Those bright yellow campground signs and what they mean for your outdoor adventures
KOA, established in 1962, provides a more refined camping experience than the average side-of-the-interstate campgrounds that look more like parking lots than campgrounds. While it may seem that they’re geared to RVs, all KOA campers are welcome to share the campground’s amenities.
Kampgrounds of America
KOA franchise holders, held to a higher standard across the board, offer clean bathhouses with hot showers, tidy grounds and an assortment of options for tent campers, RV enthusiasts and travelers without any sort of camping gear. Tent campers typically share a shady area away from the big rigs, and cabins are either clustered together or form a ring around the campground. Most have added features like swimming pools, fenced pet play areas, Wi-Fi and scheduled activities like movie nights and community campfires. KOA’s rewards program includes a 10 percent discount on campsites and a cash award that can be used on reservations.
KOA operates almost 500 campgrounds in the contiguous United States and lower Canada. A handy interactive map on their website shows the location and a thumbnail of each campground with information about operating seasons, phone and address along with an option to make a reservation instantly. The online trip planner allows campers to plot a point-to-point route with KOAs along the way and make reservations by phone or online. Campers will find the most KOA facilities in California, Colorado, Florida, New York and Texas and the fewest in Alaska, Connecticut and North Dakota. Ontario is the Canadian province with the largest concentration of KOA campgrounds. Download a copy of the KOA directory, or request that a free hard copy be mailed that includes a road atlas.
KOA campgrounds still take reservations the old-fashioned way – by phone – but a robust online reservation system with secure credit card acceptance lets travelers select not only dates but the site that’s appropriate for the type of equipment they’re using, be it a motor home, fifth wheel or tent. The KOA app lets users search for campgrounds, reserve sites and filter by amenities. App users benefit from emergency alerts and information about nearby attractions. The app also integrates with a vehicle’s GPS system to provide route information.
Keep in mind
Campers who are sticking a toe into the camping scene rather than taking the plunge can stay in one of the KOA cabins available at most campgrounds. Basic cabins have bunk beds, electricity and a covered porch. Upgrade to a deluxe cabin for a bathroom, kitchenette, furnishings and a fire pit. Seasoned RV owners know their parking capabilities and whether they prefer a pull-through site or a back-in. When making reservations, make sure the campground has sites large enough for a big rig. Snowbirds – RV drivers who spend the winter months in a warm location – typically get a lower, long-term rate.