It snowed in the mountains over the weekend, and they closed some of the roads in Yosemite. We were going to go back up into the high country as the temps went back up, but now two of the roads are closed for the rest of the season.
So, we decided we would just come back to the area another time. We just hung around the campground, got a little work done, took a walk, etc. Linda did laundry and gave me a haircut.
While she was doing laundry, I did a photo tour of the park. We will, of course, start at the entrance.
A code is required to get in.
Just outside the gate are a few boondocking spots and then there are more inside like this one.
This parking lot section actually has water and electric hook-ups even though they call it "boondocking". :)
Escapee RV Club members can boondock here for one night for free. Extra nights, up to a total of seven, are $5 a night.
Here is the 12,000-foot clubhouse which houses the office, member mailboxes, a library, a craft room, a pool room, ...
seating for 350, ....
exercise equipment, ....
two large decks off the back, ...
overlooking this natural habitat, ....
and a laundry facility.
Near the clubhouse is a group firepit, ....
and a dog run.
There are 254 full hook-up sites with 50-amp electric, cable TV, and Wi-Fi. Each site has a shed. The sheds are all the same dimensions and have to have the same paint job.
We are on a site in the member rental pool. In this park, there are a small number of sites in the rental pool, but Escapees members can stay for $16 a night plus metered electric if rental sites are available. More on that later.
Here is an empty site next to ours.
We are in the upper level, but we prefer the sites in the lower level. The best ones overlook a small canyon with Coarsegold Creek running through it. Here are three of our favorites.
That last site is completely private on the awning side with only nature in view. :)
Here is the "pole barn" ....
where members work on equipment, do woodworking projects, fix stuff, ....
and get tools needed for whatever project they may have.
Anyone can check out the tools. The whole "pole barn" thing isn't exactly a draw for me, but it might be for a lot of other guys. :)
Here is the propane filling station - they fill member propane cylinders weekly based on site numbers.
Here are the four water tanks that supply the park.
Water is pumped into the tanks from wells around the property.
Okay, now for some other views. This is a view of the Chukchansi Casino that sits up on the hill about a mile away from the park entrance.
Now, for one of the best features of the park. Coarsegold Creek separates the RV sites from a 40-acre undeveloped parcel on the north side of the creek. It's a lovely area for walking and wildlife watching.
We saw deer tracks, squirrels, rabbits, quail, several hawks, and lots of other birds. The noisy and colorful Acorn Woodpeckers squawk throughout the park.
Okay, so that pretty much covers the photo tour. :)
Now, how does all this work? Well, it's best to get the overview of Escapees (S-K-P) Co-Op parks directly from the Escapees website.
There are 11 SKP Co-Op parks from Washington State to south Florida. The Escapees RV Club helped start the SKP Co-Op parks, but does not own them or run them. Each Co-Op park is a separate and independent nonprofit corporation. Only Escapee members may purchase an SKP Co-Op membership (when one is available), and that membership entitles them to use a specified lot until they die or sell the membership back to the corporation. Only members may rent a site in an SKP Co-Op. Each SKP Co-Op sets its own rules and is self-governing with a board of directors elected by the members.Co-Op members share in the financial responsibilities of the SKP Co-Op. Operating expenses are shared equally among the membership by way of an annual maintenance fee.
Availability of rental spaces at SKP Co-Ops depends on members putting their lots into a rental pool while they travel. During the popular season, there may be few spaces for rent. Call in advance to check the availability of rental sites.Note: SKP Co-Op parks are open to Escapees members only.
So, you have to be an Escapee RV Club member ($60 a year), to buy a membership into a Co-Op park OR to rent a site in a Co-Op park.
That's right, you buy a "membership" into a Co-Op park. You do not buy an actual lot or even lease an actual lot. You buy a membership that gives you the right to occupy a specific lot. The initial buy-in is different at all the Co-Op parks.
Here at Park Sierra, the buy-in is currently, $16,315. That gives you a lifetime membership. Once you have purchased a membership, you can stay on the site you start with, or you can put sites you really want on a "wish list". If a site on your wish list opens up, you can move to that site if you are first in line for that site.
If you decide to relinquish your membership, you get your buy-in fee back from the park. The membership is non-transferable and is not inheritable. If you pass away, the membership goes back to the park with the buy-in fee paid to the estate.
Each Co-Op also charges an annual maintenance fee. That fee also varies from park to park. Here at Park Sierra, it is currently $1,622. The member also pays for their own electric and for whatever propane they me need. In addition, there may be an occasional assessment.
Lots of folks live in their RV on their site, but a lot also travel and keep their site in a rental pool when they are gone. The park handles all of the rentals. The rental fees don't go to the member, but they are used to offset a portion of the annual maintenance fee for the rental pool members.
So, you don't get the benefit of rising property values and you don't collect rental income, but you can live very inexpensively as part of a community with a fairly small investment. And although that invesment won't increase in value, at least you can get it back if you change your mind.
The Co-Ops are non-profit corporations with officers and a board of dierectors and various committees. The membership manages the park and the finances, and the members volunteer their skills for various duties to keep expensive outside contracting to a minimum.
Each Co-Op park has a waiting list. To get on the waiting list, you usually pay a small administrative fee and put down a refundable deposit ($500 or $1,000 for example). When enough sites have been relinquished and you move to the top of the waiting list, you have the option on the next three available sites. If you reject all of them, then you go back to the bottom of the waiting list.
Again, the procedures for the waiting lists can vary park to park.
We're currently on the waiting list for the Saguaro SKP Co-Op in Benson, AZ which is about 50 miles east of Tucson. We started out at number 410 on the list, but haven't checked where we are in a couple of years. Here, the current waiting list is only 31.
We're not nearly ready to have a membership at a Co-Op, but you never know. There is certainly something appealing about having a place to park the RV and live inexpensively the rest of our lives if something were to come up preventing us from continuing to travel. And it's also appealing to have the responsibility in the hands of the members with complete transparency in the financials.
Well that's about it. As the Co-Ops go, I do like the sites here better than some of the other parks. We're not going to get on the waiting list just yet, but the buy-ins do tend to go up as park costs increase, so it can be better to get on the list sooner rather than later since you really only have a small administrative fee at risk and you don't really have to make any hasty decisions.
Hope that sheds some light on how these Co-Ops work. :)