Our First Thousand Trails Membership Test Drive

People who know us might be shocked to see that we did our first Thousand Trails membership test drive last week. But before anyone starts wondering if we’ve gone soft and given up our boondocking lifestyle, let me explain why we dipped our toe in the water in the Thousand Trails Palm Springs Resort.

After Ten Years Traveling, Here’s Why We Did Our First Thousand Trails Membership Test Drive

Thousand Trails Membership Test
Thousand Trails Palm Springs CA

First, full disclosure: we were offered a free stay to check it out, no strings attached. Not even this blog post was required to take advantage of it. After doing some investigation I learned that the Thousand Trails rep who contacted us was on the up-and-up. Since we were coming to Southern California to visit family, the generous offer perfectly coincided with our need to find a good place to stay. After reading stellar reviews of Thousand Trails Palm Springs, we went for it. Admit it: you would too.

And with scenery like this in the middle of March, what’s not to love? While the rest of the country is still cold and snowy, this is paradise!

Thousand Trails Palm Springs

We were fully prepared to get the hard sell on a Thousand Trails membership, but those fears didn’t materialize during our stay. There was no hour-long sales spiel we had to sit through and nobody came knocking on our door with a clipboard and pen. Whew!

Instead, we were left alone to enjoy our sweet RV site and all the amenities in peace. And that we did. The park’s pool and spa had just been cleaned, everything was sparkling clean. All the kids in the park took advantage of the pool every day we were there. 

Speaking of kids . . . we noticed quite a bit of full-time families staying here. After doing some research about Thousand Trails memberships it seems that many full-time families find Thousand Trails to be a great bargain. 

Thousand Trails Palm Springs

Although RVers can stay many Thousand Trails parks without actually being club members, it appeared to us that the vast majority of visitors at this park did have a membership. One night at the hot tub Jim overheard a happy member saying “it’s the cheapest way to travel,” even though he was making payments on his membership contract.

Screech! went our debt alarm bells. Payments? On a Thousand Trails membership? Oh yeah. Because the Thousand Trails base cost starts at $575 per year and goes up from there, sometimes as much as $6,000 and change. Thousand Trails offers many varieties of annual club memberships that enable the user to enjoy different levels of privileges. And according to other RVers, they make it easy to pay off the annual contract in installment payments.

We couldn’t find many details about upgraded memberships on the Thousand Trails website. Instead we dug into Google and found this excellent Thousand Trails membership price breakdown by RV Love. If you are considering a Thousand Trails membership test drive, read the article before diving in.

We gave this campground membership arrangement a lot of thought during our stay. And what it comes down to for us is this:

A Thousand Trails membership just isn’t for us. We dry camp more than we hook-up, we prefer solitude over crowds and kids, and finally, we won’t ever make payments on camping stays that we may or may not use during the year.

But that’s just us. Thousand Trails is not a one-size fits all deal. For some people who always stay at RV parks, even a basic membership can help them save money on camping fees. And for people who upgrade to a membership that offers longer stays at each campground, it offers predictability and consistency (which is probably why families love it). Finally, if you’re part of the Thousand Trails tribe, you can probably enjoy that community-style feeling that many full-time RVers miss when they leave a sticks-and-bricks lifestyle behind.

From what we can see, Thousand Trails isn’t all bad nor is it all good. It’s just another way for you to spend your hard-earned money and it’s in your best interest to crunch your numbers and do all your homework before letting go of the green.








6 thoughts on “Our First Thousand Trails Membership Test Drive”

  1. We purchased a thousand Trails membership in august 2017 with a encor attachment . The deal included two regans, south and south west for 749.00. after reading many bad reviews we decided to visit the camp ground we had booked prior to our arrival. They have advance booking, when you arrive first come first serve, we were told, you pick your own spot. The roads were narrow and full of potholes campsites were just as bad, poor cell services and some of the dirtiest raggidy rv”s I have ever seen. I was so visually deprest I canceled my reservation. {Lake Tawakoni RV Campground} Point, TX. While traveling through Texas we had the opportunity to stay at other TT camp grounds. After reading reviews and researching the areas we always decided against Thousands Trails. I requested a membership cancellation in February 2018 via Email, they told me it would take 6 to 8 weeks. Buyer beware

    • You did not purchase a “membership”… you purchased zone passes. Same camps, much differences in cost and benefits.
      TT does not discriminate on age of vehicle, does have some rules on the condition of them.
      The first come first serve has +|-. The people with longer rez capabilities cannot usurp the best sites, so the open sites are bases solely in which sites were vacated /vacant that day. You get to choose a site that best fits your needs/desires…or you get what’s available even if it doesn’t. Everyone has the same chance of either +|-. They cater to driveabkes though that are easily moved, vs towables that take time & effort to pack,close, crank & hitch—then do it all again to unhitch —- by having an in-park lottery for limited sewer sites…so not all is truly 1st come 1st serve, else some sewer sites would be vacant for new arrivals.
      TT is based on preserving nature…except in LV where it’s a gravel parking lot with rigs to close its claustrophobic.
      TT makes a lot of extra $$ selling seasonal/annual sites and frequently they are the best sites in the park. Sometimes, like LaConner, they only ones that have sewer 7/10 of the sewer sites, in a ~400 site park. Many times, annual sites cost as much /close to per year as the lifetime “membership” fee.

      The zone pass is an awesome value—IF your work/lifestyle is set in stone so you don’t have a lot of near-vacation changes or are in a region that has plenty of TT in case your choice is unavailable if you do.

  2. We are coming up on two of full timing and have a Thousand Trails Zone Pass – two zones plus an Arizona max pass that gives us some Encore Parks in Arizona. We love to boondock too but it’s nice to come back in for hookups and enjoy amenities like a pool and hot tub. Our cost per night last year worked out to be little over $5.

    That Palm Springs park is OK but not a favorite. Too dusty and crowded and too close to the freeway. If they had given you a stay in Cottonwood, Arizona or on the Oregon Coast you might have had a different opinion but agree you have to use it to make it worth it. The Zone pass is good because it’s only a year commitment and $565.


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