Why We Choose KOA Campgrounds Again & Again
Why We Choose KOA Campgrounds Again & Again
Benefits and features that make KOA a great choice for RVers.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
Sabrina and I stay at a lot of campgrounds, we enjoy the comforts of full hookups and the ability to take long, hot showers after a rough day at work without needing to stress about running out of water.
When looking for a campground near a hospital that Sabrina is working at, we have a few requirements. We look for good reviews about the property, check that it is easy to get in and out of the grounds, and make sure people say positive things about the staff. We also like to have amenities like laundry and a dog park for Belle, when possible.
Our First Impression of KOA
We still remember our first KOA campground experience in Kissimmee, FL, and how much we enjoyed it. We had a very nice site that included a concrete patio, brick fire pit, propane grill, table, and chairs. The grounds had a dog park, fitness center, bike rentals, heated pool, and a hot tub. It was the first campground we stayed at that felt like a resort.
In the last two and a half years, we have stayed at more than 25 different KOA campgrounds. Every one of them has met or exceeded our requirements. We enjoy our KOA stays so much and have come to expect great quality from them. This is why we prefer to stay at a KOA even when another campground might be a little closer to Sabrina’s work.
Top 5 Benefits We Enjoy While Staying at a KOA
1. Friendly Staff
When Sabrina and I think of KOA campgrounds, the first thing that comes to mind is their helpful and friendly staff. We can honestly say that we love the staff at every single KOA we’ve stayed at. They have always been so accommodating and friendly. There have been times that we have needed to add nights midway through our trip and the office has been able to make modifications that allowed us to stay - even in the same site, so that we did not need to pack up and move to a different one.
2. Reliable Cleanliness
In our experience, KOAs are always clean - not just the grounds and sites, but the bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities as well. Because our Winnebago already has a great shower, we do not normally use the campground facilities, but we certainly appreciate the clean laundry rooms! It is so nice to be able to stay on property and not need to search for a laundromat, especially when finding a good one can be a challenge.
3. Dog Amenities
Our little dog Belle loves the Kamp K9s that have been at every location we have traveled to. Kamp K9 allows her to roam around off-leash in a fenced area. They usually have benches for me to sit at while I watch her sniff around, and many even have obstacles for her to climb and play on. Plus, she gets to meet new friends and tell them all about her travels!
Belle watching sunrise at the Kamp K9 at a KOA Journey in Apache Junction, AZ.
4. Convenient Camp Stores
The camp stores at KOA are always very well stocked with items that may need replenishing during our stay, such as tank pods, firewood, snacks, and - most importantly - propane. It is such a great convenience to be able to have our propane refilled right at the campground before getting back on the road, instead of driving out of our way to make a stop while traveling to our next destination.
5. Great Locations
The KOAs we have stayed at have always been positioned in great areas, with easy access from the major roads. There have been times that we have stayed at a KOA just outside of a major city and yet the campground felt secluded and calm, away from the hustle and bustle. They are also a great retreat to return to at the end of the day.
Enjoying the beach in Erie, PA.
However, these locations do more than help us relax. Since they are near the hospitals and metropolitan areas, our cell service is always very good and that means great internet speeds for us to get work done in the RV. It also doesn’t hurt that KOA has WiFi on the property and that it works. We have stayed at other campgrounds that advertise WiFi, yet when we have arrived the front desk will honestly say, “yes we have it, but it doesn’t work very well.”
Intro to KOA’s Tiered Campground Concept & Why We Like It
Another great thing about the KOA campgrounds is there are three different tiers depending on what you are looking for.
When we need a spot for the night, we look for a KOA Journey. These are located near highways and have pull-through sites that allow us to easily pull in for a night and leave the next morning without needing to detach our car. Stays like this are perfect for us to pull in, empty our tanks, refill our water, put out our slides, and just recharge for a night. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, we can refill our propane before hitting the road again. They are meant for quick easy stays while traveling, but that does not mean they skimp on amenities. They still have the Kamp K9s, laundry, and a pool.
The type of KOAs that we normally stay at are called KOA Holiday. These are the ones we will look for once we arrive in an area for Sabrina’s work. These KOAs will offer large sites, with patio furniture (sometimes even bench swings!), a fire pit, and a propane grill - which is always a treat for us since we do not carry an outdoor grill with us. These are usually very large sites and give us a truly spread-out and relaxed feel. They might even offer a snack bar, weekend cookouts, outdoor movie nights, and/or mini-golf. They will also have cabins right on-site allowing friends or family who do not own an RV to come and stay to join in on the fun. We actually use the cabins on occasion when Sabrina works night shift, this allows her to get some sleep during the day, since apparently Belle and I have trouble staying quiet.
There is a third type of KOA, that we have never had the pleasure of staying at, called a KOA Resort. However, we did visit some friends who were at one in Tucson, AZ, and this KOA had everything I just mentioned in the other tiers, plus a restaurant on-site as well as a bar. There were even covered sites to protect you and your RV from the Arizona sun, which actually pulled double duty by having solar panels on the roof to make the campground more environmentally friendly.
To learn more about the different types of KOAs and what KOA has planned for their guests and campgrounds in the future, take a listen to this interview with the CEO of the company, Tobey O’Rourke, that I had the pleasure of co-hosting.
Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of a KOA Visit
Best Kept Secret? Value Kard Perks!
I’m not really sure this is a secret, but it is rare that we ever hear anyone talk about the KOA rewards program called Value Kard Rewards. With the card, we receive 10% off all of our stays and earn points which we exchange for cash off on future stays. It is not uncommon for us to get free nights by using our points. We also get discounts on several activities, restaurants, entertainment, and retail. We just go in the app and click “deals near me” - it is a fast and easy way to find out what’s fun in the area and it doesn’t hurt that we get a discount, too.
Use the KOA App for a Better Stay Before Even Arriving!
One of the most frustrating and complicated things about RVing full-time is trying to find and book a campsite while on the go. Luckily, KOA has solved this issue with their app. The KOA App not only lets us easily find a KOA in the area, but it also allows us to check availability and book a site from it as well.
This is such a huge deal to us, since we often travel long distances at a time and (because of traffic and weather) we never know what town or area we will be stopping at for the night. The app gives us the ability to view their campgrounds, check what amenities they have, read reviews, and book a site all in a matter of minutes.
Pull-through site at KOA in DeLand.
If you have any experience booking sites with other campgrounds, you know that sometimes they require you to email them and wait for a return email confirming a stay. This sometimes takes days or weeks! Some campgrounds will do bookings over the phone, but it is normally difficult to get them to answer or return calls.
The app helps us travel stress-free by not needing to worry where we will stay next. Plus, we love that it keeps a log of every KOA campground we have visited as well as a list of our upcoming stays. It also lets us pin which campgrounds are our favorites.
Our Two Favorite KOA Campgrounds (So Far)
Las Vegas KOA at Sam’s Town
The Las Vegas KOA at Sam’s Town gets us close to the action, but at the same time offers a nice retreat from the main strip. The property is well maintained with nice sites and the 24-hour security keeps us feeling safe. The campground is also attached to the Sam’s Town Casino, making it easy to pop in for a bite to eat at the buffet, catch a movie at the theater or, of course, try our luck at winning it big for a new Winnebago Forza!
Erie KOA in Pennsylvania
We absolutely love the staff at the Erie location. We have stayed there on multiple occasions and have had several wonderful conversations with the owners and staff. They really like Belle and when the staff make their rounds on golf carts in the morning, they always make sure to stop by and say hi to her. It is also only nine miles from Presque Isle, where you can go canoeing, fishing, biking, stroll on the beach, or have a picnic.
These are just two of our favorite locations, but if you would like to learn more about some of the best KOA destinations, check out the recently published 2020 KOA Campground awards for top KOAs in each state and province. And for even more ideas of fun KOAs to visit, this article has other unique options across the country.
I hope you enjoyed hearing all about what KOA has to offer and the reasons we love staying at these campgrounds. We wish you safe travels and the next time you stay at a KOA, take a look around and see if you spot us there!
Do you have a favorite KOA? Please share it in the comments!