Camping With The Elks

 Posted by at 12:20 am  Nick's Blog
Apr 062015

While campgrounds are great places to hang out when you want to spend time in an area, many RVers object to paying $25 or more for a place to park overnight when they are on the road from one place to another. That’s why a lot of experienced RV travelers spend frequent nights in Wal-Mart parking lots or Flying J truck stops to save money on the road.

A side benefit of membership in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA (BPOE), a fraternal organization dedicated to community service, is the RV parking opportunities Elks lodges across the country extend to traveling members from other lodges.

Accommodations can range from lodge-owned full hookup RV parks to just a corner of a parking lot, with sometimes an electrical outlet to plug into and a water spigot on the side of the building to fill holding tanks.

Bremerton Elks 2013

Some lodges do not require any reimbursement for using their parking areas, while others accept donations or charge a small fee. Many lodges are located in areas where commercial campgrounds are scarce or cost more than some travelers can fit into their budget. The greeting to visiting Elks members is always warm, and the savings and convenience of Elks parking can go a long way to making up for high campground costs and ever changing fuel prices.

Elks lodges are convenient to some of the most-often visited places in the country, and the savings reaped by parking at the Elks lodge allows members to have more money to spend with local businesses and attractions. Lodges also allow RVers to visit new areas they might not have stopped in otherwise.

Some lodges are well funded and have many amenities. The Fort Wayne, Indiana Lodge #155, has its own golf course and bowling alley! In Florence, Oregon, Lodge #1858 has RV sites with water and electric at the lodge itself, along with a separate Elks RV Park nearby with water, electric, and a dump station. Others are on a more limited budget and have little more to offer than a gravel parking lot and a safe place to get off the road for the night.

Elks lodges allow visiting members to explore new areas, including some prime tourist destinations. Lodge #1285 in Monterey, California has ten RV sites with water, electric, and a dump station, and is just three miles from famous Pebble Beach. Further south, Oceano Lodge #2504 is just minutes from Pismo Beach and a short drive to Morro Bay. The lodge offers 42 RV sites for a small nightly fee that is less than half of what local commercial RV parks charge.

Across the country, RV parks in the Florida Keys are notoriously expensive, and boondocking opportunities are nonexistent. But for a small donation, Elks members can dry camp at Lodge #2273 in Plantation. Lodges in Alexandria and Fairfax, Virginia are convenient to explore Washington, D.C., and permit dry camping. The Fairfax Lodge also has four dedicated RV sites with electrical hookups. If you have a desire to visit New York City, lodges in Oakland, Park Ridge, and Parsippany, New Jersey, as well as in Haverstraw, New York put you within a short drive of the Big Apple without subjecting yourself to driving your RV into the city.

Other Elks lodges with RV parking opportunities are located at or near Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, Boston, Niagara Falls, Cape Cod, Las Vegas, Branson, and some of Florida’s best beaches, to name just a few.

Annual dues at Elks lodges vary from one location to another, depending on the amenities the individual lodges have to offer. Some can run several hundred dollars, while others are less than $100 a year. The Gila Bend, Arizona Lodge #2089, has annual dues of $65. The Gila Bend lodge is a favorite with fulltime RVers, and the dues from the many traveling members who belong to the lodge help support it in a small town where it might not otherwise be able to survive.

Some might think that joining a group like the Elks only to take advantage of their RV parking is selfish, but RVing Elks know that their dues and the donations they make at lodges where they park help to support many educational and charitable projects from coast to coast. Many lodges also have dining rooms, and when a visiting member has a meal at the lodge, that money also goes to support the lodge and its activities. It is the best of both worlds – the visiting Elk member enjoys low cost overnight parking and is able to contribute to the good of the community at the same time.

Both the Escapees RV Club and the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) have chapters for RVing Elks. The FMCA Elk International Chapter publishes its own Elk travel guide, while the Escapees Elk Birds of a Feather (BOF) group helps interested RVers find a lodge to join and holds Elks pre-rallies before the annual club Escapades.

If you are looking for a way to reduce your RVing costs, to visit new areas, and to give something back at the same time, consider Elks membership. It’s a win-win situation.

Congratulations to Ray Belanger, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching. We had 126 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – It’s not hard to meet expenses, they’re everywhere.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  16 Responses to “Camping With The Elks”

  1. FYI the Gila Bend Elks’ dues are now $72 a year.

  2. How would I join the Gila Bend lodge?

  3. We have also found its a great place to meet the locals and find out interesting things about the community especially in the small towns. Places to visit, history, dine and shop.

  4. Nick,
    Would you do an article about the Moose Lodges? I understand they also allow RV parking at a few of their Lodges.

  5. Nick,

    Thanks for your assistance to me, with the Escapees induction into the Wilcox lodge.

    Art handled all of the “heavy lifting” and about 52, new members were added.


  6. Hey Nick, Just wanted to update you regarding the FMCA Elk chapter, yes we have a downloadable Travel Guide, But our website contains a interactive map (that you can view in google earth) of the lodges, showing which have hook-ups, which are dry camping and which do not allow overnight parking, The map contains all the necessary information, from address to type of services they offer.


  7. We became Elk BOF’s at the Escapsade and did our initiation at Willcox. Then we used our first stay at the lodge in San Antonio. Can’t wait for more opportunities to use this new membership.

  8. I am a member of the Elks, FMCA Elks. I have stayed at the local clubs when it was in the route or the destination. I really would like to say nothing but good on these lodges. One that we stayed at needs a few more words to tell it like it is.

    Sheboygan, WI has lodge that we were stopping at on a trip to the Michigan UP. It was to be a stop over and a look at the tallest America Flag Poll in the US. It was a rainy day so my wife was working the computer and I took a ride to the flagpole. This is worth the stop and a walk around NO ROOM for a RV here. When we checked into the LOdge I went in to the bar and told them who I was since I had called well ahead of time that we were coming. We talked and had a great time at the bar. There is a full service restaurant that was well attended by the members and we had dinner and a few more totties. We left the bar with all the ammo we need to see in the area which we did do but we were having so much fun at the lodge and the area we stayed another night. The gracious hosts of the Lodge were very friendly and were eager to help us with destinations in the city. We had a mess of fun. Be sure to phone ahead we have found Lodges that have been closed and have limited openings

  9. Thanks for the nice article about the Elks. Not only great RV locations for traveling but also a wonderful organization for the communities they serve.

  10. Don’t mean to take anything away from Nick, but he’s a busy fellow.
    We belong to a Moose Lodge in NM and Elk Lodge in TX (also BOF- Elksw/SKPs.
    Just google: Elk Lodge RV parking or Moose Lodge RV parking and you’ll get all of their lodges w/rv spaces for donations/or small fees.
    Also google: Elk Lodges and/or Moose Lodges for locations near where you live/rv and usually within two “visits” they are likely to let you join. Friendly members.

  11. Do you have to be a member of Moose or Elks to use their RV Spaces? I am more than willing to pay for the site. Do they accept Canadian members?

  12. Yes, you do have to be a member, Anne-Marie. And yes, both organizations have lodges in Canada.

  13. Good Morning! We are members in Grand Forks BC Canada. Just wondering if their is any lodges with parking in Alberta or Saskatchewan? Thank you!

  14. My wife and I are Elk Members in Hawthorne Nevada and I would like to give a shout out to 3 of my favorite Elk Lodges with RV parking. 1) Sunnyvale CA, in the heart of the city but doesn’t feel like it. The camp host is great and the lodge is warm and welcoming, lots of RV parking! 2) Gilroy CA, up on the top of a hill and feels remote. It is literally on a golf course, divides the 6th and 7th holes! How cool is that! 3) Rancho Cordova CA, next to the old Mather AFB. It’s very quiet and has great camp host and great people. In fact all the Elk Lodges we have stayed at, has great people!

  15. Several requirements must be met to become an Elk in good standing. You must be an American citizen, believe in God, have a sponsor and pay annual dues to remain in good standing. The BPOE is second only to the U.S. government in providing scholarships to high school seniors. The first two military hospitals, constructed during WWI, were built by the Elks and later deeded to the government. Our devotion to this nation’s veterans is unwavering. “As long as there are veterans, they will not be forgotten by the Elks,” is one of our primary commitments. Our motto is “Elks care; Elks share.”
    Christine A. Belcastro
    Past Exalted Ruler
    Ashland, Ore., Lodge #944

  16. Lake Havasu AZ lodge has 13 full hook ups for extended stay at the lodge, they are expecting to add some more !!

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