KOA is A-OKAY!

Written by Beth Hudson, LBKA

If you read my last post, you know I have been to Colorado and Utah. Our ride home was interesting, as our truck decided it would only start if it was hand-primed. Lots of fun for Better-Half, as he is the one who had to pop the hood and do the priming. All I had to do was turn the key; we are home now and problem solved.


Our travels consisted of a mixture of boondocking sites (no electricity, water, or sewer hook-ups, and free), a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) site, and private campgrounds.  We stuck to Harvest Host and Cabela’s for our boondocking. The only time we left one of these places was in northeast Utah where the temperature was 104F and one of our two generators conked out - we had to find a campground that night, and luckily, there was one forty miles west, which knocked off forty minutes of travel the next day - yay!


When we stayed at private campgrounds, we stayed in KOAs - four to be exact - Green River Utah, Grand Junction, CO, Middlebury, IN, and Herkimer, NY. Our boondocking consisted of an awesome brewery, a very quiet winery, and the aforementioned Cabela’s. My favorite site of all (and we stayed there both east- and westbound) was Coralville, Iowa, where the BLM had dug a large man-made lake and put in a beautiful campground. We stayed in the “disabled” site, which was close to facilities and totally paved; the cost? Only $20/night - I highly recommend this place if you are driving through or want to vacation in the area.


But what I really want to endorse is KOA campgrounds. KOAs are franchises that are independently owned and operated, but must conform to KOAs corporate rules and standards. Their standards, for the most part, are quite high, and they are inspected regularly, so they are a good value, in my opinion.


Of the four, I must highly endorse the KOA in Grand Junction, CO, which is located centrally west - near the Colorado-Utah border off of I-70. This campground was not only handicap accessible, but also wheelchair accessible (and you know - there IS a difference!) No stairs, no ramp; it was completely flat. One could roll right into the reservation office and the bathrooms were incredible. Wide doors (ok, I think they would have been a bit difficult to open), with a roll-in shower, large handicap stall, and a sink that was wheelchair level; I was gobsmacked! And at around $60/ night, a real bargain. This place had large sites with trees for shade, two dog parks, and a pool. One gate in the back opens to a public trail that runs through the city and along a river. Another gate on the side opens right into their county fairgrounds - how smart of them! I bet the place is packed during their annual county fair.


The only negative was the gravel roads throughout the park. My sidestix had a difficult time with them because they shifted easily and I had to be careful and focused. I would think a manual wheelchair might be difficult as well. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons for this place, and it is a KOA that I would definitely recommend for anyone with mobility issues.  The staff were friendly, and although we didn’t use it, the pool was clean and well kept. We arrived late, otherwise we would have taken our bikes on the city pathway - it looked spectacular!


On the other hand, due to our said engine problems, we had to stay in a KOA in Herkimer, NY, and since I already wrote a review (which they solicited), I have no problem telling you never to stay there - ever. First it was $100, which I consider an outrageous amount. (Most KOAs are between $50 and $70/night.) If they had given us a decent site, maybe. But they didn’t - we had a difficult time parking, were as far away from the bathrooms as humanly possible, had to snake our sewer hose under the rig instead of on its correct side - nothing like eating dinner at a picnic table with a sewer line running next to it - and the electricity was sub-par. This is a place where folks come to vacation, so it’s more of a resort than an overnight-stay KOA, which is how they justified the price. We just didn’t get enough bang for the buck there. If I had been a KOA inspector, I would not have passed them in accordance with the KOA corporate standards. Our stays in Middlebury and Green River were fine. They were well maintained and well staffed. 


If you are thinking about camping and want to give it a try, I highly recommend KOAs as a start. Most of them have “Kamping Kabins” which get you off the ground while still getting the camping experience. If you like it, time to pitch a tent! I usually don’t say anything about being an amputee. Sometimes I will look at the site map before making a reservation, and if it does have an HC site, I will request it. Sure wish I had done that in NY!  


We enjoyed our six weeks out and back, and we love glamping, but we’re glad to be home for a bit before our next outing. There’s still plenty of summer left, so get out there if you can!


And remember: You don’t know how much strength you have until you are called upon to use it.


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