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.
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.