Northern Arizona campgrounds report strong summer business and expect it to continue into fall
FLAGSTAFF, Aug. 23, 2017 — Campgrounds across Northern California have experienced an unusually busy summer and many expect high occupancies to continue well into September and October.
“This has been a great summer for Northern Arizona’s tourism business,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts GoCampingInArizona.com, the statewide travel planning website.
Mickelson bases her comments on information she has received from other Arizona park owners as well as her personal experience at J & H RV Park in Flagstaff, which she co-owns and operates with her husband, Harvey. She said this year has been the busiest in her park’s 35-year history.
“We’re turning away a lot of people every day,” she said, adding that her 52 sites fill up by 4 or 5 p.m. When that happens, she refers people to other Flagstaff area campgrounds as well as campgrounds in the Williams area.
Clint Bell, whose family manages the Flagstaff KOA and owns the Grand Canyon / Williams KOA and the Williams / Circle Pines KOA, said all three campgrounds have experienced double digit increases in occupancies this year.
“It’s been a really great year in Arizona,” he said, adding, “Our advanced reservations are still very, very strong.”
Year-to- date business has also been up at the 124-site Grand Canyon RV Park in Williams, which serves passengers on the historic Grand Canyon Railway.
“We’re just having a fantastic year,” said Bruce Brossman, Arizona regional director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which manages the Grand Canyon Railway, RV Park and Hotel in Williams addition to accommodations inside Grand Canyon National Park.
He said the Grand Canyon RV Park in Williams has been “close to full” every day this summer. And while the number of families traveling will decline in the coming weeks as kids go back to school, some of the slack will be replaced by seniors who tend to hit the road in September in October.
Meteor Crater RV Park in Winslow has also had exceptionally strong business this year, according to Frank Pease, who manages the 71-site park. “This summer has been extremely busy for us,” he said. “It’s been much busier than last year, and summertime is busy anyway.”
Meteor Crater RV Park is just down the road from Meteor Crater, which is considered to be the best preserved meteorite impact site in the world. The crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and 550 feet deep.
Pease and other park operators attribute the increased business to record breaking RV sales as well as to relatively low fuel costs. Mickelson also said the exceptionally hot weather in the Arizona desert this summer has been prompted more people to head to higher ground to escape the heat.
And while Labor Day weekend marks the end of the traditional summer camping season, Northern Arizona campground and RV park operators say they expect their business to remain strong for several more weeks.
Paula Hamby, co co-owns and operates the OK RV Park in Holbrook with her husband, Mike, said September and October are typically among her busiest months of the year because of travelers crossing northern Arizona enroute to the annual Albuquerque Balloon Festival. Snowbirds also return to the Southern deserts in the fall, which brings additional business to her park, she said.
While OK RV Park is not a destination park, it offers 75 overnight campsites for overnight travelers and provides referral assistance to RVers who need help with repairs to their vehicles while making cross country trips, Hamby said, adding that her park also has 15 long-term campsites.
Looking further into the future, Mickelson said her business for next year is already off to a good start. “Our bookings for 2018 are very strong right now,” she said. “My seasonal sites are already full for next year and we have a waiting list.”
Seasonal sites are campsites that park operators rent to RVers for weeks or months at a time. Mickelson allocates half of her campsites to seasonal campers.
“People are coming in here and booking six weeks, eight weeks and 12 weeks with us,” she said, adding that most of her long term campers are people coming up from Phoenix who want to escape the heat during the summer months.
“They’re coming up from Phoenix and they’re staying longer,” Mickelson said.
For more information on these and other campgrounds in Arizona, please visit GoCampingInArizona.com, the travel planning website which is hosted by the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.