Woman thumbs down at KOA campground

5 Reasons to Avoid KOA Campgrounds

Camping trips should be positive and memorable experiences for everyone. KOA campgrounds offer many amenities and services to help campers create plenty of memories. However, while they may be a well-known campground in the RVing community, it’s often for all the wrong reasons. 

The service and experiences campers receive at these campgrounds can be inconsistent at best. Unfortunately, you’re gambling whenever you book a stay at one of their locations.

Today, we’ll explore why you may want to think twice before booking a stay at a KOA campground. Let’s get started!

What Are KOA Campgrounds?

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) started in 1962. It is a chain of privately-owned campgrounds with locations throughout the United States and Canada. With over 500 locations, they’re one of the biggest names in the business.

These campgrounds are often family-friendly destinations. They strive to offer a safe and fun environment for campers of all ages. They’re hard to beat for anyone wanting to enjoy the outdoors with access to modern amenities and services.

Three types of KOA campgrounds exist; Journey, Holiday, and Resort. Journey campgrounds offer the essentials and are perfect for overnight stops. Holiday campgrounds typically have a few more amenities and can be excellent for extended stays. Those looking for a luxury experience with spas, dining, and golf courses should consider KOA Resort locations.

What Is Special About KOA Campgrounds?

KOA Campgrounds offers a wide range of amenities and a family-friendly atmosphere. The campgrounds maintain a full schedule of events and activities for all ages. It’s nearly impossible to be bored when you stay at a KOA.

Many people love these campgrounds because of their ease of use. Most sites offer full hook-ups and everything a camper needs to enjoy themselves. The goal is to make the entire experience as convenient as possible.

Another feature that makes these campgrounds unique is the number of locations. While the number constantly changes, they’re a massive camping network. Their sites are practically everywhere!

Woman thumbs down at KOA campground

5 Reasons to Avoid KOA Campgrounds

Unfortunately, the fancy marketing campaigns the campground chain frequently runs don’t reveal the complete picture. There are several reasons we think you should avoid KOA campgrounds. Let’s take a look!

1. They’re Pricey

If you want a budget-friendly campsite, you won’t likely find it at one of their locations. Sites at these campgrounds typically range between $45 and $100+ per night. If you’re looking to camp in a popular tourist destination, you should expect to pay a premium price.

Additionally, while the campgrounds market themselves as family-friendly, some charge a daily fee per kid. Between the premium campsite fees and fees for children, you can easily spend a small fortune to stay with them. Depending on the length of your stay, it may be worth opting for a hotel instead. 

We crunched the numbers to decide Is KOA Worth the High Price?

2. They’re Crowded and Noisy

Like many RV parks, KOA has perfected the art of constructing campsites as closely together as possible. In many cases, camps are practically on top of each other. You’ll likely feel disappointed if you come expecting a spacious campsite with room for everyone in your gang to spread out.

Additionally, these campgrounds are very successful at targeting families. While we’re all for families camping and making memories, this can create a very noisy campground.

If you’re expecting to enjoy the birds chirping or other sounds of nature, it may not happen here. You’re more likely to hear the screams of children playing, 70s rock music from a neighbor’s radio, and the exhaust from the truck owner three campsites away.

Sign to KOA campground

3. Small Campsites

Many of the campsites tend to be incredibly tiny. While these campgrounds offer many community gathering spaces, they do because camps have minimal communal space. Don’t expect much room to gather around a campfire or toss a frisbee with your loved ones.

If you’re looking for a campsite that allows you to spread out, you’ll want to stick with state parks. These campgrounds tend to be more generous with space and provide a more natural setting. However, campsites tend to be unique, so research before making any reservations.

4. The Membership Isn’t a Great Deal

KOA offers a membership program that can be confusing and isn’t always beneficial. While you can earn rewards for staying at their campground, there may be restrictions on when you can use them. This could result in paying the total price for a campsite when you expected a better deal.

While their membership program can sometimes be beneficial, it’s not the best for the average camper. The more you stay at their campgrounds, the better the benefits are. However, don’t forget you’re paying a premium for each night. When you’re spending this kind of money on camping, the rewards throw you a bone now and then.

5. They’re Franchised

These campgrounds are franchises, so there’s no consistency between locations. Franchise owners privately manage them, and some are better than others. While many do an excellent job with maintenance and upgrades, that’s not always the case.

Some campgrounds are a few decades old, and it shows. Unfortunately, many locations put forth minimal effort to maintain their KOA identity. As a result, you need to do plenty of research and read reviews to ensure you’re not wasting your time or money.

Are KOA Campgrounds Worth It for Your Vacation? 

If you have a camping trip in the future, you might be considering KOA campgrounds. Whether these campgrounds are worth it depends on your expectations. If you’re dreaming of a camping experience in nature, you may not find it here. However, if you want a place to stay while you explore an area, it can be worth it. Read plenty of reviews and prepare your wallet for the premium price tag.

Would you stay at a KOA campground?

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