Campgrounds across Northern Arizona report a strong summer camping season, with several parks exceeding last year’s business levels
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Aug. 31, 2016 – Many campgrounds across Northern Arizona are full for Labor Day weekend, capping a strong summer camping season with several parks reporting significant gains over last year’s revenue and occupancy figures.
“We’ve been full every night. We’ve been turning people away,” 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.
Mickelson added that her business has been up “5 to 6 percent” over last year’s figures, which were the highest occupancy and revenue figures in her park’s 34-year-history.
“We have had a lot of weeklies,” she said, “with people wanting to book a week, two weeks or three weeks at a time. About half of our guests have been coming here from all over the country with the other half coming up from the ‘hot country.’ ”
he Flagstaff / Grand Canyon KOA campground has seen somewhere between a “15 and 19 percent” increase in camper traffic through Labor Day weekend, while the Grand Canyon / Williams KOA campground is up by more than 21 percent, according to Clint Bell, whose family oversees both campgrounds.
While there are a variety of factors that can lead to increased use of campgrounds, Bell noted that the National Parks Centennial is a significant factor in Northern Arizona. “I think that certainly has mobilized a lot of people around the nation to visit the national parks,” he said.
Campgrounds in more remote locations are also benefitting from lower fuel prices. “When fuel prices get lower, people expand their travel radius further than they normally would,” Bell said.
And while campgrounds across Northern Arizona are broadening their business base with the use of rental cabins, Bell said he has also been seeing more tent campers this year.
Elsewhere across the state, Sue Radford, owner of Arizona High Country Campground in Show Low, said her 6,400-foot elevation park has been busy all summer, especially with residents from the Phoenix and Tucson areas who come up to escape the desert heat.
Not every campground operator reported gains, however.
The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams said its train visitation and RV park stays were down this year compared to last year, although last year was an exceptionally strong year, said Bruce Brossman, director of sales and marketing for the Grand Canyon Railway.
Looking to the future, Mickelson of J & H RV Park in Flagstaff said she expects another surge of travelers coming through Northern Arizona during the first couple of weeks of October as travelers from California head east to the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.
“We get one surge when the head east to the festival and another one when they head back home,” Mickelson said, adding that her park will remain open until Oct. 15.
Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, for its part, plans to stay busy into the fall and winter months by offering a variety of fun family activities, including a Pumpkin Patch Train and rides on the Polar Express, Brossman said.
Pumpkin Patch Train rides include a ride to a pumpkin patch about seven miles outside of Williams. Families then return and decorate their pumpkins at the train station. The railway will also have haunted train rides on the Colorado Shiver Haunted Car.
Both the Pumpkin Patch Train and the haunted rail car rides will be available for four consecutive weekends beginning the weekend of Oct. 8 – 9. Polar Express Train Rides will also be available starting Nov. 11 and will run periodically through the holidays, Brossman said, adding that scheduling information is available at www.thetrain.com.
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.