What is Thousand Trails?
Thousand Trails is a membership campground company operating private trailer park and campground resorts in the United States and Canada. As of 2010, the company has over 80 campgrounds and resorts in 22 states and the Canadian province of British Columbia. There are an additional 100+ Encore campgrounds. Over the years, Thousand Trails has offered different types of memberships. Some memberships allow members to stay for more continuous days at a campground and grant access to a greater number of total campgrounds.
Types of Membership
There are different types of membership offered with Thousand Trails to upgrade from the basic Zone pass, like TT membership upgrades – Alliance, Platinum, Platinum Plus, VIP or Elite, to name a few. And while you won’t find any of these offered on the Thousand Trails website, you can definitely find all of these in the 3rd party aftermarket and resale sites.
Camping Pass : Pick one of 5 zones and pay only $599. Add additional zones for just $59. They always run some sort of specials with discounts, so you get to save even more.
The Trails Collection : 100+ destinations across the U.S. for $299 a year. These are the “higher end” resorts and campgrounds called Encore resorts. Some of these require an additional upcharge (in highly sought after destinations like the Florida Keys).
After a few months of traveling through the United States and spending most of our time in Thousand Trails parks, we arrived in Arizona and decided that purchasing an Elite membership made the most sense to us.
Our membership cost was $6,600. We did purchase from a Thousand Trails salesperson and not from a resale site or a third party.
Resale sounds and can be a good thing if you read the fine print and know what you are signing up for. Some are older and don’t get you access to all the parks/resorts that are currently in the system and were added AFTER the time of your purchased membership.
The price is enticing and can be a swaying point for people, so I am not discouraging you, just trying to let you know to read all the information ahead of time, so you won’t be disappointed afterwards.
We still pay about $799 annual maintenance dues that are required to be paid once a year.
I cannot say how much we like our Thousand Trails membership. It seems like a lot of upfront money to spend, but if you travel full time like we do, I don’t think there is anything better for the value out there. Not even boondocking, since you don’t have access to amenities or hookups like you do at Thousand Trails parks.
Sure, not all Thousand Trails are created or maintained equally, but again, if you RV full time, there is nothing better for your buck out there.
Financially, RV-ing with Thousand Trails costs (when broken down over a period of 3 years) is crazy inexpensive ($254.70 per month). Over ten years would be $128.10 per month (full hookups and amenities).
If you don’t RV full time, but RV during the spring and summer months or just a few times a year, I wouldn’t recommend spending large amounts of money on any membership. Being part of a group like KOA (which gives you 10% off) or Good Sam might be a better idea, since you pay low entry fees to be a part of their system and no maintenance fees.
Definitely do your research and break it down financially before you buy into anything, is my best advice.
What works and is a great deal for some might be a huge waste of money for others.
Hope this wasn’t too confusing and it gave you a clear idea why Thousand Trails can be the best option for full time RV-ers.
For good idea of what some of the RV parks look like, check our review posts here: RV Parks Reviews
Have fun and safe travels!