Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass

I’ve decided to write a post about the Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass. Just so you know I don’t work for Thousand Trails or get money from them for this, I’m just an RVer who uses their park system. The Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass is paid for on a yearly basis and it gives you some nice discounts on RV park fees.  It’s called a Zone Pass because they split the country in to 4 zones Southeast, South West, Northeast and Northwest.  For the last year or so they have run a promotion if you buy one zone you get a second one free. The total cost for the year is $525. This allows you to stay for free in any park in your zones for free for the first 30 nights, then after that you pay $3 dollars per night. The catch being you can only be in the park system for 2 weeks before you must leave for a week to re-enter. If you stay 4 nights or less you can hop park to park.

zones_map

Another perk of the Thousand Trails Zone Pass is it gives you discounts at Encore Resorts. This is the main reason we purchased the pass in the first place. We spent last winter touring Florida for almost 3 months and camping rates are expensive during snowbird season. With the zone pass we were able to save by using special discounted weekly rates at various Encore parks. Most of these parks offered weekly rates of between $99 to $159 for Thousand Trails members. The normal monthly rate snowbirds were paying was 600-1000 dollars. So the pass basically paid for itself in the savings we made in Florida.
Thousand Trails Zone camping pass
The main thing to consider when buying this pass is the amount you might use it. We travel a lot so it has been a no brainer for us. Last year we used it for around 80 nights. Not bad for $525.  The other thing to consider is where the parks are and if you want to be in those areas, if you’re not going to travel much near them it would not be worth it. So far on our rainbird season down south from Vancouver Island we have stayed in many of them along our route. We stayed at one in Seaside, Oregon and another  Whalers Rest  just south of Newport, Oregon. There was  San Benito south of San Jose, CA and then we stayed twice at the Palm Springs, CA one. We are now down at Pio Pico near San Diego,CA. So far this season we have used 66 days. Many times in our week out of the system we will boon-dock in free or very cheap locations, cutting down our camp fees tremendously.

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Now for the good and bad. Most of the parks have full hookups but some also have water and electric only sections to them which can be a pain if your staying 2 weeks. They generally have a decent pool, sometimes two and a hot tub. For the most part the pools are well maintained especially the parks in the hotter climates. Many of the parks are out in the rural country areas and they call them preserves. They tend to have nice big sites spread out from your neighbor.  I have to say though these country type ones are more prone to old and crappy hookups. By this I mean the electrical pedestals are worn and falling apart and the water/sewer hook ups have seen better days. My advise is to always hook up with a surge protector and water filter. The parks have great security. They always have a front gated entrance called the ranger station, usually staffed and during off hours a gate code is provided. Most of the larger parks have tons of activities such as fitness classes, craft sales, card playing, sports, dinners, etc. They usually have some sort of café and store. All of them I’ve been to have speed limits of 5 mph which is good in some ways but when the park is spread out and your near the back it can get kind of tedious . Finally the parks tend to be older, from a different time when trailers were much smaller and had the hookups at the back. This can make the sites a little small and un level and the need for long sewer hoses, etc. Most new rigs have the water and sewer hook up in the middle. The site maintenance and appeal is fair only. Many are dirt only or very dry grasses. Although they have an abundance of staff some of these preserves are large, many acres and 400- 500 RV sites. This must make grooming the sites to very high standards a bit difficult. One perk with the Preserves being rural is the wildlife you get to see. Today a coyote came within 10 feet of my trailer window as I wrote this and we marvel everyday at all the birds we get to see. In San Benito we saw bobcats! Too Cool!

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For  the price of the Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass and if you are going to use it, the value I feel is definitely there.  Here is a list of my quick tips if you going to use the Thousand Trails Parks.

  • Arrive early! The parks are first come, first serve for spots.
  • Drive around and scope out the best spots, it’s a “you pick your spot” system.
  • Bring long sewer, water and electric hook ups
  • Use a surge protector and water filter
  • Get a cell phone antenna, many of these parks are rural and coverage is weak
  • Bring a good set of levelling blocks, sometimes the sites aren’t real level

Thousand Trails has an active Facebook page and is a good place  to get a sense of the community

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This has been my experience with the Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass if you have and questions of comments please enter them below and if you are a Thousand Trails member also please give us your opinions too.

If you enjoyed this post please like, tweet, +1 or share it, thanks Ray

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  • Beth

    If you purchase a Zone Camping Pass and determine you don’t care for it can you easily cancel your membership. If you keep the membership for a year does it automatically renew or do you have the option to NOT renew it.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      I auto renews, I don’t know about the cancellation policy if you simply don’t like it. Best to call them.

  • Rick

    I guess I don’t see the advantage to buying a “used” TT Pass. SW and SE will suffice for me. $545/year. Why pay over $1,000? Platinum offers 21 days before vacating for seven. Reservations? Don’t see it?

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      Different strokes I guess, we are quite happy with just the zone pass. Gives us what we need at a low price.

  • Rick

    How do I go about looking for a “used” TT Platinum Plus membership? NOT directly from TT.

    Here’s what one full-timer posted:
    We purchased a used TT Platinum Plus membership last year for pennies on the dollar from what it sold for new. We are very happy with them membership as it allows us 3 weeks at a park then we have to be out a week but we can go to any other TT park immediately. Our membership also allows our grown children to use the parks too. The only down side was we purchased what we thought was a lifetime membership but when TT transferred it they refused to honor the lifetime part and it is now only a 10 year membership.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      If you do a Google search you’ll find sites like this – http://www.rvparkstore.com/rv-park-and-campground-memberships also check at some of the big internet RVer forums and search for Thousand Trails, I’ve seen folks offering up their memberships to sell from time to time. Buyer Beware though I would guess.

  • Air streaming Rocks

    My wife and I just recently purchased a TT TRAIL ZONE PASS. We are full timers now and are considering the platinum elite membership (purchasing from somebody else). Terms are unlimited use (no $3 per day after 30) and 21 days in each location. Any comments? We are in clermont in Orlando now and it’s very nice but bathrooms and some of ammenities need a little TLC. Primarily rec room, electrical is old (surge protector is great call!) etc. Thanks for the post!

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      If I was full timing in the US I would be tempted to get a higher membership but we are Canadians and there is only 1 park when in Canada we can use so the cheaper Zone Pass makes sense for us as we can only use it for 6 months while snowbirding.

  • Jackie

    I understand the reservation thing…but that you don’t reserve a specific spot. However, if you need a 50 amp spot and need a larger site do you have that guaranteed?

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      It’s basically first come first serve so if the park is busy the spots to choose from may be limited. You can usually tell online if the park has very few spots left by how many are left for reservations. You can always call the ranger/gate stations and ask too.

  • Rick

    I’m retiring August 2014. Going full-time RV’ing with my beagle in our 19′ travel trailer. TT advised me the “Two Zones for One” special was expiring this Friday 1/24/14. I’m hesitant to order 6 months prematurely. My savings would be thwarted by lack of use. Any feelings on the longevity of the special deal? Or, can I purchase, them put my account on a 6 month hold? I’d order today if that was possible.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      Hey Rick, they have had that deal for years now, always expiring, then it’s still on. Marketing.. I’ve seen the last few years they offer it at 399$ a couple times usually in the spring.

      • Rick

        Thank you. I’m on squat.

  • Don Sullivan

    Thank you for your insight. I have been researching Thousand Trails for a little while. I don’t own an RV. I’m new to camping, although as a child my family used to have a camper. At first I would probably use our tent, but I’m researching since I’m a novice. I like that Thousand Trails has resorts and that there are cabins to rent at some sites I believe. I remember roughing it some when I was younger, which I think my daughter might like. But my wife does not like rough camping at all. So access to a less rugged mode needs to be an option. I like the safety feature. I’m just not sure I’m able to commit to the amount of usage for the price. In my line of work, you work when it’s available. Work tends to be busy during the camping season near Northeast Ohio. So I’m not sure this would work. All that to say, thank you for your helpful insight. Any advice you recommend is appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      Thanks for the comment Don, I would say as a general rule of thumb if you use it for around 30 days a year or more it is worth it. Any less than that probably not.

      • http://Www.katietyreephotography.com Katie

        I would assume the pass is well worth it being that staying 4 nights in any campground let alone one with a pool runs 200$. So two stays and it’s nearly paid for. And we are in Washington where state campgrounds are 23$ a night for a tent and 37 for rv

  • sherry conklin

    are the camp grounds dog friendly? we have a pitt bull mix very friendly, he thinks people come just to see him.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      Yes, we had two dogs (beagles), now one and have stayed at many Thousand Trails campgrounds.

  • Jim Marxen

    With your new theme, the “social” tabs on the left side of the page block the text for your Trackbacks/Pingbacks on a Safari browser. You may want to indent that section somewhat.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      Thanks Jim, I’ll rectify the issue.

  • Brent

    I’d like to start by saying a huge thank you for this write-up. It is very insightful and is going to help us in deciding if this is right for our family. I do have one question: My grandparents had a membership many years ago and they were allowed to have a tent in the site in addition to an RV. Do they still allow this and if so do they charge extra?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      I believe it varies from campground to campground, some have rules specific to their park. Most of the more rural ones allow a tent but a few that are near cities are pretty tightly spaced, site wise and may not allow it. In the Las Vegas park for instance you could hardly pitch a tent once the RV is parked, where as many of the rural ones have much larger sites and a tent would be no problem.

  • Ted

    I am thinking about purchasing this pass; however, I have to children, 6 and 8. Do some or most of the camps have thins for kids too? Also, do they cost extra?

    Thank,
    Ted

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com Ray

      Hi Ted, There is generally a nice pool at most Thousand Trails, games room, family lodge, etc. I don’t have kids but from what I’ve seen the parks are family friendly. Not sure if they cost extra.

    • Wendy

      We participate in the Thousand Trails Zone Pass and we LOVE it! We still both work full time so it gives us the right amount of nights for what we need. They do have other options for more part/full timers that give you unlimited nights with no ‘out of system’ time. Most of the resorts we’ve been to ( about 6 or so) have things for kids. Most have a pool, and at the very least a family lodge with games, TV, ping pong etc and fun camp activities on weekends and holidays. Our favorite resort is Ponderosa. They have all of the aforementioned, PLUS an ice cream truck, karaoke in the lodge AND BEST YET…..a GIGANTIC outdoor movie screen where they show family movies on the lawn. Happy Camping:)

  • Achille

    First off, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write this tread. I signed with TT in June 2012. I have access to the NE preserves. My camper was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. I just put my membership on a “hold” status for the (June 2013 to June 2014) season until I can figure out if I want to resume my membership once or if I get another RV.

    Here is my question… Can I still get discount rates per night while not paying for my annual 2013 fee (membership on hold)? Basically, Am I still considered a member to some degree? I don’t want to pay the $525 for a few days of tent camping in the NE campgrounds.

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com/ Ray

      Not sure on that one Achille, maybe call their 1-877-730-5935 phone number and ask what they can do. They have been very helpful any time we have called with questions or to change something with our membership.

  • Beverley Van Santen

    I have been following Anne’s website for about a year and am enjoying the flipside of RV’ing. I have been considering the annual TT pass. Our only experience with RV memberships has been high pressure sales. TT annual pass would fit with our lifestyle. We are both still working but love the weekend getaways. Am I to understand that the parks do not allow advance reservation for this price? Have you had restrictions for just 1 night stays if you are in the traveling mode?
    Thank you

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com/ Ray

      Hi Beverley, we can reserve up to 60 days in advance and you can stay for only one night if you wish.

      This is from the website:
      In general you can stay up to 14 consecutive days at a time and wait seven days before beginning your next stay. If you stay four nights or less at one resort, you are allowed a consecutive stay at the next resort without having to observe the seven-day rest period

      • beverley van Santen

        One last question about TT Ray. The TT site refers to park fees or amenity fees but there is no link or information available. Do you know about the fees and what can we expect costwise?
        Thank you

        • http://www.loveyourrv.com/ Ray

          Some parks will charge an extra $3 dollars for the 50 amp spots, we use 30 amp so doesn’t apply to us, and in some states like Florida there is an amenities or hotel type tax. Never seen it out west yet. Those are the only two extras I have come across so far. Other than that it’s free the first 30 nights the $3 a night after that.

  • Dave McNeilly

    Your comment regarding “Encore” resorts is interesting as that is the main reason we are considering a zone camping pass. I guess my question is, If we purchase a SW TT Zone pass (we live in the Pacific NW) would we qualify for discounts in the SE. I would expect to use parks in California and Arizona mostly, but our plans for the coming year are to be in the south east area over next winter. (we are full=time RVers from Canada)

    • http://www.loveyourrv.com/ Ray

      Hi Dave, I believe you just need to be a member of Thousand Trails then you qualify for the discount at any of the Encore Parks offering the discounts. One nice thing they did for us is allow us to switch zones. We originally bought SE and SW but now we are mainly in the west so we were able to switch SE to NW.