We try to escape Texas heat in the summer by heading north in our RV. Because we have a friend who works there, we were fortunate enough to have a tour of the KOA International Headquarters in Billings, Montana, where KOA was started. The amazing foresight of the ones in charge, who secure land for more new KOA’s each year, and the standard of excellence for each campground that sports the familiar yellow and red tent-like KOA logo, assures tired campers of the best facilities possible and the friendliest staff. There are many perks for KOA Members including quick check-in, points for free stays, and a few times each year offers of a complimentary extra night or special events. Our summer included stays at some KOA’s we would like to recommend:
In the cool, welcoming Black Hills of South Dakota you’ll find this wonderful Custer/Mt.Rushmore KOA Kampground with good gravel roads, wide, clean sites beneath ponderosa pines for any size rig, which dot this cool land. Even in mid-July when mid-day heat rises to around 90 degrees, the nights are delightful around 60 degrees. You’ll find many of the adorable and comfortable KOA Cabins, which are so popular, and pristine, well-groomed tent sites. Of course the camping store can supply almost any need you have, and coffee is hot and fresh all day. The swimming pool is cool and inviting in the hot hours of the day, but the wonderful giant jumping pillow, for a small daily fee, is the most popular. There are always children laughing and smiling in delight as they enjoy this great exercise, making adults want to join them. The rules for safety are good. If you are not into cooking, the friendly KOA hosts will make you a great chuck wagon breakfast.
This KOA is out of the tourist traffic on Hwy 16 west, three miles out of the town of Custer. Do not mistake the big sign in town, which is for another Mt. Rushmore KOA, but call the office (605)673-4304 for good directions. Make your reservations early for peak summer months, as this is a very popular KOA, and centrally located to all the many points of interest of the area. We enjoyed Custer State Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Needles Highway Drive for the unusual rock formations, Iron Mountain Highway for the scenery and herd of buffalo, Crazy Horse Monument, National Museum of Wood Carving, Mt. Rushmore National Park, Wind Cave National Park and the wonderful touristy shopping and restaurants in Custer City, Hill City, and Keystone, all very nearby. If you want to leave the driving to others, you can make your Golden Circle Tours reservations right at the KOA desk and await your pick-up at the office.
Butte, Montana, KOA we found to be a wonderful Kampground right beside the excellent Visitor Center, just off of Hwy I- 90. Of course, as with all KOA’s we found friendly hosts, clean, flat sites. As soon as we hooked up everything Bill turned on our tow car only to discover our battery was totally dead. When I called the KOA office they sent two men and a battery jumper immediately and in less than ten minutes our problem was solved! So no worries for us weary travelers after a long day on the road. KOA is great! Internet here was easy and free, but there was no cable TV because there are eight stations which are excellent with only antennae. We found excellent, clean laundry facilities for some needed washing.
With Butte Visitor Center right next door, we walked over to catch the red city tour bus, which is well worth the nominal price. We had no idea Butte is such an interesting city. Our tour guide is a teacher who told us about everything from the mining operations, to the varied and unique architecture which ranged over 140 years, to the brothels and saloons and speak-easies from yesteryear. We enjoyed exercise on the nature walking path right behind our campground. The lovely native plants and flowers were plenteous and the blacktop path went for miles beside a little creek. Someone reported a moose in the water on another part of the path. When we drove our car far enough to see her there were several rangers in consternation of how to relocate her safely out of town! Butte Montana KOA should be near the top of your travel list! (Phone: 406 782 8080)
Polson/Flathead Lake Montana KOA and Motor Coach Resort is quite something! This place is where we discovered a new concept for the camping company. The regular campsites were perfectly kept and an excellent place for RV’s, tents, fifth-wheels, and campers of all types. The cabins are typical KOA cozy, or you may rent the Deluxe Cabin with a fireplace, a kitchenette, air conditioning, and a barbeque grill and Jacuzzi hot tub on your private deck! You look out at the beautiful Mission Mountains and the big Flathead Lake, a great place to fish. You are quite near Kalispell and Whitefish and about a two hour drive to Glacier National Park.
The adjacent Motor Coach Resort was beautiful with wide, level gravel sites in tiers down the grassy hillside. Each concrete site has excellent permanent patio furniture and beautiful flowers and stone borders, wide grassy areas. On many nights there is special entertainment, sometimes sponsored by KOA and sometimes sponsored by the many people who have the large rigs as their second home and often stay for several months here and even own their own site, enjoying the facilities and friendships, and leaving their RV’s in good care when they go away for long periods of time. This is an excellent facility also for those who live full time in their class A motor coach and want to stop in places for long periods of time.
We arrived just in time for the evening Luau with exotic drinks for happy hour and an excellent barbeque meal with all the trimmings. Rain was threatening, but the festivities were under a large white tent with tables and chairs and comic entertainment for the many enjoying the fun. This is a great concept for KOA and we will certainly look for more of their Motor Coach Resorts, even if we have only a short time to stay. ( 1 888 883 2151).
About the Author:
Bonnie Neely was the inspiration and creator of Real Travel Adventures, an on-line travel website that offers travel tips, book reviews, news, guidebooks and photos of travel all over the world for all ages and trip preferences. Several years ago, Bonnie and husband, Bill, retired. Bonnie still writes travel articles for RTA, but she no longer manages the site. Her articles have inspired travelers everywhere to get up, get off the couch and go see what is out there.