KOA Campgrounds get a bad rap, but they’ve really evolved over the past few years.
No longer are they dodgy side-of-the-road pull-offs that we zoom by on the way to better accommodations.
Stick with us as we break down seven good reasons to stay at KOA campgrounds.
Let’s check them out!
About KOA Campgrounds
KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America, the K a fun play on the letter C. The privately held company has been around for 60 years.
In 1962 Dave Drum took advantage of an opportunity. Families were traveling but had no place to stop for the night. They stayed in church parking lots and on the side of the road.
Drum created a safe place to overnight that included electric hookups, shower facilities, a store, and beautiful views. In 1963, Karlo Fujiwara designed the logo we all recognize that is still in use today.
The first franchise opened in Cody, Wyoming, in 1964. This early model set the foundation for what KOA is today. Drum’s vision expanded rapidly across the U.S. It suffered during the 1970s energy crisis. But, by the early 1980s, there were more than 900 active KOA franchises.
Today, KOA is part of the American lexicon. Franchisees pay the parent company a percentage of sales in exchange for advertising and other support. Purchasing a KOA campground is a way to invest in the KOA experience.
Three Different KOA Campgrounds
KOA Campgrounds expanded beyond regular tent camping or pulling in with your RV. In fact, they offer several levels of accommodations, including cabins or casitas. Campsites can include a cement pad with full hookups to seclusion at a primitive tent site.
KOA now offers three types of campgrounds, each with a slightly different focus.
In 2021, KOA partnered with Love’s Travel Stops establishing their first KOA Journey in McComb, Mississippi. The KOA Journey offers basic amenities and services for those who need a place to stop while on the road to their destination.
We know RVers who have parked between semi-tractor trailer trucks. In a unique approach, the KOA Journey intends to offer RVers the campground option with all the benefits and qualities of a KOA campsite. With easy pull-through sites, 30-Amp service, and well-lit after-hours check-in service, this may be the stop you need to get from home to your vacation.
These sites are conveniently near highways. Stay tuned as both companies monitor how this goes. KOA and Love’s will expand the joint venture if it works out.
You’ll find KOA Holiday campgrounds near popular tourist destinations. The company calls these locations the “basecamp for the great outdoors.” These sites don’t scrimp on comfort or amenities. RV sites are upgraded with larger lots and include patios on their premium campsites.
Take camping equipment for the premium tent sites or rent a deluxe cabin. Are you meeting up with a club? Perhaps you’re scheduling a unique business get-a-way. KOA Holiday offers group meeting facilities too.
The KOA Resort provides campers with the most options. They offer a wide array of upscale amenities and activities. The Resort franchises are often in some of the country’s most beautiful areas.
KOA Resort offers the same accommodations as the Holiday. However, they’ve upscaled with a resort-style pool, staff-led activities, and a restaurant. You can explore the surrounding area or never leave the campsite for a lovely get-a-way.
Pro Tip: If you want to stay at a KOA campground on your adventure, try out one of these 5 Epic KOA Campgrounds You’ll Love.
7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Avoid KOA Campgrounds
With fantastic accommodation options, you really can’t go wrong. Here are seven reasons we think you should not avoid KOA campgrounds.
#1 Consistent Accommodations
Consistency. You know what to expect with each location. KOA prides itself on safety and customer service. Through the 1990s, KOA upgraded its quality standards. By 2002, many campgrounds were weeded out that didn’t meet the stricter expectations.
In addition, each campground goes through a 600-point inspection every year. Our house probably couldn’t pass a 100-point assessment.
Whether staying for the night or making it your destination, KOA has friendly, well-trained staff. Most locations have laundry facilities, central bathhouses, Kampstore, and a restaurant. RVers will find specially outfitted RV parks with pull-thrus, back-ins, 30- and 50-Amp service, and full sewer hookups.
Pretty convenient if you ask us!
#2 Easy to Make Reservations
You’ll find a quick and easy gateway to reservations on the koa.com website or their app. Fill out the boxes for where you want to go, add check-in and check-out dates, then hit the red “Find a KOA” button. A map pops up, and everything you need is right there.
Want to get more specific? An easy drop-down filter lets you choose how you want to camp, the amenities you might like, and how far from your destination you want your KOA experience. You can explore the website to learn more about everything KOA offers.
We could easily log into the KOA website from our mobile devices. This is useful if you’re on the road checking your reservation or looking for somewhere to overnight. They also have a blog.
#3 KOA Campgrounds Are Everywhere
You can find a KOA campground in all 50 states, including choice locations in Canada and Mexico. Have a bucket list to climb every North American peak or camp in all 50 states? If you’re a regular KOA camper, there’s a loyalty program with discounts and rewards, which might help you accomplish those life goals.
While they’re sure to be near major attractions, KOA campgrounds also don’t avoid the small towns. As a matter of fact, we found one about 30 miles from our favorite small town, Fairhope, Alabama.
#4 Well-Stocked Campground Stores
If you’re like us, you’ll probably discover you left something important back home. Each KOA has a Kampstore where you’ll likely find that left-behind item and perhaps something you didn’t even think about.
KOA Kampstores are managed locally but go through the KOA Supplier. They’re encouraged to maintain a stock of essential staples like ice and propane.
Pro Tip: The KOA Supplier website lists the basic items that most stores will have in stock.
#5 Family and Pet Friendly
A very popular amenity with KOA is Kamp K9 or an onsite dog park. Many of us today are traveling with our furry family members. This is a great option to let your dog run out its pent-up energy.
Some parents say KOA stands for Kids on Adventure. It sounds family-friendly, and it is! Many locations have a Fun Zone replete with pools, play equipment, and jumpy pillows.
Most KOAs also have a schedule of daily activities. You might choose to watch a family-friendly movie on the big screen. Imagine watching the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind outside with Devil’s Tower right behind the screen. Or perhaps your family will go for a hike or bike through some trails.
Pro Tip: Still trying to decide if staying at a KOA campground is right for you? We took a deeper dive about whether or not they are worth it!
#6 KOA Rewards Program
We did mention the KOA Rewards program. But here is the deal. Rewards campers get 10% off daily registration rates all year long. You can accumulate points for cash off future stays. KOA also offers a rewards weekend where members get a free night of camping. They’ll offer special discounts throughout the year.
As a KOA Reward member, you can earn VIP status that provides additional benefits. KOA even has a special program for RVers. It includes a discount plan, KOA Health + By Careington, that provides access to licensed doctors. Live your life on the road? We think this is an excellent option.
Best of all, for every enrollment, KOA donates a dollar to KOA Care Camps. KOA Care Camps are special programs for kids fighting or recovering from cancer. We love this.
#7 Multiple Camping Options
KOA campgrounds offer different lodging options. You may pull in with your RV or choose a more rustic location for your tent. They even cater to the popular glamping trend. Intend to stick around for a while to get to know the locals? There’s also extended stay availability.
Did you know you can rent an RV from KOA to try it out? You can! Or, if you’re new to tent camping, you can borrow one of KOA’s wall tents. Some locations offer cabins, teepees, yurts, and other exotic rentals.
Looking for a summer job? Be a Work Kamper. You’ll serve as a seasonal employee while camping and exploring your new destination. This is an excellent option for college students, teachers, and those who want to camp and make some extra cash.
KOA Campgrounds Staying on Top
Dave Drum was all about data and knowing what his campers wanted. In fact, KOA still operates on this premise today. They’re constantly evolving to meet current trends and expectations.
KOA campgrounds aren’t just temporary stays to avoid for more than a night or two. They’re destinations that can enhance your camping and traveling enjoyment.
Do you stay at KOA campgrounds? Which one’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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