Campground Deals/Discounts/Passes Discussion:

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CarmeCoolidge

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I'm a campground snowbird and I'm looking for every way I can save money on site fees. Not boondocking.

I've got two big ones but I was wondering if there were any passes for campsites specifically. I don't believe it exists federally, but I thought I saw campground/campsite passes at the state level around before. Can't find them now if I did.
  1. I believe I qualify for the National Parks Access Pass (USA). This is the disability pass. They have one for seniors and vets as well. It waives national parks entrance fees but also gives half off campsite fees!!
  2. Campground hosting for a wage and a site. Or volunteer hosting just for the site.

Please leave any relevant cost saving tips of your own! :)
 

bullfrog

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If you search this site you will find several threads. Things have changed these last few years as more people flooded the RVing community because of Covid and housing costs. Many states have annual passes with New Mexico’s being recommended most often it seems. By far the cheapest budget wise is volunteering or working where a full hookup site is free. Beware of employers that charge or give reduced rates as some overcharge based on availability as many realize people come to work just to be in the area. Coolworks.com often lists jobs with sites. Be aware also commercial parks and parks in general have increased In customers so much that many require reservations for which many have fees. There are several parks that give discounts for memberships but generally there are lots of rules and exceptions. Escapees Club has several good parks and general discounts and membership is cheap for what you get. Prices in commercial parks are going up, these last two years many in Arizona have gone up several hundred dollars a month. Some do have deals for 6 months in and 6 months out (summer) so you could do a seasonal job with housing and stay/store in the winter for about half the price. Full hookup sites with electric, water and sewer are anywhere from $400 to over $900 a month in the area around Tucson but it is cheaper as you get out towards Benson or Ajo. Escapees has a park in Benson that is less but you pay extra for electric used. Yes the majority of listings are around $500 plus you pay for your own utilities. Roads maybe dirt going into them and rough as well depending on the weather. Most of the cheaper sites are occupied all year now. Buying a property with city utilities that is zoned GR1 for camping on the outskirts of Tucson was running over $60,000 close to town. Finding one 20 miles or better outside of town with a well and septic tank if you could would be more expensive as most have mobile homes on them and are well over $100,000, in fact many between $200,000 and $300,000 as they usually have a little more acreage with them. If you are physically able and can afford enough solar/generator for electricity, use a separating toilet, and conserve water boondocking in an RV staying at a Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) is about as cheap as you can get. A van and a 24 hour gym membership with a lobby where you can plug in or library allows you to drive to free camping to sleep for a couple of gallons of gas a day is probably as cheap as you can get in my opinion.
 
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maki2

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States generally do have discounts passes for seniors, disabled, veterans etc. you have to apply for those passes online and they are for residents of the state, they are not for out of state visitors.

Consider joining the Elks Club. It is nationwide and some of them have discounted campsites with facilities. Others often allow overnight parking for a few day’s stay. A few might that do have associated campground might even have a work camp opportunity available. I have occasionally,on the road, met groups of friends who travel in expensively by going from one Elk Campground to the next.

Libraries make it easy to use a computer to go online. Some even allow travelers to have a library card with but with limited checkout ability of printed books. I have membership cards from several libraries. That allows me to checkout digital Ebooks, audio books, digital copies of magazines, etc even when thousands of miles away from the library. Some even give me access to downloading movies from independent artistic film companies” But that all means you need a device that has Wi-Fi and a way to view such things. There are inexpensive Wi-Fi tablets that will work for an entertainment center and for researching work camping, cheap RV parks and such.

Quartzsite has some very cheap, long stay, RV parks but they are short on amenities and are short on shade trees or any other vegetation too.
 
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rvwandering

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Here are a few links:
New Mexico - the pass is $225 annually for out-of-state residents. Camping in primitive sites is free if you don't make a reservation
California - most people aren't aware of this one. If you qualify for a national park disability pass, you may qualify for this. You do not need to be a California resident. Pass holders get half-price camping but California state parks have high camping rates so it's not quite the bargain it seems.
Nevada - pass is $250 annually and gives the holder free entrance and primitive camping. If you're over 65 and have lived in Nevada for five years the pass is only $30.
Washington - for reverse snowbirds. The Discovery pass is $30 - $35 annually and covers day use and primitive camping in state recreation lands
 

CarmeCoolidge

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If you search this site you will find several threads. Things have changed these last few years as more people flooded the RVing community because of Covid and housing costs.

I'm definitely searching the existing advice, lots of great info! With campgrounds, I haven't encountered any of the issues you expressed. It might be because I go to smaller, less populated areas maybe. My build is minimal and I'm wanting to keep it that way, so facilities are necessary. Since I need external power generation and water facilities, my options are public and private campgrounds. The private campgrounds/parks I've seen seem to be primarily for RVs and I really dislike the common RV layout issues; being packed too tight in a less natural environment than a campsite. I've found the ones that seem to fit my wants and needs are much more expensive than the public campgrounds that do the same. Thanks for the help :)

Consider joining the Elks Club. It is nationwide and some of them have discounted campsites with facilities. Others often allow overnight parking for a few day’s stay. A few might that do have associated campground might even have a work camp opportunity available. I have occasionally,on the road, met groups of friends who travel in expensively by going from one Elk Campground to the next.

I've seen a couple of clubs mentioned, I'll have to do a research deep dive into RV clubs, I imagine I'd be able to find something to try at least. Thank you for your input! :)

Here are a few links:
New Mexico - the pass is $225 annually for out-of-state residents. Camping in primitive sites is free if you don't make a reservation
California - most people aren't aware of this one. If you qualify for a national park disability pass, you may qualify for this. You do not need to be a California resident. Pass holders get half-price camping but California state parks have high camping rates so it's not quite the bargain it seems.
Nevada - pass is $250 annually and gives the holder free entrance and primitive camping. If you're over 65 and have lived in Nevada for five years the pass is only $30.
Washington - for reverse snowbirds. The Discovery pass is $30 - $35 annually and covers day use and primitive camping in state recreation lands

Very helpful! I believe this is what I remember seeing. Thank you so much. Right now I'm doing a lot of traveling, seeing the beautiful land we are lucky to live on and the people that inhabit it. Once my wanderlust dies down, or I just want to REALLY explore a state or handful of states, I will definitely come back to these. That new mexico one in particular looks amazing, and it looks like its $225 for out of state residents now! Beats the 50% off discount of the access pass hands down. All I'd have to pay is $4 for electric per day if I had this pass which mean's it'll pay for itself in less than a month! I'm gonna have to do look up the similar programs for each state because there are clearly some real gems. Thank you so much!! <3 :D
 

Tony's Dream

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I'm a disabled vet and I do have the Access America Pass which gives me free entry to all national parks, historic sites, and monuments. It also gets me discounts at national sites for camping. Some states will give you a discount as well, but they are few and far between. Many resturants and motels offer military and senior discounts. I feel that since I served my country and believe that all disabled vets should be granted discounts at state parks too.

There are 8 states that do not charge access fees but do charge camp fees. Here is a list by state.

 

rvwandering

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That new mexico one in particular looks amazing, and it looks like its $225 for out of state residents now! Beats the 50% off discount of the access pass hands down. All I'd have to pay is $4 for electric per day if I had this pass which mean's it'll pay for itself in less than a month! I'm gonna have to do look up the similar programs for each state because there are clearly some real gems. Thank you so much!! <3 :D
The New Mexico state park pass is very good but the Access Pass is definitely worth buying. It's only $10 for a lifetime pass and works for all of these agencies.
Bureau of Land Management http://www.blm.gov
Bureau of Reclamation http://www.usbr.gov
Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov
USDA Forest Service http://www.fs.usda.gov
National Park Service http://www.nps.gov
US Corps of Engineers http://www.usace.army.mil

If you're over 62, a citizen of the US, and not eligible for an Access Pass you still qualify for a lifetime Senior Pass which is $80 and good at all of the agencies listed above. It's well worth the price for free admission and half-price camping which can be as low as $4 at forest campgrounds.
 

rvwandering

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You're right bullfrog! I was looking at the National Park website. If you order one online there's a $10 processing fee but if go see bullfrog's wife or any of the other dedicated workers and volunteers at the national parks and recreation areas you can get one for free. Good deal!
 

CarmeCoolidge

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Does the access pass discount apply to any government/state owned campgrounds or just ones on federal lands/national parks? I'd imagine it's only the federal stuff since the california disabled pass does the same 50% discount.
Very helpful information! Thank you both :)
 

bullfrog

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Federal as in U.S. government operated areas. There are some rare exceptions but they are in concessionaire operated areas so do check ahead.
 

Tony's Dream

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Does the access pass discount apply to any government/state owned campgrounds or just ones on federal lands/national parks? I'd imagine it's only the federal stuff since the california disabled pass does the same 50% discount.
Very helpful information! Thank you both :)

I stayed at a couple of places on my trip to VA where I stayed at start parks and they waived the park entry fee as long as I paid for camping, so that saved me a couple of bucks. I stayed at a KOA camp ground that was run by a disabled vet and he let me stay for free since I didn't need hook ups or an actual tent site. You just have to research and ask when you are checking out the spot.
 
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