If you’ve ever wondered why so many fellow RVers are flocking to the Thousand Trails Memberships program, with the promise of cheap RV camping and easy fulltime RV life! This guide is for you! My goal is to not only to provide a detailed overview but also list the specifics of the two most popular camping memberships offered through Thousand Trails for RV travelers looking for affordable camping in the US.
Thousand Trails Is A Camping Community Inside The Camping Community!
Thousand Trails is a national camping membership which owns and operates over 80 RV resorts and campgrounds in the US + 1 in B.C., Canada! Sometimes the parks are called ‘preserves’ and while each one is different, they almost always offer an electrical and water hookup for Thousand Trails members, as well as a number of specific sites for general public. Some campgrounds also have sewer hookups and WIFI connections that we’ve seen as both, pay-per-use and FREE connections. Sites range from your standard tent sites, to a wide range of different sized RV spaces that can be fully paved, gravel, grass or a mixture. Many properties also have rental units like yurts, cottages, and basic cabins that members have access to, usually at a small discount.
Typically, there are both adult and family campground amenities like clubhouses, pools, and on-site recreation activities. But they also have general amenities that include things like basketball and tennis courts, restrooms and hot showers, laundry rooms, campground stores, libraries, movie rooms and much more behind a gated front entrance which is manned by a Thousand Trails park ranger.
The system has been around since the 60’s and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, which is great news for you! Because this one membership can decrease your camping costs to under $7 a day!!!
Choosing Thousand Trails
After hearing several different people talk about the benefits of purchasing a Thousand Trails Membership with the ability to camp all year-long for close to FREE, we finally decided to get some additional details on the program, since to be honest- it sounded too good to be true. How in the world can you pay one flat rate (have the ability to break it up in smaller monthly payments) and then camp all year-long with little to no extra costs- think about it! It sounds like a gimmick something designed to grab your attention, take your money and leave you wanting more- but I can assure the Thousand Trails Membership is both real and full of value!
On an RV summer road trip to spend time in New York & New Jersey with family, we realized camping close to the attractions of New York City was going to be both extremely expensive and nearly impossible to actually locate. We had already settled on what we found to be the cheapest monthly option we could find at a campground that was about 90 minutes from the city and only offered water and electric hookups. Not thrilled with our options and with plenty of time to mull things over I eventually came up with the best idea ever…Check out Thousand Trails and see what all the fuss is about!Click To Tweet
I whipped out my phone and went to the Thousand Trails Website to see what information I could find. To be honest the website was pretty basic as far as information goes and while it gave me the some information I needed to get excited about the program it didn’t really provide the personal explanation of benefits I really wanted before pulling the trigger and forking over any cash. So I called the number listed on the website! Since they were offering a summer special of B1G1 Free on what they call ‘camping zones’, I wanted to make sure this was the deal I would be getting! These zones would ultimately decide where we were able to camp during the year, so grabbing it up at a super discounted rate would allow us to purchase all the zones for far less than we originally expected.
What is a Thousand Trails Zone Pass?
A Zone Pass, also called a Camping Pass, is basically an annual membership granting the purchaser access to the Thousand Trails campgrounds that are included in the chosen zones. There are 5 camping zones: Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, Northeast and Midwest. Each having between 13 and 23 individual RV parks & campgrounds included. For one flat fee members can camp for absolutely free at any of the Thousand Trails campgrounds in their zones for 14 nights at a time! After staying for 14 nights you’ll exit the system for just 7 days and then are able to pop right back in for another 14!
Northwest Zone 18 Campgrounds
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
- Cultus Lake Thousand Trails RV Resort Lindell Beach, BC
- Leavenworth RV Campground Leavenworth, WA
- Birch Bay RV Campground Blaine, WA
- Chehalis RV & Camping Resort Chehalis, WA
- Crescent Bar RV Resort Quincy, WA
- Grandy Creek RV Campground Concrete, WA
- La Conner RV & Camping Resort La Conner, WA
- Little Diamond RV Campground Newport, WA
- Long Beach RV & Camping Resort Seaview, WA
- Mount Vernon RV Campground Bow, WA
- Oceana RV & Camping Resort Ocean City, WA
- Paradise RV Campground Silver Creek, WA
- Thunderbird RV & Camping Resort Monroe, WA
- Bend-Sunriver RV Campground Bend, OR
- Pacific City RV & Camping Resort Cloverdale, OR
- Seaside RV Resort Seaside, OR
- South Jetty RV & Camping Resort Florence, OR
- Whalers Rest RV & Camping Resort South Beach, OR
Northeast Zone 14 Campgrounds
- Moody Beach RV Campground Wells, ME
- Gateway to Cape Cod RV Campground Rochester, MA
- Sturbridge RV Resort Sturbridge, MA
- Chestnut Lake RV Campground Port Republic, NJ
- Lake & Shore RV Resort Ocean View, NJ
- Sea Pines RV Resort & Campground Swainton, NJ
- Rondout Valley RV Campground Accord, NY
- Circle M RV & Camping Resort Lancaster, PA
- Gettysburg Farm RV Campground Dover, PA
- Hershey RV & Camping Resort Lebanon, PA
- PA Dutch Country RV Resort Manheim, PA
- Scotrun RV Resort Scotrun, PA
- Timothy Lake North RV East Stroudsburg, PA
- Timothy Lake South RV East Stroudsburg, PA
Midwest Zone 8 Campgrounds
- Pine Country RV & Camping Resort Belvidere, IL
- Horseshoe Lakes RV Campground Clinton, IN
- Indian Lakes RV Campground Batesville, IN
- Kenisee Lake RV Campground Jefferson, OH
- Wilmington RV Resort Wilmington, OH
- Diamond Caverns RV Resort & Golf Park City, KY
- Bear Cave RV Campground Buchanan, MI
- St Clair RV Resort Saint Clair, MI
Southwest Zone 18 Campgrounds
- Pio Pico RV Resort & Campground Jamul, CA
- Yosemite Lakes RV Resort Groveland, CA
- Idyllwild RV Resort Idyllwild, CA
- Lake Minden RV Resort Nicolaus, CA
- Lake of the Springs RV Resort Oregon House, CA
- Morgan Hill RV Resort Morgan Hill, CA
- Oakzanita Springs RV Campground Descanso, CA
- Palm Springs RV Resort Palm Desert, CA
- Ponderosa RV Resort Lotus, CA
- Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort Santa Barbara, CA
- Russian River RV Campground Cloverdale, CA
- San Benito RV & Camping Resort Paicines, CA
- Snowflower RV Resort Emigrant Gap, CA
- Soledad Canyon RV & Camping Resort Acton, CA
- Turtle Beach RV Resort Manteca, CA
- Wilderness Lakes RV Resort Menifee, CA
- Thousand Trails Las Vegas RV Resort Las Vegas, NV
- Verde Valley RV & Camping Resort Cottonwood, AZ
Southeast Zone 23 Campgrounds
- Hidden Cove RV Resort Arley, AL
- Orlando RV Resort Clermont, FL
- Peace River RV & Camping Resort Wauchula, FL
- Three Flags RV Campground Wildwood, FL
- Forest Lake RV & Camping Resort Advance, NC
- Green Mountain Park Lenoir, NC
- Lake Gaston RV & Camping Resort Littleton, NC
- The Oaks at Point South RV Yemassee, SC
- Carolina Landing RV Resort Fair Play, SC
- Cherokee Landing Campground Saulsbury, TN
- Natchez Trace RV Campground Hohenwald, TN
- Lake Conroe RV & Camping Resort Willis, TX
- Bay Landing RV Campground Bridgeport, TX
- Colorado River RV Campground Columbus, TX
- Lake Tawakoni RV Campground Point, TX
- Lake Texoma RV Campground Gordonville, TX
- Lake Whitney RV Campground Whitney, TX
- Medina Lake RV Campground Lakehills, TX
- Chesapeake Bay RV Resort Gloucester, VA
- Harbor View RV & Camping Resort Colonial Beach, VA
- Lynchburg RV Resort Gladys, VA
- Virginia Landing RV Campground Quinby, VA
- Williamsburg RV & Camping Resort Williamsburg, VA
We ended up getting the B1G1 Free special and gobbled up all the zones for a super discount! By using this option, we were exactly the same distance from New York City as before, without the $900 monthly price tag! And with the thousands that we were saving on this one trip I didn’t mind one bit!
I knew we would be enjoying so many activities and local attractions with the cash we were saving, that having to move the RV more often than ideal was just a trade-off!
What’s Included in the Thousand Trails Zone Pass?
- The ability to camp overnight at any of the campgrounds listed in your zones for up to 14 consecutive nights, before you need to leave the system for 7 nights.
- Hang out for ‘Day Use’ at properties even when you’re not camping there
- 20% discount on additional campgrounds at RVontheGo.com
- 60 reservation windows either through the online members portal or with a reservation agent on the phone.
The Thousand Trails Zone pass is a great starter option for those looking to move around the country up to 2 weeks at a time. If you’re planning a summer road trip or and endless RV trip up and down the east or west coast this option can help decreases your cost when your inside the system. The problem is the time spent out of the system!
The Zone Pass requires 7 days out of the system before returning to another or the same Thousand Trails park. That can really add up, depending on where you’re located and what options are available. A week at an RV park isn’t always offered at a discount from the daily rate, so that means you could be paying a ridiculous amount for those 7 days, blowing your savings completely!
Lucky for my family, just a few hours after buying our Zone Pass…I realized Thousand Trails also offers membership upgrades!Click To Tweet
So, for RV folks like myself who want more camping options, longer stays, more campgrounds and ultimately fewer restrictions, we can pay a little extra to get exactly what we need and want! For us this meant staying at campground for 21 days instead of the basic 14 days that the Thousand Trails Zone Pass allows and the freedom to go Park to Park without ever leaving the Thousand Trails system and the ability to book our camping reservations 120 days in advance to make sure we got the parks we wanted, when we wanted them!
This is called a membership upgrade- and if you’ll be utilizing your Thousand Trails membership to the fullest, as in you want to RV full-time and decrease your camping costs- you need to consider getting one!
Thousand Trails Membership Upgrades
Once inside the Thousand Trails Membership system, you’ll realize pretty quickly that this is an RV secret for cheap camping! Not only have many people been utilizing this system for decades they also have been passing them down throughout their families from one generation to the next! How cool is that?this is an RV secret for cheap camping! Click To Tweet
And once you have a taste of what the Zone Pass offers RV campers, you’ll want more benefits like longer stays- as you begin to see how Full-time RVing is both easy and super affordable if you camp with Thousand Trails!
Past the basic Zone Pass, there are 3 different membership upgrades that are offered directly through Thousand Trails- Elite Basic, Elite Connections, and Ultimate Odyssey. They are all pretty similar, with the option to travel from park to park for longer times than the 14 days of the Zone Pass. The Elite Options allows for 21 days at a time while the much higher priced Ultimate Odyssey membership adds an extra week, bringing you to 28 nights at each campground.
Since my family and I started traveling in 2013- we’ve always been what I like to call ‘slow travelers’. We don’t really enjoy hoping around from place to place on fast paced road trips- we like to hang out for about a month in one location before moving along and when we were Workamping this would extend to 3-6 months with no problem! So for us, having the option to stay for 21 days at one park before moving along is GREAT!
It allows us to set up, get cozy and enjoy the local scene before calling it good and RVing to our next destination! This is just how we like to travel, but everyone is different. While all the upgrades have great benefits I’m just a real fan of the Elite Basic! It gives you everything you need as an RVer and a few extras at the lowest price point without too much fluff!
Upgraded Membership Provides Extra Benefits!
- Park to Park: You have the ability to go from one Thousand Trails campground to the next if you desire to get the most bang for your buck and never have to leave the system.
- Longer Stays: If you prefer to set up and breakdown camp at a slower pace without the need to move every 14 days, this option allows you to use your membership to stay at one preserve for up to 21 nights consecutively.
- Plan In Advance: Instead of the basic 60 day reservation window- you’ll have at least 120 days with the Elite Basic and up to 180 with the Elite Connections and the Ultimate Odyssey to plan your stays well in advance!
- More Locations: Your membership includes all the Thousand Trails campgrounds plus some Encore properties and you also get an additional camping membership trial with RPI for one year, that offers camping at $10 a night. (We really used this on long trips across country- where a Thousand Trails property were too far from our stopping point.)
- Travel Club Benefits: If you enjoy renting a cabin every once in a while, you’ll be pleased to know your Thousand Trails rentals will be 50% off with your membership! You’ll also get (5) 1 Week FREE Cabin rebate coupons that you can use yearly for even more savings!
- Family Benefits: With your membership you can actually give away 4 Camping Passes to family members which will include all the Thousand Trails campgrounds for just $199 per year with a 5 year commitment! That’s a huge savings and a great way to encourage family to come camp with you…
How Much Is The Elite Upgrade?
The prices for a new Elite membership will run around $6O00+ for the Elite Basic. I know that sounds like alot- but consider the cost of a daily or even monthly campsite and you’ll quickly see the savings. You can easily split this up into monthly payments that will make your total monthly out-of-pocket cost around $200. One thing to note is that everyone gets a different deal! I’m not sure if its just based on your negotiations skills or what but I’ve talked to many people with memberships of all kinds and every last one was different from ours so plan to ask a lot of questions and negotiate!
We paid full price without negotiating at all, since we didn’t really know that was a option or what to expect! We also purchased our membership through the -1800 number instead of working with a sales team that could offer some discounts, but that was our mistake. It doesn;t have to be yours!
We also didn’t have a friend inside the system and a promo code, but fortunately enough, you do!
My friends Jim & Brandy from Thousand Trails handle all my Zone Passes and Membership Upgrades. They offer a discount on the Zone Passes and at least $500 off the upgrades! They treat everyone I refer as though they were royalty and provide the absolute best deal around without the pressure and haggling like when you call Thousand Trails directly like I did.
Just enter your email if you’re interested and then use my special promo code to save big on whatever membership you choose! It’s that easy!
What About Resale Memberships?
If you’ve heard about Thousand Trails, you might have also heard about the possibility of buying a used membership called a resale. Resales are memberships offered by an owner who purchased it new and no longer needs or wants it. They are a great way to acquire a super cheap upgrade and for owners to off-load some of their unwanted memberships but don’t offer all the benefits of buying new, so beware.
It’s true you can grab a resale membership for a cheaper price than buying new, but at what cost??? Resale memberships are sold through a third-party vendor and offer many similar benefits to buying directly from Thousand Trails– but to be honest, they’re not entirely the same. I’m not going to get into the details of ‘resale memberships’ since these are SUPER complicated but i do want to let you know that reading the fine print and having everything discussed in emails or written communications will be key!
The company has been around for over 50 years, has had tons of different membership options over the course of that time, and if you plan on buying resale instead of buying new- my advice is BUYER BEWARE and DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Resale memberships are much cheaper than buying new, but they (in my opinion) are very complex to research and understand exactly what you’re truly getting. This one includes all the parks, this one doesn’t. This one includes 21 days with an option to extend to 28, but doesn’t include all the parks and you’ve got a high use restriction. This one is super cheap and seems to include only half of what the others are offering, but includes a much long reservation window… The list goes on and on. My best piece of advice for those going this route is to consider the following 4 pain points of resale memberships, before wasting your time:
- Your membership may take up to a month after you buy it to become active. New memberships are active the same day, so you can use them for camping immediately.
- You cannot finance your resale membership price. With new memberships, you can easily have the payments split up of a 5-year term- which for us allows us to camp for less than $200 a month!!!
- Resale memberships are not eligible for resale. If you purchase a new membership you can most definitely sell it- if you find you’re not using it anymore and recoup some of the cash, you purchased it for.
- Your annual dues never stop increasing! Members with new memberships have the amazing benefit of seeing their annual membership dues freeze at age 62!
Enter your email if you’re interested in talking with Jim & Brandy about your membership options! I’ll provide you with both their email address and a direct phone number where they can be reached, plus a special promo code to save big on camping!
The Trails Connection Offers More Campgrounds!
So you tried the Zone Pass, upgraded to the Elite Membership and you still want more camping? If this sounds like you, then the Trails Collection might be a great option for extending your membership!
The Trails Collection is a group of Encore parks, where you previously have been saving about 20% if you wanted to camp at these facilities. By adding this yearly extension package to your membership, you can increase you camping options with an additional 110 RV parks and campground in the US for a flat rate of $214.
The Trails Collection can be added to any membership, including the Zone Passes and allows the buyer to stay at these locations for up to 14 nights at a time. Most (92) of the properties do not charge additional fees to Trails Collection holders, but at the ultra-popular locations, there may be an additional nightly resort fee required. With this add-on package, you will be able to book your reservations at the included Encore Parks up to 60 days in advance.
Trails Collection Fine Print
- Trails Collection doesn’t offer park to park like Thousand Trails membership upgrades. You will need to alternate going from a Trails Collection to a Thousand Trails Park if you want to ‘park hop’.
- If you have a Zone Pass and stay longer than 5 consecutive nights in any park, you need to leave the entire system for 7 days before going to another park. This includes you original Thousand Trails properties.
- Each park has a set number of RV site that are approved for use by Trails Collection members.
- The full amount has to be paid up front for the first year. After that, it will be included in your dues until you cancel.
- Thousand Trials will not offer a pro-rated amount on buying the Trails Collection. We waited until our membership renewal date in June to add it- so we would get the full year of benefits.
- Just about all the parks in the snowbird friendly ‘sunbelt’ area that includes Arizona are age restricted properties. Reserved for members age 55+
- To use your Trails Collection benefits, you must be camping in a self-contained RV unit. Properties may have restrictions on tents and other camping units.
Overall I think adding the Trails Collection to any membership is a rockin’ good deal! You’ll be saving thousands of dollars on camping fees by using it, and it adds some additional variety to the 81 included campgrounds offered by Thousand Trials.
One thing to note is that the extension had only been available for the past 2 years, and we did already see a $15 increase in the price. There has been no word on if increases will continue, be capped for current members, or just continue until it reaches the market threshold, but for the money you’re saving it’s still a terrific deal!
In closing I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to Thousand Trails Memberships. The information about the program can sometimes be very difficult to find, and it’s a little frustrating to call the 1800 number and receive different answers from each person you talk to.
For this reason I know Jim & Brandy will continue to be a great resources for my friends and family and want to urge you to reach out to them with you questions regarding membership options. They specialize in Thousand Trails memberships and have the best, most up to date information available on top of offering the best deals available anywhere.
Enter your email if you’re interested in talking with them about your membership options and I’ll provide you with their email address and phone number so you can contact them immediately! I’ll also include a special promo code to save big on camping with the promise of saving at least $500 on an Elite membership!
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