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Old 02-13-2016, 11:35 AM   #1
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Camping fees, permits, discounts

In anticipation of going camping/traveling later this year, I'm trying to get things lined up way ahead of time so I'm not rushing around at the last minute (per my usual routine).

What all will I need in terms of permits, passes, fees or whatever?

Will I need to get one for the National Parks? Is that a yearly pass? Do you need it every time you camp at a National Park? If you don't have it, is there a separate fee on top of the usual per night fee?

Same with State Parks. I'm assuming I need to get one for every state I camp in - if I plan to camp there often (such as WA/OR/ID as they're close). Is that also a yearly pass? What if you don't have one? Another additional fee?

What about for Canada? Is there a permit for their National Parks? And for the Provincial Parks?

Do you get a discount at any of these places if you have those permits?

I know you can get a yearly membership for KOA and I did that for my motorhome rental last spring and it saved me enough to pay for itself and a bit more. Are there other places worthwhile in getting a membership to?

And what's the deal with the Good Sam club? I see their ads in Trailer Life all the time. I figured out they're affiliated with Camping World and the ownership of the magazine. And that you get a discount at CW if you have a membership with them. But other than that, I don't know what all is involved with it.

Thanks much folks! This camping/traveling/trailer life is all new to us and we have lots to learn.
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:38 AM   #2
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Good questions. I'm all ears.
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:47 AM   #3
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Good Sam membership will get you a small discount at some commercial parks, similar to what you found with KOA (except KOA parks are KOA parks and Good Sam parks are only loosely affiliated).

The US National Parks Senior Pass is $11, good for as long as you can find it, and must be 62 years old to get/use one. Discounts vary, but it is an Extremely Good Value. (Free entrance, half price camping, that sort of thing.) I understand their handicap-Access pass is even better, but you'd have to read up on it at their website to see what it takes to qualify.

State parks passes are probably all different. In Texas, it's an annual pass, is pretty pricey ($70) and I wouldn't bother with one if I didn't live here. It does waive the park entrance fee for everyone in the car, but the camping discount is minimal.

Others will prolly weigh in on park systems closer to you, but you can also check the websites for the areas you're interested in (and report your findings here!)
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:06 PM   #4
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For National Parks there is the Golden Age Pass, (or what ever name they've now given it), lifetime pass for seniors, 62 and older, and there is a one time $11 fee. Washington State Parks offers the resident Senior Citizen “Off Season Pass” valid October 1st through April, (for April it's good only from Sunday through Thursday), and you can dry camp free or pay $10 a night for power. I believe it costs $70. In Washington if you are a resident and have a handicap placard the daily fees are reduced by 50%. I did some checking for Oregon, California and Idaho but didn't find any discounts with the exception of permanently disabled veterans.

I know Oregon has an annual pass for day use parks which costs something like $15. If you plan to spend time in Oregon it's definitely worth the money.
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:16 PM   #5
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I know Oregon has an annual pass for day use parks which costs something like $15. If you plan to spend time in Oregon it's definitely worth the money.
In Oregon you don't need the day use pass IF you're camping. It's included in the site fees. Oregon doesn't charge non-residents MORE to camp unlike other states. Washington has just about priced me out...
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:19 PM   #6
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I should mention that I'm 58 and Dirk is 54, so we're nowhere near qualifying for a senior pass.

But that info could be helpful to others.
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:23 PM   #7
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New Mexico offers an annual pass that would save you money if you plan to stay in New Mexico for more than 3 or 4 weeks during a year.
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Old 02-13-2016, 01:30 PM   #8
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For those that are retired military, civilian DOD. The campgrounds on the military bases are quite nice and very reasonable. Scott

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Old 02-13-2016, 01:45 PM   #9
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For park / permit / fee info for that beautiful country up north, google Parks Canada. Their website has a ton of information regarding national and provincial campgrounds.
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Old 02-13-2016, 03:11 PM   #10
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We have the national park annual pass, for non geezers, 70 or $80 a year for free admission but not camping. Good if you are doing a.number of parks, think entrance fee was $25 per park.
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Old 02-13-2016, 04:03 PM   #11
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In America, the "America the Beautiful" annual pass is $80 for 12 months. It covers only entrance fees to National Parks and Federal recreation sites. If you are a confirmed cheapskate like me, you buy yours on the 1st or 2nd of the month and get 13 months of use out of it. E.g. buy the pass on April 2nd and they punch April as the last month you can use it next year.

In your neck of the woods, if you are planning more than 3 trips to Mt. Rainier, Olympic, North Cascades etc. it would probably be worthwhile as it's like $25 a carload of people for Park entrance fees, good for 7 days.

In Canada, the National Parks charge per person, per day. The fees quickly add up. I got a Canadian all-Parks pass for about CAD$135 that covers my family, again good for 12 months. But I live in an area where there are 6 or 7 National Parks within a days' drive. If you don't plan a lot of visitation in the Canadian parks, paying the daily fees might be the way to go.
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Old 02-13-2016, 04:37 PM   #12
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Posted this a while ago:

Parks Canada to waive entrance fees in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th - Calgary - CBC News
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:47 PM   #13
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Remember that entrance fees and user fees for camping are often separate things. For instance, the annual Canadian National Parks pass (not needed in 2017 as baglo mentioned) only covers entrance to the park - if you camp, you're still paying a nightly (or weekly) fee.

Canadian provinces operate their provincial parks entirely separately, so even if one province has an annual pass, I would not expect it to be honoured by any other province. I assume that in the U.S. state parks are similarly separate.
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:01 PM   #14
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I know you can get a yearly membership for KOA and I did that for my motorhome rental last spring and it saved me enough to pay for itself and a bit more. Are there other places worthwhile in getting a membership to?
Regarding the club memberships...you might find this page useful: RV Membership Clubs

Marianne lists the major RV/camping clubs, their costs, pros and cons of each. She's writing from the perspective of a Canadian who makes months-long trips to the Southwest US in a Class 'B' Roadtrek, but the info still applies.
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Old 02-13-2016, 08:55 PM   #15
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For park / permit / fee info for that beautiful country up north, google Parks Canada. Their website has a ton of information regarding national and provincial campgrounds.
Thanks! I did not know that about that site.
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:23 PM   #16
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Regarding the club memberships...you might find this page useful: RV Membership Clubs

Marianne lists the major RV/camping clubs, their costs, pros and cons of each. She's writing from the perspective of a Canadian who makes months-long trips to the Southwest US in a Class 'B' Roadtrek, but the info still applies.
Thanks! I've read and bookmarked her page. Lots of info on clubs that I didn't know existed.

Gawd, this forum is excellent for getting information that you never knew existed!
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:20 AM   #17
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Even if you don't usually follow the RV.Net forum, you might be interested in the State Parks collection of links.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:16 PM   #18
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Another discount program I haven't seen mentioned is Passport America. We have used it for full hookups in private campgrounds. Often times campgrounds are 1/2 price with this membership. In our initial return from picking up our 5.0TA this past fall (10 weeks, 6,500 miles) we tried most of the types of stops, KOA, Walmart, state parks and national parks as this was our first RV experience. We have Good Sam but won't renew but got good value with the Passport America discount travel card.
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:59 PM   #19
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The downside of Passport are the restrictions, most weekends or most summer months are excluded. If you travel off season and mid week it may be worth it.
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Old 02-14-2016, 02:02 PM   #20
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The downside of Passport are the restrictions, most weekends or most summer months are excluded. If you travel off season and mid week it may be worth it.
It's true there are many restrictions. Length of stay, and day of week are the most common. Having said that, we've probably saved $300 or so in camping fees so far with Passport America. That means our lifetime membership has basically paid for itself in just over a year, and any future savings are icing on the cake. Planning and calling ahead is key.
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