Finding places to stay for just an overnight stay is an interesting challenge for most fulltime RVers because we don’t want to spend a ton of money on a quick stop. We also have different requirements for an overnight stay than most other people and for us Walmart is not a great option. Many of our friends are Elk members and have used Elk lodges for short stays and based on their recommendation, Lee and I finally were able to join the Elks.
I say finally because the process of joining takes some time. Not only do you need to be in an area where you can be sponsored (we had to provide three Elks members as references) but you should also plan on being in one spot for at least eight weeks. We have been wanting to join for the last several years but travel schedules and COVID restrictions made it tough for us. Thankfully we were able to join in Texas.
Let me start by saying The Elks is a great organization whether or not you use it for RV stays. Each chapter has its own individual charities and lots of activities for their members. Their overall mission of service and patriotism really resonated with us and the annual membership fee was reasonable. Based on what we have learned, I think joining is a great idea whether or not you use their RV spots for overnights, but that post is going to be about that specific experience.
Not all Elks have RV spots to stay in, but many do, and they are as varied as their chapters. Services range from dry camping to full hookups, and prices vary as well. Although some allow reservations, many are first come first serve and they also allow different lengths of stays. For an overnight, the length of stay isn’t that important, but we do know people who have stayed for longer stints. Like many other overnight options it is a mixed bag and our first two attempts do a good job of illustrating that.
Our first stop for example had full hookups, eight sites, allowed reservations and had a beautiful view of some rolling hills. Although it was close to the freeway it wasn’t a simple jump on and off like most RV parks we pick for overnights, so staying there did add some driving time to our day.
One of the benefits of staying in an Elks is that many have food on certain days. Unfortunately the restaurant was not open for the one we stayed at, but the bar was open. At the end of a long driving day, many people like to walk over, get a drink, and talk to some local folks. We are not big drinkers so that wasn’t a benefit for us, but I know other members who take advantage of that feature at most stops.
For us the two biggest features for an overnight are safety and a place to walk the dog. Safety is a very subjective thing and in my opinion does vary based on whether you are in a Coach or a Fifth Wheel. We tend to have a higher safety threshold than many people though so keep that in mind. Walking the dog goes hand in hand with safety because I usually do the evening walks. I hate walking him in places where there is trash on the ground he may get into or limited green space. That’s just me though, everyone has different priorities and for us the first place we stayed met them all. It did cost $25 a night, but the money goes to a good cause which is a great thing.
The second place we stopped was completely different. It was first come, first serve and we we weren’t sure what we were walking into because information on their website was limited. The Elks was in the small downtown area and although there was a decent park across the street, the pawn shop next door and general vibe of the area made us leery. They also only had 30 amp electric sites which would have been OK, but the sites were VERY short. Backing our 40 footer in would have been a challenge and we would have hung out pretty far.
This time we both gave it a pass and instead stayed at a beautiful county park close by for $20. My point here is by all means join the Elks and use them as an option but for us at least it will be one of many options, not necessarily our first choice. I know other people who stay at them every time they can and you may feel that way as well, but for us location does matter.
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