Campers Don’t Always Have to Do Own Cooking
Most people know they can keep their vacation costs to a minimum by staying in campgrounds and cooking their own food.
But travelers are also discovering that some campgrounds and RV parks have on-site restaurants whose food is so good it’s worth the drive just to eat there, according to a news release.
“The campground industry is clearly evolving when it comes to food service,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). “Some parks offer coffee and donuts or pancakes in the morning, while others offer basic food service items in the afternoons and evenings, such as hamburgers and hot dogs. But there are a handful of campgrounds and RV parks that are finding great success with their own on-site restaurants, which offer everything from award winning salmon to comfort foods, like biscuits with gravy and baked chicken.”
Owners Share Their Stories
One case in point is Kamp Klamath RV Park and Campground in Klamath, Calif. The 33-acre park already has plenty going for it as a vacation destination, being bordered on three sides by the Redwood National Park, plus having one-quarter mile of frontage along the Klamath River.
But Kamp Klamath is also gaining notoriety for the quality of its smoked salmon, which has won seven regional cooking competitions in the past five years, including smoked salmon tasting contests in the annual Yurok Tribe Salmon Festival in Klamath as well as smoked salmon tasting competitions held at the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, Calif., and the Jackson County Fair in Central Point, Ore., some 200 miles to the northwest.
“People vector in from all over the world just to taste our salmon,” said Kamp Klamath owner Aaron Funk, who opened a 12-seat restaurant in his park last year after initially gaining fame for his smoked salmon, which he slow smokes in the campground over red alder.
Funk’s restaurant, the Big Foot Grill, also has a tasty menu, with everything from homemade blackberry pancakes with blackberry syrup to barbecued salmon and chicken as well as several Tex-Mex dishes. Guests can also barbecue their own meats. The restaurant has become so successful that Funk has tripled its capacity this year to accommodate up to 28 guests.
Funk also offers his guests “all you can eat” salmon and chicken bonfire barbecues on Saturdays throughout the summer. “We’ve had people from Europe, Asia and Australia contact us to make sure their stay at our park when we’re having our live music and bonfire barbecues,” Funk said.
Bill and Carolyn Strong, owners of Sundermeier RV Park and Conference Center in St. Charles, Mo., have developed a similar following. While travelers often stay at their park because it is located near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Trail, many also camp there so that they can eat at the park’s restaurant, the 92-seat Beef Eaters Restaurant.
“We are famous for our prime rib and our steaks and clam chowder,” Carolyn Strong said, adding that the restaurant has had the same chef for the past eight years. “We’ve even had people from the East Coast taste our clam chowder and say, ‘This is better than what we have at home,’ ” Bill Strong said.
MotorHome magazine named Beef Eaters Restaurant the number one restaurant in RV parks and campgrounds in 2005. Sundermeier RV Park also has the Banquet Center of the Little Hills, which caters wedding receptions, corporate and social events, and has the ability to host visiting bus tours.
Here’s a sampling of other special restaurant and food service offerings by campgrounds and RV parks across the country: