Most RV and camper dealers include memberships to campgrounds when you purchase. The dealer we purchased from included a Thousand Trails zone pass. Great, what does that mean?
Thousand Trails has divided the United States into five areas, known as zones. When you receive a zone pass, you pick one of the areas you think you will spend the most time. We chose the Southeast zone (a $545 value) which includes all of Texas, east to the Carolina’s and south to Florida. For the weekend warrior a zone pass probably makes a lot of sense.
Since we are officially retired, we thought it would be best to have several options in the sunshine state for winter. At this time we have no plan of gaining employment that would require showing up somewhere everyday.
I am helping the Cowlitz County CASA (WA) program with their participation in this year’s Give More 24 campaign. This will be a crowdsource effort taking place on September 24 for any non-profit organizations in southwest Washington who register to participate.
While we were staying at the Thousand Trails at Lake Conroe in Texas, Mike attended a seminar providing new members what might be called an orientation. There was no pressure to buy, instead we made an appointment with the membership representative.
He was super low pressure. The first hour or so he explained all of the membership types and compared their advantages and disadvantages. It was a lot of information to process. In the end, we bought the elite membership because:
- We live in our RV,
- We want to stay at parks with amenities and activities,
- We want security where we stay,
- We want nice places to stay that will serve as a great home base for exploring the area,
- We don’t want to have to worry about finding a place to meet the 7 night out of network requirement lower level memberships require,
- We didn’t want to have to worry about nightly rates in our budget,
- We want to be able to get a cabin for family/friends to join us once or twice a year at no cost to them or us,
- A Resort Parks International membership is included,
- Access to the Ready-Camp-Go network is included, and
- Access to the Encore group of parks is included at only $20 per night (15 are free).
So far we have stayed at Thousand Trails in:
- Lake Conroe RV and Camping Resort (Willis, Texas)
- Medina Lake RV Campground (Outside San Antonio, Texas)
- Valley Vista RV Resort (Benson, AZ)
- Paradise RV Resort (Sun City, AZ)
- Thousand Trails Las Vegas RV Resort
- Seaside RV Campground (Seaside, OR)
- Paradise RV Campground (Mossyrock, WA)
Total nights stayed in Thousand Trails parks to date–91! Translate that to averaged KOA rate of $45 per night equates to $4,095 we would have spent on fees. That’s already over half our investment. Therefore, it was easy decision for us.
We have a trip east planned for the fall colors and then heading down the eastern seaboard. We will be staying at several Thousand Trails parks on the trip and anticipate our investment will be recouped within our first year of full-time RV living. Pretty awesome if you ask me!
Some of you might be wondering if we will return to any parks on our list. Well, we love the park in Seaside, OR. We actually wouldn’t mind having a permanent site here. The only problem is the weather is only good about three months or so out of the year. We will definitely return next summer. We really enjoyed Lake Conroe too. The people are fabulous and there are lots of fun activities you can get involved in should the mood strike. This is another for sure stop. We also have friends in the area so it gives us a chance to catch up with them. Double win! We have already tried to make a reservation for the park in Sun City for March of next year. We want to stay here and go to Mariner’s spring training. Plus, the park is outstanding with fabulous amenities and an activity schedule that blows the mind! It’s a super popular park and we had to get on the waiting list.
Really, the only one we won’t ever go back to is the Valley Vista RV Resort in Benson, AZ. The sites were super narrow, very dusty, sticker bushes growing in the gravel caused lots if paw hardship on the dogs, and stickers got in our clothes and towels. As a matter of fact, I’m still getting stickers out of some items. Nope, we won’t put ourselves through that again! However, this is near the Kartchner Caverns which we would love to visit again. We’ll just stay at the State Park instead.
We might return to the Mossyrock location as the scenery was absolutely beautiful. However, the sites are narrow and there is no room to set up for outside comfort. Also, it’s very dirty. Mostly because of the sheer number of evergreen trees. Needles galore! The pool is awesome at this location. We particularly enjoyed the separate adult pool. While we could enjoy the sounds of laughing children, we didn’t have to get splashed by them.
The Pacific Northwest parks are good for us in the summer as we want to be in the area to visit family and friends. Typically the weather is fabulous in the summer. This causes people who vacation in the area to fall in love and move. Remember, summer is only three months (maybe) so before you up and sell to move to this luscious green paradise, spend a winter. The drizzling rain, super short days, and serious lack of vitamin D might be worth experiencing…for you, not us, not anymore!
I’m happy to answer questions and love feedback. Looking forward to hearing from you.
See you on the pavement!