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  1. Default Camping newbie, and KOA campgrounds


    My husband and I are going on a road trip through the US for about 7 weeks. Planning to camp (by tent) quite a bit to save some money. Shockingly, in my life, I've only camped on two occasions!

    We don't want to book camp sites prior to arrival since we don't know where we will be when, and also it takes away from the fun of being on road trip. I'm assuming this is OK to do, and that although many sites have these reservation options, it is not a requirement to book online prior to arrival? (I understand you have to if you want to stay in Yellowstone, or somewhere like this.)

    So I've been looking on the web at various websites, to work out this whole camping thing. I've come across the KOA website, and seen that if you join them you get 10% off when you stay at their camp sites.

    Is this a good deal? Or are KOAs more expensive? I like the idea that I can bring along a book where all the camp sites are listed, and that they seem to be a safe option when it comes to camping, as well as often have Wifi, and showers etc.

    If you have any advice about the above, I would be very grateful to hear it.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default what you're looking for

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    In my mind, KOA is a lot like the McDonalds of the camping world. They are all over the place, and you can be pretty sure that what you get in one place will be similar to what you get in another. However, even with the discount, they tend to be a little more expensive than other private campgrounds

    If you are looking for convience, and resort style features, they can certainly be a good fit. They'll almost always have extra amenities, like a store, laundry, and even extra features like pools.

    Personally, I don't use them. I prefer sticking with public facilities like state, county, and national park lands. I find you usually get quieter, more private spaces for tents and usually for quite a bit less than a private campground. Things like showers, laundry, or a camp store are sometimes, but not always available.

    Remember, KOA isn't the only private campground out their either. You could take a look at a campground directory for the many many options that are out there.

    Check out this thread for more basics about Camping for Beginners.

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    In my mind, KOA is a lot like the McDonalds of the camping world. They are all over the place, and you can be pretty sure that what you get in one place will be similar to what you get in another. However, even with the discount, they tend to be a little more expensive than other private campgrounds
    I was looking for the way to say this, but you've said it well: KOA is the McDonalds or the Walmart of the camping world. I've never had a great time at one of their campgrounds.

    Given that you're a very inexperienced camper, are you sure you want to commit yourself to SEVEN WEEKS of camping? I'd suggest a couple trial-runs close to home before you decide to embark on such a long trip. I like camping and have done a great deal of it -- but I don't want to do it for seven weeks straight. My longest camping trip was three weeks (NC to Wyoming and back), and I was quite sick of it by the end of the trip.

    You mentioned amenities: Most campsites have a centrally located bath house with hot showers and flush toilets. You can assume that your campground will have a good flat spot for a tent, space to park one car, a picnic table, a fire ring, and (usually) a hook from which you can hang your lantern. Most of them do NOT have pools or laundry facilities; I've never stayed at one that has wi-fi.

    As for reservations, yes, you should have reservations for the "big parks" like Yellowstone. Are you going THIS summer? If so, you might be too late to get reservations at the likes of Yosemite. If you're planning for NEXT summer, I'd suggest that you make these reservations this fall. If you make reservations for these big parks, you'll be safe "winging it" in between.
    Last edited by MrsPete; 05-12-2008 at 04:20 PM.

  4. Default

    I agree with the two above posts. I also wanted to add that I like the AAA camping books (and other guide books) when traveling. They'll point you towards good, reputable and affordable campgrounds.

  5. Default

    Thank you for the very quick reply.

    I'm glad I asked about the KOA at this excellent forum.

    So do you suggest that I just hit the road and hope to find some other types of camp grounds (public facilities) along the way?

    I do have a Lonely planet USA book, and I've just ordered "Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America's Two-Lane Highways".

    The lonely planet book doesn't really cover camping much. I was also going to have a look at the AAA Triptik site, and they might tell me where these other camp sites are.

    This feels like a very naive question, but is it obvious when you drive past a camp site whether it is private or publically owned?

    Thanks again for your reply.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default KOA works for me`

    They're not my favorite place to camp. If I'm going to stay for several days in the same place, I also much prefer more rustic camping experiences like state and national campgrounds.

    However, if it's just a pitstop for the night where I'm going to get in later in the the summer when it's dark until late, for me that usually means about 8-9pm, give or take...and want a place to put up my tent quickly, maybe take a shower or a swim or a soak in a hot-tub, hit the hay, and then get up early in the morning to head down the road, then KOAs are just fine. If it's been a long day, especially if it's been a hot day, I am willing to pay a bit more to enjoy their pool and/or hot tub.

    Don't rule them out but don't depend on them or spend most nights in them either. It's just one more option

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