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KOA Campgrounds: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Camping with Kampgrounds of America

This post was updated on July 3rd, 2023

To KOA or Not to KOA: Weighing the Advantages & Drawbacks

KOAs are a popular choice for campers, offering amenities such as pull-through RV sites and accommodations ranging from cabins to tent camping. KOA (Kampgrounds of America) destinations have long been a staple of the American camping scene, offering well-maintained facilities in scenic locations across the United States and Canada.

Many KOA campgrounds offer convenient access to nearby attractions, making them an ideal choice for RVers who want to explore the surrounding area.

Although KOA campgrounds offer a variety of amenities, there are some potential drawbacks to consider when choosing them for an RV road trip. This article will explore the pros and cons of using KOA campgrounds, so you can decide if they are a good choice for your camping trip.

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What Do KOA Campgrounds Offer?

KOA campgrounds, or Kampgrounds of America, are a national chain of campgrounds that offer a variety of accommodations to suit any type of traveler. Since there are over 500 KOAs located throughout the United States and Canada, travelers can easily find one near their desired destination.

With KOAs, you can choose to stay in cabins, deluxe rental accommodations, tent camping sites, or RV sites. Let’s dive into the specific options for staying at a KOA.

KOA Basic Camping Cabins

KOAs offer both basic cabins and deluxe cabins to meet anyone’s needs for an overnight stay. Sometimes you want something a little more sturdy than tent camping. Cabins offer protection from the elements and area wildlife or a more comfortable way to stay for your trip.

A typical basic cabin rental at the KOA is a one-bedroom cabin with a sleeping area. Some camping cabins have a bed and bunk beds. They have electricity, air conditioning, and often a little covered porch with a swing.

This one-room cabin is a more comfortable option than tent camping but is still very basic and affordable. There is no kitchen or bathroom in the basic cabins. There is a nearby campground bathroom with showers to use while staying in the basic cabin rentals.

KOA Deluxe Cabins

A KOA Deluxe Cabin has all of the comforts of home in a tiny rental. Most Deluxe Cabins offer a separate bedroom, and some have a loft area for additional sleeping. They have a full kitchen with a stove, microwave, and refrigerator. There is also a bathroom with a shower.

This is a popular option for a more comfortable stay with extra sleeping areas and a way to make your own food during the trip. This can be a great way to experience staying in a campground with camping activities included while still having all of the comforts of home.

Rental Airstream Trailers

Wish you could try out RV camping but don’t have an RV? Some KOA locations now offer rental Airstream RVs that you can stay in. This could be a fun vacation idea or even a way to try out RV camping before deciding to purchase one.

Camping in a KOA Airstream gives you the full camping experience without all of the work. The RV is already completely set up, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy your stay.

A few KOA locations that currently have Airstream RV rentals include the Bar Harbor KOA in Maine, the Crystal River KOA Holiday in Colorado, and the Monterey Bay KOA Holiday in California.

Fun Non-Traditional KOA Rentals

Some KOAs also have exciting non-traditional rentals that could be a blast to have a vacation in. Some unique options include staying in a tree house, a glamping tent, a covered wagon, a yurt, a caboose, or even a tepee!

Have a train lover in your family? Then renting a train caboose to stay in could be the trip of a lifetime. Some KOA locations have restored old train cabooses and turned them into the perfect trip accommodation.

This would be perfect for Boxcar Children’s book fans. Some locations currently offering caboose rentals include Oregon Dunes KOA Holiday in Oregon, Historic Route 66 KOA in Missouri, and Mt. Washington KOA Holiday in New Hampshire.

Have a Little House on the Prairie fan in your household? How about a one-of-a-kind stay in a covered Conestoga wagon featuring bunk beds? These rentals are found at the Oregon Dunes KOA Holiday in Oregon and the North Cascades National Park KOA in Washington.

The most commonly offered alternative rentals are tepees, yurts, and glamping tents. These options are offered at many KOA locations, so you have a better chance of finding one available in your trip location. How fun!

Campsites

Many locations offer both dedicated tent and RV camping sites. To upgrade your glamping experience even more, some RV campsites offer a more elaborate setup with a patio, grill, patio furniture, and swing to enjoy during your stay.

a KOA campground campsite with foothills in the background
Photo by: Scott Russell of The Adventure Detour

The Three Types of KOAs

There are three different types of KOA campgrounds: KOA Journey, KOA Holiday, and KOA Resort. Each type offers a unique camping experience with varying amenities and services.

KOA Journey – Gateway to Adventure

KOA Journey campgrounds are the most basic and budget-friendly option for camping. They offer basic amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, hot showers, and laundry facilities. Most locations also have RV sites with full hookups available.

These KOA locations are often located near major highways and offer easy-in and easy-out pull-through campsites. This makes this category of KOAs easy to use for overnight or brief stays en route to the next destination.

KOA Holiday – Basecamp for the Great Outdoors

KOA Holiday campgrounds are your mid-range choice between a basic KOA Journey site and an upscale KOA Resort. These campgrounds are typically larger than the average Journey sites and often include more activities and scheduled events. Amenities may include swimming pools, bike rentals, mini golf, fishing ponds, and playgrounds.

KOA Resort – The Destination for Recreation

KOA Resort campgrounds offer a more upscale experience with many amenities and activities available to campers. These resorts often have swimming pools, hot tubs, conference centers, fitness centers, bike trails, kayak rentals, arcade games, and sports courts. In addition to the traditional camping sites offered at all KOAs, rental cabins or Airstream trailers may also be available for rent.

It is important to note that some KOA locations may offer more than one type of camping experience, so check the website closely before making your reservation to ensure you are getting what you need. No matter which type of KOA you choose, a stay can be a memorable one.

Pros And Cons of KOA Campgrounds

KOA campgrounds are a popular option with tent campers, RV campers, and with those that want the camping experience while also staying in a rental. How do you know if KOAs are the perfect campsite for your next RV trip? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of staying at a KOA.

Pros of Choosing KOA Campgrounds

One of the biggest reasons people stay at KOAs trip after trip is their consistency. Even though KOAs are privately owned, they have the same look and feel and similar amenities across all locations.

Many campers like that they can travel across the country and know what to expect. This reduces pulling in and not being pleased with the campground.

KOAs are located all across the US and even in Canada. Finding one near where you plan to take a trip is easy and convenient. Most tourist areas and natural attractions have a location nearby which makes these campgrounds a popular choice.

KOAs usually have well-kept facilities, often including shower bathrooms, a campground store, a laundry facility, an off-leash dog run, and a recreation room. Some locations also offer ice cream or food items.

Depending on the category of KOA you are staying at, most locations have many recreational amenities. Common things to do include swimming pools, jumping pillows, gem mining, movie screen nights, mini golf, bike rental, basketball, climbing walls, playgrounds, and horseshoe pits.

KOAs also offer an easy-to-book online website where you can choose the type of accommodation you are looking for and your travel dates. There is also an app to book your stay at a KOA. Booking online also makes it easy to check campsite size to make sure your RV will fit.

KOAs are pet-friendly with off-leash pet areas for your furry travelers. A newer feature being rolled out at some KOA locations is Paw Pen campsites. These sites feature a fenced-in area in your personal campsite that pets can enjoy off-lease.

Campers who visit KOA campgrounds often can take advantage of the KOA Rewards camping loyalty program. This program costs $36 per year and provides a campsite discount of 10% off per night. You can earn points and enjoy free camping nights during KOA rewards weekends.

Cons of Choosing KOA Campgrounds

There are, however, some drawbacks to staying at KOA campgrounds. One of the largest cons to KOAs is the price. It is a much more expensive place to stay in your RV versus some other cheaper privately owned RV campgrounds, state parks, or boondocking.

The campsites are often very close together with limited space and privacy. They can also be crowded, especially during peak seasons and holidays. Many campers prefer staying in a more natural setting with larger campsites and more privacy. You won’t usually find that style of camping with KOA campsites.

Using RV LIFE Campgrounds to Research KOA Reviews

Users of RV Trip Wizard, part of RV LIFE Pro Membership, have the ability to quickly search for campgrounds, including KOA properties. Looking to search only for KOA locations? You can use the search filter function of RV Trip Wizard to only show KOA campground locations.

Plus with RV LIFE Campgrounds, you can view KOA campground reviews and amenities offered in each location so you can pick the right campground for your trip.

Are you excited to check out a KOA campground? They offer consistent quality with many locations across the US and Canada. They are best for convenience and amenities but not necessarily for campers looking for large campsites or privacy. So pack your bags and enjoy your next camping trip at a KOA!

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