KOA Adds 15 Parks to Franchise for 2009
There will be 15 new campgrounds flying the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) flag when campers begin enjoying Kampgrounds of America's more than 450 locations this spring.
Acton/Los Angeles North,Calif. KOA: This Soledad Canyon campground is surrounded by mountains and yet is just 10 minutes from Santa Clarita and no more than an hour from Universal Studios, Hollywood and the beach.
Statesville East/Winston-Salem, N.C. KOA: Set on 30 acres of rural countryside, the campground is close to Lowes Motor Speedway, Carowinds Amusement Park and Lake Norman.
Eagle River/Chain O'Lakes, Wis. KOA: As the name implies, this park is in the middle of Wisconsin's Lake Country, with plenty of fishing and spectacular scenery.
Northampton/Springfield, Mass. KOA: This campground can be a base camp for a visit to the Springfield area, just 30 minutes from Six Flags and the College Basketball Hall of Fame. The Yankee Candle Co. facility also is nearby.
Madison/Shenandoah Hills, Va. KOA: This campground is at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a short drive to Shenandoah National Park, as well as several caverns. This campground also supplies campers with its own specialty bison meat.
Logan/Hocking Hills, Ohio KOA: Campers can mine for their own gemstones right at this KOA, which features a 75-foot mining sluice. There are numerous trails, horseback riding, canoeing, rappelling and more just minutes from the campground.
Pasco/Tri-Cities, Wash. KOA: This campground is located at the confluence of the Snake, Yakima and Columbia rivers. There are 10 local golf courses and history buffs can check out Sacajawea State Park and view the same sites as Lewis and Clark.
Camdenton/Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. KOA: This campground is at the top of Lake of the Ozarks, but still just minutes from downtown Camdenton. There's even a marina at the park.
Manistique, Mich. KOA: On Lake Michigan's northern shore, this campground has a remodeled 40-room inn with five Jacuzzi suites, a restaurant and indoor pool. The boardwalk is just two miles away, and the area is popular among lighthouse lovers.
Starbuck/Lyons Ferry Marina, Wash. KOA: Here's another KOA stop on the Lewis and Clark Trail, but it was home to Native Americans for thousands of years before that. The campground and marina are located at historic Lyons Ferry Crossing. There is a 200-foot waterfall on the Palouse River.
McCall/North Fork Payette River, Idaho KOA: This KOA is in a beautiful natural setting, and features a natural wood lodge that's perfect for rallies and family reunions.
Tulsa Northeast/Will Rogers Downs, Okla. KOA: Just 20 minutes from downtown Tulsa, this campground is just steps away from the popular "racino" (horse racing track) at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. There's Vegas-style electronic games and video poker, and the campground is a relaxing oasis, with 400 RV pads and a huge group meeting facility.
Durant/Choctaw, Okla. KOA: This brand new campground will be opening in the spring and will eventually feature 150 extra-large, concrete, full-service pull through sites. There's a 100-seat meeting room with a full kitchen and plasma TV. The campground has an hourly shuttle to the nearby Durant/Choctaw Casino.
Lava Hot Springs, Idaho KOA: This location is famous for its nearby, world-acclaimed hot pools. There's the Portneuf River that flows right through the campground for fishing or floating, or take advantage of the Olympic complex, complete with diving platforms and water slides and even an indoor pool.
The new parks stretch from California to North Carolina, and cover the gamut from convenient full-service overnight facilities to expansive campgrounds that are true destinations.
Becoming a KOA Was a Two-Decade Dream
Steve Albrecht has had his eye on KOA for the past 20 years. He was looking for a KOA campground to purchase two decades ago, when he found a non-KOA, jewel-of-a-park in the hills of Staunton, in western Virginia. There was an existing KOA campground just down the road, so he put his KOA dream aside as he and wife, Linda, worked to make Walnut Hills a top-notch Virginia destination.
Last year, that existing KOA left the KOA system, and the Albrechts saw their chance.
"I'd been watching KOA for what seemed like forever," Steve Albrecht said. "I was really disappointed that I couldn't make my park a KOA the first time around. When I found out that a franchise was available, I jumped on it."
The Albrechts have been deeply involved in the camping industry for decades. He's a former president of the Virginia Campground Owners Association, and currently serves on the board of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
As he wrapped up more than a week of intensive training at Kampgrounds of America University in Billings, Mont., Albrecht reflected on his decision to make his campground a KOA.
"I have never seen – on any level – the outpouring of support that I've seen from KOA," Albrecht said. "I decided to talk to KOA during last year's ARVC Convention, and after that, it was an easy decision to make."
The Albrechts’ Staunton/Walnut Hills, Va., KOA is located on an old southern plantation in the Shenandoah Valley. It's so "full service" that it actually has an on-site massage therapy and wellness center staffed with a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist.
The Rest of the Newcomers
Other campgrounds displaying the KOA yellow sign for the first time this spring are: