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Old 08-05-2012, 11:13 PM   #1
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First experience with a KOA

We just got home from a weekend in Hot Springs, AR and I wanted to praise the staff and the facilities of the Hot Springs KOA. We had booked at another "campground" which wasn't really a campground as much as it was a long-term facility. A big clue we should've picked up on was the mailbox stand for the "campsites". The only reason we were there was because we came with neighbors who wanted the cabins, otherwise we'd have made reservations at one of the State Parks around the lakes surrounding Hot Springs. Long story short we were there long enough to find another place to stay, and that happened to be the KOA campground on the northeast side of town.

What a pleasant staff and a nice facility they have! We'd never stayed at a KOA, we usually stick to State, National, and Corps of Engineer campgrounds - especially in Arkansas, they seem to have some of the best we've been to. My wife talked to them over the phone and they invited us to come and check them out and see if they had what we wanted. When we got there, they toured us around available campsites in the golf cart, took the neighbors around to the cabins and then helped us back into the site. As is with most private or corporate campgrounds there is the feeling of getting as many sites in as possible, but we still didn't feel too crowded.



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Another plus, especially for those of us with kids, they are a five minute drive from Magic Springs and Crystal Falls which is the local theme and water park outside Hot Springs and they operate a free on-demand shuttle to and from the theme park. First shuttle runs when the park opens, and when I asked her what the schedule was, she gave me a weird look and said "Just call us, and we'll come pick you up when you're ready to come back."

We are definitely going to have to keep the KOAs open as possible stops along the way in the future and I hope they are all as pleasant as this one.
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Old 08-06-2012, 06:15 AM   #2
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KOA's can sometimes be parking lots, but are one of our go-to's on the road when looking for a predictably decent campground for a few days with full amenities.

Good job!


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Old 08-06-2012, 06:57 AM   #3
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Glad to hear about your experience. I've never tried KOA— yet— but I picked up a KOA directory at my local Route 66 RV Parts store last time I was in. There happens to be a KOA right here in the New Orleans metro area, but I'll probably never stay at that one. Too close to home; I go camping to get away. But I might buy propane there. It's one of only a few places in the metro area that sell bulk propane for my Interstate's built-in tank.

I have thought of the Baton Rouge or Lafayette KOAs as possible camping destinations for winter holiday weekends, when I've just got a few days off and can't spend too much time traveling.
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Old 08-06-2012, 07:20 AM   #4
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KOA's are always nice, however not as nice as their price would indicate in our opinion.

We prefer the non "cookie cutter" Good Sam parks, and feel they are sometimes even nicer than KOA's, and almost always a better value. Just our opinion.
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:10 AM   #5
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Hot Springs is a fun place. I understand your statement about the state parks near there with Brady Mountain and Crystal Springs on Lake Quachita. I am betting the competition of the area has a lot to do with the KOA approach and customer service.

Glad to hear that it is that good.
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:18 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

We've stayed at two KOAs in Canada and haven't been wholly impressed. The first was in London, Ont. and was quite basic. We were, like everyone else, on grass but the site was level and had sewer, water and electricity. We arrived early and had the place to ourselves, but by the end of the afternoon we were surrounded by some closely parked and very tall fifth wheelers; not at all what we are used to at Provincial and State Parks. It didn't help that the power kept tripping out, either, although the on site maintenance team was quick to get in and sort things out.

We've also been to the KOA at Niagara Falls (Canadian side). The campground could have been a nightmare except that the place was all but empty given that it was mid-September; I wouldn't have liked to have been there on a holiday weekend. My major gripe was the cost; pretty much three times the standard Provincial Park fee. Also, I had some relatives from the UK visiting and the owners of the campground wanted to charge them each $12 just to visit us on site. We circumvented the charge but it seemed like gouging to me.

Both KOAs that we've used have had useless "Free" Internet.

That said, both campgrounds provided us with a couple of nights of comfortable camping and I'd go back to the London KOA if I needed to. Niagara? I couldn't afford it!

On the wider issue of "permanent sites", I have had a problem with booking campgrounds that really only want to deal with seasonal campers. Both the campground owners and the seasonal campers themselves have been most unfriendly on a couple of occasions, so I tend to avoid those places if I can. That's where the KOAs work, of course, because they seem to be for overnighters rather than the seasonal crowd.
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:30 AM   #7
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We've stayed at a number of KOA's across the country with generally good luck. Most of our stays there have been one nighter's on our way to a final destination. We'll continuation to use KOA'a this way over an unknown/unranked campground. Some our worst stays have been at campgrounds that also had permanent residents. Seems they were more interested in the long term renters than the one night stay folks like us.

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Old 08-06-2012, 08:35 AM   #8
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Glad to hear about your good KOA experience. We'll put that one on our list. We have stayed at quite a few KOA's over the years. I would estimate that in our 1,100 nights out in Lucy we have stayed at 50+ different KOA's all over the country.

We are travelers more than campers so we stay mostly at commercial campgrounds. Our KOA experience has been generally good with a a few hiccups along the way. KOA's are usually slightly higher than other campgrounds, but are usually nicer.

The KOA is always on our short list when looking for a nice place to spend the night.

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Old 08-06-2012, 08:38 AM   #9
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The KOA in Apache Junction (Phoenix) is definitely one to call in advance from October to Mid-April. In 2007 we stayed a few nights at the end of April. I was told there was no space available 'just two weeks ago, but the snowbirds just migrated again.' It has a nice pool and Jacuzzi. Not much grass.

I look at KOA mostly as a secure place to rest during a long haul. A 30 Amp hookup is the clincher, especially in the SW.
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Old 08-06-2012, 09:04 AM   #10
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I've stayed at about four KOAs. They are pretty decent as campground goes and generally you are not disappointed. I recently stayed at the Allendale Michigan KOA and the Renfro Valley KOA in Kentucky.
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Old 08-06-2012, 09:21 AM   #11
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We generally stay away from the commercial campgrounds because of price/crowding/no grass, etc. Thats the main reason I decided to write this little mini review, we were very surprised at the whole experience. We were charged $30/night for full hookups (water, 30 amp service, cable, wifi) and a back in site. There are premium sites with poured pads and patio furniture and a hammock and also some pull-throughs. I don't know prices for anything else than our little site we had.
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Old 08-06-2012, 09:36 AM   #12
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Great to see this thread about KOAs. Our one and only experience was horrible. We could *not* go any further one day and stopped at a KOA in Green River, Wyo. Merely a large gravel truck stop like parking lot with a grumpy attendant. Only one night and never again.
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Old 08-06-2012, 09:55 AM   #13
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We've stayed at a bunch of them, and they have generally filled the bill for what we needed at that time. There have been some memorable ones - the US side at Niagara was one, and the Bernalillo one near Albuquerque. That one had a great cook who served a road-warrior's green chile burrito in addition to the free pancakes.

We enjoy state and national parks, but those are hard to use when you're making some miles or need to stay close to civilization from time to time. Had a very welcome home cooked dinner at Santa Rosa one night. Plenty of memories flooding in. Baton Rouge and Lafayette were great (and convenient). Cascade Locks, San Antonio, Charleston, Boone, Port Angeles, Las Vegas.

Suddenly I have an overwhelming desire to hit the road.

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Old 08-06-2012, 10:17 AM   #14
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Our one KOA experience was for 4 nights last year in Townsend, TN. Honestly, the nicest people I have ever dealt with. They were genuine, really wanted to help not just a "plastic smile". I did not really like the spot I reserved online so they rode me around in a golf cart and showed me all the available options. The were happy to do it. The sites are a little close together for my liking but I expect that in a resort type campground.
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