Several campgrounds across northern Arizona experienced gains in revenue and occupancy through Labor Day weekend compared to the same period last year, according to the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
“Some of our members are reporting significant year-over-year gains in occupancy,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, which hosts GoCampingInArizona.com, the statewide travel planning website, in a written announcement.
The 200-site Flagstaff Kampgrounds of America (KOA) estimates its year-to-date bookings to be up between 8% and 12%, but anticipates that it will close out 2014 about 5% to 7% ahead of last year’s figures, according to Seth Williams, the park’s manager.
While Williams expects to see a surge of business in the coming weeks as travelers make their way to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which runs Oct. 4-12, he doesn’t expect his October business to match last October’s figures. Last year, a 16-day federal government shutdown in October closed Grand Canyon National Park as well as National Forest Service campgrounds and recreation areas. The closures diverted an unusually high number of campers to the Flagstaff KOA, Williams said.
While the Flagstaff KOA offers both RV and tent sites, the campground’s four park model cabins are in highest demand from consumers. “I recommend making reservations six to eight months out for those. And if you’re looking at next summer, I’d recommend making reservation now,” he said.
Further to the west, the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel saw a 17% increase in year-to-date occupancy at its 115-site RV park, according to Bruce Brossman, the resort’s regional director of sales and marketing.
He attributed the occupancy gains to a variety of factors, including stable fuel prices and the park’s pet boarding facility, which allows travelers to board their pets while they ride the train to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and do other sightseeing. But the biggest reason for the increase, he said, was the website at www.thetrain.com, which enables travelers to book their campsites online.
Kaibab Camper Village, which is located off Highway 67 near Jacob Lake, roughly 45 miles from the north rim of the Grand Canyon, said its business levels were consistent with last year’s figures.
“At first our business was ahead of last year, and then it dropped off a little bit. But we’re still a little bit ahead of last year because we had a good start,” said park owner Joy Staveley, noting that her campground closes in mid-October.
Staveley added that people who stay at her campground also visit other sites across northern Arizona and southern Utah, including Bryce and Zion national parks and Four Corners.
Located at the 7,500-foot level, Kaibab Camper Village has 86 RV and tent sites as well as one cabin-style room for rent. The park has made many improvements in recent years, such as upgrading its electrical hookups and installing showers and a laundry facility.
Heading east, occupancies were down slightly this summer at Meteor Crater RV Park, which is about 35 miles east of Flagstaff, but that was mainly because last summer the park had several construction workers who were building Twin Arrow Casino, said Bunny Olson, the park’s manager.
Otherwise, Olson said, business levels have been consistent with last year’s figures.
The number of travelers staying at OK RV Park in Holbrook in northeastern Arizona, roughly 34 miles east of Winslow, has also been consistent with last year’s figures.
“It’s been a pretty typical summer for us,” said Cheryl Wood, the park’s assistant manager. She said people are staying longer because the park is doing more to market nearby attractions, which include the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest National Park, the historic Navajo County Courthouse in Holbrook, Hidden Cove Petroglyph & Ranch Ruins Park, and Rock Art Canyon Ranch, a private ranch with access to a canyon filled with Anasazi petroglyphs.
Wood said her park’s busiest time of year is September and October, when it hosts travelers bound for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.
Susan Radford, owner of Arizona High Country Campground in Clay Springs, said her year-to-date business has been up slightly. “I’d say we’ve been busier, but not a lot busier,” she said.
The campground, which will host a rally for RVing Women in October, has three rental units, including two RVs and a park model.
Mickelson of the Arizona Association of RV Park & Campgrounds said year-to-date business has been down about 1% at her own park, the 51-site J & H RV Park in Flagstaff, but she expects the park to close out 2014 on par with last year’s figures.
“My September is looking like it’s going to be one of my best Septembers,” she said, adding that her park will continue to receive visitors from the greater Phoenix area in September who are fleeing the desert heat.
Mickelson’s park, which also provides pet sitting services, also hosts visitors bound for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival as well as people who come to the Flagstaff area to see the fall colors. Snowbirds will also be making their way back to the Phoenix area during the next few months.
For more information on campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in Arizona, visit GoCampingInArizona.com.