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 You've Got to be Kidding
Good friend and fellow full timer, Norm Payne, brought to our attention the sad state of affairs concerning the Indiana State Parks. Below is the letter to the editor that he sent to Highways and Family Motor coaching magazines.

With the economic slowdown many states are cutting back on their state parks and campground services while raising prices. I was saddened to learn Indiana has reduced their park programs and decreased the budget for parks and campground's maintenance and upkeep.

As of March 1, 2003, the rates at Indiana State Parks' campgrounds will increase to $30 for a full hookup site and $22 for an electric site. Currently, sales tax is included, but next year sales tax on campsites will be extra.

In addition Indiana State Parks require a $6 per day gate fee or an annual gate fee of $26 and a $6.00 fee for each campsite reservation. My wife and I recently visited two Indiana State Parks and asked if we could drive in and look at the campgrounds since we were considering staying there. Both parks told us we had to buy a day pass just to drive in for five minutes so we will not be staying at any Indiana State Parks.

I think we will see this trend in other states. It is a shame state parks are pricing themselves out of business.

Norm had told us that Indiana set the new rates because their park revenue was down. Won't a raise in rates mean even less in revenue? We have always enjoyed the state parks in Indiana but we will be crossing them off our list of good places to camp also. 

We have always been fans of Michigan State Parks and have spent many a week in them even before going full-time. Several years ago they added a daily entrance fee which is to be paid daily in addition to the camping fee.  As we entered a favorite park, we were told that we had to pay an entrance fee for both the motorhome and the toad. We found out that folks who come in with tents, trailers and fifth-wheels don't have to pay for two units but motorhomes do. We felt that we were being discriminated against but paid the fee and complained loudly. Apparently others complained also because the next year, they dropped the entrance fee for the motorhome which does not come in and out of the campground like the toad does. That allowed a motorhome and toad to enter and camp only paying one entrance fee for each day of camping instead of two. This year we learned that the double entrance fee is back. Where does this thinking come from? The motorhome goes in and just sits like a trailer does. It doesn't use any more space than a large fifth-wheel and doesn't use any more services than a fifth-wheel does. 

Several years ago, we attempted to camp in a Minnesota State Park and experienced the same thing and they wouldn't let us in to just check out the campground either. I am sorry, but I am not going to pay before we find out that we can fit into a site or not. 

In California earlier this year, we were camped at an Elks Club but on a drive in our little truck, we noticed a very nice state park. We pulled up to the gate and asked if we could drive around to check out the sites and the ranger was happy to allow us in. We were only in for five minutes and determined that we could in fact easily get our motorhome into a site there and on our way out we thanked him and told him that we would be coming in with our house.

Although we have always preferred state parks to commercial parks, we will be limiting our stays to national parks, corps of engineers and national forests when we want a nature fix. 

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