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I guess you could call membership camping clubs as the “Vacation Condo timeshares” of the RV world. You pay an upfront fee, or initiation fee, or whatever the particular group calls it. In any case, most of these will be in the thousands of dollars. Then there will be a yearly “maintenance fee” or dues. This will probably be in the hundreds of dollars. For that money, you can camp at the properties included in their catalog. Generally there will be conditions such as the requirement to be out of the system for a certain number of days. There may be small daily fees for utilities. All of them require signing a contract that obligates you to pay whether you use the facilities or not.
The recent economic downturn has not been kind to some of these membership camping operations. Many are cash strapped and campground maintenance is deferred in some cases. Our recommendation is to wait at least a year before committing to any of these. That will give you time to talk with folks who have these contracts and decide if they are for you.
The only exception is Passport America (PA) http://passportamerica.com/ . We suggest you join this club as soon as possible. The dues are currently $44 per year as of 2014. PA has signed up almost eighteen hundred RV parks across the country to give you fifty per cent off nightly rates on camping. There may be conditions such as no discounts during “high season” or discounts only good for one or two nights. No matter what, you will get your money back after only two or three nights of membership camping. We have used PA parks all over the country and we have been quite happy with the membership. PA will send you their large catalog of participating parks. There will be descriptions of the park and directions. There will also be notes about the PA rate and any exceptions. Tell them we sent you. Our membership number is R-0222567.
Good Sam, or the Good Sam Club http://www.goodsamclub.com/ , is owned by the Affinity Group, also parent company to Camping World, Coast to Coast, and Motor Home and Trailer Life magazines. The Good Sam Club has has a membership camping operation and has signed up several thousand campgrounds that will give five to ten per cent discounts to members. Club membership also includes membership in the Camping World President’s Club with ten per cent discounts at Camping World stores. Tell them we sent you. Our membership number is 56780059.
Coast to Coast http://www.coastresorts.com/ is a membership camping club providing camping for ten dollars a night as of 2014 at over two hundred private resort style campgrounds. You also can camp for fifteen dollars a night at nearly two hundred more Coast Good Neighbor Parks. To become a Coast to Coast member, you first must join any one of the affiliated private membership campgrounds which becomes your "home resort." Once you join the home resort, you are then eligible to become a Coast to Coast member.
Thousand Trails (TT) http://www.thousandtrails.com/ is now owned and operated by Equity Lifestyles Properties, known as ELS. ELS is the owner of several hundred resorts under the Encore http://www.rvonthego.com/ brand. Gradually these will all be under one roof. At present there are about eighty TT parks around the country. TT has developed a Zone Pass where you can use the parks in one of five geographic zones for $499 every year as of 2014. This gets you thirty nights at no additional charge. Nights over thirty will be $3 per night. This seems like a good membership camping program if you are camping in only one area of the country. Other memberships that include all parks in the system are also available at considerably higher cost but with no nightly fees. Tell them we sent you. Our membership number is 298664930.
or Resort Parks International http://resortparks.com/ provides access to their network of private
affiliated RPI and RPI Preferred RV resorts. This
membership camping club is only available to individuals whose home resort is affiliated
with RPI. You pay twelve
dollars per night as of 2014 for an RV site.
You may stay at each resort up to seven days twice a year and return to
the same resort in as little as seven days between visits. You may stay at any
of the affiliated resorts located outside a 125-air mile radius from your home. RPI is owned by ELS, the parent company of Thousand Trails.
Western Horizons Resorts http://westernhorizonresorts.com/ operates 18 resorts and two affiliated camping networks: Sunbelt USA and Adventure Outdoor Resorts http://www.aorcamping.com/ . Western Horizons requires a onetime fee and annual dues.
NOTE: We cannot recommend Any of the Western Horizons memberships as the company is in financial trouble and selling off properties.
Colorado River Adventures
This campground membership club operates 10 resorts either on or near the Colorado River in the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona. Check them out at http://www.coloradoriveradventures.com/
Escapees RV Club
The Escapees RV Club http://www.escapees.com/ has nineteen campgrounds. About half are owned by the club and the rest are cooperative ventures built and financed by Escapees members. Nightly fees average $15 per night. You must be a member of the Escapees RV Club to use these parks, and membership is currently about $80 per year as of 2014 which includes a wonderful magazine. This is the premier membership camping RV club for full and long time RV’ers. They also operate a world class mail forwarding service from headquarters in Livingston, TX. We love Escapees and are lifetime members. If you decide to join, please reference our member number 88896 on the application.