Trip Date 09/30/2018
Posted On 10/06/2018 17:45:30
Camping | Hiking | Benefits of Texas State Parks Pass | Camping in Texas | Texas Campgrounds | RVing in Texas | Save Money on Texas Camping
Updated November 4, 2019;
Read about our second year with the Texas State Parks Pass here!
Hoping that it would be a good value, we purchased our first ever Texas State Parks Pass in 2017. As September has now ended, it is time for us to reflect back on our purchase to decide whether or not we should purchase a pass for the upcoming twelve month period.
If you are wondering whether or not the pass is worth the cost, this post will help you answer the question. If you are unfamiliar with the pass and plan to spend some time camping in Texas, this post is also for you. We'll start with an overview of the benefits followed by some cost vs. benefit information that should help you answer the question of whether or not the Texas State Parks Pass is a good value.
Benefits of the Texas State Parks Pass
Upon purchase, the Texas State Parks Pass is valid through the end of the twelfth month following the purchase date. The primary benefits of the Texas State Parks Pass include:
- waived entrance fees at any Texas State Park for the pass holder and all guests traveling in one household vehicle (maximum of 15 persons);
four electronic coupons each good fora 50% discount on the second night of two or more nights of camping in a Texas State Park ( one coupon per visit,subject to blackout dates, coupons expire upon expiration of pass; NOTE: As of early 2019, the limit of four discounted nights was removed); and
- a 10% discount on eligible retail and rental items with a valid pass.
Rumor has it that the benefits of the pass will change beginning in February 2019, however the benefits for current
pass holders will be grandfathered. At this point in time, the only information that we have is from word of mouth - we
have seen no written information about the upcoming changes. Based on the limited information available, we can't
comment on whether or not we believe any upcoming changes to the cost and / or benefits will be positive.
It's official! The benefits to pass holders were definitely improved in early 2019. With the Texas State Parks Pass, those who camp for two or more consecutive nights at the same campground continue to be eligible for a 50% discount on the second night of camping upon presenting their pass. There is, however, no longer a limit to the number of times that this benefit can be used!
Example of Fee Calculation with Texas State Parks Pass
As compared to the state parks outside of Texas, in our opinion, the nightly fee for camping in Texas State Parks is very reasonable. In most Texas State Parks, the nightly camping fee for RVers includes 30- or 50-amp electric and on-site water plus access to a central dump station. What is not included in the rate, however, is the daily entrance fee which is typically added to the nightly camping fee as a per person per day cost. (In most parks, the daily entrance fees range from $2.00 - $8.00 per adult and there is typically no daily entrance fee for children under the age of 12.)
For example, we spent four nights at Lake Corpus Christi State Park in March 2018. The nightly camping fee at the park is $25.00 for on-site 50-amp electric, water and sewer. The daily entrance fee at the park is $5.00 per adult, so for the two of us, an additional $10.00 per day would have been added to our nightly camping fee had we not had a valid pass at the time of our visit. Additionally, as we still had coupons remaining, we were able to save 50% off of the fee for our second night of camping. Below is the calculation of our total bill with and without a Texas State Parks Pass:
- Without Pass: $25.00 per night camping fee + $5.00 per adult daily entrance fee = $35.00 x 4 nights = $140.00 total
- With Pass: $25.00 per night camping fee x 4 nights = $100.00 - $12.50 discount on second night = $87.50 total
Having the Texas State Parks Pass saved us a total of $52.50 for this 4 night stay at Lake Corpus Christi State Park.
Cost vs. Benefit Comparison of Texas State Parks Pass
The cost of the Texas State Parks Pass is currently $70.00, and the pass is valid until the last day of the twelfth month following the purchase date of the pass. For example, we purchased our pass at South Llano River State Park on September 10, 2017, so our pass was valid through September 30, 2018.
While the example above shows that there is value to having the pass, had the stay at Lake Corpus Christi State Park been our only visit to a Texas State Park in the twelve month period, we would have lost money - the $70.00 purchase price was greater than our $52.50 in savings! Fortunately for us, we had enough other visits to Texas State Parks while our pass was valid that we saved far more money than we spent on the pass. Here's a summary of our benefits (savings) from the pass that we purchased in September 2017:
- September 10, 2017 at South Llano River State Park: $10.00 (daily entrance fees for 2)
- September 18, 2017 at Big Bend Ranch State Park: $6.00 (daily entrance fees for 2)
- March 19, 2018 at Lake Corpus Christi State Park: $52.50 (daily entrance fees for 2 plus $12.50 in camping fees)
- March 22, 2018 at Mustang Island State Park: $10.00 (daily entrance fees for 2)
- March 26, 2018 at Tyler State Park: $48.00 (daily entrance fees for 2 plus $12.00 in camping fees)
- June 26, 2018 at Lake Somerville (Birch Creek) State Park: $34.00 (daily entrance fees for 2 plus $10.00 in camping fees)
- August 2, 2018 at McKinney Falls State Park: $12.00 (daily entrance fees for 2; We actually had 2 adult friends with us, so the entrance fee was waived for them as well.)
- August 16, 2018 at Purtis Creek State Park: $50.00 (daily entrance fees for 2 plus $10.00 in camping fees)
The grand total of savings from our eight visits to Texas State Parks while having a valid pass was $222.50. After deducting the $70.00 fee for the pass, our actual savings was $152.50.
Is the Texas State Parks Pass Worth the $70.00 Annual Fee?
The decision as to whether or not the Texas State Parks Pass is a good investment is a personal decision based on each person's / family's potential visits to Texas State Parks. Here's a few examples to help you make your decision:
- Assuming that two adult members of a household are always traveling together, visiting Texas State Parks with an average $4.00 daily entrance fee on only 9 days during the 12 month period, the pass would pay for itself (with an additional $2.00 in savings).
- Assuming that two adults camp for two nights each at three campgrounds with a nightly camping fee of $20.00 and a daily $4.00 daily entrance fee, the pass would pay for itself (with an additional $8.00 in savings).
- Assuming that two adults visit Texas State Parks with an average $3.00 daily entrance fee on one day each month during the twelve month period, the pass would pay for itself (with an additional $2.00 in savings).
With 95 state parks in the state of Texas, there are plenty of opportunities to make use of the Texas State Parks Pass. It's a great time to buy the pass and make some plans to get out and explore the state - either by just visiting a variety of state parks for the day or by planning some overnight visits. If you live in the state, there's probably some state parks within a one or two hour drive of your home that you can check out!
For us, we definitely plan to buy another one year pass on our next visit to a Texas State Park. We are hoping to spend several days at Palo Verde Canyon State Park this fall, and we are confident that we will more than break even on our purchase over the next year!
America the Beautiful National Parks Pass
If you are considering visits to some of the national parks in the United States, check back in the coming weeks to take a look at our upcoming post titled Should You Purchase the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass? for a similar analysis to help you decide whether a national parks pass is right for you.
Best Membership Clubs or Passes
With the wide variety of membership clubs (AARP, Passport America, AAA, Good Sam, Escapees, etc.) and the available national or state park passes, which do you find to be the most beneficial and why?
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