Do you bring a dog on your RV trips?
KOA Kampgrounds fulfill important need for RVers
By Chuck Woodbury, editor
KOA Kampgrounds fulfill an important need for RVers a clean, quiet and safe place to spend a night, or maybe even a week. More than 500 KOA Kampgrounds are located in the United States and Canada, with a handful in Mexico and Japan.
No other "chain" of campgrounds comes close to KOA in number and convenience of locations. And no annual dues or membership fees are necessary (as some novice RVers believe). Campers, whether in RVs or tents, pay by the night.
Years ago, before I began RVing, I viewed KOA's as the "Motel 6" of campgrounds. And, in a way, they are. Like Motel 6, KOA has locations just about everywhere. And, like Motel 6, each is predictable. You know as you drive toward a KOA for the night that you will almost certainly have an agreeable stay. You know that the ultility hookups will work, that the campsite will be level (at least most of the time), and the bathrooms will be clean andthe showers hot. You know that the kids will find a playground and TV room, and for a small investment in quarters, you can do your laundry. You know that there will be pay phones to contact the outside world, and a swimming pool important to the kids on a hot summer day. And you know that you will always find a general store on the premises. Increasingly, KOA's are adding WiFi Internet service, where you can access the Internet right from your RV. About half of all KOAs are open all year.
KOAs, however, are not alike. Some not many aren't much more than flat parking lots with a little grass between campsites. Others, however, are gorgeous destination resorts with fishing lakes, ice cream socials, onsite restaurants, evening movies and even live music performances.
Staying in a KOA will never be cheap, but will always be in line with other local private campgrounds. Rates vary by location: campgrounds in popular tourist locations will get top dollar. Those in small out-of-the-way towns that serve mostly overnighters, will cost less. Generally, most (but not always) campsites go from $30 to $40 a night. Full hookups cost the most with partial hookup sites (water and electric) a little less. Campers who don't care about hookups can save about $5 a night over hookup prices.
Anyone who plans to stay more than a few nights a year in a KOA should purchase a KOA Value Kard, which entitles the cardholder to a 10% discount on all regular daily registration fees. Good for a year, the cards can be purchased online for $14 (less per year for longer terms) or at any KOA Kampground, and apply towards that night's stay. Campers who stay 20 nights at KOA campgrounds within one 12-month period receive a free Gold Value Kard which entitles them to receive 15% off of daily registration fees plus other exclusive benefits.
The reason many people camp at KOA is that they know what they will find when they arrive. Veteran RVers have all experienced pulling into an unknown private campground in the evening after reading its description in one of the RV camping directories. Yet, what they find is often not what was described, and often disappointing. Sites might be jammed tightly together, the restrooms dirty or not adequate, and the grounds littered. This happens. Ninety-eight percent of the time, you will not encounter such surprises at a KOA, each of which is
KOAs appeal to all campers retirees, families, and even single travelers who arrive on a motorcycle or VW bus. All campsites include a picnic table and a outdoor barbecue. Nearly all KOA's have one or more (sometimes dozens) of Kampin' Kabins for rent. These are small, rustic cabins, and are popular with travelers who want a "camping experience," but do not have an RV or camping gear. Prices are usually more than full hookup RV sites, generally in the $35 to $50 range.
KOAs accommodate all sized RVs as well as tent and car campers. In the off-season, reservations are seldom required. But in the busy summer months (or winter in the snowbird areas), reservations are often essential.
The first KOA Kampground was founded in Billings, Mont., in 1962 to serve travelers headed to and from the Seattle World's Fair. A small group of businessmen reasoned that many of these motorists might belooking for an overnight place to pitch their tents or park their travel trailers. The name they chose initially for thecampground was "Indian Joes,"although they ultimately opted for Kampgrounds of America instead. A campsite, by the way, went for a whopping $1.75.
KOA Kamprounds are listed in all the RV directories including those published by Trailer Life and Woodalls. But an even better directory is the "KOA Directory,Road Atlas and
Besides editing Beginners Guide to RVing, Chuck Woodbury is also the editor of RV Travel a free email newsletter about RV travel in the USA and Canada.
Copyright 2007 by RVbookstore.com