Indiana's Largest RV Park Marks 51st Year
News out of northern Indiana's RV factory belt may be disastrous, but southern Indiana's largest privately owned RV park is enjoying good times.
"Our reservations are up 4% over a year ago," said Dave Lovell, manager of Lake Rudolph RV Resort & Campground, 35 miles east of Evansville.
There are at least two reasons why the campground – which started small in 1958 but now spreads across 160 acres adjacent to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari theme park – is bucking the recession, according to the Evansville Courier Press.
Lovell said many vacationing families are staying closer to home this year because of the economy.
Also, at Lake Rudolph visitors don't have to own an RV or tent to stay, although there are 200 full-hookup RV sites for those who do.
Tourists can rent an RV or a cabin for $120 to $170 a night, a type of vacation Lovell says is growing in popularity. Another trend finds guests staying longer, often three or four days instead of two.
Lake Rudolph – which will have a public open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (May 30) – also has 40 tent sites served by water and electricity.
"Our core market is families with children and teenagers," said Lovell. "About 70% of our business is from Indiana."
The facility, named National RV Park of the Year by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), has evolved.
Lovell said 10 years ago the campground was still mostly for RV owners.
Today there are 197 RVs and 19 cabins available for rent, surrounded by woods, lake and amenities.
"Until about five years ago," said Lovell, "the only reason you came here was to go to Holiday World. The campground was pretty much empty during the day."
Now, while families still take free shuttles to the theme park, many guests stick around the campground during the day to use Lake Rudolph's giant swimming pool, basketball and beach volleyball areas, playgrounds, 18-hole mini golf course, gem mining area for kids, camp store and fishing lake with paddleboat, kayak and rowboat rentals.
The complex has modern bathhouses, two laundries and an outdoor pavilion popular with family reunions, Lovell added.
New this year are high-speed Internet throughout the campground, "green" (electric) golf carts used by guests and a Blitzen Kitchen offering 48 flavors of ice cream and even pizza delivery.
The campground was started in 1958 by Bill Koch, who created Santa Claus Land in 1946. In the 1980s it became a membership-only campground, but in 1997 the Koch family decided public camping was needed again to serve the growing number of tourists coming to Holiday World.
Like the theme park and nearby Christmas Lake Village subdivision, areas of Lake Rudolph have Christmassy names.
During Saturday's open house, there will be free refreshments, a display of RVs by Tom Raper RVs of Richmond, Ind., and chain saw carving demonstrations by "Chain Saw Willy" Loper.