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Campskunk Sells Out – Staying at the KOA

Flagstaff KOAOK, I know many of you are disappointed in me, but I have compromised my principles and stayed at the Flagstaff KOA the last couple of nights. I needed to meet up with Mike Wendland and do some installation work on his satellite internet system, so we had to find a place in Flagstaff where we could do this. We ended up at the KOA.

That's a flowerbed, Fiona. You're supposed to stay out of it.
That’s a flowerbed, Fiona. You’re supposed to stay out of it.

There are a few dispersed camping spots nearby in the Coconino National Forest, but they involve dirt roads, and one thing you don’t want to do is get stuck down a dirt road in the Southwest during monsoon season in an extremely heavy two wheel drive vehicle. Also, dispersed camping this near a metropolitan area attracts an entirely different crowd, as I saw driving in on Highway 89 from the north. It’s a bunch of ancient trailers, passenger cars, and teepees – too wild even for my inclusive tastes.

All the children seem to be confined in this internment area.
All the children seem to be confined in this internment area.

And Flagstaff isn’t all that conducive to overnight parking – they probably have heavy transient traffic, being right on I-40 and not that big of a town anyway, so the choices were slim. There were the county fairgrounds, were you can dry camp for $16 a night, so the KOA didn’t look that bad by comparison. And at least at the KOA we wouldn’t get rousted for crawling around underneath Mike’s rig pulling wire and otherwise looking like we were some broken-down drifters. Such activity usually attracts law enforcement attention if you’re in a public place.

Hookups. Oy.
Hookups. Oy. That’s us on the right – the campsites are jammed in so tightly you really get to know your neighbors.


So here i am, jam-packed into a strange artificial setting with a bunch of rookie campers. It affords one a number of amusing spectacles. I loved the people in the Rialta that pulled in yesterday, who went through the hour-long setup routine – dicker around with the leveling blocks, hook up to city water, electricity, etc. They probably used a total of five gallons of water the whole night, but managed to leak a few hundred gallons out onto the ground thanks to a bad connection where the hose connected to the camper. Oh well. Maybe they feel more secure hooked up.

There's this mysterious building right in front of us, where warm water comes out of spouts! Amazing!
There’s this mysterious building right in front of us, where warm water comes out of spouts! Amazing!

Now I will admit that very long, very hot shower this morning felt really, really nice, and Fiona seems to love it here, so it’s not all bad. I just feel out of place. People walk by and look at our prototype rig, but I haven’t gotten one informed question about it yet. More experienced campers usually spot an intriguing detail and want to know more about it, but not the people here. A camper is a camper, even though if you look closely it seems to do a lot of stuff with no hookups.

The tepees.
The tepees.

They have these teepee things, way to big to be portable, and with wood platform floors, for people who don’t have anything they can sleep in, but want to camp.  And for the truly helpless, they have a “Kamp Kitchen”, a trailer serving breakfast, which you purchase and eat in their little outdoor patio thing.  You can basically show up with a passenger vehicle and only your personal effects, and still camp here. Most curious.

The Kamp Kitchen.
The Kamp Kitchen.

I’ve gotten Mike’s stuff squared away and picked up the packages at the UPS store I also needed to do, and we’re ready to head back out to the national forest or some other isolated area. It’s nice to see how some of the other camping community lives. I just don’t think I could do it for very long.

By the way, Mike will have a full post and pictures on how to install a satellite Internet system in a small motorhome. And I’ll be his guest in the upcoming Episode 48 of the Roadtreking RV podcast discussing the ins and outs of the technology.

Helping Mike Wendland get his Internet satellite system working
Helping Mike Wendland get his Internet satellite system working

3 Responses to “Campskunk Sells Out – Staying at the KOA”

January 24, 2017at11:19 pm, Laura P. Schulman said:

Hah, that’s funny. I made the Flagstaff KOA my home for several months last winter/early Spring, in between lots of wonderful serene boondocking in the hundreds and hundreds of dispersed campsites in the Coconino National Forest.

Near the highway you will see some fairly dodgy rigs, mostly people who live in the forest and work in Flag. If you go down any of the amazingly well-maintained Forest Service roads, you will see a few rigs here and there. Mostly campers like us! I never had a single encounter, for better or worse, with another camper, from February 12 all the way to the end of July.

I did this in my 2015 Roadtrek 190P, and the only road-related trouble I got into was the time I drove right into a section of road (FR 151) that had turned to the volcanic version of quicksand due to spring runoff from the San Francisco Peaks. I tore off all my “ground effects” getting out. This was too bad, because I had already ordered RT #2, a boondock customized CS Adventurous XL 4WD, so I had to replace all the trim because of the trade ?

Although my nearly 6 months in the forest was entirely benign except for quicksand and some other stuff, the KOA was notable for theft. One day I went to do my laundry, returned to my site and found it clean of zero-gravity recliner and the rest of my camp furniture. I thought maybe the staff thought I had checked out. The management stoutly refused to even ask around or look in storage areas etc.

A week later again with the laundry, but this time my clothes disappeared when I left to get a laundry bag out of my rig.

So, although I love that this KOA literally adjoins the National Forest and you can walk out the back onto gorgeous trails, I say verily, if you plan to go there, watch your stuff.

June 06, 2015at2:54 am, Walter said:

I have to agree with Mike. Much of the fun I’ve had camping has been in a variety of places, learning from others’ experience. I’ve camped in National Parks, and at KOAs among others, and it’s all fun and games until the guy in the $130k rig comes in to judge everybody.

June 01, 2015at7:58 pm, Mike said:

Nice article, but your tone is rather condescending.

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