Is the New Thousand Trails Escape Membership Worth It?

This post may contain affiliate links.
A couple sitting outside of their RV at their campsite that they secured using their escape membership

We have talked a lot about Thousand Trails over our years of traveling. Our membership has saved us thousands of dollars. Recently, the company added a new level to its membership offerings. The Thousand Trails Escape membership is similar to the Camping Pass but much less expensive than the Elite Basic. 

It bridges the gap between those who camp infrequently and those who travel full-time. Let’s dive in and learn more about this new option!

What Is Thousand Trails?

Thousand Trails is a lifetime campground membership with locations throughout the United States and British Columbia. Multiple membership levels offer varying benefits, but all allow members to stay without paying nightly fees. 

You simply pay for the membership and the yearly dues and then use the perks however you choose.

Different locations also offer different types of camping, from RV sites to yurts to cabins to cottages. You’ll find places with swimming pools, mini golf courses, water sport rentals, libraries, playgrounds, pet parks, and more. 

What you find at one Thousand Trails location may differ from what you find at another. For example, some may have RV hookups, and others may not.

How Many Thousand Trails Locations Are in the US?

Although new locations are continually added, you can stay at about 80 campgrounds within the system. With the Trails Collection add-on, members have access to over 200 campgrounds. 

It’s also important to note that you don’t have to be a member to stay at one of these locations. However, non-members must pay the nightly fee.

The locations are divided into five zones: the Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast. Some memberships give access to one zone, while others give access to all five.

The Southeast has the most Thousand Trails locations, with 23 campgrounds from Texas to Florida to Virginia. The Midwest has the fewest locations, with only eight campgrounds in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. The Northwest region includes one campground in British Columbia, Canada.

What Is the Thousand Trails Camping Pass?

The most popular Thousand Trails membership is the Camping Pass. This is ideal for weekend warriors who camp often but don’t need all the benefits of a higher-level membership. 

A Camping Pass costs $670 annually, giving RVers access to one zone. This restricted access is why the Camping Pass is good for weekend warriors because it provides locations near their homes. They can camp nearby without paying nightly fees.

You can add additional zones. However, if you plan on taking a trip, are willing to drive a bit farther, or reside on the line of a regional border. You can add zones for $90 each.

The Camping Pass also has a shorter booking window and shorter permitted lengths of stays than higher-level memberships. RVers can book up to 60 days out and stay up to 14 nights.

If members stay four nights or less, they can jump from park to park without any time taken out of the stay limit. If members stay five up to 14 nights, they must leave the Thousand Trails system for at least seven days before rebooking.

What Is the Thousand Trails Escape Membership?

The new Thousand Trails Escape membership is very similar to the Camping Pass. Members get access to a zone, with the option for adding other zones, and can stay for free up to 14 nights. They still have the restriction of hopping from park to park. However, it has a couple of important upgrades.

First, the booking window is longer at 90 days. This can make a huge difference as members with higher levels have anywhere from 120-180 days to make a reservation. 

With the 30-day headstart over the Camping Pass owners, RVers with the Escape membership are less likely to encounter full campgrounds at the time of the reservation.

Another benefit to the Thousand Trails Escape membership is frozen dues. Like other memberships, yearly dues will increase over time. 

Just in the last seven years, the dues for Thousand Trails have gone from $545 to $670. But the new Escape membership freezes the fees, so they can’t increase over the life of the membership.

RVs parked at a campground secured using a escape membership

What Are the Other Membership Levels of Thousand Trails?

We’ve talked a lot about Thousand Trails, given personal reviews of various campgrounds, and discussed the different membership levels. 

If you want more details, you can check out our article “How Much Does a Thousand Trails Membership Cost?” to learn more about each of these levels. 

However, we’ll give you a simple breakdown if you’re new to the Thousand Trails system.

Elite Basic

The lowest-level membership gives access to all of the campgrounds in the Thousand Trails system. The Elite Basic costs around $7,995. You can travel from zone to zone and park to park without any time out of the system. 

You have a 14 to 21-day stay limit, depending on the location and season. The 120-day booking window gives Elite Basic members an excellent chance of making reservations any time of the year.

Elite Connections

The Elite Connections is one step above the Elite Basic and costs about $10,345. The most significant difference between these two membership levels is the booking window. 

Whereas Elite Basic members have a 120-day window, Elite Connections members have a 180-day window. This is a huge advantage for RVers who travel during high seasons or popular holidays. 

It has additional benefits like free cabin stays and a free Resort Parks International membership, but the main difference is the larger booking window.

Adventure Package

The most expensive Thousand Trails membership and the one with the most perks is the Adventure Package. Typically, this package is for full-timers who want access to the Trails Collection every year and make reservations far in advance. 

Adventure members benefit from making reservations at Thousand Trails locations up to 180 days in advance and at Trails Collection locations up to 90 days in advance. 

For travelers who want to spend the winter in the Florida Keys, this is almost a necessity. It has additional benefits for extended stays and cabin rentals every year. But the package does come at a price: $16,595.

Read More: See how we saved over $4,000 using Thousand Trails!

Trails Collection Add-On

Any member at any level can add on the Trails Collection and get access to 100 more campgrounds. This costs about $370. It has a 14-day stay limit, and all members, except those with an Adventure Package, have a 60-day booking window.

Some of these locations are in “hot spots,” like southern Florida, southern Texas, and southern Arizona. However, you’ll also come across age-qualification campgrounds in these snowbird destinations. 

Occasionally, you’ll have to pay an extra fee as well, but it’s still much cheaper than staying in a campground for $40 to $50 a night.

A couple drinking beer outside of their RV at their campsite secured using their escape membership

Who Is the Thousand Trails Escape Membership Good For?

The Thousand Trails Escape membership costs right at $3,000. This is a one-time upfront payment. Then every year, members pay their annual dues. Because this membership bridges the gap between the Camping Pass and the Elite Basic, it’s an ideal option for RVers who travel consistently but not full-time.

Consider this scenario. You camp for two weekends every month from April to October. That’s about 28 nights. If you do this for two years, the nightly rate averages about $53. 

So as long as camping is an activity you enjoy and plan to do for many years, you’ll pay for your Thousand Trails Escape membership within just a few years. Remember, you’ll also need to pay the yearly dues.

Or maybe you only want to take a few week-long trips during the year. The Elite Basic isn’t worth the cost, but you want to have a better chance at scoring a reservation than those with a Camping Pass. The Elite membership could be a good fit for your situation.

However, you still aren’t guaranteed a reservation because you’ll compete with members with 120 to 180-day booking windows. You’re more likely to score a reservation at a highly-visited campground with a 90-day booking window than a 60-day booking window, but it’s not a 100%-guarantee. If you stay on top of your timeline, an Escape membership may serve you well.

It’s also important to consider where you live. If you live in the center of the country — Kansas, Nebraska, or the Dakotas — you’re limited in the number of Thousand Trails locations nearby. 

It may not be worth purchasing any membership just because your weekend camping trips would take you much further away to get to a Thousand Trails campground.

Keep in Mind: Do campgrounds really enforce the RV 10 Year Rule? Let’s see if you can still camp with your older rig!

Enjoy Free Camping With the New Thousand Trails Escape Membership

Thousand Trails campgrounds aren’t the most luxurious parks. You won’t always have access to full hookups, either. But for RVers on a budget, it’s an option worth considering if you travel in zones with several locations. 

The upfront cost of $3,000 for the Escape membership may still be more than you want to spend. But if you consistently use your membership year after year, you’ll make that money back in no time.

Now you just have to decide if the new Escape membership is right for you. Is having the larger booking window important enough to make the upgrade from the Camping Pass? Let us know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article

How To Easily Find Big Rig RV Parks

Next Article
View of Devils Tower

Little Girl Breaks Youngest Ascent Record for Devils Tower