Campground improvements range from new RV sites with patios and new rental accommodations to ziplines, ropes courses, and water attractions
Several of California’s campground operators have continued to make improvements to their parks during the pandemic, offering new activities, amenities, as well as new RV sites and rental accommodations. Some even opened new parks.
Sun Communities opened its 10th RV resort in California this spring, Sun Communities San Diego Bay, with 197 RV sites and 49 furnished cottages as well as a variety of amenities, including a swimming pool with cabanas, a poolside movie screen, a splash pad, an indoor-outdoor fitness center and an onsite restaurant that it set to open in mid-June. The resort also has access to the Sweetwater Marsh Bike and Walking Path. Other campgrounds are expanding, adding more campsites and/or rental accommodations, and providing new amenities for their guests.
“As camping and RVing continue to grow in popularity, the campground industry will continue to expand in California, just as it has across the country,” said Dyana Kelley, president and CEO of Camp-California.com.
The newest amenities at campgrounds and RV resorts across California range from a 40,000-square foot interactive water playground and lazy river at the Jellystone Park Camp Resort in Lodi to a ropes course, zip lines and a meditation-inducing labyrinth at the Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula.
The newest attraction at the Jellystone Park location in Lodi is a water playground with two 165-foot long water slides, two kiddie water slides, 13 water blasters, two water cannons, a 750-gallon hydro storm bucket that periodically dumps 750 gallons of water on anyone standing beneath it, and a 127,000 gallon lazy river. Combine this with mini golf, lazer tag, jump pillows, and daily activities and this is sure to be the best vacation ever. With so many options, parents can kick back and relax or join in the fun. Lodi is just 35 miles south of Sacramento and a perfect weekend getaway.
The Ventura Ranch KOA was mostly destroyed by the Thomas Fire, which swept through the mountains of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in early December of 2017. But park owner Scott Cory has not only rebuilt the park, but added new amenities to make his popular campground even more enticing than it was before.
The Ventura Ranch KOA’s new “Soar Over Ventura Adventure” course includes six ziplines and 12 rope challenges. Guests are encouraged to book their reservations early as this activity sells out to capacity each day it is open. “It’s a great way to get the adrenaline moving, accomplish some challenges, and spend time and create memories with those special to you,” Cory said.
For those seeking relaxation, the Ventura Ranch KOA’s new labyrinth offers nearly a mile of single, undivided path. It’s a modified version of the world renown pattern of the Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France. “It’s modified in the sense that it encompasses giant oak trees and pathways that undulate and move in rhythm with the natural landscape,” Cory said.
Frank Schreiner, the builder of the labyrinth, included native plants and trees that were important spiritually and domestically for the Chumash Indians that once lived in the area. The sage, acorns, and berries are still very plentiful on the at the campground. Some of the boulders used in the labyrinth have unique lichen or fossils etched into the stones.
Other campgrounds making improvements include the Coleville / Walker KOA in Coleville, which has added a 40-foot Destination RV as a rental unit, complementing the park’s motel rooms, RV and tent sites, according to park co-owner Tim Tack.
Further to the North, Green Acres RV Park in Redding is adding 17 RV sites, which will increase the park to 50 sites overall, according to park co-owner Steven Davis. “We hope to have everything done by fall,” he said.
In Sonoma County, Casini Ranch Family Campground in Duncans Mills has upgraded some of its RV sites to deluxe full hookup sites that feature a gazebo, decorative lighting and a fully fenced yard for pets and/or small children, according to General Manager Andy Casini. Road improvements have also been made in the park, which is located along the Russian River.
In the Owens Valley, Boulder Creek RV Park in Lone Pine is also planning to add four more rental cabins this year, complementing the park’s three existing rental cabins, according to park owner Kalpesh Bhakta, who is also hoping to remodel the park’s clubhouse and market in the near future. Located along U.S. 395 and offering 112 tent and RV sites, the park is a popular base camp for hiking enthusiasts bound for Mount Whitney and other scenic trails in the High Sierra as well as travelers heading to Mammoth Lakes and other Eastern Sierra destinations.
In the Southern Sierra, improvements are also underway at Frandy Park Campground in Kernville, which borders the South Fork of the Kern River. “We are in the middle of adding water and electricity to 17 of our existing campsites,” said park co-owner Beverly Demetriff. “We have also upped our game in kid entertainment, too. We have added more games – Giant Connect Four, Giant Jenga and Giant Yardzee. We also added bunnies for the kids to pet. We are doing a flea market twice a month, and we are planning (to add) bingo and Karaoke, too.”
In Southern California, the San Diego KOA in Chula Vista has six new pool-front deluxe full-service cabins. The campground is also remodeling its guest reception area and is designing a new retail boutique store, which it hopes to complete by fall, according to Clint Bell, whose family owns the Temecula / Vail Lake KOA in Temecula and the Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA in Desert Hot Springs.
“In Temecula, we’ve done a bunch of work on our trails for hiking and mountain biking. We’ve also put in a new horseback trail to the lake and we’re installing 12 deluxe full-service cabins, which we hope to have finished by October. We also have 12 new furnished glamping tents and we’re putting in RV sites with deluxe patios,” he said.
The Desert Hot Springs location also has two new deluxe full-service cabins, three new furnished glamping tents and seven pull-through RV sites with patios, Bell said, adding that the campground is also close to completing its dirt pump track for bicycling enthusiasts.
Other Southern California parks making improvements include Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee, which offers 190 acres of green space, seven manmade lakes, 300 campsites, seven lakefront cabins and three floating cabins. The park has been making $8 million in improvements in recent years, including an event center, which is nearing completion. The park will also soon have an onsite seafood restaurant. Tin Fish, a popular San Diego restaurant known for its fish tacos, homemade pico de gallo, creamy clam chowder, among other items, is expected to open a lakefront restaurant at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in June. Tin Fish will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, which breakfast items ranging from granola to eggs benedict.
Meanwhile, Bonelli Bluffs RV Resort & Campground in San Dimas is finishing a new market that will cater to health conscious people with easy pre-packaged meals, a specialty coffee bar and scooped ice cream bar as well as a selection of local wines and beers. “We are in the process of adding Wi-Fi throughout the park, updating all of our signage, upgrading our electrical infrastructure and putting in a large pavilion to accommodate small to large groups,” said Michael Carle, the park’s general manager.
“The pavilion is just about one of the most important features we want done right away as things are lifting with COVID restrictions and we are finding inquires to be quite high from groups and even family reunions. We have received inquiries for almost every week starting in September 2021 all the way through to 2023,” Carle said.
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Camp-California.com is hosted by Auburn, California-based CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance, the trade group that represents campgrounds, RV parks and RV resorts in California. For more information and to obtain a free digital or printed copy of Camp California! The Camper’s Guide to California, please visit www.Camp-California.com.