Complete Guide to Thousand Trails

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What is Thousand Trails?

Thousand Trails is a collection of campgrounds that are all owned by the same company, Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. They also own a set of RV parks run under the brand Encore which tend to be resort-style and have more amenities. They were previously membership only campgrounds but are now open to the public.

What is a Thousand Trails Membership?

Membership will grant you access to book a campground/resort site for a reduced rate or free. The rate will vary based on your membership and the campground/resort from $0 to $20+ / night. There are many different membership options to choose from that grant different levels of amenities.

If they are open to the public then why would I still want to purchase a membership?

In my opinion, they are overpriced when staying a night without a membership. We have used a grey area loophole to stay in a park during our “out” week by purchasing the week at the normal price and it was almost worth it for us to leave and come back.

Is Thousand Trails a scam?

Nope! It is not an end-all-be-all but an amazing tool to use to reduce your total camping costs. If you are full-time in your rv it is a no brainer but check out our article to find out which Thousand Trails membership is right for you.

How many Thousand Trails campgrounds are there?

There are 81 membership Thousand Trails campgrounds spread across the United States and Canada. There are an additional 100+ Encore campgrounds.

Are they kid-friendly?

Yes! Almost every Thousand Trails campground we have been to has a kids playground. They also have many activities all weekend but that varies by park. One of the coolest things we have noticed is they have theme weekends! You can check out the current list of theme weekends by the park here.

How is the quality of the campgrounds?

Thousand Trails campgrounds quality vary but most of them fall between a resort and a state park campground. They have different levels of amenities and upkeep. If your travel preferences lean more towards resorts with tons of amenities and perfectly flat concrete pads then you will be let down.

What does a Thousand Trails Membership cost?

The average annual cost is around $500-700. The total varies depending on your membership. The initial one time purchase cost varies also depending on your membership but can be between $0 – $15,000. Check out the different estimate prices for the different membership options here.

Is the Thousand Trails membership worth it?

It depends! If you are going to get your money’s worth out of it it is definitely worth it. Estimate an average nightly cost $40, it would take an approximate 15 nights a year to pay off the $585 single zone pass yearly fee.

Related: Which Thousand Trails Membership is Right for You?

How do I contact Thousand Trails Member services?

You can reach Thousand Trails member services at (800) 388-7788. They are very helpful whether you need to make a reservation or have a question about your membership. I am warning you now though, you WILL get the hold song stuck in your head and the fire crackling sound will trick you into thinking someone picked up the phone EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Is there a Thousand Trails app?

Kind of. They released an app called “Camp USA”. It shows Thousand Trails, Encore, KOA, and other campgrounds. It looks pretty but is very slow loading right now.

We prefer to use Allstays to find campgrounds. It shows more campgrounds but there is a filter for Thousand Trails campgrounds only.

Is it like an RV timeshare?

Not really. It’s like a timeshare in the sense that you have an initial cost and a yearly cost but that’s where the comparison ends.

There is no requirement to keep the membership and keep paying yearly until you sell it like a timeshare. You do not have a specific week you own or points you use. You do not own a portion of a resort. It’s a membership!

What happens if I don’t pay my Thousand Trails annual dues?

Your membership will be canceled. All zone pass and resale memberships are year to year so not paying your dues will cancel your membership. It is always better to call and cancel your membership rather than just not paying your dues.

We have heard of some people being sent to collections and needing to fight that unnecessary battle. Some newer memberships have an option to place your membership on hold.

Is there a map of the campgrounds?

Yes! Here is a snapshot of the map. There is a map tab on the reservation page so you can easily find a Thousand Trails in the area you are looking in. You can also just explore campgrounds using this map search page.

Where are the campgrounds located?

The campgrounds are located all over the US but tend to be closer to the coasts. There is a major area in the middle US without any Thousand Trails coverage.

Is there a Thousand Trails campground directory?

Thousand Trails has an online directory broken down by state.

How do I make reservations with Thousand Trails?

Thousand Trails reservations can be made online or on the phone. We recommend to try and make your reservations online first since there is a charge for over the phone reservations (or so it says, we have never been charged). If it is your first time making reservations with Thousand Trails then check out our step by step guide.

Can you rent a cabin from Thousand Trails?

Yes! They have cabins at almost all Thousand Trails campgrounds to rent. The even have yurts or covered wagons to stay in at some of the parks!

What is the check-in process like at Thousand Trails?

Each campground has a different check-in process but they are all similar. You arrive at the campground and check in with the ranger. You then find an available site in the campground and set up camp.

When all set up, let the ranger know what site you have chosen. If you have a large rig like ours you can grill the ranger during check-in on the biggest sites or “best” sites.

How do I cancel my Thousand Trails membership?

You can cancel your Thousand Trails membership by calling member services at (800) 388-7788. Most resale membership and zone passes are a year to year membership without a contract so you can cancel at any time.

Do they raise your membership fee every year?

We have not had our membership fee raised yet. Thousand Trails does limit the increase to only 2 – 3% a year so no need to worry about a massive price jump.

What is a Thousand Trails Camping pass (Zone pass)?

The Thousand Trails camping pass or as it is more commonly known as the zone pass is a membership to different Thousand Trails campgrounds broken into 5 different “zones” based on region.

You can purchase access to one or more zones and have access to the campgrounds in the zone. The number of campgrounds in the zone varies from only 8 campgrounds in a zone to up to 23. This is also one of the cheapest memberships you can purchase to gain access to Thousand Trails but it also has the most restrictions.

What are the different zones?

The different zones are the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest.

The Northeast zone has 14 campgrounds from New England to Pennsylvania.

The Southeast zone has 23 campgrounds from North Carolina to Texas.

The Northwest zone has 18 campgrounds in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

The Southwest zone has 18 Campgrounds in California, Nevada, and Arizona.

The Midwest zone only has 8 campgrounds spread between Wisconsin and Kentucky.

What is the Trails Collection?

Trails collection is an “Add-on” membership to Thousand Trails. You need to have an active Thousand Trails membership of any level to add it on. It gives you access to over 100+ Encore resorts and campgrounds across the US.

There are restrictions and not all campgrounds are available unless you are 55+. If this interests you (it should), check out all of the Trails Collections Pros and Cons here.

What is an Encore Resort / Campground?

Encore RV resorts and campgrounds are another brand of campgrounds owned by Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS). Encore RV resorts and campgrounds are designed for both long-term stays and mini-vacations. When you choose Encore for your travel accommodations, you can expect to find full RV hook-ups and premium amenities. They are spread across all the United States with a larger amount in focused in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

What are the different Thousand Trail membership options?

This is the list of plans that we think are “worth it” for different situations. Check out our other blog post for more in-depth information on the different Thousand Trails membership options.

New: Zone Pass, Basic Elite, Elite Connections, Ultimate Odyssey

Resale: Platinum, Platinum Plus, VIP, Elite

What are membership upgrades?

Every Thousand Trails membership starts out as a Zone Pass or its equivalent at the time. The owner then upgraded the membership to a new level for a fee. This can be done more than once over the years.

For example, our membership was a zone pass in 1988, upgraded to a Platinum Plus membership in the ’90s, then upgraded again to an Elite in 2013. We purchased it resale as an Elite in 2017!

What is an Ultimate Odyssey Membership?

This is currently the highest level of membership in Thousand Trails. It gives you the most benefits like longer stays (24 days) and larger booking windows. This membership can only be purchased from Thousand Trails.

What is a resale membership?

A resale membership is a membership that is sold by an existing member rather than from Thousand Trails directly. Memberships are transferable for a fee and with some stipulations. If you are interested in saving money on a Thousand Trails membership then we highly recommend purchasing resale. Since there are so many different memberships and the process is not very well documented we recommend Campground Membership Outlet for resale memberships.

Want the current list of available resale memberships from Campground Membership Outlet?

Why are there so many different memberships?

Thousand Trails has been around for 50 years! They have had many different offerings over that time and the memberships never expire so inevitably people are going to keep them or pass them down to family members. The membership we purchased was originally purchased in 1988. There are even more than I have listed here!

What does age-qualified mean?

Age qualified is a designation for some parks where you must be 55 or older to stay there. We have found that the “strictness” varies on the campground and have been able to stay for a short time even though we are clearly under 55.

Is there a Thousand Trails Promo code?

Yes! Get $100 off the purchase of a zone pass by using our affiliate link to sign up. Just scroll to the bottom of the Thousand Trails Zone Pass page and enter your e-mail to have the discount applied to your order once you select a zone.

Do you have any Thousand Trails Campground Reviews?

Do they have Wifi?

This is a campground to campground question. Almost all Thousand Trails have mediocre wifi in their front office/member buildings but some campgrounds have paid wifi at your site. My experience that even the paid wifi has been mediocre. You can check emails and perform limited web surfing but not sure I would trust it for work or streaming Netflix.

What are Outdoor World, NACO, Leisure Time, or Mid Atlantic?

These are all campground chains that Thousand Trails has purchased over the years. They have all been absorbed into Thousand Trails but are still relevant because some have different reservation time frames and some are only accessible if you have an Elite or newer membership.

What are High use restrictions?

High use restrictions mean that you are only able to stay a max 14 days in the Thousand Trails campground when they are in effect. We have seen them mostly in Florida and California during the winter. They are there to allow more members to use the parks during the busy season. All memberships have them except the resale VIP.

What is the Ready Camp Go card?

Previously sold to the public for $300 a year, Ready Camp Go provided 90 nights at an Encore park for $24 per night. It is no longer offered to the public, however, Thousand Trails includes it on some of the new Elite memberships.

What is RPI?

RPI is another RV club that you can get access to with certain upgraded Thousand Trails memberships due to a reciprocal agreement. It has three different levels of Basic, Preferred, and Preferred Gold. It allows you to book a member campground for between $5 – $10 for up to 7 – 14 nights in a row, twice a year, per campground. We use it in places where Thousand Trails has no campgrounds to reduce our total camping cost.

Other Memberships

If Thousand Trails seems like it may be a little too much for you, don’t worry. There are few other RV clubs that will save you money.

If you are looking for big savings then check out Passport America. It is known as the 50% off discount camping club.

Are you looking for savings on other RV necessities like fuel, tires, or accessories? Check out the Good Sam Club membership or FMCA for savings on those.

Do you prefer to stay in unique locations or sightsee with locals? Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome would be excellent choices.

Are you missing your friends and family? Escapees RV club is the best membership for getting a sense of community.

If you need more help choosing, check out our recommendations for choosing the best campground memberships based on your travel style or join our free RV club e-mail course below.

Stop Wasting Money on Unnecessary Memberships!

While every RV club offers something great, it’s not always applicable to every RVer. Find out which clubs and memberships will save you money and which ones will be useless for your travel style.

Sign up for our completely FREE RV club e-mail course today!

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