Arizona Park Pioneer Jack Denton Eulogized

September 12, 2012 by · Comments Off on Arizona Park Pioneer Jack Denton Eulogized 

Sun City residents who take their recreational vehicles to campgrounds throughout Arizona owe a debt of gratitude to Jack E. Denton, Your West Valley News, Sun City, Ariz., reported.

Denton, who helped establish Arizona’s first campground industry association as well as the national organization that later became the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), died Aug. 26 in Peoria, Ariz., and was remembered Tuesday (Sept. 11) during a service at the First United Methodist Church in Glendale.

“Jack was considered the father of our industry in Arizona,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. “He was truly a treasure that we all adored. Jack never missed any meetings or conventions. We could always count on him for support.”

Denton built the Flagstaff KOA in 1967, five years after the founding of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA). The campground, located at an elevation of 7,000 feet at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, is one of the oldest continuously owned KOAs in the 484-park KOA system in North America.

Denton was a charter member of Arizona ARVC’s precursor, the Arizona Campground Owners Association, which he helped form in 1975. He served on the state organization’s board of directors for more than 30 years.

Active on legislative issues, he was considered instrumental in passing legislation to create a Scenic Byways program not only in Arizona, but across the U.S., Mickelson said. He was also a strong advocate for private parks as they struggled with competitive issues involving public parks.

“He was on a first-name basis with the Forest Service in Flagstaff and was always partnering with them for the benefit of campgrounds and RV parks in northern Arizona,” Mickelson said.


New Logo and Website for Arizona ARVC

May 1, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Arizona ARVC's new logo

The Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Arizona ARVC) had a good story to tell its membership at the Annual Conference and Trade Show April 25-26 at the Rincon Country West RV Resort in Tucson.

The association has a new logo, launched its revamped website ( with the help of Strait Web Solutions in February and is nearing completion of its annual camping directory with publication expected this summer, explained Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director.

The two-day conference attracted representatives from 27 parks and 15 vendors. Attendance was good, considering that the event comes at the conclusion of Arizona’s “winter” season for the parks in the southern half of the state and the start of the “summer” season for most parks in the northern half, she said.

The southern parks had a good season, about on par with a year ago, she said, and the feeling among owners is that the upcoming summer will be good for the northern parks.

For her part, Mickelson was just opening her park, J & H RV Park in Flagstaff, and reported good traffic already.

The conference featured seminars on four diverse topics.

A screenshot of the homepage for Arizona ARVC's new website.

Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), was the keynote speaker and focused on member benefits available to ARVC members. He also updated members on the ADA swimming pool and spa lift regulations, whose implementation was successfully delayed through lobbying efforts of ARVC and the hotel and motel industry. And and in a cracker barrel session, Sims helped clarify questions about compliance with federal regulations on accommodating guests with service dogs.

Others seminar speakers were Nicole Perri and Jordan Kelly, who spoke on social media, and Jason Porter of Legally Mine.

A fourth “seminar” was an instructive lesson for park owners and operators on how to play pickle ball and bocce ball, two activities that are popular among guests in Arizona parks but not necessarily familiar to park owners themselves.

A special guest was Saundra Bryn, Region 6 ARVC board member representing the West. She is the owner of Desert’s Edge RV/The Purple Park in Phoenix.

The association recognized three parks of the year. Desert’s Edge RV/The Purple Park was named Medium Size Park of the Year, and there was a tie for Large Park of the Year between La Hacienda RV Resort in Apache Junction and Rincon Country East in Tucson.

The new officers for Arizona ARVC are Robert Rolle, president, Rolle’s Linda Vista RV Resort in Yuma; Barbara Stafford, vice president, Apache Palms RV Park in Tempe; Wendy Bykovsky, treasurer, Rincon Country West; and Annette Sounnakhone, secretary, Rincon Country West.

A 12-member board also was elected.

Mickelson briefed members on key legislative issues affecting their industry. The primary focus was on pending legislation that would hold RV parks and manufactured housing communities responsible for the cleanup of meth labs that are found within their boundaries. As of April 30, the bill was in a conference committee. An amended version would not hold parks responsible for the total cleanup but only for remediation of chemical contamination

In Arizona, High Gas Prices Stunt Snowbirds’ Travels

March 9, 2012 by · Comments Off on In Arizona, High Gas Prices Stunt Snowbirds’ Travels 

Entrance to Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande.

Winter visitors seem to be staying longer in Casa Grande, Ariz., this season, partially because high gas prices have kept them from moving around, reported.

According to three RV park managers in Casa Grande, located between Phoenix and Tucson, a number of factors are contributing to the prolonged stay of some.

“I’ve noticed a lot more people are staying longer,” said Sally Johnson, manager of Sundance 1 RV Resort on Thornton Road. “I’d say the cause is that gas prices are getting up there and the weather here is much nicer than back home.”

Wendell Johnson, general manager of Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, agreed, saying, “Our longer stays are up 20 percent this year. They seem to be coming for longer periods of time — three to five months.”

Johnson attributed this phenomenon to rising gasoline prices and residents of his park embracing the community. “RVers are used to moving around and staying different places,” he said. “But gas has prohibited that this year. They seem to be staying here longer instead.

“One of the reasons our residents come to Casa Grande is for the small-town feel,” Johnson said. “The longer they stay, the more they become a part of the community.”

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande.

Casita Verde RV Resort manager Kathy Wallick noted that the Canadian visitors in her park — which she said is roughly half — are the most active. “The Canadians are great,” she said. “They want to be a part of everything in the park and in the community.”

The sense of community among winter visitors has been a growing trend, said Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce CEO Helen Neuharth. “Our winter residents support our local businesses by spending money here, but they also have an overwhelming sense of community. They have been volunteering at the chamber more and more.”

Wallick said that while gas prices may be affecting winter visitors who come out in RVs, the media coverage has been making it worse. “Yes, the prices are going up, but when you hear about it all the time it just keeps reminding everyone.”

What worries Wallick, she said, is if the prices continue to rise. “What I’m concerned about is if the gas goes up as high as they say it will — up to $5 per gallon — what next season will be like.”

Casita Verde RV Park in Casa Grande.

On the state level, the winter visitor population has been holding its own, said JoAnn Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. “Most tell me that it’s just about the same as it was last year. It has been kind of stagnant this year — as far as how many people have made the trip out.

“The gasoline prices may be the No. 1 reason people are staying longer this season,” Mickelson said. “The part of the industry that has been hit the hardest in the down economy hasn’t been the parks; it’s been the RV dealers and manufacturers.”

Although the number of winter visitors coming out to Arizona this year may have reached a temporary plateau, they still have a major effect on the economy.

“NAU (Northern Arizona University) recently did a study on the whole industry,” she said. “Statewide, it represents $1.5 billion each year.”

Arizona Campgrounds See Uptick in Reservations

October 19, 2009 by · Comments Off on Arizona Campgrounds See Uptick in Reservations 

Reservations are up at several Arizona campgrounds and RV parks that cater to snowbirds, according to an informal survey of park operators across the Grand Canyon State by the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Arizona ARVC).

“We think it’s going to be a pretty good season, certainly stronger than last year,” said Merlin Jones, Arizona ARVC president, adding that most parks are reporting higher winter advance reservation figures than they had last year at this time.

Several park operators have also invested in significant improvements this year, which Jones said should please their returning winter visitors as well as snowbirds who are visiting their parks for the first time.

Here’s a sampling of sampling of comments from private park operators in Arizona regarding their reservation levels, business projections and improvements they have made in preparation for the upcoming winter season:

Desert’s Edge RV Village in Phoenix: Advance reservations through Jan. 1 are up 5% for 163 lower-tier sites and down 2% for the park’s 50 upper tier sites, said Saundra Bryn, the park’s managing partner. In terms of improvements, the park has invested about $55,000 in several upgrades this year, including new pool decking and new shade awnings in the pool area, a new universal weight machine for the fitness center, new landscaping, and plumbing improvements.
Eagle View RV Resort in Fort McDowell: Advance winter reservations are up about 5% at this 150-site park compared to last year, said General Manager Merlin Jones, who also serves Arizona ARVC president. ”We have had fewer cancellations this year,” he said. “Last year at this time, we were getting phone calls and there were cancellations. This year, they’re still making reservations daily.” Meanwhile, the park has invested in several improvements this year, including a new $40,000 fitness center and a $13,000 dog park. The park has also created a new horseshoe pit.
Mesa Spirit RV Resort in Mesa: Advance winter reservations are up slightly at this park compared to where they were at this time last year, said Jim Beach, general manager of National Mobile Development, which owns Mesa Spirit RV Resort. “Last season, we were a little bit worried because of the economy,” Beach said. “But once it got cold up north, the snowbirds came down in droves. This year we’re expecting a little bit better year.”
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande: Long-term winter reservations at this 1,862-site park are up 9.9% compared to last year at this time, said Wendell Johnson, Palm Creek’s general manager. “That translates into about 126 new reservations over last year,” Johnson said, adding that several factors that bode well for the upcoming winter season, including a stable Canadian dollar and “a pretty good rally” on the American stock market.
Rincon Country RV Resort in Tucson: This resort, which has two locations in Tucson, anticipates a slight decline in its daily and weekly rentals this winter, but an increase in the number of RVers who spend several months at the park, said resort owner George O’Leary. Rincon County RV Resort has 1,140 sites, while its Rincon County East location has 460 sites. O’Leary said he has spent about $150,000 on road resurfacing at Rincon Country East this year.
Shangri-La R.V. Resort in Yuma: This park’s advance winter reservations are consistent with last year’s figures, said Debbie Saunders, the park’s assistant manager, adding that the park is working to finish several improvements before the snowbirds arrive.
Towerpoint RV Resort and Good Life RV Resort, both in Mesa: Advance winter reservations at these parks are up 15 to 17% compared to last year at this time, said Dan Martin, who serves as general manager of both properties. Cancellations are also down compared to last year’s figures. “Last year, we had 15 to 20 cancellations at each property” Martin said. ”We’ve probably had five or six cancellations at each property this year. I’m hoping that that’s an indication that things are good.”
In terms of improvements, about $300,000 has been in upgrades at both properties during the past year, including the remodeling of the health clubs at both Good Life and Towerpoint, resurfacing of tennis courts and pool hall at Towerpoint and the remodeling of the main hall at Good Life. Towerpoint has 1,112 sites, 74 percent of which are occupied by park models. Good Life has 1,156 sites, 72 percent of which are park models.