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We’ve all heard of KOA campgrounds, but do you know everything you need to know about this top-rated campground chain? Does the following scenario sound familiar?
The Carlisles, a part-time RV family, had been on the road for weeks, traveling from one camping destination to another. Their two kids, ages five and seven, were getting restless and fussy.
Parents, Bill and Sue were getting frustrated finding a family-friendly campground that had something for everyone. They tried stopping at different parks and scenic areas, but nothing seemed to keep the kids entertained for more than a few minutes.
Finally, they decided to reserve a spot at a KOA campground. As soon as they pulled into the RV park, the kids perked up. There was so much to do: swimming in the pool, riding bikes, and playing games, with no mention of TV or electronic devices.
The parents were relieved. It was nice not to worry about how to keep the kids occupied. Instead, they could spend more time relaxing and enjoying their surroundings.
In retrospect, the KOA campground made their trip one of the best. Not only did they bond as a family, but they also remembered to appreciate the simple things. Isn’t that what RVing is all about?
Join us as we take a deep dive into KOA campgrounds. We’ll show you everything you need to know about how this franchised company continues to make onsite RV vacations amazing.
Whether you’re a lifelong devotee or have a vague idea about them, like KOA, you’ll find something more to learn about this amazing organization!
What is a KOA Campground?
KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America (or Kids on Adventure, as some parents call it). KOAs are the world’s most extensive system of privately owned campgrounds, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada.
KOA campgrounds cater to many travelers, from those who just need a place to park their RV for the night to others who want a vacation destination with all the amenities.
Some KOA campgrounds have swimming pools, laundry facilities, restaurants, and even grocery stores. Others offer activities like hayrides and movie nights.
A Brief History of KOA
Dave Drum was a man on a mission when he founded KOA in 1962. He witnessed the dismal camping opportunities available to travelers and set out to change better the overall experience.
Drum’s goal was to create clean, safe, and friendly campgrounds easily accessible to road-weary travelers. In addition, he wanted to offer a wide variety of amenities and activities so that campers could have a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Drum’s timing was perfect, as the country was amid the late Vintage Era (1945-1970) camping boom. Families were flocking to National Parks and other outdoor destinations. KOA soon became the go-to spot for those who wanted to camp in comfort.
KOA has come a long way since those early days. Each year, millions of people stay at KOA campgrounds. Today, they’re the leading provider of overnight accommodations for RVers and campers through their international franchise system.
5 Things You Need to Know About KOA Campgrounds
KOA campgrounds are an excellent option for those who love the outdoors and want to experience all that nature offers.
Here are five things you need to know before making a reservation:
1. They Have 3 Different Types of Campgrounds
Not all KOA campgrounds are created equal. There are three different types to choose from, each with its own unique features.
KOA Journey Campgrounds
KOA Journey Campgrounds are designed with the traveler in mind. Offering basic amenities and services, they are a great option for those looking for a place to stay while on the road.
At the end of May 2021, KOA partnered with Love’s Travel Stops. In McComb, Mississippi (Interstate 55, Exit 13), this Love’s location north of New Orleans, Louisiana, has a KOA Journey on its property. The goal is to expand the hospitality amenities the travel stop company offers for RVers.
Before, RVers had to park overnight between the semi-tractor trucks if there was an open space. Now that this location has a KOA campground, RVers can enjoy all of the benefits of a KOA quality campsite.
Both companies are monitoring the progress of this location. If RVers find it worthwhile, KOA Journey and Love’s will expand their joint venture across North America.
KOA Holiday Campgrounds
KOA Holiday campgrounds are an excellent option for travelers who want to be close to tourist destinations without sacrificing comfort or amenities.
The RV sites are upgraded with larger lots and improved landscaping, including patios on their premium campsites.
KOA Resort Campgrounds
KOA Resort Campgrounds are the most luxurious option, offering a wide range of upscale amenities and activities. KOA Resorts are located in some of the most beautiful locations across the country, from the majestic mountains of Colorado to the sunny beaches of California.
2. KOA Campgrounds Are Everywhere
KOA is one of the most popular camping brands in North America, and for a good reason. You can find KOA campgrounds in all fifty states, as well as in Canada and Mexico.
A KOA campground is within driving distance of just about anywhere from small, sleepy towns to New York City.
When you’re ready to find the perfect campground, KOA gives you many different ways to search for locations. On the main page, you can search by where you’re going or find one based on your current location.
You can also search on their list based on state, province, region, country, or look through the entire list. If you want to plan that last-minute trip or stay local or preplan that big adventure, KOA can help you find one of their campgrounds that fit your goals.
3. You Can Choose Your Way to Stay With KOA Lodging Options
KOA offers more than just a campground. They provide various lodging options to fit any budget and lifestyle.
RV campsites are the most popular type of accommodation at KOA campgrounds. Whether you want a cement pad premium site with full hookups with all the bells and whistles or a more primitive site, KOA has a variety of amenity levels.
KOA also offers rental RVs if you don’t have your own. That way, you can still enjoy the RV lifestyle if you’re in the “try before you buy” phase or are just curious.
Tent Camping at KOA
KOA also offers tent camping for those who want to get back to nature. KOA’s tent sites are typically located in more remote areas of the campground, providing a peaceful setting for an authentic camping experience.
You can rent a wall tent or pitch your own. Either way, you’ll enjoy the same great KOA amenities like clean bathhouses with hot showers, a camp store stocked with supplies, a playground, and more.
One popular option for campers is renting a cabin. KOA cabins come in a range of sizes and styles, whether you’re looking for a cozy one-room cabin for a romantic getaway or a spacious multi-room cabin that can accommodate the whole family.
Teepees, Yurts, and More
For those looking for a unique camping experience, many KOA offers several options beyond the traditional tent, RV, or cabin experience.
For a taste of the Old West, try staying in a teepee. These iconic structures are spacious and can comfortably accommodate up to six people.
Or, for a truly unusual experience, try staying in a yurt. These round, nomadic dwellings have been used for centuries by cultures worldwide and provide a cozy and intimate space.
KOA also offers vintage Airstream trailers as a lodging option. These retro campers are fully equipped with modern amenities and provide a fun and stylish way to enjoy the great outdoors.
And if you ever wanted to sleep in a caboose, you can do that too!
4. They Have Tons of Activities and Amenities for the Whole Family
Besides overnight accommodations, KOA campgrounds offer a variety of activities and amenities to make your stay more enjoyable. Some of the activities available at KOA campgrounds include swimming pools, fishing, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, and more.
Kamp K9: KOA’s Dog Park
One popular amenity at KOA is Kamp K9, their on-site dog park. This is a great place to let your four-legged friend run off some energy while you relax and socialize with other dog owners.
Jumpy Pillows: KOA’s Fun Zone
Jumpy Pillows are a recent addition to many KOAs and have quickly become a favorite among campers of all ages. These inflatable pillows provide hours of fun and are the perfect way to relax and unwind after a long day of exploring.
Outdoor Movie Theater
What’s better than cozying up under the stars with a good movie? Most KOAs have a schedule of family-friendly films shown on a large screen in the campground right under the stars.
5. KOA Has a Solid Reputation for Great Experiences and Customer Service
KOA has been in business since 1962 and is the largest network of campgrounds in North America. With this much experience, they have perfected the art of customer service and providing a great camping experience.
KOA is so confident in its ability to provide a great experience that they offer a money-back guarantee within one hour after check-in. If you’re not completely satisfied with the services or facilities, simply go to the front office.
Are There Any Downsides To Staying at KOA Campgrounds?
There are really only two potential downsides to staying at a KOA campground: the cost and the crowds.
KOA campgrounds can be pricy, especially if you are used to primitive camping or boondocking. However, when you factor in the cost of activities, amenities, and customer service, KOA is generally a good value for your money.
The other factor to consider is if you don’t have children on your camping trip, you still pay for the amenities and activities that may not interest you.
Since KOA is such a popular chain of campgrounds, they can sometimes be quite crowded, especially on weekends and during the peak summer season.
If you’re looking for a more secluded camping experience, KOA may not be the right choice for you.
Wrapping Up Everything You Need to Know About KOA Campgrounds
When the Carlisles returned from their summer RV trip, they decided to always include a KOA Campground in their planning.
They loved the wide range of accommodations, the convenient locations, and the variety of activities and amenities that KOA campgrounds offer.
The kids were happy to have a place to play and make new friends. They especially enjoyed the scheduled group activities like crafts, s’more making, and movie nights.
The Carlisles found that KOA campgrounds were the perfect way to balance relaxation and adventure on their family vacations.
Whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned pro, KOA campgrounds offer something for everyone. And that’s what Dave Drum intended when he started KOA all those years ago.
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About the Author:
Mike Scarpignato is an avid RVer and outdoorsman. He travels with his wife Susan in their Class A 2021 Thor Challenger and their Class C 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest. Mike is the owner of RVBlogger.com, TravelTrailerPro.com, MotorhomeFAQs.com, the RVBlogger YouTube Channel, and the private Facebook group called RV Camping for Newbies.