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Old 09-19-2022, 02:50 PM   #1
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Nebraska's State Parks - Hidden Fees

We had our first experience this week in the Nebraska State Park system. When you make a reservation in the Nebraska reservation system the posted fees are $25 (electric only), $30 (electric plus), and $35 (full hookup, if available) per night. However, don't expect to pay only the posted fees, especially if you are from out of state, because there are significant additional vehicle access fees not mentioned on the reservation site, except for some fine print that states *not including discounts, fees, or taxes. They donít tell you about these fees until you get there, and itís too late to cancel. We arrived at our first Nebraska State Park and learned that instead of $30 per night, we would actually be paying $54 per night. That's because Nebraska State Parks charge an additional vehicle access fee of $12 per night, per vehicle, so if you have a motorhome and a toad, expect to pay an additional $24 per night on top of the camping fee. (Access fees are half as much for vehicles licensed in Nebraska.) If you will be staying more than 5 nights, you may want to consider buying the Annual Vehicle Pass for $61, ($31 for Nebraska licensed vehicles) so if you have 2 vehicles that's $122 ($62 for Nebraska vehicles) since you'll need two Annual Vehicle Passes. They also didnít tell us about the annual passes at the check-in, so be sure to ask about them if you will be spending more than 5 nights at campgrounds in Nebraska.
For us, though, the last straw was when we went to the bathhouse and didn't bring our wallets along. Yes, you guessed it, after paying $54 per night for their Electric Plus Service (50-amp electric only, water nearby, and no sewer) at this facility, that doesn't even include the showers. They actually have coin-operated showers there so bring some cash along if you want a shower. There's a change machine outside the bathhouses if you don't have any quarters; talk about a cheapskate State bureaucracy. We decided to take Plan "B" and leave Nebraska after a brief 2-night stay. We spend weeks to a month or more in most other states and spend money there at businesses across each state. The average camping fee in most state park systems we have visited was $20 - $35 per night, including up to two vehicles, and there were no vehicle access fees. I hope the Governor of Nebraska reads this and begins to understand the negative effect these unfriendly vehicle access fees have on local businesses. We typically spend at least 5 or 6 times as much in other states for supplies, groceries, entertainment, repairs, etc., than what we spend on camping fees. I wonder if the net effect is actually negative for the State as well as the State's businesses, both large and small. I can see charging a vehicle access fee for visitors who come in to picnic, fish, or swim for the day, but any camping fees should include at least two vehicles, or campers should be clearly advised of additional fees when making a reservation, especially significant fees that nearly double the cost of the reservation. For us, we plan to simply avoid Nebraska in the future as somewhat camper-unfriendly, especially for out-of-state campers.
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Old 09-19-2022, 03:28 PM   #2
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I feel your pain. I live very close to MA, but in a neighboring state. I regularly camped in Mass until they changed their out of state camping fees. $17/night for MASS residents - $54 for out of state, and thatís for a site with no on-site services whatsoever. If you camp at what they consider a premium campground (Nickerson on the Cape being one of them), still no services, the rate is $22 for MA residents and $70/night for non-residents! Rates for MA state parks with electric and water for non-residents is $82/night. By comparison, neighboring NYS charges a very reasonable $5/night for non-residents.

I expect to pay more as an out of state user, but those numbers are ridiculous. As a result, Iím camping next week at a private campground on Cape Cod and Iím paying $45/night for a site with water and 30 amps. Itís really a shame as I prefer the more natural setting of a state park but those numbers are definitely saying MA state parks donít want me.
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Old 09-20-2022, 05:32 PM   #3
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This is why I boondock often and always carry water in the trailer. I can shower in the RV, why pay the campground even more?
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Old 09-20-2022, 05:33 PM   #4
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Oh, and Idaho is similar in non-resident add-ons and per vehicle fees.

WY has resident and nonresident reservation windows. Residents open a week sooner.
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Old 09-20-2022, 06:59 PM   #5
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Many states have In-State Resident and Out-Of-State Resident prices for their state park campgrounds or day use facilities. Some even have in-state and out-of-state prices for their annual or day vehicle permits. Itís nothing out of the norm nor is it a new thing.

As for the showersÖ Iíve read about some private campgrounds who charge DOUBLE the price per night than a public campground that have coin showers. Again, nothing new or out of the norm.

It can come as a shock to people who arenít used to it though.
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Old 09-21-2022, 06:30 AM   #6
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Iím not questioning additional fees for non-residents in state campgrounds. I expect to pay a higher rate. But when those fees are so disproportionately higher than resident fees, and so high that theyíre more expensive than a private campground with hookups - it feels like a real message for non-residents to stay away.
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Old 09-21-2022, 09:36 AM   #7
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It is crazy for nonresidents to pay that much more. Don't they realize that people from out of state bring revenue to the state and pay state taxes for food, fuel, etc. when they visit the state. So, one answer is to stop using the state parks and COE and other federal parks.

You can bet that when I visit these states, I will not use a state park and I will make sure my fuel tanks are topped off so that I do not have to buy fuel there. RVers can fight back with their $$$$.

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Old 09-21-2022, 09:50 AM   #8
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State parks are supported by state taxes. I see nothing wrong with residents getting to use the park. The extra charge for non residents helps assure residents have a chance to use the park.
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Old 09-21-2022, 09:54 AM   #9
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I have no issues with rates being different for in-state versus out-of-state residents. I have a problem with the reservation system not explaining that clearly.
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Old 09-21-2022, 10:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by K Charles View Post
State parks are supported by state taxes. I see nothing wrong with residents getting to use the park. The extra charge for non residents helps assure residents have a chance to use the park.
That's fine. But the reservation system should tell me down to the PENNY how much it will cost.

No private business would get away with tacking on "fees" in excess of 100% of the base cost until they arrive for their apointment/service.

Even hotel resevation websites that have to deal with state/local taxes, local "tourisim fees", "resort fees" etc provide you with the exact total cost before you pay for the reservation.
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Old 09-21-2022, 10:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by carybosse View Post
I have no issues with rates being different for in-state versus out-of-state residents. I have a problem with the reservation system not explaining that clearly.


Itís actually pretty clear, but you have to scroll down the page to see it. Hereís a sample from Eugene T Mahoney SP:
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Old 09-21-2022, 10:56 AM   #12
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When I was traveling, I would run into this at most state parks as we pulled our trailer. I have these vehicle fees back in the mid-70's and on up. Nothing new just part of my traveling cost to use state parks. I have even had to pay extra vehicle fees at federal parks for the TV.

That is one reason sometimes a KOA isn't that expensive when traveling also I could get a pull-thru when needed.
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Old 09-21-2022, 04:44 PM   #13
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We stayed at a real nice COE campground in Nebraska. Full hookups and free showers. Only $14/night with our senior pass.
Lots of state parks have extra fees and pay showers. They also tend to have more spacious sites and are close to some activities. It’s a trade off.
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Old 09-21-2022, 08:20 PM   #14
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We stayed at Ft. Robinson State Park, NE last fall and as I recall we paid about $54 a night. When I made reservations i was shocked how the cost ramped up with the extra fees but then remembered how I absolutely hate private campgrounds, especially KOA's and thought $54 a night for a spacious campsite with a nice view and interesting surroundings was not so bad. Yep, I will pay the extra fees and say thanks.
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