Lower gas prices and rising desert heat are fueling increased travel and tourism across Northern Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., May 23, 2016 – The summer travel season is off to a very strong start with campgrounds and RV parks across Northern Arizona reporting occupancy levels that have already eclipsed last year’s figures.
“Our May has been really, really busy,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, a co-owner of J & H RV Park in Flagstaff who also serves as executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
“I’ve had full nights in May and I rarely have full nights in May. That’s people traveling cross country. So this is shaping up to be a very good summer.”
Indeed, across Northern Arizona, park operators say the summer travel season has started earlier and is stronger this year compared to last year.
The Grand Canyon / Williams KOA campground saw close to a 16 percent increase in camper traffic during the first three months of this year compared to last year and park operators expect the growth trend to continue, said Clint Bell, whose family oversees the KOA campgrounds in Williams and Flagstaff.
“RV traffic continues to be a great anchor and we are seeing a growing number of newer units on the road,” he said.
The early surge in visitors is also prompting the Grand Canyon Railway to start running two trains per day from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon by the end of this month.
“We’re starting a little bit earlier this year,” said Lin Boswell, a manager at the Grand Canyon Railway RV park in Williams, adding that the railway normally doesn’t start running two trains a day until sometime in June.
Campgrounds and RV parks that serve travelers exploring Interstate 40 and attractions along historic Route 66 are also reporting higher visitation levels year.
“There are so many tour buses and groups of people that I can hardly get down the road to the Petrified Forest,” said Paula Hamby, who co-owns and operates OK RV Park in Holbrook with her husband, Mike.
She added that seasonal campers — those who spend the entire summer in Northern Arizona — are already pouring into their RV park. Reservation levels also suggest they will easily surpass last year’s occupancy levels.
Even remote campgrounds are reporting stronger business levels.
“The first day we opened, we are were completely full except for a couple of RV sites without hookups,” said Joy Stavely, who owns and operates the 86-site Kaibab Camper Village, which is located off Highway 67 near Jacob Lake, roughly 45 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Frank Pease, manager of Meteor Crater Park in Winslow, believes the surge in travel reflects falling fuel prices, which makes it more affordable for people to travel.
He noted that his park’s full hookup sites have been full since right before Easter this year. “It’s all related to fuel prices,” he said, adding, “Fuel is low so people are traveling.”
For more information on campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in Arizona, please visit GoCampingInArizona.com. The travel planning website is hosted by the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which also produces a free printed campground guide which can be ordered by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. A digital version of the guide is also available online.