ON CAMPGROUNDS Reports from the field: Bob Ashley RVers don’t often check into an RV park to find the amenities of a full-scale hotel, complete with a restaurant, busi- ness and fitness centers and a heated pool. However,attheIronHorseRVResort in Elko, Nev., access to an 84-room Hilton Garden Inn with the aforemen- tionedamenitiescomeswiththeRVsite rental. “It’s a very nice amenity for the guests, particularly if they need to use a computer or printer or want to work out,” said Angela West, COO of Iron Horse Elko LLC, which owns the 107- site RV resort. “It’s just up the hill about 40 yards. It gets used a lot. I’ve got some guests who are staying here monthly that use the Hilton four or five times a week.” The11-year-oldRVresortistheresult of the company that built the Hilton in 2001 deciding to do something with nearby vacant property. “Elkodidn’treallyhaveanupscaleRV park and the owners of the property owned the Hilton Inn up the street,” West said.“People come here to work in the mines for three or four months and there wasn’t any housing.” In addition to its RV sites, Iron Horse has 15 park model cottages available in four different floorplans that are rented daily,weeklyormonthly.“Theytypically are 75% full with people moving to Elko for a job or working under a contract, or they might be someone having a home built,” she said. Iron Horse has a small store and an on-site clubhouse that is open 24 hours andfeaturesawidescreenTV,pooltable and showers. IronHorsewasdesignedtobe“driver friendly,” with large paved streets and supersized RV sites, “so you’re not on top of somebody else next door,” West said. In the high desert at an elevation of 5,000 feet, Iron Horse is flanked by the Ruby Mountains. The park, open year-round, is a transient stop for many RVers, although Iron Horse gets repeat summer visitors. “We are an in between spot for some- onegoingwesttoCaliforniaoruptothe northeast,”West said. During the winter, Iron Horse aver- ages 60 RVers on site, although that number fluctuates due to local economiccircumstancesinElko,which is known for its boom-and-bust gold mines. “In about mid-April, we start seeing daily traffic coming in as the roads get better,”West said.“In June or so we start filling up most nights and by July we are full every day.” There are plans to add 40 sites to the resort, but no timetable to do so. “We have everything drawn up and ready to go,” she said.“We know exactly what we are going to do, it’s just not going to be for a couple of years.” * * * * * AtNakatoshCampgroundinNatchi- toches, La., winter festivals fill the 40-siteparkonweekends—particularly at Christmastime. About 250 miles northwest of New Orleans, Nakatosh draws from the esti- mated 100,00 people who attend Natchitoches’FestivalofLightsthathas been happening the first weekend in December for 91 years. “They have the whole downtown lit Located in the high desert, Iron Horse offers sites for RVs, as well as 15 park models. up with lights and there are fireworks along the river downtown,” said Amy Carter, who has managed Nakatosh Campground for five-and-a-half years. “EveryFridayandSaturdaynightweare full, all the way to Christmas.” Besides marking Mardi Gras in February, other local festivals celebrate Creole, Native American and Louisiana cultures. Aside from a clubhouse with a kitchen, Nakatosh has few amenities. “This is a plain-jane park,” Carter said. The park dumped its cable service, Carter said, after the rate became too high and instead offers free Wi-Fi to its guests.“Usuallywhenpeoplearecamp- ing, they are not going to sit in their camper watching TV anyway,” Carter said. Not quite far enough south to be in snowbird country, Nakatosh is a way station for RVers going south for the winter and north in the spring. In addition to standard RV sites, Nakatosh has 19 sites available for monthly rental overlooking the Red River.“Right now, they all are full but for Iron Horse RV Resort Offers Hotel-Quality Amenities 12 - January 2019 Woodall’s Campground Management five of them that we are using for over- flow during Christmas,” she said the week after Thanksgiving. * * * * * Not many snowbirds or Winter Tex- ans had yet to pass through 48-site Shady Pines RV Park in Texarkana, Texas, in late November. “They usually start showing up in January,” said Lavada Jones, who built the park in 2000 with her late husband, Leroy. The RV park became an adjunct to Shady Pines RV Center, a full-service RVdealershipthatthecoupleopenedin 1966. “We did RV sales a long time before we opened the park,” Jones said. Shady Pines’ barebones amenities include an activity building with a full kitchen and meeting room. “I never will have a swimming pool,” she said.“I don’t want the liability.” Shady Pines, which sits on 27 acres, has a private lake stocked with bass, catfish, crappie and brim. Jones said that having operated the RV dealership gave her and her husband an idea of what RVers wanted in a basic campground. “We also took our motorhome and drove around and found the parks that we liked and used whattheyweredoingtobuildourpark,” Jones said. That meant bigger spaces, paved streets and cleanliness. SinceTexarkana doesn’t have limits on how long people can stay in an RV park, about three quarters of Shady Pines guests are there full time. “We have construction people who stay with us, nurses who work in the hospitals here and people who are stay- ing with us while they build their homes,” Jones reported. The park is most often full, and sometimes the dealership’s sales lot is used for overflow.“You need to keep the customer happy,” she said. WCM Editor-at-Large Bob Ashley is aCentralIndiana-basedfreelancewriter/ editor and a 25-year newspaper veteran who has focused on the RV industry and national recreation issues for the past 19 years. He received the 2013 “Distin- guished Service in RV Journalism” award from the Recreation Vehicle In- dustry Association (RVIA). WCM