Campgrounds can be very expensive. Depending on the amenities, RV parks can cost as little as $20 per night up to $200 or more.
The price grows considerably if you’re traveling during peak season or you like to stay places with a lot of amenities.
These nightly stays add up fast, even if you take advantage of weekly or monthly rates.
When we first started our RV journey, we found that we were only able to splurge on more expensive campgrounds once in a while, rather than all the time.
With nightly rates climbing into the hundreds of dollars, it’s just not a realistic expense.
If you spend a lot of time in your RV, a campground membership may be a great way to save money on campsites and give you more freedom to stay where you want.
All campground memberships will reduce your nightly camping fee average to very little and are available for a pretty reasonable annual fee.
But not all are created equal. The discounts that each membership club offers can vary anywhere from 10-50% and they have restrictions on when they can be obtained.
If you have ever wondered what a members-only campground is all about, what the advantages and disadvantages are to having one, or which RV memberships go beyond that, we lay out the tangible benefits for you to help you decide – is an RV membership right for you?
A campground membership is like a season pass to a water park. These memberships allow RVers access to a particular campground or group of campgrounds.
For a set fee, you can stay at the campground as many times as you want for free or at a discount.
Some memberships even allow you to stay at other campgrounds that are owned by the same company or offered as part of the same membership group.
These memberships come with benefits like discounts at camping retailers, access to upgraded cabins, and RV tips and tricks.
Some memberships also offer discounts on things like golf, fishing, swimming, or site seeing.
If you’re thinking about getting a campground membership, there are a few things you should consider first.
1. Frequency of use
The first thing you need to think about is how often you’ll actually use the membership. If you only camp a few times a year, it’s probably not worth the money.
However, if you’re an avid RVer who camps every weekend or you’re a full-timer, a membership could save you a lot of money in the long run.
2. Length of camping season
Another thing to consider is the length of your camping season. If you only camp for a few months out of the year, a membership may not be worth it.
However, if you camp all year long in a variety of locations, a membership could allow you to do exactly what you do now, but for less money.
3. Types of campgrounds
The next thing you need to consider is the type of campground you’ll be using.
If you only stay at state parks or national forests, a private campground membership probably isn’t worth it.
You may be better off looking at individual state or national programs for discounted stays within these groups.
However, if you prefer to stay at private campgrounds, the right membership could save you money in the long run.
4. Campground location
Here’s where things get tricky. Some of these campground memberships have hundreds of campsites, but they may not always be located in places where you want to stay.
For instance, if the campgrounds are mostly on the west coast in California and Oregon with a few others scattered farther east, but you prefer to stay on the east coast or in the gulf, this membership won’t benefit you at all.
You’re not saving money if you purchase a pass for campgrounds you’ll never use.
5. Price of membership
The price of the membership is also something you need to consider. Some memberships can be quite expensive, costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Other memberships are more reasonably priced, costing around $100 or less.
You need to decide if the price is worth it based on how often you’ll use it and the types of campgrounds you’ll be staying at.
6. Length of stay
It’s critical that you pay attention to how long the memberships allow you to stay.
In some cases, you can stay in a membership-owned campground for a maximum of 3 weeks out of the month before you have to exit the program.
Then, you have to stay out of these membership-owned campgrounds for 2 weeks before you can come back in and stay at another one.
Other memberships have no such restrictions. You can stay in the campground for as long as you want, provided there is space available.
You need to decide if the length of stay restrictions are something you’re willing to work with or not before purchasing a membership.
7. Cancellation policy
Finally, you need to read the fine print before purchasing a campground membership.
Some of these memberships have strict cancellation policies that make it difficult to get your money back if you decide you don’t like it.
There are many of these programs that require a lifetime membership, which means there’s no way to cancel.
You can transfer your membership to a relative upon death, but there are very few other ways to get out of it.
Other memberships are more flexible, allowing you to cancel at any time and receive a refund for the unused portion of your membership.
Be sure to read the cancellation policy before you purchase a campground membership so you know what you’re getting into and you don’t get stuck with something you don’t want.
Why Should You Join An RV Campground Membership Discount Club?
There are some great benefits that come with campground memberships. Here are a few of the most popular ones.
1. Discounts on camping fees
This is probably the biggest benefit of having a campground membership. You can save a lot of money on campsite fees, sometimes up to 50% or more.
This can really add up if you camp often. For instance, if you camp for 30 nights a year and the average campsite fee is $30 per night, you’re spending $900 on campsites.
However, with a 50% discount, you’re only paying $450 for the same 30 nights of camping.
That’s a savings of $450, which more than pays for the cost of most memberships.
2. Free or discounted camping
Some campground memberships come with free or discounted camping.
This is usually for a limited time, such as one free night of camping per year or a certain number of free nights after you’ve stayed a certain number of nights.
This can be a great perk if you camp often and can make a campground membership worth it even if you only use it a few times per year.
3. Complimentary services
Some memberships come with complimentary services, such as free firewood or propane. This can be a great benefit if you camp often and use these services regularly.
It’s important to note that not all memberships come with these benefits, so be sure to read the fine print before you purchase one.
4. Additional perks
You’ll also want to look out for free mobile apps, trip planning assistance, classes you can take, or extra discounts on products or at camping retailers.
These kinds of additional perks can help you on your journey and save you money.
10 Best RV Campground Memberships for Every Situation
Now that you know what to look for in a campground membership, here are some of the best ones available.
The KOA Value Kard Rewards program is one of the most popular campground memberships available.
It’s affordable, starting at just $33 per year, and it comes with a lot of great benefits.
First, you’ll get a discount of 10% on all campsite fees at KOA campgrounds as well as free propane refills.
You’ll also get discounts on KOA camping gear and other products, as well as free or discounted camping at certain times of the year.
Plus, you’ll earn points for every dollar you spend on campsite fees, which can be redeemed for free or discounted camping.
The more you camp, the more points you’ll earn and the more benefits you’ll get.
This is a great option if you camp often and want to save money on campsite fees because KOA campgrounds are in nearly all major cities throughout the U.S. and in many smaller towns as well.
If you’re the type of camper who likes to stay in one place for an extended period of time, then a Thousand Trails campground membership is a great option for you.
Thousand Trails highlights:
This membership gives you access to over 85 campgrounds across the country, as well as discounts on camping gear and other products.
Plus, you’ll get free or discounted camping at certain times of the year.
One of the best things about this membership is that it’s affordable, starting at just $449 per year. Plus, there are no blackout dates, so you can camp whenever you want.
The important thing to remember about Thousand Trails is that it’s a lifetime membership, so you’ll need to pay the full price up front and it’s very difficult to get out of or transfer.
You also need to be aware that many Thousand Trails campgrounds are clustered near the west coast. There are a lot of campgrounds to choose from, but they’re not spread out across the country.
Thousand Trails also requires you to exit the Thousand Trails system for 7 days after every stay to prevent people from using it as their primary residence.
The Camping World RV Resort Network is a great option for RV campers. It gives you access to over 200 RV resorts across the country.
Camping World highlights:
This membership starts at just $49 per year and gives you discounts on nightly camping fees.
You’ll also earn Camping World Rewards points that can be redeemed for free or discounted camping.
Plus, you’ll get access to complimentary services, such as Wi-Fi and cable TV, at many of the Camping World RV resorts.
This is a great option if you have an RV and want to save money on campsite fees. You’ll get a 20% discount on campsite fees at any Camping World RV Resort, as well.
And, there are no blackout dates, so you can camp whenever you want.
The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory is a great option for campers who also want discounts at other camping outlets and retailers.
It gives you access to over 8,000 RV parks and campgrounds across the country.
Good Sam highlights:
This membership starts at just $29 per year and gives you discounts at over 8,000 RV parks and campgrounds.
There are campgrounds all across the country that offer discounts for Good Sam members.
You’ll also get discounts at camping retailers and outlets, such as Camping World, Pilot/Flying J travel centers, and Gander RV.
As a Good Sam member, you can also get additional benefits like:
This is a great option if you want to save money on campsite fees, as well as other camping gear and supplies.
And, there are no blackout dates, so you can camp whenever you want.
The National Park Foundation is a great option for campers who want to camp in national parks. It gives you access to over 400 national parks across the country.
National Park Foundation highlights:
This membership starts at just $35 per year and gives you free or discounted camping at over 400 national parks. You’ll also get access to other benefits, such as:
If you enjoy visiting many of our nation’s parks, this is one of the best options because you can camp for free or a discounted rate, and you’ll get free admittance into all of the park’s attractions.
Plus, many state parks reciprocate the National Park Foundation’s discount, so you can get discounted camping at those parks as well.
There are no blackout dates, but it’s important to pay attention to how long you’re allowed to stay.
Most state and national parks allow a maximum 2-week stay before you have to exit the park.
Passport America is a great option for budget-conscious campers. It gives you access to over 1,200 RV parks and campgrounds across the country.
Passport America highlights:
This membership starts at just $44 per year and gives you a 50% discount off your nightly stays.
The Passport America mobile app makes it easy to find participating campgrounds, so you can take advantage of your discount, even on the road.
Plus, there are no blackout dates or restrictions on how long you can stay.
There’s also a member referral program that offers additional discounts to you and the members you refer.
However, Passport America campgrounds are allowed to specify their own rules, which means you’ll have to review these rules before every stay.
Some parks allow you to take 50% off your entire stay, while some will only discount your first night or Monday-Thursday nights.
Harvest Hosts is a great option for RVers who like to boondock. It gives you access to over 2,834 wineries, breweries, farms, and other businesses across the country.
Harvest Hosts highlights:
This membership starts at just $99 per year and gives you free stays or discounts at almost 3,000 locations.
Plus, there are no blackout dates, but you do have to have a self-contained RV. There’s no tent camping allowed.
Because most of your stays are free, Harvest Hosts asks that you purchase a product from your host as a thank you.
Harvest Host locations are all across the U.S. and most are available year-round.
It’s one of the most personal camping or RVing experiences you’ll have and it’s a great option for those who like to get to know their host better.
Keep in mind that most of these locations don’t have hookups, so you’ll need to be self-contained.
Campendium is a great option for digital nomads. It gives you access to over 30,000 public and private campgrounds across the country.
This membership starts at just $50 per year and gives you access to a huge selection of campgrounds. This includes RV parks, national parks, state parks, and national forests.
Plus, you can filter your search by amenities, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
This even includes the ability to filter by elevation, so whether you enjoy the mountains or want to steer clear, you can.
Campendium also offers a trip planning feature, so you can plan your entire route before you hit the road.
This is great for those who like to plan ahead or those who are new to RVing and want to make sure they know where they’re going.
With the Roadpass Pro membership, you get ad-free access to 4 different apps that allow you to see cell service overlays on your search for the best campground. You’ll never camp without cell service again.
There are also public land overlays so you can find the best national parks and BLM land wherever you want to stay.
The app also includes trail maps and the ability to save favorites.
Escapees RV Club is a great option for full-time RVers. It gives you access to over 1,700 RV parks and campgrounds across the country.
Escapees RV Club highlights:
This membership starts at just $49 per year and gives you discounts on nightly rates at over 1,700 RV parks and campgrounds. You can also stay for free at some locations.
Plus, you get access to a wide variety of resources, including a mail forwarding service, technical assistance, legal assistance, and more.
Escapees RV Club also offers RV training programs, making it a great option for beginning RVers.
You’ll even get to enjoy perks like an RV Boot Camp and an RV Job Exchange, so you can continue to enjoy a life on the road without having to worry about how you’ll pay for it.
This membership combines my two favorite things about RVing full-time: boondocking and getting to know great people!
The Boondockers Welcome membership gives you access to almost 3,000 host locations.
Boondockers Welcome highlights:
This membership starts at just $30 per year and gives you access to over 2,900 host locations across the country.
Boondocking with any host is always free, but over 75% of Boondockers Welcome hosts have water and electrical hookups.
Hosts may require compensation for using hookups, as long as free parking without hookups is available.
The best thing about Boondockers Welcome is that you get to meet and get to know a variety of people all over the country and see beautiful scenery you wouldn’t see otherwise.
This membership is one of my favorites because it’s not only affordable, but if you apply to become a host, you get a free guest membership!
The best campground memberships are ones that fit your needs and budget.
There are a variety of memberships available, so take some time to research which one is right for you.
Whether you’re looking for discounts on nightly rates, access to a wide variety of locations, or the ability to meet new people, there’s a membership out there that’s perfect for you.
Whichever membership you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the benefits it provides. So get out there and start exploring the great outdoors!