When beginning our RV nomadic lifestyle nearly 2 years ago, we had no idea where to start and what memberships were of great value. We made some great decisions and we made some really BAD decisions when it came to paying for different memberships. I’m going to present the membership experience we have had with Ocean Canyon and Coast to Coast and compare it with why we did not choose Thousand Trails and how we fill in our membership with independent parks and our KOA membership.
We received a call from our local Camping World when we started out and they enticed us to attend a presentation for Ocean Canyon properties complete with a free stay at their park. I had heard of their properties when I began our preliminary look at Thousand Trails memberships. While smaller in size Ocean Canyon looked like something we might use as they had several locations in the deep south where we would spend several of our Winters. We decided (against our better judgement) to give it a shot and we went.
I told Tom we would not be purchasing anything right then and there. Famous last words… We spent an entire Saturday afternoon with these nice folks at Tres Rios RV Resort in Glen Rose Texas. And when we looked at an average cost of $200 or more per week for the weekly rates at RV Parks, and with the addition of the Coast to Coast park system, we ended up biting hook line and sinker into a new membership.
And then we stayed at our home park Tres Rios for about 6 weeks, which was quite nice. We enjoyed walking along the river bank and the kids enjoyed the activities in the kids’ center and the playground. And they were in progress of re-doing the bathrooms and making improvements. So, all in all we started off with a good experience.
Then, we began our journey West, which meant we would be relying on the Coast to Coast member parks. We quickly learned that we were fed a line from the salesperson regarding the number of nights we could stay in one park before having to leave for a week out. We were told that we could do 3 weeks at a time unless it was peak season.
It really stung, when we tried to book our first park in New Mexico and were told that is not the case at all. And then, we realized that it was two weeks across the board. Until we reached the end of our trip about 8 months later when in Colorado we were able to add on a week when we actually checked in at the park with no out of pocket. So, our salesperson was kind of right, but not really. So, we’ll call it a half-truth.
The majority of the parks where we stayed were ok but not great. There were some that were better than others of course, but for the most part we didn’t have any major issues along the route. All in all, I would say that Coast to Coast was worth the investment. Because there are no Ocean Canyon properties on the Western half of the U.S.
Here's a list of the RV Parks we stayed at for most of 2017 and thus far in 2018:
Texas- CTC Mill Creek Ranch RV Resort, Canton
Arkansas- RVC Lake Catherine RV Resort
Missouri- ABC RV Resort, Branson
Kansas- Gunsmoke RV Park, Dodge City
Texas- non CTC- Shady Creek RV Park and Storage
Texas- Ocean Canyon Tres Rios RV Resort Glen Rose
New Mexico – CTC Hidden Valley Ranch RV Resort near Albuquerque
Arizona – Stayed at Meteor Crater (non CTC)
Southern California- CTC Catalina Spa RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs
Central California – RVC Park Yosemite (non CTC)
Northern California- Redwood Meadows RV Resort
Oregon – Big Pines RV Park near Crescent Oregon
Washington State- CTC Sequim Diamond Point Resort
Victoria, BC- Air BnB
Vancouver, BC- Air BnB
Idaho – Anderson Camp, Eden Idaho
Nevada – Lake Mead RV Resort
Utah – KOA- Springville
Wyoming- CTC - Wind River RV Park
Montana- Virginia City RV Park
Montana- Kalispell RV Resort
Manitoba- Meadowlark Campground Brandon, Manitoba
Manitoba- stayed with family
South Dakota- Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch
Colorado - RVC Garden of the Gods RV Resort
Colorado – CTC - Colorado Heights RV Resort
Oklahoma- Texoma Shores, Ocean Canyon
Texas- KOA Sanger
New Mexico- KOA Carlsbad
Arizona- KOA Tucsan LazyDays
California- CTC Cherry Valley Lakes Resort (BAD Experience)
California- Thousand Trails Menifee
California- Bakersfield RV Resort
California- Encore Parks- Santa Cruz Ranch RV Resort
California- Coyote Valley RV Resort near San Jose
California- CTC Catalina Spa RV Resort Desert Hot Springs
So all in all we've stayed at a total of about 32 RV Parks in nearly 2 years and we've stayed at only 2 of our Ocean Canyon member parks and only 8 Coast to Coast Parks. We do not want to be limited by the parks in our network. Sometimes there are no parks in the areas we are visiting or going through. It was a bit of a slap in the face when we put all of this on paper and realized that we have used our membership for only about 1/3 of our total stays in 2 years.
Now, as we head to the Eastern half of the U.S. and book stays, we will be more conscious of the limitations of our memberships and try to up our stays to at least half of our stays.
5 Tips to Purchasing an Ocean Canyon Membership:
1. Seek out a Used Membership- try Craigslist or online resellers. Note that you will be required to pay a transfer fee of several hundred dollars. Negotiate with that in mind.
2. If you are going to a presentation at one of the Ocean Canyon parks, make sure that you are prepared to walk away. Don't get caught up in the high pressure sales or in the excitement of the moment.
3. Decide if you are okay with being limited to a certain region of the country- in this case, the Southeast for the Ocean Canyon membership.
4. Ask to see an updated Coast-to-Coast map. The one we saw was totally different than what is actually available.
5. Know what you want to pay for a membership. The going rate is over 10k dollars. Is it really worth it for your family?
For us, I wish we had not been so hasty to make the decision to purchase the membership. We were ill-informed and believed that what we were getting would cover the RV parks for about 75% of our journey. Instead it has been more like 30%. That's a big difference that affects our pocketbook and our ability to move ahead.
This experience has also caused us to question purchasing other park memberships.