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Comments for Seattle KOA sets bad example for others

  • During the 2 winters, 2012-13 and 2013-14, my wife and I stayed at a lot of KOA campgrounds, while traveling from Maine to Arizona and back. Most of our stays were for 1-3 nights. We found that each one was not at all as you described in your editorial. They were not all equal, but I always gave there surveys a good to excellent review. We found the best ones were in San Antonio, Texas, Shenandoah/Broadway Virginia, Los Cruces, New Mexico and Baton Rouge/Dedham Springs, Louisiana. In fact on our second winter, we went back to the KOA’s in Virginia for a 5 days and Louisiana for a month. Since then we now stay 6 months in Florida at a non KOA park, but it has nothing to do with KOA, just that there isn’t one near where we want to be.

  • KOA and other so called R V parks should be required to state how many sites they keep available for travelers. Many parks have become no more than mobile home courts.In the New England area many parks we found seemed to have 75 to 80% sites occupied by permanent or long term residents.

    • In the Good Sam Directory they will show total sites, then available sites. I always assumed the difference was owners/workers & permanents. However, KOA listings in GS directory & their own directory do not have that information.

  • We try to NEVER stay at K(eep) O(n) A(ding). That is what has happened to us in one of our few stays, that added onto the price quoted! NOT a good value for what is offered!

  • Three years ago I wanted to stay at a KOA near Niagara Falls and they wanted $90 per night. I could have stayed in a motel for the same price. That price did not include any perks. KOA has out-priced themselves lately.

  • I was a KOA member for many years because I knew they were nice affordable parks 20-30 years ago. I am not sure what happened but the pricing began to climb and the quality and benefits did not keep pace. There are many nice KOA’s around the country but no longer in my price range.

  • We have NEVER stayed at a KOA. Can there be anyplace more expensive? We’ve passed some that looked really nice, but I can’t get past the price. We boondock 90% of the time so prices of all parks are too much for us (wink and smile here), but we have to stay at RV parks from time to time for the usual ‘unload and reload’ activities. Never at KOA. They are SO proud of their parks, they have priced themselves out of the average RV’ers market.

  • My wife and I were there Sept 5-14, 2016. Had I known what it looked like before I called for reservations I never would have chosen that park. Eight washers and dryers but only half worked. Wife must use a wheelchair or scooter and they gave me a site inthe back that my travel trailer barely fit into and she wasn’t able to use the RV’s entry door due to very narrow site. My pickup wouldn’t fit, either. After being told no other sites were available and then asking for a full refund they ‘somehow’ found a pull-thru just west of the office. Very high price for a run-down park. Many KOAs are very nice [but, I feel, overpriced]. My reservation was for a “week” which turned out to be six nights – not enough to get the weekly rate. Extending my stay a few more days [more to see than we planned] my total bill was for one more night than I wanted without the weekly rate. I was told that they would ‘look into it but I never received a refund. This one is far from nice and certainly gives KOA a bad name.

  • I believe we’ve stayed at two KOA’s over our many years of camping and in both, hidden behind a tall row of bushes, was a railroad track. The trains that came past us during the night were loud and made the ground tremble. Needless to say they woke us up. Add to this, their out of sight camping fees! No thanks! We do everything possible to avoid staying at a KOA.

    • We have avoided KOAs for the same reason. Most of them seem to be stone’s throw to railroad tracks. And yes, they are overpriced.

  • KOA? Just like any other modern day park. One haD to research, I personally use RV Park reviews as its more reliable IMO. some are great, KOA Stanton Va, some lousy St. Augustine, Fl. However, like Chuck expressed either business or time placement dictates where I have to call it a day as May days are much shorter than fifty years ago:). DW and I DO NOT Walmarts. We have both worked a combined 89 years at high corporate political positions and there’s no way in the few years we have left I’m hanging out in a Walmart to save 45.00. I want nice grass for my border collie to poop on!

  • Each year since 2012 my wife and I have spent 5 months on the road, moving every 4-7 days. We have camped at a KOA only twice. #1 reason is KOA is a FAMILY campground. As EmptyNesters we avoid these as much as possible. #2 reason is the high price. We Boondock only 20% of the time, and seldom pay more than $30 a night. We are happy for families to have KOA and its amenities, it’s just not our “Thing”.

  • KOA? Just like any other modern day park. One has to research, I personally use RV Park reviews as its more reliable IMO. some are great, KOA Stanton Va, some lousy St. Augustine, Fl. However, like Chuck expressed either business or time placement dictates where I have to call it a day as our days are much shorter than fifty years ago:). DW and I DON’T DO Walmart’s. We have both worked a combined 89 years at high corporate political positions and there’s no way in the few years we have left I’m hanging out in a Walmart to save 45.00. I want nice grass for my border collie to poop on! PERIOD!!!

  • We spent several weeks in more than one KOA on a cross country trip we took in 2014. Even with a membership, we found them to be at the high end of the pricing scale. Their amenities are nowhere near many of the independent parks. Some KOA’s do a really good job and take care of their facilities. For that, I don’t mind paying the extra money. But it is a slap in the face to pay a premium for crummy surroundings.
    For the longest time, I have driven by the KOA in Kent and noticed that they seem to lean towards long term parking instead of family camping. I believe most of those living there are workers who have moved to the Seattle area but still haven’t managed to better themselves.

  • Me and my wife stay at KOA in Long Beach. WA in 1999 in one cabin on July 2nd 3rd and 4th the first a group near by party and being loud I talk to staff and they say asking to keep down it never happen the rest room was not best of shape and it look old and I can’t say how the campground is now but it had change our minds about the KOA and now one in Seattle I was thinking about checking it out after this report I change my mine.

  • WOW that KOA is a piece. They need to be removed as a KOA,
    My wife and I are full timers and pretty much stick with freebies or the lesser expensive end of the spectrum. No way would we stay there. We are currently at Benbrook Lake in Texas. $14 a night with water and elect. And a dump just up the road. Army Corp of Engineers, as an example. We think 65 a night is extremely high for that joint. We do stop on occasion at a KOA (not often), We have stayed twice in the last few months. One In Tucson, and one in Bastrop, TX both well taken care of, and neither was 65 a night. I sincerely hope that given your input corporate will do something about the unsightly mess.

  • 16 years of traveling, I have not used KOA camps more than 3-4 times and then only because they were close by when I needed to get off the road. They ala carte most of their charges, which in the end prices them above competition. The last one I stopped in wanted a $7.00 fee for my cat to stay overnight. Ridiculous;

  • My wife and I have stayed at many KOA campgrounds over the last 2 decades, and for the most part these are nice clean parks. The sites however tend to be on the smaller side. Some of the parks are so nice that we ended up staying for a couple weeks. In August of 2016 we where hit by a improperly maintained car 3 times. Our new camper was flipped and totaled, the tow vehicle sustained $30,00.00 in damage and at that point we no longer had transportation or lodging. We had made reservations at the Indianapolis KOA that we no longer could use. My wife called and explained what had happened and the girl said no refunds and then hung up. I thought that reaction was a little strange until I called 2 days later and was given the same treatment. At first I thought my call had dropped until I called the second time and now my number was blocked. I then at a later date called KOA Corporate Office and went into full detail about our accident and how the Indianapolis KOA treated us. Koa Corporate responce was, there is nothing we can do they are a franchise and make there own rules. Our treatment from this KOA has now change how we view all KOA Campgrounds. We will no longer make any reservations with KOA and if we find that our only choices to stay for a night is KOA or Walmart we will now be staying at Walmart.

  • We stayed it the “Hoboville” section (tenter/ truck camper area) of the Kent KOA for our daughter’s graduation from UW. We were stuffed in and couldn’t open windows of the TC, not because of campfires, but because of marijuana fog outside. Ridiculous conditions for the price!

  • We stayed here one night the last week of April 2017. It was horrible. We had permanent campers on either side of us that were in horrible condition, the roads were a mess, the dump station was locked, the campsites were muddy and wet. I love KOA, but this one is truly horrible.

  • When we travel, we look first for a KOA at or near the stopping point. We have the KOA Kampercard so it helps defray the higher costs, but for the general cleanliness and safety of “most” KOA’s we opt to stay at them. A run down KOA will bring down the overall perception of the franchise and should be held to the minimum standards set by the corporate offices. Bottom line is, greater than 90% of the KOA’s that we have stayed at were very pleasant experiences and we will continue to use them in our future travels.

  • We have stayed in four KOAs over the years with very mixed results. The parks in Pomona and Petaluma, California are very nice. The one in Santa Nella, CA is terrible. About like the one Chuck describes in Seattle. The one in Klamath Falls, Oregon was very hard to find and just OK. We now avoid KOAs whenever possible.

    • Just spent 4 days @ Santa Nella with a group. Campground has been improved, 50 amps, full hook up, clean pleasant workers. Large playground, they were refinishing the pool while we were there, too cool to swim anyway..

  • We have traveled from Cleveland Ohio to Seattle staying at 10 KOA’s. The location of each right off the highway is why we have selected these. We are currently staying at the Kent KOA. Unfortunately, everything in the article is true, plus more. This is the most expensive one and the only one that charged for our pets. There are 5 very close showers and only 2 are open. The others have a close sign on the door. Campground rumor has it they close them so they don’t have to clean them. This past week they are sprucing the place with fresh landscaping, but water is everywhere and showers still closed.

    • Interesting that in the past week the park is being cleaned up. I wonder if that has anything to do with KOA knowing I was going to write this editorial? A coincidence? I wonder. — Chuck/editor

      • Chuck
        We had a very bad experience last summer at the KOA Denver West. We had made reservations months in advance of our six month trip. A few weeks before arriving I and the other couple that we were traveling with noticed that the KOA had booked us in a day later than our intended arrival time. I called the site and told them of the mistake and they booked us in the day earlier that we needed. About a week before we were to arrive a very rude guy called me and demanded that I deposit for the extra day. When I told him we had already gave a deposit for the two week stay. He informed me that he did not like my attitude and we could not stay at his campground. I asked to speak to the manager he said “I’m the manager” and you are not welcome here but the other couple and there rig are.
        I tried to call and emailed the President of KOA but heard nothing back.

      • Since we live in Arizona and our daughter lives in an apt in Kent, we have stayed at this KOA a number of times. This is because: 1. there is no campground closer.!
        Last time was Sept 2016 and we found the place to be very crowded but the showers, laundry and dog parks to be acceptable and welcome. If this KOA closes we will have to hope for space at a state park farther away;

  • I’m not an RV’er yet but I’m doing a ton of research so I’ll be ready to hit the ground running when I do quit the daily grind and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that given the bottomless well of information that is available on the internet I don’t understand why even one person would stay at a less than acceptable park like the one in Kent. Railroad tracks next to the property? Use Google Earth to view the property and surrounding area in detail before making plans to stay. Poorly maintained or otherwise unacceptable conditions? READ the review sites on the web and you’ll be forewarned. Honestly, if you’re foolish enough to travel without looking down the road via the web you deserve what you get.

    • We thought we did our research, too, but there is so much chaff on the internet and my free time is limited. Some websites LIE. One private campground showed pictures taken outside the park as if it were inside. I’ve read reviews of parks I’ve been to that I totally disagreed with, so just as with restaurants, you never know until YOU go there. In doing that, sometimes you strike gold and sometimes you get shoehorned into a tiny site in between two mobile homes with owners who are unhappy you’re there. Just as a home on Zillow can look perfect until you go to look at it and find out it’s on a very busy road or smells funky from the paper mill miles away, if u camp in enough places, u will find yourself in a substandard campground. I think Chuck was surprised in part because he believed the KOA name meant that he could trust it to be up to a certain standard–they certainly charge enough. My husband and I camp at both public and private campgrounds but never tried a KOA because few (if any?) have boat ramps and they’re expensive (in our neck of the woods they can be $90/night.

    • Mark, you may not understand, but sometimes people need to stay in a “less than acceptable park” for reasons that only they know. I have stayed at many such parks through the years, and I am no fool. — Chuck/editor

      • I understand Chuck. In years gone by, out of ignorance and/or necessity I have stayed at my share of shoddy hotels. But now with the internet that no longer happens. I understand that people might do their research and decide the convenience of a park location etc is an acceptable trade-off for a low quality campground. But driving blind and being unhappy you end up in a dump of a campground. Sorry. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

        And of course we readers are happy that a fellow of your stature with an outsized web-driven megaphone might be able to influence change at KOA which used to represent quality family camping, but the rest of us can only really hope to effect change by not spending money on sub-standard products like KOA Kent.

        • One of the things that I love about rving is that I DON’T have to plan every day. Sometimes we plan to stay a night and stay a week. Sometimes it’s the other way. Don’t blame the customer because the campground is terrible. I do have a general plan, but enjoy going with the flow. Generally that means a Walmart parking lot over a crappy KOA, but love the San Diego KOA Offseason when I can afford it.

        • You cannot always depend on what you read on the internet. Duh! Lots of reviews are deliberately put up in a fashion that only shows great/good ones. Then you better search for the tiny little place in 5 font, for all other reviews. I also learned that questions you ask when you call ahead, are not always honest ones. Then there is the time where you have been on the road way too long, have a headache, etc. and just need to stop. It goes on and on and on. Sorry but your reasons don’t add up.

      • One time we reserved 2 nights at Collier State park in Naples FL, but the mosquitoes were so vicious we left early. We’re not used to going anywhere without reservations. We could have just gone home, but we didn’t want to, so we got on the internet and called around. That’s one example of how you can end up in a place you wouldn’t normally stay in. But it worked out nicely… sometimes you’ve got to believe in the power of serendipity. 😉 Another example might be RV problems (another subject bravely covered by Chuck) that might cause you to stop in a place you hadn’t intended to. Or, all the good places were booked 100%–which has also been discussed in the RV Travel newsletter–so you take a chance on a campground that doesn’t have a website (because not all of them do, even in this day and age) or has a very basic website with few photos.

      • Stayed at the one in Las Vegas, NM, wow, the roads were horrible, big washouts from the rian. The coach was rocking and rolling just getting in to it. Sad. We did have a great experience at the one in Wildwood, Florida. They took care of the place, unlike Thousand Trails, KOA uses workcampers and it shows in most all of the parks we have stayed in, well kep grounds. I think the problem mentioned in you article is not just parculiar to KOA, currently at Lake Minden, Cal. TT park, we have stayed here often and have watched it gradually go down hill, The mowing neeeds to be done badly, our dog actually gets lost in the grass. The facilities could all use some sprucing up , electrical boxes covered, etc, Their staff is small and a couple of them have the “Idon’t give a crap ” attitude.

        • There is a Thousand Trails in NC, near Mocksville, I think, that is the same – poorly maintained, old campers falling apart, sites unkept, etc…..one person I spoke with who visited recently referred to it as “Redneck Hell Ghetto”……the KOA in Cherokee, NC is the same

  • I live in the metro area. I drove thru this campground once about 15 years ago, to check it out. It was awful then, too–looked like a homeless camp. Have never been back and would never camp there.

  • Interesting since the KOA CEO was on undercover boss. Seems like some KOA’s have fell through the crack that the CEO needs to be made aware of. We have generally good experiences at them, but have hit a few undesirable ones that we drove in and left immediately,.

  • I stayed at a KOA back in the 70s, and a neighboring campers dog bit my daughter. Little sympathy from the dog owner or the park management. The only KOA we have stayed at in the past couple decades is in Salt lake city. A pleasantly mediocre park close to the Salt Palace convention center where we attend an annual convention, They are overpriced but the only campground nearby.

  • The one in the Tri-Cities is not much better. Not trashy but not what I expect from a KOA. Like others said, they are overpriced. It is insane that RV parks, due to demand, will now charge as much as a night in a hotel. We travel with our own ‘hotel room’ so should not be paying those prices. As for KOA, they could easily pull this parks franchise which they should. Back around 2008 we interviewed for a workamper job at a park in Idaho that a guy just bought. He was in the midst of doing improvements so he would not loose his KOA franchise membership. KOA has become RV parks not campgrounds. They convert campsites to RV sites which most RVs don’t fit well into. I think KOA has tried to change with the times but failed for the most part. Are they a Kampground or RV park? And to nickle and dime people for every little thing including pets (like charging for the cat?) is also ridiculous. Yes, some pet owners deserve to pay more cause they won’t clean up after their pets, but majority do.

  • We very rarely stay at a KOA because of price. With “club” memberships we usually can stay in a nice park for a fraction of a KOA. The KOAs that we have stayed in have been VERY nice, so this report is a shocker.

  • 2011 we traveled across the country about 8000 miles and stayed almost all the time at KOA’s. We would call as we got tired and always got a place and they where always clean and nice. The price was not over the top either. Guess things have changed. Sorry to hear as we have gotten used to them being there when we need them.

  • There are awesome KOAs and then there the KOAs you really want to say to yourself….seriously? Total seriously? Wow. Yellowstone and St Mary in Glacier Montana are wonderful. Quiet and nice. The one in Quebec City also nice. Then there is the in South Montreal. Stay away. The owner is nasty. Philadelphia is awesome. I do stay in some and have had a great experience. And this is in the last 5 years. I guess we need to post where we stayed and why it was great. IMO

  • We will stay at KOA only if something else is not available. We have not had a bad camping experience just think they are overpriced and charge for everything. We have a weekend at a KOA with our son & his family coming up and I was really hesitant about booking it. Back in December we had to cancel a KOA reservation and received no refund. It was cancelled 3 weeks before arrival due to health issues of a family member and had to be on the other side of the country from the reservation. It was too stressful for me to fight with that KOA at that time. Hence my reservations about this trip.

  • There’s an easy fix. If it’s next to a river file a complaint with the City’s Board of Health over sewer pollution. Wait. This is Washington. File a complaint with the State‼️ Had to Zviolate dome “Clean” rule of dome kind?

  • If you think the Seattle KOA is bad….Check out the Acton, Ca. KOA.
    What a mess. Bathroom have dry rot, pool is slimy. Residents-old expired rigs.

  • Similar experience at the KOA at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas. The South Park is very nice, and we enjoyed our stay there. The North Park is another story, with permanent residents, rvs that haven’t moved for years, cars up on blocks, etc. If you make a reservation, be sure to specify the South Park.

  • Chuck,
    My wife and I retired from the Seattle area in 2006 when we started our full time adventure. We’re still on the road and have never ever stayed at a KOA.

    Our kids still live there, so, we have to go back. We’ve found that Tall Chief in Fall City isn’t bad, and Sunrise Resorts in Covington works too. There’s also a mobile park called Willow something in Kent……..much cheaper and better than KOA, but not great.

    And……there is boondocking near Enumclaw…..worth the drive to be there.

  • 12 years ago I stayed at a KOA in Wilmington NC. The pool had green stuff growing in it (besides Alga) + frogs & salamanders. every bit of equipment in the weight room was non functioning, there was maybe 10 items on the store shelves and a premium price being charged as the place had a pool, weight room etc..
    NEVER AGAIN WILL I STAY AT KOA.

  • Homerville, Ohio KOA is awesome. Admittedly we are fairly new to RVing. We’ve travelled from AZ to Erie, PA and back for the July Roar on the Shore rally. Stayed at KOAs every night. Never a problem. I liken KOAs to Denny’s restaurants. Predictable. I am concerned the Seattle KOA may become the norm. I hope this doesn’t happen. My wife and I are more concerned with quality than price. I think $35.00 to $45.00 is a bargain to sleep in our own house on wheels rather than sleep in a room priced from $150.00 and up. Yes, we stay in nice hotels rather than motel chains. To reiterate, PLEASE KOA, dont let your “camp” sites turn to shit. Thanks.

  • I am at the Seattle KOA now. It is truly horrible. Wished I’d seen this and read reviews before stopping! I am leaving tomorrow. I am asking for a refund! This place should be closed!

  • Went to one KOA – Seaside , OR. Over priced, crammed in with a shoehorn. My research shows that most KOA’s are over priced, and many have bad reviews. Why would I want to spend my money on an RV park knowing it probably won’t be a good experience? We are full-timers and would stay in a Walmart parking lot or truck stop over KOA.

  • What gets me about a lot of RV park and resorts is the pictures on their websites. Most of the pictures are of a clubhouse, the office, the pool, people sitting around eating/drinking, but not a lot of pictures of the actual RV sites. It would be nice if the parks/resorts would put actual pictures of the sites to be able to see where and how the hooks ups are, how much space between sites and
    Length, trees , no trees, etc. This is frustrating when the description is one thing ad you get there and it’s not even as described.

  • Late for the comment thread, but here’s my two cents worth. The Kent KOA property owners are probably getting squeezed by rising state and county property taxes! The Kent Valley used to be agricultural, but is now a light industrial warehouse forest. Commercial land is becoming scarce in the south end. Combine that with the uncertainty regarding the City of Kent’s pending land grab, as a business owner I’d be reluctant to do much in the way of maintenance too. Maybe they’re getting ready to sell or if the KOA is on leased land, the landlord is getting ready to sell.

    Another thought about the campground’s deplorable condition is the lawless transient population in King County. The RVs in horrible disrepair and tabs years expired is another symptom of the problem plaguing Seattle and adjoining areas.

    To me, it looks like it’s turned into an “upscale Jungle (the druggie camp and its spin-offs near downtown Seattle) I wonder how many of the “campers” have been at the Kent KOA for longer than ten days? Has evidence of drug use, dealing, and manufacture been seen there?

    It’s sad. I used to live in Kent and would drive by ithe KOA regularly and it was tidy and well kept. But that was in the 1990s. The Seattle metro area has changed a lot since then, and in the case of the Kent KOA, it’s changed for the worse.

  • My husband and I stayed at a KOA at the confluence of the Snake and Palouse Rivers. It was immaculate, the staff was friendly and helpful. We’d stay there again in a heartbeat. It’s smaller than many of the others we’ve looked into staying at. You can even take your boat and moor it at that KOA. Lovely little place.

  • We had a similar negative experience at the Williamsburg, VA KOA. They had recently purchased an adjacent campground. They were in the midst of some much needed drainage improvements. The site was so soggy we could not venture off the narrow gravel pad. The drainage ditch behind the sites was full of stagnant water. I gave them a very poor rating on trip advisor.
    We have had great experiences at many other KOA sites, but now seek other alternatives.

  • We have stayed in KOA’s before but not anymore, overpriced and they are dirty and the registration takes too long

  • Is this the one near I-5 Exit 152? I stayed there last summer and my experience was completely different. I saw nothing but nice rigs and didn’t observe any of the deficiencies sited. Maybe I got lucky and it hadn’t rained in a while, and it was very crowded. But for the couple of days that I was there I have no complaints. It certainly is convenient to downtown too.

  • What also boggles my mind is people that buy half million dollar rigs and then complain about a $50 parking spot. An RV is a luxury purchase not the cheapest way to travel. Those complaining about price should travel in a Prius and stay at the Motel 8.

  • Had rather the same experience in a private campground. Just seems ill conceived and poorly designed. Nice people, not enough grass and the sewer line 5 feet from the table. Sundance WY Mountain View RV.