We have traveled past Benson, Arizona before without stopping. It’s right on Interstate 10 roughly between Tuscon and the New Mexico border. We knew there was an Escapee (S-K-P) RV park there so when Tom found a discount for a week’s stay at half-price, we decided now would be a good time to check it out.
Officially, it is called SKP Saguaro Co-Op but a lot of people just refer to it as the Co-Op in Benson. Perhaps because they have as much difficulty pronouncing the cactus name as I do: It’s not “Sah-gwer-o” but “suh-wah-roe.” It does not roll off the tongue for me and comes out more like “Sah-wear-o.” Anyhow, it’s a co-operatively owned and run park and I had no idea what that was. Tom tried to explain it to me, but I really didn’t get it until we took a tour. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Knowing how southern Arizona fills up in winter, we called first to make sure they had room, and we were told they don’t start filling up until mid-November. So we were able to get a full hook-up spot instead of staying in their boon-docking area (a parking lot). My very first impression was just how friendly everyone was. The office welcomed us warmly and invited us to participate in all kinds of stuff. Everyone waved as we were escorted to our spot. On our second day there, a lovely woman came in the welcome wagon (a golf cart) to tell us about things to do in the area and made a point of inviting us to the upcoming events. It was like we were immediately part of the group – which is what being an Escapee is all about.
They had happy hours every night and I had to miss a couple, but I think Tom attended every one. The weekend we were there they had a dance and a live (although not too lively) band. We attended a BBQ one night. There was always something going on.
The majority of the people there were older than us, but then I always forget how old we’re getting too, so it’s not like we didn’t fit right in! They were all just so welcoming.
The park was beautiful too – if you like the Sonoran desert landscape as we do. The rows are terraced and we had a perfect view of a mountain range (I forget which one).
It is not your normal RV park; the lots are large and privately owned (officially, it’s leased) and the “owners” had built all types of casitas on their lots. Casita means little house, but you can’t live in the house due to local regulations. You live in your RV and some had park models or 5th wheels that had been skirted. There were all types of combinations of RV/Casita, including bare lots.
I understand more since we took the tour, but it’s still a lot to explain how the co-op works. Plus I don’t want to bore those of you not interested. But briefly, here’s how it works – and for those of you interested, please research online and don’t believe everything I’m saying here. I’ve been known to get things twisted in translation!
I’m guessing to become an SKP park you have to get cleared through the Escapees organization, and you have to be an Escapees member to stay at them. There are eleven SKP parks across the country, and because they are privately owned co-ops, they all operate differently. People buy into the parks becoming members who then get a say in how the park is operated. I’m not sure of the legal organization, but you don’t own the land so you’re not a tax-paying resident. But once you buy in, you have a home base for life. Pretty cool concept for us full time travelers.
At the Saguaro park (perhaps all?), it’s run mostly by volunteers. If you join there you’re expected to join a committee and volunteer some time when you’re there. So the people that welcomed us, parked us, did the gardening, and gave the tours – were all volunteers. That helps keep operational costs down. It’s a little like a homeowners organization – you pay annual dues and any improvements on your lot need to be cleared by the board.
Our week there flew by. I played with clay, got some real (money) work done, and Tom washed the motorhome and did some repairs.
We took all our screens off and gave them a thorough cleaning. Most all RV parks you cannot wash your rig, so this was pretty nice.
I used their laundry facilities (for a fee) while there. Tom was able to use tools (for free) in their shop – a rivet gun and rivets – to fix the grill in the back. That was quite fortunate because it broke on the way there. Like I’ve heard every RVer say, “It’s always something”!
So it was fun to be part of their community for a while on our way to Tuscon, and before we left we got on their “hot list”. If we change our minds, we’re only out twenty bucks (and lost interest on $500). Yep, we’re number 261 which means we might get a spot there in two to five years which gives us plenty of time to decide if that’s right for us!
Happy Travels and thanks for following along.
Peace & Love, Joy