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By Robert Gorden
Almost everyone has heard of the Elks Lodges, more properly called The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA.
This caring and sharing organization was founded in New York City in 1868 by 15 actors and entertainers. It was originally called Jolly Corks.
There seems to be no explanation for the name nor for the current name of Elks. There certainly were no four-legged elks in New York City in the 1860s. Much more information about the Elks Lodge is available online at www.elks.org.
Of primary interest to RVers is the fact that many of the more than 2,000 Elks Lodges in the United States offer RV parking for their members nationwide.
Of course, not all of the lodges offer RV parking and, unfortunately, not all of the lodges that offer parking are listed on the group’s website.
However, the site is helpful in getting any RVer started in the right direction to find an Elks Lodge with facilities or space for RV parking. Visit www.elks.org/lodges/localFacilities.cfm.
If there is no Elks Lodge listed for a particular town, city or region, the website will certainly show the nearest lodge in the area.
As this is written, I am staying at the Florence, Ariz., Elks Lodge RV parking lot. RVs may be parked in a gravel and grassed field directly north of the lodge building.
The lodge offers certain amenities to members including pool tables and meals that are served several times per week. A donation is accepted for the dry camping that is available near the lodge.
No other facilities are available at the lodge in Florence, but many Elks Lodges have full or partial hookups for five to 25 RVs.
Information concerning the available amenities is provided on the website for each lodge.
However, you must look for driving directions on another webpage for each of the lodges, because that information is not presented in the list of RV parking sites.
In most, but not all situations, RVers must become Elk Lodge members before they can park on site.
My friend, Cindy, has been an Elk for several years and routinely stays at lodges around the United States. She is very complimentary about RVing the Elk lodges. Many others who are routine Elk campers have also agreed and offers positive statements.
Here are some of the top advantages of RVing at Elk Lodges:
- Parking with fellow lodge members from around the nation who also like to RV.
- Free use of available lodge facilities.
- The security of being near an established, local and respected community organization.
- Donations or low-cost fees are accepted.
- Donations or fees are usually given to a deserving charity or project of that.lodge.
- There are lodges in virtually every state in America.
- Fees are often less than the rates at local RV parks.
- Initiation fees and annual dues for membership are relatively small when compared to the money that may be saved by parking at the Elks lodges.
- I know of no other organization of this type that may offer RV parking at numerous locations nationwide.
However, there are some disadvantages to parking an RV at an Elk’s Lodge.
- Not all lodges offer RV parking.
- Many lodges do not have hookups or dump stations.
I have always enjoyed parking at Elk’s Lodges when I travel. I know other free and low-cost RV parking sites may be found on federal lands, including national parks, forests, monuments and Bureau of Land Management property.
For example, vast space is available around Quartzsite, Ariz., for stays ranging from two weeks to six months for approximately $1 per day. Many states offer low-cost RVing in state parks or on state forest lands.
Yet, for the convenience of finding safe, affordable RV parking near most major metropolitan cities, membership in the Elk’s organization is a real plus.