When Scott Swanson and his mother acquired a relatively undeveloped campground in Gila Bend, Ariz.,  18 months ago, they knew it had potential as an affordable winter park for snowbirds. They decided to join the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) franchise network to help put the park on the travelers’ map and started making improvements to bring their 130-site campground up to KOA standards.

Suncruiser Media reported that after investing over $250,000 in improvements that include new landscaping, utility connections, a 4,000-square foot dog park, a 2,500 square foot veranda, and remodeling the park’s recreation room, the number of overnight guests and monthly snowbirds coming into their campground soon surpassed their best expectations.

“Year-to-date, we’re already running 60% ahead of last year’s figures, and we’ve already got people making reservations for next winter,” said Swanson, who sees the 1,900-population town of Gila Bend becoming Arizona’s next big snowbird destination.

Swanson isn’t the only one who sees a brighter future in Gila Bend. So does Gila Bend’s new town manager, Michael Celaya, who is spearheading a series of improvements to Gila Bend’s historical points of interest to raise its profile as a tourist destination and playground for winter snowbirds.

“I see us as the next Quartzsite,” said Celaya, referencing the tiny desert town 20 miles east of the Colorado River that hosts the largest winter RV show in the nation.

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