it's a really bad deal.
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