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 Island Oaks RV Resort

Parks like the Island Oaks RV Resort are springing up across the U.S. as the demand for RV sites has never been higher.

Record demand for campsites is prompting park operators, developers and investors to investigate the feasibility of expanding existing parks and building new ones with increasing intensity, wherever it is feasible to do so, according to campground operators and industry consultants that spoke with WOODALLSCM.com (WCM).

Ron Beard

Ron Beard

“There’s a lot of people looking all over the country to do something,” said Ron D. Beard, an Austin, Texas-based campground consultant, adding, “There is a lot of activity. The pace has picked up on people wanting to buy an existing park and expand on that.”

“In the last four months, I’ve had more calls, service agreements, and interest in buying parks than I have in the past two years combined,” said Joe Moore, of Moore’s Campground Consulting in Mineola, Texas.

There also appears to be more people investigating the feasibility of building new parks from the ground up than ever before, either to accommodate leisure travelers, people who work from their RVs and full-time RVers, according to Jayne Cohen, of the Campground Consulting Group, LLC in Meredith, N.H.Joe Moore

“I’ve never had more parks in the planning stage in my entire career,” Cohen said, “and these are big parks, not little parks. Many of the ones I am working on are 100 to 300 acres with a minimum of 250 sites. One park is 1,000 sites.”

Cohen estimates that about 60% of her clients’ new parks are intended to accommodate leisure travelers with a mix of RV sites and park models, with the remaining 40% designed for what Cohen calls “RV living” in markets where there is a high level of economic activity and a shortage of affordable or temporary housing.

Jayne Cohen

Jayne Cohen

Beard said his new park workload is more 50-50, with half of the new parks being intended for leisure travelers and the balance are parks to accommodate a variety of extended-stay RVers, ranging from traveling nurses and construction workers to college students and visiting faculty from colleges and universities. He added that RV parks provide communities with “housing elasticity” they wouldn’t otherwise have, which enables them to capitalize on the economic opportunities RVers can bring to their communities.

Demand for new RV sites is being driven not only by record sales of RVs, which have reached new heights during the pandemic but by the rising cost of real estate and by investors’ growing realization that there’s money to be made in the private park business.

“The price of land is going up everywhere, in every state,” Beard said, adding that rising land prices are prompting developers to act now before real estate prices rise even further.

But while there are increasing numbers of developers and investors pursuing new park development, not all of their intended projects make it beyond the planning stage.

“Every (new project) is on a different pace,” Beard said. “Some clients are moving slowly. Others are moving fast. Some people have no idea what they are getting into. Some run into financial issues.”

Projects can also get held up by the permitting requirements of local units of government, which vary by jurisdiction. “You have to clear the entitlement hurdles for water, sewer and power,” Beard said, adding, “A lot of states don’t have zoning in place, so they are limiting development by making septic rules tougher to clear.”

Even with these permitting issues at the local level, park operators, developers and investors are building new parks and expanding existing parks in many states across the country.

Between 2021 and early 2023, at least 15,200 new RV sites are being added to the nation’s inventory by expanding existing private parks and building new campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, according to the latest information provided to WCM by park operators and developers across the country.

Larry Brownfield

WCM has documented plans for at least 53 new campgrounds, including at least 30 new campgrounds and RV parks that have already been announced across the country. Additionally, Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) anticipates building another 23 campgrounds in 14 states and two Canadian provinces, if not this year, in the very near future, according to Larry Brownfield, KOA’s senior director of franchise development.

“We have three currently under construction and 20 pending that are in some phase of development. They are either in design, permitting or financing,” Brownfield said. This year alone, he added, KOA plans to add 3,900 more campsites to its inventory of franchise parks.

Brownfield said KOA’s pace of developing new campgrounds has been on the rise for several years in response to steadily rising consumer demand for campsites, which predates the pandemic. He noted that KOA has been progressively selling more construction franchise agreements in recent years, including four in 2018, four in 2019, eight in 2020 and 13 in 2021.

KOA’s increasing focus on building new parks and expanding existing ones also reflects its rising business levels. KOA set an all-time record for occupancy and registration revenue in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, knocking the numbers down less than 2% in 2020, largely because of lockdowns and stay-in-place orders during the first half of 2020. But business levels have grown even more, with 2021 now being KOA’s strongest year in the 60-year history of the company, Brownfield said, noting that advance reservations for 2022 are also at the highest level in history.

KOA is trying to encourage its existing franchisees to expand their parks through KOA’s Royalty Incentive Program, which helps park operators offset the cost of adding new sites by reducing royalty payments through a graduated system, according to Saskia Boogman, KOA’s director of public relations.

Below are examples of new and expanding parks that were either just completed in 2021 or will be built this year or by early 2023: 

New Parks

Alabama

Gulf Shores RV Resort in Gulf Shores: The first 175 RV sites of this park are expected to be available by summer 2022. Developed by RVC Outdoor Destinations, the 128-acre park could eventually be expanded to as many as 500 sites. https://rvcoutdoors.com/gulf-shores-rv-resort/

Arizona 

River Sands RV Resort

The River Sands RV Resort, currently under construction, is set to welcome people in 2022. Credit: CRR

River Sands RV Resort in Ehrenberg: This park, which is expected to open late summer of 2022, will initially have 275 sites and 10 park model rentals. Amenities will include a swimming pool, hot tub, exercise room and river access. The park is being developed by Plymouth, Minn.-based CRR. https://riversandsrvresort.com/

Village Camp Flagstaff: Phase one of this park, which is expected to be completed during the first half of 2022, includes 76 RV sites and 99 lots for park models. Park amenities will include high-speed Internet, HD cable and luxury bath facilities. Unique accommodations, including safari tents and yurts, will be added in the future. https://www.villagecamp.com/

California

Coachella Lakes RV Resort in Coachella: This 375-site RV resort is expected to open in late summer of 2022. The 80-acre park, developed by Plymouth, Minn.-based CRR, will initially include 19 park model rentals. Amenities will include a clubhouse; an amphitheater and stag; a world-class putting course; a swimming pool, hot tub and splash pad; six pickleball courts, and four lakes. https://coachellalakesrvresort.com/

Flying Flags Avila Beach in Port San Luis: This campground, part of the Highway West Vacations network, opened in late 2021. The 100-site park features 55 RV sites and 45 tent camping sites, including 23 car camping sites and 22 bike-in or hike-in tent camping sites. The park also offers 14 beach cottages. https://www.highwaywestvacations.com/properties/flyingflagsavilabeach

Florida 

Cabana Club RV Resort in Auburndale: This family-owned resort halfway between Tampa and Orlando, opened in 2021 with 155 RV sites and 60 park model rentals. It has since been adding another 125 RV sites and another 65 park models. Amenities include a zero-entry, heated swimming pool, a nine-hole artificial turf putting course, a tiki hut and bar, a splash pad and activities for all ages, including basketball, corn hole and yoga. The resort also has separate dog parks for large and small dogs and a dog wash station. The park planned to open a new swimming pool complex and tiki bar this spring. https://cabanaclubresort.com

Champions Run RV Resort in Ocala: Sunlight Resorts is building this park, which is scheduled to open on April 1 with 492 sites. Amenities include a full-service tiki bar, a large swimming pool and hot tub, a full fitness center and pickleball courts. https://www.sunlight-resorts.com/resorts/champions-run/

Fort Pierce West KOA Holiday in Fort Pierce: This 117-site park opened in 2021.  https://koa.com/campgrounds/fort-pierce-west/

Island Oaks RV Resort in Glen St. Mary: Construction is underway on this park 30 miles west of Jacksonville, which is expected to open this year with 385 sites in its first phase. The park will feature waterways, a swimming lake, a pool, spa and tiki bar, a fishing lake with a dock, paddleboards and kayaks, sports courts, and daily activities. Nature areas and ponds are also located throughout the park along with preserved wetlands. https://www.islandoaksrvresort.com

Oxford Springs RV Resort in Ocala: This park, which is being developed by Alan Wallace, is expected to open in May 2022 with 166 sites.

Oxford Villages RV Park in Ocala Springs: This park, which is being developed by Alan Wallace, is expected to open in early 2023 with 275 sites.

Palm Breeze RV Resort in Punta Gorda: This resort is expected to open by January 2023 with 205 RV sites and 234 manufactured home sites. Amenities will include a full-service tiki bar, a large swimming pool and hot tub, a full fitness center and pickleball courts. The resort is being developed by Sunlight Resorts. https://www.sunlight-resorts.com

Santa Fe Palms RV Resort in Gainesville: Construction is underway on 115 sites for this new park, about half of which will be pull-through sites. The park is expected to open in the spring of 2022. Amenities will include a swimming pool, a nature walk, pickleball courts and cornhole. https://www.santafepalmsrvresort.com/

Southern Leisure RV Resort in Chiefland: Alan Wallace developed this gated resort, which was subsequently acquired by Sun Outdoors and expanded to nearly 500 sites. Amenities include a 7,000 square-foot clubhouse, an Olympic-size swimming pool and spa, bocce ball, pickleball and shuffleboard courts. https://www.sunoutdoors.com/florida/southern-leisure-rv-resort

Splash RV Resort

Splash RV Resort was set to open this month. Credit: Splash RV Resort

Southern Sands RV Resort near Punta Gorda: This all-inclusive Zeman Signature RV resort will feature 189 sites with 100-amp electrical service. Onsite amenities will include a beach entry pool, pickleball courts, a spacious clubhouse, game room, dog park and fire pits. The resort is expected to open in winter 2023.

Splash RV Resort and Water Park in East Milton: This 62-acre resort and water park near the corner of Interstate 10 and State Road 87 was expected to open in January 2022. The park initially features approximately 351 RV sites as well park model cottages and furnished Conestoga wagons. Amenities will include two swimming pools, waterslides and a lazy river as well as bocce ball, pickleball and basketball courts. The park is being developed by Craig Kruse, who owns and operates Santa Rosa RV Resort in Navarre. The latest updates are posted on the park’s Facebook page. https://www.splashrvresort.com

Sun Outdoors Islamorada in Islamorada: This is a brand new, all-age resort that is being developed in the Florida Keys. The resort, scheduled to open in September 2022, will feature 82 RV sites and 54 vacation homes for sale. https://www.sunrvresorts.com/sun-outdoors-islamorada/

Sun Outdoors Orlando ChampionsGate in Davenport: This park, formerly known as Mouse Mountain, is being completely renovated with completion targeted for early 2023. The resort will feature RV sites and vacation rentals, but a precise site count has not yet been determined. https://www.sunrvresorts.com/resorts/south/florida/sun-outdoors-orlando-championsgate/

The Surf RV Resort in Palmetto: This 55-and-over RV resort is expected to open in fall of 2022 with 449 sites and will cater to short-term stays. Amenities will include an elegant clubhouse with a yoga and aerobics room, game room, library, business center; ballroom; food and beverage service; an outdoor kitchen; an infinity pool and spa; a poolside bar; multiple dog parks, a dog wash station, lighted sports courts and other features. https://thesurfrvresort.com/

Tranquility Lake RV Resort in Cape Coral: Phase one of this new resort includes 144 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites, which are expected to be completed in 2022. Amenities will include a clubhouse and swimming pool, bathhouse and pickleball courts.

Ohio 

A new RV resort in Sandusky: RVC Outdoor Destinations plans to break ground in summer 2022 on a 215-site RV resort that will open in summer 2023. The resort will feature RV sites as well as glamping tents, cabins and cottages.

South Carolina: 

Savannah Lake RV Resort in Hardeeville: A new 375-site RV resort with 15 park models is expected to open in summer 2022. Park amenities will include pickleball. There will also be a playground and a splash pad.

Tennessee 

Cherokee Outdoor Resort and Marina near Vonore: Groundbreaking is expected to take place later this year on Cherokee Outdoor Resort & Marina, a 238-site park being developed by Amir Harpaz of Fort Myers, Fla.-based Harp Development in collaboration with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. It is expected to open in 2023. Cherokee Outdoor Resort & Marina will be built around an existing restaurant and marina on a scenic 50-acre site bordering Lake Tellico. The resort will be one mile from the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tenn., which is roughly 36 miles southwest of Knoxville.

A Jenkins Organization Campground on Watts Bar Lake in London: Construction is expected to be underway at this park in the spring of 2022 with an opening targeted for spring of 2023. The park will feature 189 sites, 15 glamping tents, and 100 cabins and will offer both short-term and extended stays. Amenities will include a clubhouse with a store and cafe, a boardwalk and boat docks on Watts Bar lake, individual bathhouses, walking trails, a resort-style pool, dog park, pickleball and sports courts, a water park, and an open-air music pavilion by the water.

Texas 

Soggy Dollar Camp in New Braunfels: This new park, which offers 40 RV sites and 15 tent sites along the Guadalupe River, is expected to open in the spring of 2022.

Camp Fimfo

Camp Fimfo’s New Braunfels location sits on the Guadalupe River. Credit: Camp Fimfo

Camp Fimfo in New Braunfels: Northgate Resorts opened this 200 site campground in 2021. The park also features three Riverview A-frame cabins, three large cabins that sleep up to 10 people, and 25 mid-size cabins that sleep six to eight. https://www.campfimfo.com/

Great Escapes RV Resort in Elgin, about 30 minutes east of Austin: This park, which is being developed by The Jenkins Organization of Houston, is expected to open in April 2022. The park will have 208 extended stay RV sites, a clubhouse with a kitchen and resort-style pool with a hot tub and cabanas, a pavilion with a grill by the pool, and a fitness center. The park will also have three pavilions with grills and fire pits around a lake as well as a dog park. Storage unit and golf cart rentals will also be available.

Great Escapes RV Resort in Bryan College Station, near Texas A & M University:  The Jenkins Organization plans to have this new park ready for occupancy by March 2022.  The park will feature 304 RV sites and 64 cabins and will offer both short-term and extended stays. Amenities will include two clubhouses with resort-style pools, covered pavilions for tailgating and other special events, walking trails, a sports court, two dog parks, a camp store and workout facilities.

Great Escapes RV Park in Austin Oaks: This Jenkins Organization park, which recently opened,  features 387 RV sites and 48 cabins and offers both short-term and extended stays. Amenities include two clubhouses with resort-style pools, covered grilling pavilions, and a stage for concerts and other special events. The park will also feature three ponds for fishing, walking trails, dog parks, a camp store, cafe, food truck parking, a jumping pillow, a gaga ball pit and workout facilities.

Great Escapes San Antonio: The Jenkins Organization plans to break ground on the park in 2022 and plans to have it ready for occupancy in 2023. The park will feature 241 extended stay RV sites and 10 cabins. Amenities will include a clubhouse with a resort-style pool, covered grilling pavilions, individual bathhouses, a laundry facility, convenience store, and a stocked fishing pond.

The Retreat RV & Camping Resort on Lake Houston: This upscale RV Resort is located on the shores of Lake Houston. The first 164 sites, which opened in 2021, included 128 RV sites and 36 rental units consisting of Athens Park model cottages, Conestoga Wagons, Retro RVs and Bell Tents. The Signorelli Company, which owns and operates the resort, plans to break ground on a 136-site second phase in September. The company also plans to install five eco-structure tents this year.

Expanding Parks 

Florida

Breezy Oaks RV Park in Bushnell: Park owner Mike Wood expanded this park with 53 new RV sites in 2021 and plans to add another 181 sites in 2022, boosting the park to a total of 398 sites. https://breezyoaksrvpark.com

Creekside RV Resort in Punta Gorda: This park, which opened in 2017 with 120 RV sites, was subsequently expanded to 215 sites. Developer David Anthony plans to expand the park by roughly 100 sites in 2022, which would bring the park to just over 300 sites. https://creeksidervresort.com/

Fiesta Key RV Resort and Marina: This Encore/Thousand Trails park added 49 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites in 2021. https://www.rvonthego.com/florida/fiesta-key-rv-resort/

Keystone Heights RV Resort in Keystone Heights: Construction crews completed the first 193 sites of this park with the park opening in November 2020, according to developer Alan Wallace, who has continued to expand the park, which is targeted to grow from 420 sites to 715 sites by November 2022. Amenities include a clubhouse and 2,700-square-foot swimming pool and spa, bathhouse and laundry facilities, as well as pickleball courts, miniature golf and a dog park. https://www.keystoneheightsrv.com/

North Beach Camp Resort in St. Augustine: This 150-site park has embarked on a 70-site expansion, which is ongoing in 2022, according to park co-owner Ken Usina. https://northbeachcamp.com

Ponce de Leon RV Park in Ponce de Leon: This 60-acre park, located five minutes from Ponce de Leon State Park, opened in July of 2020 with 41 sites. The park has since expanded to 57 sites with 50/30/20 amp electrical service at all sites along with cable TV water and sewer service. Another 34 sites are scheduled to be added in 2022. Amenities include a swimming pool, a 5,000-square-foot open-air pavilion with picnic tables, laundry facilities and cornhole. https://poncedeleonrvpark.com

Riverside RV Resort in Arcadia: This Thousand Trails park added 49 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites in 2021. https://thousandtrails.com/florida/riverside-rv-resort/

Sunshine Travel RV Resort in Vero Beach: This resort is adding 23 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites in 2022 as well as a new pickleball court. https://www.rvonthego.com/florida/sunshine-travel-rv-resort/

Terra Ceia RV Resort in Palmetto: This park is developing 188 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites in 2022. Additional improvements include a clubhouse, swimming pool, bathhouse and pickleball courts, which are expected to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023. https://www.rvonthego.com/florida/terra-ceia-rv-resort/

Thousand Trails Orlando RV Resort in Clermont: This park developed a new section to accommodate more than 160 new RV sites in 2020. The park is adding 91 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites and a new bathhouse, which are expected to be completed during the first half of 2022. https://thousandtrails.com/florida/orlando-rv-resort/

Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee: This EquityLifeStyle/Encore resort near Walt Disney World added 26 full hookup, 50-amp RV sites in 2021. A new dog park will be added in 2022. https://www.rvonthego.com/florida/tropical-palms-rv-resort/

Tropical Palms Resort

Tropical Palms Resort added 26 sites and plans to add a dog park in 2022. Credit: Tropical Palms Resort

Torrey Trails RV and Golf Resort in Bowling Green: The first 158 RV sites at this luxury resort were completed in 2020,  according to developers Amir Harpaz, Alan Wallace and Bill Harvey. They are developing 210 additional RV sites in 2022, which are expected to be completed by late summer. The scenic park was built on the site of an existing golf course, which features mature oak trees. Amenities include a nine-hole golf course with a disc golf capability; a state-of-the-art fitness center with indoor and outdoor sections; tennis and pickleball courts; a dog park and doggie splash pool. https://www.torreytrailsrv.com

Wildwood RV Village in Wildwood: This existing pet-friendly park, which is conveniently located along I-75 between Ocala and Tampa, has had multiple expansions over the years, including a 210 site addition in 2020. In 2021, the park began adding another 159 RV sites, which will boost the park to 504 sites overall, according to park owner Mike Wood. Park amenities include a heated swimming pool with a sunning deck, a shaded dog park and picnic area, big rig-friendly sites and free cable TV and WiFi. https://www.wildwoodrvvillage.com

Massachusetts

Cranberry Acres Jellystone Park in Carver: This park, operated by Northgate Resorts, is adding 28 campsites this year. https://cranberryacresjellystonepark.com/

New York 

Country Roads Campground in Gilboa: This park is planning to add at least half a dozen RV sites this year. https://countryroadscampground.com/

Dream Lake Campground in Warsaw: This park plans to add 45 new full hookup RV sites this year. http://dreamlakecampground.com/

Lake Bluff Campground in Wolcott: This park plans to add 26 sites this year. https://www.lakebluffcampground.com/

Lebanon Reservoir Campground in Hamilton: This campground added seven new campsites in 2021. https://lebanoncampground.com/

Ohio

Clay’s Park in North Lawrence: This park, recently acquired by Northgate Resorts, plans to add another 45 RV sites and 21 rental cabins prior to reopening. https://clayspark.com/

Texas 

Camp Fimfo Texas Hill Country in New Braunfels: This Northgate Resorts park is adding 173 park model cabins and 30 campsites this year. https://www.campfimfo.com/

Oak Forest RV Resort in Austin: This resort is being expanded by 175 sites with completion targeted by the first quarter of 2023. New amenities will include new bath facilities, high-speed Internet and HD cable.
https://www.robertsresorts.com/resorts/oak-forest/

Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring: This RV resort, owned and operated by Roberts Resorts, is undergoing a 175-site expansion in 2022 that will also include a new bath facility, upgraded cable and Internet infrastructure and a new amenity center. https://www.robertsresorts.com/resorts/rayford-crossing/

Village Farm Austin in Austin: This tiny home community is undergoing a 65-site expansion that will include lots specifically for park models. The lots will also surround the certified organic Green Gate Farms. Recent improvements include renovations of the historic Bergstrom Farmhouse that serves as a gathering place and workspace for guests. https://villagefarmaustin.com/

If you have an RV park, campground or glamping park that is under development, or you are expanding an existing one, and you want WCM to highlight it, feel free to send an email to WCM’s Editor Ben Quiggle at [email protected] Please include the location and scope of the project, along with a link to a website the park may have and when the scheduled completion date is.