Skip to Content

Is Thousand Trails RV Membership Worth It?

Is Thousand Trails RV Membership Worth It?

If you’ve spent any amount of time learning about the RV life online, you may have heard of Thousand Trails. Many RVers (including ourselves) recommend this camping membership to anyone who wants to save money on full-time RVing. 

But, is Thousand Trails really all it’s cracked up to be? 

We know that Thousand Trails is totally worth it for some RVers. The big questions is…are we (or possibly you) one of those RVers.

Let’s talk about our personal reasoning regarding it’s value to us.

Here we go!

What is Thousand Trails? 

Thousand Trails is a collection of campgrounds around North America that are owned by the same company. This company sells memberships for customers to enjoy these campgrounds at no cost (many restrictions and variations apply depending on membership). 

Thousand Trails campgrounds and resorts are typically large with many resort-style amenities. Many are located in prime locations. 

How do Thousand Trails Memberships Work? 

There are many different types of Thousand Trails memberships, and they all work differently. Some memberships allow you to stay 14 days in a park, then 7 days out. Some allow you to go park-to-park with no days out. 

This is all dependent on what membership you choose!

All memberships have great benefits. And, Thousand Trails is a great way to save money as a full-time RVer if you enjoy RV park life

We know there are many reasons to join Thousand Trails. But, you don’t hear the negatives of joining very often. So, here we’ve compiled 5 reasons it loses value for our RV experience. 

Some Facilities Are Run Down

It’s true. Some Thousand Trails facilities are pretty run down. You can learn this without ever visiting one, just read the reviews on different campground review websites. 

Thousand Trails campgrounds are run and managed independently, so each park is different. Different rules, different standards of service, and so on. Many Thousand Trails Resorts have a family lounge and an adult lounge. Also, some have a kids pool and an adult pool.  

This might not seem like a big deal, until you’re trying to enjoy peace and quiet in the adult pool or hot tub and kids barge in being loud and splashing everywhere. 

Membership Terms Can Be Really Confusing

Every experienced Thousand Trails member knows this: membership terms can be super confusing. Thousand Trails has a call center of salespeople selling memberships. 

Most of the time, these people have no experience with RVing and just have a sales quota to fill. 

This can lead you to getting roped into paying way more than you need to. 

rv dealers

If you do your research, and lots of it, you will find that there are many ways to become a Thousand Trails member. You can even buy resale memberships at a lower price, and it’s totally within the terms and conditions to do so. 

If you’re thinking about joining Thousand Trails, do your research and talk to experienced members. 

Pro Tip: Take a look at this guide to Thousand Trails Membership Options here. 

You Have To Make Reservations Several Months in Advance for Some Parks

For the most popular Thousand Trails parks, you have to make reservations well in advance. Some of these parks are in prime locations. Or, are prime locations for a certain season – like Verde Valley RV Resort near Sedona, or Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert. 

These are winter RVing hot spots, and, as a result, are always full!

Having to make campground reservations several months in advance is common for many RV campgrounds, not just Thousand Trails. But, for a membership that you want to exclusively spend your time at, it can be a slight annoyance. Especially if you’re a go-with-the-flow person instead of a rigid planner!

Cell Signal Can Be Challenging at Some Parks

Just like RVing in general, some of the parks in the Thousand Trails system have spotty or non-existent cell service. This is tough for those digital nomads out there!

Many parks make an effort to provide wifi for guests, but this isn’t always reliable, as you might have learned from other campground experiences.

If you rely on good wifi or strong cell signal to get work done, do your research before booking a park. And, as always, have a plan B… and a plan C. 

If you are serious about internet, we suggest traveling with an RV cell booster.

Boondocking With Rooftop Cell Booster
Boondocking With Rooftop Cell Booster

Parks Are Independently Managed – Leading to A Possible Inconsistent Experience 

As we stated in #1 – the parks in the Thousand Trails systems are independently managed and run. 

This means that while the campgrounds are under the same company and many have the same facilities, they’ve got different management and different rules.

Before booking a Thousand Trails park, be sure to read the reviews. 

Always take reviews with a grain of salt. Some people have a much higher standard than others. And, some people can find something to complain about no matter what. 

The most important thing is to know what you are getting yourself into before you head in to pick out a campsite. 

Should You Get A Thousand Trails Membership?

In our opinion, the positives of Thousand Trails far outweigh the negatives. What is a deal-breaker for one person might not even be noticed by another. 

That being said, if you decide to join Thousand Trails (and we recommend it), just do your research. Be educated, be informed, and have fun! 

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Leave a comment

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

  1. Greg Villalobos says:

    We have belonged to Thousand Trails for 20 years and have seen it become very hard to make a reservation unless you can make it months ahead. When we first joined in 1988 there was a policy that you would never be turned away. That is long gone

  2. Joe balfe says:

    I have a thousand trails membership that I bought used 8 months ago and its almost paid for its self. Some places are not the best but I always had a full hook up. Then some places were awesome and I will definitely be back. Like moody Beach in Maine. Lake Gaston in North Carolina not to mention beth page in Virginia. Just thouse 3 make it worth while.

  3. Andres Cano says:

    I have a 1999 rv and have never been resyricted at the 5 thousand trails parks I’ve visited. There is no cells because they’re in secluded areas, which is what I want. Maintenance is an issue at some, but for my camper level membership it has been a good value, saving me hundreds in per nite fees.

  4. Robert H Ochs says:

    I have been a member for over 40 years. Now I am retired I can use it. Reservation system is horrible. Modifying a reservation can be challenging, it is best to call the park as they can help you.
    With so many annuals in the parks there is little choices when you arrive & look for a space. Some parks keep track of open spots but most don’t. You waste your time looking for a spot. Check the electrical before you settle in. There are TT parks that we cannot access because they were not parks when we purchased. So the complicated contracts and choices are as the article stated, confusing.

  5. Jaimie McCallum says:

    We wish we had never bought it. Found it difficult to find a good spot. And now have to pay for something we dont use. You can’t get out of your contract!! When covid19 hit all the amenities we were paying for were shut down. So, we bought a house and turned our camper into an air bnb. Still looking for the way out of the contract.

  6. George D Reavis says:

    Just remember your membership is for life or 30 years which ever comes last.

  7. Regina Girton says:

    I had to cancel my reservation due to Covid. I as for a refund and they have been giving me the run around. First they said it was processed in Oct. Then they said it wS processed in Nov. I still have not received it. The reps are rude and I have spoke to Wendy Colley which is a supervisor. She told me if I did not get the check by Dec 2 to call her. I have left numerous message and she has not called me bad. I have been a member for 2 years and have cancelled my membership. I would not recommend 1000 trails to anyone.

  8. Debbie Kurtzman says:

    I do not have a membership, but researching them. I do have an older motorhome, but how can they can refuse me a reservation after I’ve paid thousands of dollars to have a membership?

  9. Kristina 28 says:

    Lol. I had a membership as well. They do not care how much $ you’ve spent. The rules are stifling and only applied to certain people.

  10. Nancy Higgins says:

    I liked the info you shared. We are just starting out. We joined Harvest Host but haven’t been out yet. Just picked up our camper this week. Would like to subscribe to you but don’t know how. Thanks

  11. Tina M Steffen says:

    I have been a Thousand Trails member for a few years now when I first signed up didn’t know I was getting a loan wondered why I was having two payments taken up my card each month then they explained that I got a loan one was for my dues and one was for my loan they were automatically taking the money off my card each month the payment would change all the time not consistent was making my reservations 5 months out in advance they came to me and told me that I was $1,000 behind and had to leave the park I am a full timer had nowhere to go was in a panic had to find somewhere to stay until I could come up with $1,000 that they said I was owing how could I owe $1,000 when they’re taking the money off my card each month had to pay $1,000 to get back into Thousand Trails they’ve done this to me numerous times threatened me with police if I didn’t leave we’re very loud to all other members around me could hear was very embarrassing I do not recommend Thousand Trails to anyone they treat you like trash. When they said I owed $2,000 I lost my storage with everything I own in it my dad’s ashes were in there I lost everything there are many payments that I have on my credit card statement that Thousand Trails does not have in their records I do not recommend Thousand Trails to anybody bad idea

  12. Shannon Walter says:

    Now TT is only interested in Non- Member bookings!!
    They fill up with NON MEMBERS FIRST, then what’s left is for the dues paying members. Complete BS.P

  13. Ashli says:

    DO NOT GET A THOUSAND TRAILS MEMBERSHIP! My husband and I have been members since 2016. Initially it was great. We traveled throughout their California and Nevada locations. Over the years, it gets harder and harder to book a site. Their customer service representatives are downright rude and condescending. Most of their locations are needing some major renovations. Don’t waste your money.

  14. Ted Herford says:

    We purchased a TT zone pass in April mainly because we were planning to use it to stay at one park for 14 days which would have made it worth while. Travel plans changed and we started to make plans for a trip down the Wa. and Or. coast staying at TT parks. What we found was that the majority of the parks are booked up. I suspect that they book their parks with non members for the money leaving members having to look elsewhere. Perhaps during shoulder season and off season it will be better. Our 60 day booking window also gets us excluded. We will NOT be renewing our membership and will explore alternatives.

  15. John F Salas says:

    Warning ⚠️ don’t become a member, I was once a member and a TT salesperson convinced my wife and I that it was an excellent financial decision to become members. The first year was fine but going into the following year the campgrounds became disgusting and from that period on forward. Bad enough I was charged monthly for maintenance an additional $50 plus $12 a month for the Trailblazer magazine mandatory subscription even though I paid membership in full. These additional costs We’re well over $744 annually.
    Thousand Trails would frequently have “Seminars”
    These seminars were only a low down pressure upgrade sales pitch and they were very rude and stern and sadly focusing on exploiting the elderly.
    At this point I wanted out, my membership was revoked and I lost thousands of dollars for the purchase of our membership, no refund whatsoever.
    We found out by not having a maintenance monthly bill that we saved so much money that we could stay at any TOP LEVEL RV RESORTS and still have money to spare. This Thousand Trails membership is useless I’d rather have the freedom of reserving other RV Resorts and not be locked in to Thousand Trails Resorts.

  16. Kathy Handley says:

    We pay around $600 a year for our annual dues. Guess that must be the $50 a month you are talking about. I opt out of the magazine, which, are you sure is $12 a month? That would be one HUGE payment for a magazine in a year. I never have seen anything about it being mandatory. We are in a membership my folks started in 1980. When did you first join?? Within the last few years, perhaps when they started offering the zone passes? What I mean is you can only go to certain west coast sites or maybe certain east coast ones. The package we have we can go to all the states, although, there are no choices in the midwest or central part of the United States, which I wish there were.

  17. Lisa Salsbery says:

    We received a complimentary Thousand Trails one year Trial Camping Pass when we purchased our RV. So, its a perfect way to try out 1000 Trials without purchasing a membership. We are excited to start on this journey.

  18. brandon says:

    Thousand Trails is awful. The campsites are nearly all senior centers with real trailer trash living there. Very disappointing and a complete waste of money imo.