Why KOAs?

Discussion in 'Campground / Trip Planning & Suggestions ?' started by Garland, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. HeberHaus

    HeberHaus New Member

    Jul 25, 2017
    Wake Forest, NC
    We are new to owning a PUP. We tent camped in local state parks and loved the space between sites but the bath rooms were always something to be desired. With our new PUP, we were late to reserve as well as knowing we're to go. The KOAs in OBX are on top of each other but clean bath rooms, a great general store, pool, jumping pillow, etc...It is also right at the beach. We had amazing beach experience at a low cost. We also were late this season for fall colors in NC/VA area. With 3 month notice, we were able to book at a KOA in Fancy Gap, VA. Both KOAs had amazing staff, kid activities (nice as we have 2 young boys), and easy booking sites. We want to venture out and have already booked sites over Christmas and spring at non-KOA sites. Good stuff at the KOA but you are packed in close together. We'll keep discovering places to go and won't rule at KOAs. Cheers! ~Chris
  2. davido

    davido Member

    Jul 17, 2014
    State / National Park, National Monument, and other similar campgrounds fill up months in advance in some areas. In many cases reservations are all taken within minutes of a time window opening. An example can be popular months at Watchman campground at Zion National Park. The window opens a few months in advance, and within an hour of opening it seems like all weekends in the newly-opened window of time are taken.

    Many campgrounds within state and national parks, and within national monuments also either do not provide hookups, or only provide electric. They almost always provide water, but not for hookup; only for filling hand-carried or rolling jugs that can be used to fill our PUP's tank. Sewer hookups are almost never an option in these sorts of CG's.

    Commercial campgrounds provide an experience that is often less in touch with nature, but almost always have hookups available, including water, electric, and sewer. This makes my job as DH easier, because I don't have to worry about my wife getting cold (she can run the furnace as much as she wants without running down the battery, and can even run the space heater). I don't have to worry about us baking in the hot sun of Southern Utah summers; we can run the AC. I don't have to dispose of gray water from the sink after each meal. I don't have to refill the on-board water tank every day. My wife and kids can take showers in the PUP, or we can use the CG's showers. Either way we have all the water we can want.

    When the kids are old enough to take on some of the responsibility of disposing of gray water, refilling the fresh water, rationing the furnace use, and so on, then commercial campgrounds may be less attractive on those points, but they're still so convenient to book.

    Additionally commercial sites often offer swimming, maybe a hot tub, and sometimes other activities, plus a convenience shop. Yes, it's not exactly rustic camping, but I can stay in one of these places within a mile or so of the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park, or within fifteen minutes of the entrance to Zion, or a couple miles from Capitol Reef National Park, or a mile from the entrance to Arches National Park. I can guarantee my family will have a place to stay in reasonable proximity to these attractions. I can allow them to use as much water and heat/AC as they feel they need, and in the end, I get to enjoy these national parks and other similar locations. If I made the experience less predictable, or less comfortable, my wife would be less interested in participating, and that would mean I would enjoy these places less frequently, and through a shorter season.

    It turns out that because of the convenience of having electricity available I was able to camp last weekend near Moab / Arches, even though the temperatures at night dipped into the mid-30's. And I'll be at Capitol Reef this weekend, again with overnight temps in the 30's. A hard core camper, as I was brought up to be, wouldn't care at all about those sorts of evening temps. But my young kids and my wife do care about being cold, and so I'm able to rent a commercial site with hookups, and continue camping at times where they wouldn't be comfortable without hookups.
    Jorja and Popiworks like this.
  3. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    For us, the KOAs are another option. For years we ignored them, but found they filled a niche, we began to use the cabins or used our tent as we made overnight stops, then the pups, and nos the TT.. We're not interested in the activities, but they are good for overnight stops, on occasion they are our ultimate destination. That is seldom, but - for example - I was able to make reservations at a KOA in Tucson last winter (Snowbird Season) with less than a month to go. I was visiting friends, so was at the KOA mostly to sleep. (The SP I usually camp in was full, the KOA had the advantage of being 10 minutes from their house instead of 40.)
    They do vary, both in type and quality. KOA has begun to label them, as Journey (often just off major roads), Holiday, and Resort. We've now bought the card for 10 years or so, most years we save more than enough to pay for it. We tend to gather points on treks such as my cross country one I finish today. For my visit to Tucson, I saved $50, on top of the 10% discount.
    There are some I would not stop in again, but others are great. Bathrooms vary in quality, though seem to be at least at a minimum level. I had one this time that I would prefer not to use again (I've had power issues 2 out of the 3 times I've stopped going across country, and the place in general needs some good maintenance.) The one I stayed in eastern OK has the best showers I've ever had while camping over the last 2-1/2 decades.
    I don't want to dismiss any type of campground totally, though the most of the resort style ones aren't likely to see us, except for KOAs. We still prefer to camp in state or national parks and US Forest Service campgrounds. However, we camp to see the land or to get from one place to another to visit family and friends, so we make use of campgrounds we can find. If you camp just to camp, or for the activities, YMMV.
    Fless likes this.
  4. nhlakes

    nhlakes Active Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    DE and NH
    Prior to wide cell coverage and smartphones, KOA campgrounds were easy to find with the KOA guide/map while on long distance trips and they made for fine overnight stays. Many were close to the highway and, as stated earlier, more closely resembled parking lots with hookups than campgrounds. That doesn't mean there are not some nice ones out there, there are.

    However, these days, all the various apps make it MUCH easier to find a nice site up head awhile tooling down the road, so we haven't used a KOA in years...
    Jorja likes this.
  5. Sneezer

    Sneezer Active Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    When I was growing up we camped at KOAs probably 80% of the time. We relied on the KOA guidebook back then, along with various other RV oriented camping guidebooks. I can remember a couple trips driving from one campground to the next trying to find a spot on a cross country trip. No cell phone or internet back then!

    They are usually located close to attractions, be it man made or natural. You can almost always know what to expect when you get to one. Clean facilities, laundry facilities, pool and playground, decent store and easy pads to park in. We always used them as an easy place to get to for the night, as half our trips involved going to museums and such, and the other half going to places like Mt. Rushmore, Old Faithful, etc.

    I don't use them anymore myself, but most of my camping is local and I have plenty of state parks to choose from for cheaper, and I really don't need the facilities offered by most KOAs. If I were doing a longer cross country trip they might drop back on my list.
  6. mdcamping

    mdcamping New Member

    Mar 25, 2015
    I agree mostly
    Not all are completely equal and you still need to research them like any other campground/rv park.


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