vacation and using KOA's to stay : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

OK 1st of all let me say this is not exactly a homesteading question. However, it may appeal to the thriftiness of quite a few.

Anyone use the KOA campgrounds? I have not had a vacation in about 7 years, and I will be on a budget on this one.

1st of all, let me say I went to the RV show this last weekend. I saw a number of travel trailers, 5th wheels and motor homes, hoping that in 20+ years when I retire I can do some traveling and especially spend winters in the warm south. While there I visited the KOA both and picked up a lot of brochures and a catalog. They have not only campsites for tents and rv's but also cabins.

I've never stayed at a KOA before but they look interesting. Anyone stay at them? What are your thoughts?

And by the way, the pics of the cabins look nice. Perhaps a design one could adopt and adapt for personal living? AHA I knew I could tie this into a homesteading issue !!! :)

Thanks and have a great day.


-- gene ward (, March 20, 2002


I have always loved KOAs! When I was young we camped everywhere we went and the KOA was like the Ritz. They haven't changed much. They have a pool, small store, nice bathrooms, laundry and game rooms. Lots for kids to do and places to meet people. However, one drawback, they seem to sit close to freeways so you get a lot of traffic noise during the night. Ear plugs help.

-- connie in md (, March 20, 2002.

I don't care for motels so we stay at KOAs when we can. The price is much better and I can sleep in my own bed. We travel in a van and have easy tents to put up. The "swim camping" is a favorite of the kids after a day of traveling on the road.

Those cabins are pretty cute. I've seen them sold as kits before. It was a long time ago and the price started at $2,000. I'm sure they are much more than that now. Some people can build them quickly from their own logs, but I am still working on a real chicken coop.

-- Laura (, March 20, 2002.

I HATE KOA's ,, too many rules and such, I GREALY prefer state parks, some are real nice, always clean, and the rules are pretty lax

-- Stan (, March 20, 2002.

I was going to say what Stan just did, we much prefer state parks to the commercialized KOA type campground. As a general rule the sites at a state facility are farther apart and much more "natural". There are some beautiful parks out there.

-- Walt K. in SW PA (, March 20, 2002.

Dito the answer on State parks over KOA's. We are a retired couple and have traveled a lot and the only way to go IMHO is the the quiet of the State Parks.

God Bless

-- Charles Steen (, March 20, 2002.

I guess it all depends on what you want. KOA camps have all the bells and whistles. We have stayed at them, but only for one night at a time and that was when they were along our travel route. It's called a camp but if thats camping the Holiday inn is pioneer living. I agree that state parks are a much more peaceful way to go. The vast majority of our camping (99%) is done in state forests. No running water, bathrooms, or PEOPLE. On our last trip myself,wife five kids and two dogs had over 11000 acres of woods to ourselves, that's camping.

-- JJ Grandits (, March 20, 2002.

My experience has been that KOA's are EXPENSIVE!!! $30 for a tent site????????? Their brochures sure are attractive, but I have found KOA to be much less glamourous and often dirty. I would rather spend $60 for a Hampton Inn with a free continental breakfast, swimming pool, etc.

I much prefer state parks, usually $8-$14 a night depending on where you stay. Typically clean showers and plenty of activities to do. Professional service, inexpensive, and pretty safe.

Just my two cents.

-- clove (, March 20, 2002.

I went into this providence park in northern Manitoba last July and it was virtually empty!! Great facilities and fishing piers. Cheap, too.

-- bruce (, March 20, 2002.

Hello Gene,

State Parks are the way to go. The less ammenities the less they usually cost. I have stayed at many myself and some have been for free. We stayed in one near the Buffalo River Area in Arkansas for several days for free. There is one in the West Central part of Florida that was only $9.00 a night and it had hot showers! We paid a little more for one on the Outer Banks, of NC....I think $14.00 and it did not have hot water.

But, I myself have stayed away from KOAs The KOA near Walt Disney World is directly behing an Outlet Store and the tent campers were always pushed to camp behind the back wall of the store and along the sides. It was very expensive as well....I think $38.00! And the funny thing about that price is that just up the road from it was hotels that were $30.00 a night!



-- (, March 20, 2002.

I work construction and live in a camper when i work!! Koa s are nice they have 2 meet certain requirements to b a koa I stay at them but i prefer small mom and pop campgrounds myself! State parks and such are usally cheaper but most wont alow long term stays!

-- Grizz in Western Maryland (, March 20, 2002.

how does one find private campgrounds?

-- gene ward (, March 20, 2002.

I like to be as far away from campers (not people, the ones on the trucks:) and RVs as possible--it amazes me that people who ostensibly want to "get away from it all" take it all with them, and that includes TVs, cell phones, noisy generators, jogging trampolines to trip over etc. ad nauseum. One of our friends has a lifetime membership in Thousand Trails and has asked if we would like to go "camping" with them--to me that is not camping. One nice thing I read though, Wal- Marts are supposed to be very friendly to RVs, as in they don't mind you staying the night--that is very customer-friendly, in my opinion.

I know there are books out there that list some of the "primitive" campsites (I think they are mostly walk-ins), at bookstores--you will want to call ahead to confirm that they are open and available. They are like $5-10 per night, but you have more privacy.

And, as Ernest has pointed out, you can often stay cheaper at a motel (although I would definitely bring travel door locks to the cheaper ones!) than at KOAs, and sad to say, some of the west coast parks are very expensive (approaching if not over $20-30 a night) as well. I do not understand why those places are so expensive--if they used community service/prison labor to keep them up, they could cut a lot of costs and lower the price of admission.

Another thing to consider is the cost of traveling that way. Gas is expensive, they all get bad gas mileage, if you have AAA you need the extra towing package, repairs are a pain, etc. If you go across toll bridges it will cost you extra because they charge per axle ($12 for a little travel trailer, as opposed to $2 for a car) If you do the math, it is often more expensive to travel that way than other ways.

If you are planning to get rid of your house and property to go live in a trailer, you might be able to save some money, but if you are still keeping your property, you have to have someone to look in on it occasionally, etc. Good luck!

-- GT (, March 20, 2002.

Just do a web engine search on the keywords: "campground owners association" You'll get a link for almost every states campground owners association's website. Then pick the state's website that you are interested in camping at.

Another option is to let us know your travelling plans and you might just get invited to camp at various "Countryside Forum" homesteads of the people who frequent this message board.

--Happy trails, Cabin Fever

-- Cabin Fever (, March 20, 2002.

Check this website out: Camping USA Just point and click on the map of the USA at the location you want to camp at. It will then list the campgrounds in that area. Another good investment if you do a lot of camping is to purchase the Woodall's Camping Directory. It is the size of a large city's phone book and it lists almost all of the public and private campgrounds in the USA. You can order it on-line at or buy it at any RV store.

-- Cabin Fever (, March 20, 2002.

Oh Lord deliver me from KOA camping cabins. If there's a Purgatory, its name is KOA camping cabin. Brought back bad vibes there, Gene.

Hubby and I spent THREE LONG WEEKS in a KOA cabin in Slidell, Louisiana about 5 years ago. He was on a company "swat" team during a corporate re-organization and traveled all over the southeast for over a year. A month into it we realized we couldn't be apart and this was going to last a looonng time (we were told six weeks, hhhppppphphph heheheh), so we packed up 2 dogs, 2 parakeets, and Sir Walter Wabbit into our 21' travel trailer; hooked it to our 85 Bronco XLT and had quite an adventure (rolling eyes here). On the way to Slidell the TT broke an axle requiring us to stay at the KOA cabin since no hotels, motels, or anyone with a lick of sense in his company would let us hang out for three weeks with all those animals!!

I will give credit to the KOA management - they did say they allowed pets in the cabins - they just didn't know we were bring the farm (smile). And it wasn't the management that was miserable, but the whole environment was not conducive to a good time - NOT a vacation by any stretch.

When the TT was repaired (in Birmingham, Alabama - I LOVE that place) we stayed in State Parks or National Forests. MUCH better - just had to make sure ahead of time that they would accept the dogs.

I've rambled (pun intended) but I definitely agree with the above posters that KOA is not the way to enjoy a stress-free vacation with OR without children.

Well, now that I've got THAT out of my system, think I'll go vacuum or somethin'. Good luck!

-- Michaela (, March 20, 2002.

We love to camp in the national forest campgrounds. We are lucky to be surrounded by the Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. There are many campgrounds to choose from. I believe they are $10 a night. All of them that we have been to have been clean and quiet. I can't wait for spring so we can camp!! ;o)

-- Colleen in WI (, March 20, 2002.

Not of much use for just overnights but many of the national forest campgrounds use to let seniors camp at a campsite in exchange for acting as a camp director for that site. No pay but the fees are waived for your camper. I don't even know if they even still do this. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, March 20, 2002.

My answer to your specific question would be that the koa campgrounds are well kept.

State parks are usually prettier, cheaper, shadier, and services may vary.

-- Rick in SW West Virginia (, March 20, 2002.

We joined Coast to Coast and our home park is near Sierra Vista, AZ. We only lease and therefore didn't have to buy in the park. Cost us $500 for 5 years and can then stay all over the country for $6 per night with full hookups. If interested, let me know and will give you the name of person to contact.

-- Hank (, March 21, 2002.

You could spend several YEARS living in a middle of the pack motel for the cost of the RV, get better gas mileage to and from your destination, and this is not including KOA membership, or campground fees. My approach has been buy a stripped down fullsize van, make or buy (used from the JunkYard works fine) cabinets and a bed, and pretend the rest. Used handicapped vans work well, you can stand up in them- they have a raised fiberglass top. A van turns around easier than an RV, are easier to drive, get better gas mileage, and are safer in my opinion. But to get to the point, BOO to KOAs- they eliminate nature from camping. RVs are parked wall to wall and its often field type parking. Ill stick with State Parks anyday!

-- Kevin in NC (, March 21, 2002.

I hate commerical campgrounds..We travelled from the Adirondack Mts. of NE NY state to Texas last fall and were gone for a month. We pulled an 18' ALINER camper plus generator & stayed at primitive campgrounds all the way..never spent a cent for lodging (Oh well..once it was cold & damp & we wanted a good hot shower.. we'd been using solar showers) so we splurged at a small private campground. There are books out there with all the details & many do not charge anything, especially off season. The book we had is Don Wright's "Guide to Free Campgrounds-10th edition. Can be found in most camping supply places, etc. These primitive campsites are great if you have pets..we brought the dog & cat..they had plenty of freedom, never were tied up or caged and were always staying near the campsite. Also, when you are enroute somewhere and are near enough to a mall that has Wal-Mart, you can camp there free as long as you don't try to set up a campsite...we used those twice. Layne

-- Layne Cosgrove (, March 21, 2002.

Before we moved from CA to IA, we would go every year on our vacation to check on the house that we had bought (that was empty). The first couple years we stayed at KOA's in our van which had a platform bed and curtains but no other camper type features. The last couple of years we stayed in the Camping Kabins, and liked them. I think the issue is are you talking about "camping" for pleasure, meaning a few nights in one place, sightseeing during the day? Or are you talking about going from point a to point b and need a place for the night? We did the latter usually taking 5 days going and 3 1/2 coming home. For us at the time, it was cost effective. We liked the cabins as they were cozier than our van. Still have to walk to the bathrooms either way. But the Kabins had heat and electricty, and a door that did lock. Some KOA's close during the winter season, or maybe it was only the kabins? We would travel in October, and the 20 degrees outside was still pretty cold IN our van. I think that is when we switched to the kabins.

For actual "camping" I agree that state parks, etc, would probably be the way to go.

-- Joyce Dingman (, March 23, 2002.

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