Saturday, September 30, 2023


Why Moose and Elks lodges are the way to go for RVers

When I hit the road eight years ago, I stayed at a lot of Mom ‘n Pop campgrounds for about $20 a night—with electric. Those don’t really exist anymore.

Then I joined an RV travel club, Wandering Individuals Network, and was told two things: Get solar. And join the Elks. (As in the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. Not the herds you see in the Northwest.) When you’re out on the road 365 nights a year you want the cheapest spot you can find.

Joining the Elks, and later the Moose, are two of the smartest things I’ve done in my full-time RV life. Yet, when I Google it, I see so few stories about why RVers should be Elks. And honestly, my friends wish I wouldn’t write this story and keep this under my hat. Loose lips might mean less room for us.

Why should you join? Because you can stay at just about any of the 2,000 Elk and 1,600 Moose lodges across the United States. Some have hookups and dumps. Some are campgrounds where people stay a season. And some just offer a parking spot to stay one night.

Prices are all over the map—from $5 a night donation for dry camping to $50 a night.

Elks and Moose lodges guarantee people (mostly) will welcome you when go into the bar to check in and low-priced alcoholic beverages. Some even serve great dinners.

Some Elks and Moose demand reservations. I usually phone ahead to any lodge I plan to stay at to make sure there is room and that they allow RV parking. They are great when you are speeding across the country. BLM and National Forest Service campgrounds are our favorites, but you can’t find them in every state.

I joined the Naval Elks Lodge at Port Angeles, WA, because it was the easiest. A fellow WIN member signed off on my application—but I still had to be initiated. Later I switched my membership to my local lodge and members there still had to vote me in.

Initiation is mandatory in Elks. So is being a United States citizen (sorry, Canadians) and professing a belief in God. Just so ya know. There are some Moose lodges in four Canadian provinces and in Great Britain, which I didn’t know. You still need to profess a belief.

Also, it’s my personal belief that you have no business joining the Elks or Moose unless you are going to support them and their charities. That might mean sending in an extra $20 with your dues or cleaning up a campground or participating in fundraisers. One saying is “Elks Care, Elks Share”, so don’t be a greedy RVer. If camping is going to continue at these lodges, it must be supported.

To become an Elk or a Moose, just visit your local lodge. You’ll fill out an application, give them some money, and be a member in a month or so—as long as you are approved. Dues depend on location but rarely are more than $100 a year.

If you are on the road, it’s a bit more time-consuming but totally possible.

Here is the process to become an Elk:

  1. Go to the Elks website. Use the ZIP code lodge locator to find a lodge convenient for you.
  2. Contact the lodge to see when the next new member ceremony is happening. Find an Elk member to sponsor you.
  3. The Elk member will then log in to the Elk website. Go to “Invite someone to join” using the applicant’s email address. The Elks organization will send a registration number and pin code to the member.
  4. The Elks organization will send the candidate an electronic application form to fill out online using the registration number and pin code. Again, this is done online.
  5. The lodge should contact the candidate with the date they will be initiated. The ceremony involves walking through the stations of the lodge. The event takes about 90 minutes, and the lodges take this ceremony very seriously.

Here is the process to become a Moose:

  1. Sign into and at the top is Be A Moose. Hit that, then go down to the bottom and you will see the online application. Hit that. They will ask if you have ever been a member of the Moose. Then the membership application will show up.
  2. If you know a Moose and you want them to be your sponsor, put in their sponsor ID (membership #), First Name, Last Name.
  3. On the application, you have a choice of what lodge location. Example: Illinois. Then it brings up the towns in Illinois.
  4. Once you decide on the lodge, the dues will be stated for that lodge under the payment information.
  5. After all that and they approve you, you can download your membership card and also pay online when you need to renew.

There are Moose and Elk apps, and most lodges appear in apps like Campendium and Allstays.

My top 5 Moose Lodges

  1. Eureka, CA
  2. Homestead, FL
  3. Ocala, FL
  4. Winter Haven, FL
  5. Fanning Springs, FL

My top 5 Elk Lodges

  1. Provo, UT
  2. Tillamook, OR
  3. Puyallup, WA
  4. Pensacola, FL
  5. Brandon, FL

Sybil Burke and Bob Moser contributed research to this story.


Jan Steele
Jan Steele
Former newspaper editor Jan Steele started her career in third grade as a school correspondent for her local newspaper and has been writing for publication ever since, including a 30-year-stint at the Herald-News in Joliet, IL. She decided in fourth grade she wanted to hit the road as soon as she could—and retired eight years ago to RV full-time.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 days ago

My mother was a Moose member and there is a lodge near my home. I have often wished I could join but thought it was like the American Legion where you need to be related to or married to a Veteran. Glad to know I can join.

Dr. John Edgette
1 month ago

No info here on what either organization is about except to say that you should donate to their charities and believe in God. That is insulting to your readership.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago

Good evening, Dr. Edgette. The main purpose of that post is to explain to our readers the possibility of joining the Elks or Moose organization as a way to find less expensive overnight parking when traveling around the country, while also supporting them and their charities and other good work. Anyone interested in joining one or both organizations who wants more information about them and what they do can certainly look at their websites. But this brief post was focused more on one of the benefits of joining one or both of those organizations, that being overnight parking. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and we don’t believe it is an insult to our readership to inform them of that possibility (although you seem to have been insulted or you wouldn’t have mentioned it). BTW, in my former life (i.e., before, in addition to being a legal secretary/paralegal for 45 years, I also worked for several psychologists transcribing/editing thousands of psychological evaluations. And, unless I have the wrong person, how are the horses doing?🤔 Have a good night. 😀 –Diane at

1 month ago

My Dad was a member of both organizations. I enjoyed the lodges much more than country clubs.

I’ve filled out an application because of this article. Thank you.

1 month ago

I have my Ballard #827 antlers on………………..Great people; and at other lodges I’ve been welcomed into.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  David

My great-grandparents (from Sweden) lived in Ballard, so I used to go there to visit them about 70 years ago. Thanks for bringing back some good memories. Have a good night, David. 😀 –Diane

Jacque ( Jackie) White
1 month ago

I’ve got some info on other great campgrounds all across the US. State Parks, National Forest campgrounds, Army COE campgrounds. I’ve become a Park Host for the National Forestry Department and it’s amazing. My family is going to try the State Park Camp Host come October. Free hook ups while you are Hosts plus the Forestry Department also pay us $15 a day. U myself have a America the Beautiful Access Pass for being disabled and that gets you 1/2 off in COE campgrounds and some state park campgrounds. There’s SOOO many options out there you just have to look. If you have any questions about any of this just ask and I will be more than happy to help.

1 month ago

Conversely, full time RVers are some of the most friendly, caring and generous people. So to suggest that explaining how to becoming an ELK is somehow a bad thing seems a little unELK-like.

Derwin Snodgrass
1 month ago

It would be completely wrong to join either organization just for a place to park or camp. Like was started it’s a perk of being a member. Member, someone that beliefs in the organization causes and participates in supporting such.
But thanks for info on the Elks as never knew anything about them. Now I may look into and find out more.

1 month ago

Tax exemption status are being revolked from non for profit organizations that fail to satisfy one or more of the five principle criteria.
An RV park not paying taxes cheats the citizens of the Municipality and IRS. This article will likley be of interest akin to the outcome of tower health.

Left Coast Geek
1 month ago
Reply to  Eddy

Elks do significant volunteer work in their communities, its a requirement of membership that you volunteer.

Amy Page
1 month ago

Hi Jan. Great read You should stop in at Brookings lodge if u get down this way. Great volunteers and food. Beautiful area ❤️ Thanks for really caring and knowing about being a true Elk. I volunteer and cook at our lodge I truly enjoy serving others.

1 month ago

You need to check the Elks Lodge at your destination. Our Elks in Santa Barbara are by reservation only. Most city’s in SoCal don’t allow overnight parking in the Elks Parking Lot. So check Lodge before you plan a trip.
Also the Elks RV Facebook site is a great help and has updated information on most Elks Lodges and the requirements for your stay.

Jean Fox
1 month ago

Great job explaining the benefits & why we become members. A great choice for RVers, especially full-timers. The members are so friendly and helpful when you’re exploring their area where you are unfamiliar.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Thank you, Jan! We considered joining the Elks a few years ago and did not. We may reconsider, provided we can find a friend who is a member.

G Smith
1 month ago

My wife and I are both members because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve come across folks that nearly boast that campgrounds are the only reason they joined. Never attend a lodge meeting after their orientation, never volunteered at a fundraiser. That’s just not right.

I can’t see how advertising the steps to join can be a good thing.

Rolling Coal
1 month ago

Canadians who join in Canada can indeed use the US locations.

Janette Steele
1 month ago
Reply to  Rolling Coal

A friend from Canada had his Elk card and was turned away from several Elks lodges in Florida. But he was allowed to come in as a guest of one of us.

Bob M
1 month ago

My friend told me about the elk lodges allowing members to stay in the parking lot with your RV. Since you have to believe in God to be a member. They are good organizations.

1 month ago

Ron is absolutely correct. The ELKS are one of, if not the, most caring, compassionate, generous and supportive fraternal organizations out there. They do great work on a local and national level. It is about participating, helping and donating to the cause. The reality is that many lodges do not have RV camping. And some of those that do, have prices comparable to commercial campgrounds. If you are looking for a cheap way to overnight you should look elsewhere.

1 month ago

There are many articles and Facebook sites that serve to make crowding campgrounds worse. The writers don’t seem to care–they get paid. Ron is right, it is not a reason to join. My husband was an elk for many years. I’ve thought of joining many times but no longer know anyone to sponsor me anyway.

20 days ago
Reply to  Lorelei

Just go in and someone there will sponsor you. I knew no one in the town I retired to and went in one day and said I’d like to know more and join. One of the ladies said she would sponsor me and couple of months later I was initiated.

Ron N
1 month ago

Your friends were right…wish you could have kept this “under your hat”. This is not a reason to join the Elks, it’s one of the many benefits when becoming an Elk’s member.

John M
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron N

Ron is right You miss the whole reason to becoming an ELK

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.