State Parks

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I'm confused now about the COE after several comments - thank you all.

From Judy's commerce it seems you need to be a US Citizen to use one?

COE parks are open to anyone.

I think Judy was reading your question and answering Kirk's statement about the passes.

Are COEs open to anyone?
Yes but I'm not sure about the Lifetime Senior Pass which is how we get the half price camping in those parks. It may only be available to US citizens. To locate the parks, Guide Camping with the Corps of Engineers I suggest this book, and they ae open to all visitors. The COE is a civilian agency that is directed by the Army. The entry signs and gates look similar to this one.

Charles
 
We stayed at Skidaway Island State Park outside of Savannah, GA a couple of years ago and I think we paid about $40-$44 per night, which I thought was a bit high for a state park. However, in 16+ years of camping, we have never enjoyed a larger site that was a bonus pull-through. The ranger was very friendly, I was allowed to wash my RV there and toad twice because of the Georgia pine dust in Spring.

Just last month we stayed at the South Abutment C.O.E. campground in Mississippi, 35 miles below Memphis, a full hook-up site on the dammed reservoir for $12 per night with AB Pass! Concrete level pad, concrete patio, plenty of room for the toad, great charcoal grill with cover. Only a handful of other campers is probably why it was so cheap.

NY State Parks aren't too bad at around $27 per night with mostly 30A electric only. But, that is the problem I have found with NY Parks, in my travels most state parks are at least electric and water. NY is slow to upgrade their parks, not only utilities but the campsites themselves with the biggest issue being muddy in Spring and Fall. I have written them a few times concerning this with no response, of course.
 
We stayed at Skidaway Island State Park outside of Savannah, GA a couple of years ago and I think we paid about $40-$44 per night, which I thought was a bit high for a state park. However, in 16+ years of camping, we have never enjoyed a larger site that was a bonus pull-through. The ranger was very friendly, I was allowed to wash my RV there and toad twice because of the Georgia pine dust in Spring.

Just last month we stayed at the South Abutment C.O.E. campground in Mississippi, 35 miles below Memphis, a full hook-up site on the dammed reservoir for $12 per night with AB Pass! Concrete level pad, concrete patio, plenty of room for the toad, great charcoal grill with cover. Only a handful of other campers is probably why it was so cheap.

NY State Parks aren't too bad at around $27 per night with mostly 30A electric only. But, that is the problem I have found with NY Parks, in my travels most state parks are at least electric and water. NY is slow to upgrade their parks, not only utilities but the campsites themselves with the biggest issue being muddy in Spring and Fall. I have written them a few times concerning this with no response, of course.
On the other hand, NY has state parks like Wellsley Island and Green Lakes that have some paved full hookup 50 amp sites. Gilbert Lake and Robert Moses are two others that we've enjoyed with 50 amp sites.
 
NM has stated outright that prices should be consistent with other parks while offering non-FHU dirt/gravel sites and removing all discounts, comparing apples and bananas. A dirt lot on a lake does not consitute a resort. However, the public hearing scheduled for April 1 was cancelled, which may indicate hope.

At any rate, as a fulltimer I've long ago gotten into staying at commercial parks for longer periods rather than paying through the nose high daily rates at most state parks. I go places for the place, not for the park. As long as it's reasonably decent that's good enough.
 
Our favourite Georgia State Park was Georgia Vet's. We stayed there often since we also worked in the area for weeks or months at a time (years ago... I haven't always lived in Hellhole NM). We once lived in that state park for over 4 months (we were there often and long enough that we knew a lot of the locals as well as the "dirt" on the people who frequented Lake Blackshear Resort). The Resort next door has taken the campground over and raised the rates. I can now stay at the Love's RV park in town (Under $60 for most dates and across from my fav BBQ joint in GA) for the same or less and be on full hookups. GA Vet's waterfront W/50amp sites (no sewer) ranges from $55 to $70 per night. For a non waterfront W/50amp site (no sewer) it's $60. This campground is west of I-75 at Exit 101. I know the area. There are other places I know to stay at when in Cordele. Some are a bit difficult to find.

If you really want to see high rates, you look at peak season and/or holidays. Many of the state parks are now taking their cue from the hotel industry and are running multi-tiered rates. High demand or Peak season means higher rates. In some cases it's much higher rates. I just think that $50 for a W/E site that is subsidized by tax payer money and tax breaks (supposedly - it varies by state) is a bit high. Especially when I can get a W/E/S site for the same or less money from a private park. I do find it interesting that the same people who get all warped over one "depriving" a private park of income because one chooses to overnight in a parking lot doesn't get warped over a public park "under cutting" the rates of the same private park. I think that all these parks that jacked up their rates due to the huge, sudden influx of luxury addicted campers/rvers resulting from the COVID mess will find that the numbers of campers/rvers willing to pay those higher prices will dwindle. Like all businesses that were started in "fat" times, a lot won't survive the "lean" times. Meanwhile, I will continue to find the cheaper places to camp and take the money I save to make my campers more self-contained so I don't need things like hookups (need more batteries), wifi (already carry my own around). The less hookups I need, the more (cheap and no fee) places I can stay.
 
We stayed at Skidaway Island State Park outside of Savannah, GA a couple of years ago and I think we paid about $40-$44 per night, which I thought was a bit high for a state park. However, in 16+ years of camping, we have never enjoyed a larger site that was a bonus pull-through. The ranger was very friendly, I was allowed to wash my RV there and toad twice because of the Georgia pine dust in Spring.
According to the state website Skidaway's rates are now $46 to $54 for an electric RV site.
 
Rightly or wrongly I've always thought that the primary mission of public parks is to provide recreation for its own and visiting campers and the business model of all private parks is to make money for the owners.

Of course the cost to operate and maintain public parts likely involves a number of monetary factors intertwined with overall budgets and of course, politics. They are not immune from economic considerations when it comes to operations.

Profit obviously not the primary goal when it comes to COE parks for example. Were that the case, given our recent stays at COE parks the open space between our site and our nearest neighbors on either side would have at least four or five additional camp sites on each side were it a private park.
 
Sorry, for any confusion. Yes, anyone can stay in a COE or other federal campground, and they can buy an annual National Park Pass. However, there are several types of America the Beautiful passes.

The National Park website says that the Annual Senior Pass or the Lifetime Senior Pass are only available to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents. Those passes give you a 50% camping discounts for almost all federal campgrounds and free access to National Parks. (It will have the word "SENIOR" prominently displayed on it.) Entrance Passes (U.S. National Park Service)

It says, "

Senior Passes

US citizens and permanent residents ages 62 and older can purchase an annual America the Beautiful—the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass for $20.00, or a lifetime version for $80.00. Applicants must provide documentation of age and residency or citizenship.
  • The Senior Pass may provide a 50 percent discount on some amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services.
  • The Senior Pass generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.
  • Passes may not be purchased as gifts since eligible recipient must show proof of eligibility.
 
CharlesinGA, if you go to Arkansas a must-visit, if you haven't been there, is Hot Springs. And, just 12 miles outside of town is Lake Catherine State Park. This place is fantastic! FHU sites on the lake waterfront, or W/E at the more wooded sites. Great Park, super friendly staff and rangers.
 

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