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Utility Charges on recreation.gov

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My most recent attempts to reserve sites on recreation.gov are showing what feels like high utility costs when I apply my senior discount card.  $20 a day site has half of that listed as an electric fee so the discount only ends up being $5 instead of $10.   Last night I hit one that not only had an electric charge but then added on a $4 a day charge for water hookup (in this case the site doesn't even have a water hook up so I am on a "longer than expected" hold to see if a person can sort that out.)  I do understand that the discount never did apply to separate utility charges, I had not seen these actually show up until now.  Wondering if others are seeing this.  Is it perhaps that I happen to be hitting places where a concession is running the park but the web page is no longer telling us that?  I know those never did seem to come out to a 50% discount.  Or has there been a general change to how the parks are priced?   

p.s. after 12 minutes waiting for my call to be "handled in the order it was received", the call was dumped with a recording that the reservation line was not available and call some other time.

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I don't believe I've ever seen that on recreation.gov.  I have on reserveamerica.com, though.  With the recent change on recreation.gov, I wonder if this is a new thing?  Which park were you looking at where you saw the separate electric and water charges?  (COE, National Forest, etc.?)

 

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No other experience, except for Cagle Recreation Area near Lake Contoe, TX.  Sites were $18, $9 for Golden Age Passport. Then they tacked on the $11/day electric cost.  That was last year, I think it has gone up some now.

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We have reservations at Cagle and the fee is based on 6 nights and the Senior access pass.

Standard fee is $20 for camping plus $10 for Electricity plus an $8 reservation fee.  With the Senior Access you get a $10 discount.

Last year it was $19 to camp with the Senior Access....a few years ago, it was like $11 a night with the Senior Access....no added fees.

So it is costing more.  I guess they have to pay for all of the fancy website upgrades, because they have not spent much on the park.

Ken

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I've noticed  extra fees at several Federal locations.  A lot of Federal Campgrounds are managed by private companies.  They lose money on the senior pass discount so IMHO the charge extra fees for utilities.  In the Black Hills I stayed at a Forest Service CG where they charge $5.OO extra for a dog.....per dog.......per night.  No extra dog services such as poop bags/ no dog area were provided and I never saw the host or maintenance folks out looking for poop.  

Edited by duraduk

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Every concessionaire run national park campground we've stayed at in the past few years has had a base price plus amenities, with only the base price discounted with a Senior Access Pass. Below is the breakdown for an upcoming 5 night stay at Lake Powhatan Campground in the Pisgah National Forest. It works out to $20/night plus the $8 reservation fee for a full hookup site.

 

CostCapture.JPG

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47 minutes ago, duraduk said:

I stayed at a Forest Service CG where they charge $5.OO extra for a dog.....per dog.......per night.

This is one of the main reasons we prefer to stay at smaller mom and pop RV parks. Plus they are more personal, often times offering a designated dog run or park (with four small dogs that's huge for us), pool/hot tub if that's your thing. If we do stay at gvt cgs, it is usually one that is dry camping and reservations aren't available. Government cgs are getting to the point where added fees make them more expensive than private parks for what you pay for. I've been hoping that the market will correct that, but it's doubtful since all public cgs do to offset that is raise prices and add more itemized "fees". My guess is that it will take cutting out private vendors in managing public cgs in order to correct the disparity. We'll see.

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We prefer state and national parks for the often large sites with foliage separating them from other sites, the area amenities, and of course the comparatively low cost. Our 3-1/2 month winter stay in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina for instance, is averaging about $22/night, including three parks with full hookups and the others with water and electric. The only private parks we'll be in will be some overnight stops as we drift our way north towards the end of April.

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6 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Our 3-1/2 month winter stay in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina for instance, is averaging about $22/night, including three parks with full hookups and the others with water and electric.

Interesting how things change by region. Here in CO, a local state cg charges almost $50/night for full (50A, water, sewer) service and $45/night for elect only, including a $8/vehicle/day fee. While smaller RV parks average $37/night for full service.

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The National Parks, National Forests and Corps of Engineers are in three different agencies. Their rules regarding fees and discounts for concessionaires are different.

Edited by trailertraveler

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For national parks and national forests the 'serviced' fee has been around a long time.  It included all services.  I've never heard of an addition with the water fee in addition to the electric fee.  Is this something new?

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Unfortunately, the new Recreation.gov doesn't have my reservation history in any detail, but I seem to recall the "water fee" being charged at Lake Powhatan the two prior times we've been there over the past three years with the previous concessionaire.

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Recreation.gov and Reserveamerica.com don't set the prices, the campgrounds tell them what the camping prices and fees will be. 

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1 hour ago, Al F said:

Recreation.gov and Reserveamerica.com don't set the prices, the campgrounds tell them what the camping prices and fees will be. 

Exactly, and the park administration also decides how much of the reservation fee gets passed on to their customers. A few years ago Florida state parks for example, charged no reservation fee on ReserveAmerica, but RA was still getting paid of course. Then instead of raising the per night site fee, FL decided to pass the reservation fee on to the customers. The net effect of course, was more money for the parks without it appearing to be an across the board price hike. The same holds true for change and cancellation fees. RA charges the parks a contracted rate, and the parks decide how much to charge the customers.

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Appreciate all the discussion.  I had seen the per pet per day fee in a western region going back to when I started.  It seemed at the time to be focused on the high attendance area.  And yes it was per pet so my indoor cat counted too.

When I got to a real person to talk about the water fee for a site with no water (for that had to make the reservation, let her file the issue with another area and then they issue a refund for the water) I asked her about the utility fees.  She said Forest service has been doing this.  Most parks appear to be reviewing their fees and are separating out the utilities.  The only one she knows that has not been doing this  is COE.  But these break out fees apparently will be more common.

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I just made a reservation at a national forest, and for the first time encountered both an electricity fee and a reservation fee when booking on recreation.gov.

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20 minutes ago, chindog said:

I just made a reservation at a national forest, and for the first time encountered both an electricity fee and a reservation fee when booking on recreation.gov.

It's up to the park management to decide what fees get passed through to the guests. Recreation.gov/Booz Allen has nothing to do with it beyond maintaining the site and database system. Park systems that in the past have not broken out those fees have found it's an easy way to increase their income without appearing to have an across the board price increase

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I am guessing that the add on fees do not get the half price benefit of a Golden Age or other discount card for seniors and disabled? 

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8 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

I am guessing that the add on fees do not get the half price benefit of a Golden Age or other discount card for seniors and disabled? 

You only get the discount on the camping fee...none of the add ons.

 

Ken

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16 hours ago, chindog said:

I just made a reservation at a national forest, and for the first time encountered both an electricity fee and a reservation fee when booking on recreation.gov.

It's been that way for years.  No discount on electric; just the campsite.

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3 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

It's been that way for years.  No discount on electric; just the campsite.

I checked our favorite COE park and they have neither fee, just $30/night with a 50% Golden Age discount.

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Utilities are expensive and getting more so .We have a site at a RV HOA here in Florida our electric has been averaging @ 5.00 per day and that is in the winter time. I would hate to be here in the Florida summer time when the A/C's  would run nearly all day. We stay only in Regular campgrounds when on the road or for short stays and have not noted any ad itonal charges for electric or water.....Yet.

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4 hours ago, Kirk W said:

I checked our favorite COE park and they have neither fee, just $30/night with a 50% Golden Age discount.

COE is a different agency.  I was replying to Chindog regarding national forests.

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1 hour ago, 2gypsies said:

COE is a different agency.  I was replying to Chindog regarding national forests.

There also may be differences between agency run and concessionaire run campgrounds.

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3 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

COE is a different agency.  I was replying to Chindog regarding national forests.

Aren't they both on the recreation.gov site mentioned in the title?

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