Camping with a group of friends or family can be an inexpensive and fun way to spend time with your loved ones. The KOA campground may be the answer if you’re looking for a place to go camping with your crew.
KOA Campgrounds memberships grant access to thousands of campsites across North America. But is it worth buying a membership? Let’s look at all the benefits that come along with purchasing one.
- 1 What Is a KOA Membership?
- 2 Can You Stay at KOA Without a Membership?
- 3 How Much Does It Cost To Stay at KOA?
- 4 Why Is KOA So Expensive?
- 5 How Much Does a KOA Annual Membership Cost?
- 6 KOA Membership Benefits
- 7 How To Renew Your KOA Membership
- 8 How To Cancel Your KOA Membership
- 9 Is a KOA Membership Worth It?
- 10 FAQs
What Is a KOA Membership?
Although COVID-19 persists worldwide, researchers discovered that individuals camp today more than ever. Vacationers seek privacy, natural space, and the outdoor activity that camping provides.
In the United States, roughly one-quarter of the population likes to hike and camp. A KOA membership offers millions of people access to campgrounds across North America.
The loyalty and benefits program offered by the Kampgrounds of America organization costs $33 per year to join. KOA welcomes campers to its campsites in the United States, even if they are not KOA members.
Those who participate in the program receive a Value Kard. Camp members receive registration savings, reward points, and special discounts from KOA partners.
The program also provides a 10% reduction on the daily rate for each stay.
In 1962, Dave Drum, John Wallace, and two other partners launched KOA in Billings. The company opened its first campground that summer on the banks of the Yellowstone River.
The Billings Campground provided comfortable accommodation for visitors to the World’s Fair.
Campers pitched their tents in a campground with a picnic table and fire ring for $1.75 per night. They offered hot showers, bathrooms, and a small store at the first campsite.
Within a year, the campsite became so popular that Drum, Wallace, and their partners established a network of campgrounds across North America.
The partners launched Kampgrounds of America and began franchising. KOA increased to 600 franchise campsites by 1972.
Oscar L. Tang and his family took over KOA, the world’s largest privately-owned campground network. They made changes to their franchise structure. Instead of charging a hefty upfront fee for franchisees, they moved to a model that employed “sweat equity.”
Tang privatized KOA, removing himself from obligations to stockholders who were more concerned with the expansion than individual site conditions.
Today, Toby O’Rourke acts as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Kampgrounds of America, Inc. He works on programming, services, and marketing for KOA’s 525 franchised locations.
Signage and the KOA Brand
KOA launched its “What’s Behind the Yellow Sign” campaign in 2014. The initiative included a series of national TV commercials intended to reintroduce campers to the brand.
That year, they rolled out branding on three types of parks: Journey, Holiday, and Resort campgrounds. Each catered to different travelers, from an overnight stay to an extended vacation.
The marketing campaign hung on the national brand recognition of the yellow KOA sign.
In June 1961, Billings commercial artist Karlo Fujiwara developed the KOA logo. The logo remains unchanged from Fujiwara’s first design.
The KOA logo graphically represents the letters K-O-A. The K appears as straight lines, the O as a circle, and the A as a triangle. The KOA logo resembles a tent-like structure common to camping.
Can You Stay at KOA Without a Membership?
Campers don’t need a KOA membership to stay at one of their locations. KOA parks are accessible to the public and welcome any camper, regardless of membership status.
They strategically position campgrounds along major roads and travel routes to provide easy access for any camper.
You may choose from three different types of KOA campgrounds to meet your needs. They offer three types of parks: Journey, Holiday, and Resort.
They accept reservations just like any other hotel or RV site. However, joining the program gives unique access to program-only perks, discounts, and savings.
KOA offers over 500+ campgrounds across North America. When staying at a KOA RV park or campground, campers have access to amenities like a playground for the kids, hot showers, cable TV, and wireless internet access.
The membership-based camping club’s sites stretch across the United States and Canada. They offer families a variety of camping experiences in every state. KOA parks provide over 1,200 campsites, including open tent spots, RVs, cabins, and more.
Deluxe cabins feature private bathrooms, electricity, mattresses, and, in some locations, TVs and kitchenettes.
Each cabin includes linens, dishes, and cookware for four people or fewer (additional guests are charged per person). The cabins also have free wifi access within 150 feet of your unit.
Log-style camping cabins provide rustic beauty while also providing power and beds. They sleep between two and six guests. Each camping cabin may include a porch, porch swings, and barbecues.
Tent camping provides an incredible chance to sleep under the stars. Flat tent campgrounds help guests have a better night’s sleep.
“Glamping,” or “glam camping,” provides added convenience and luxury to the everyday camping experience. You may find swimming pools, hot tubs, on-site food, bike rentals, gyms, river tubing, dog parks, and more at these sites.
For those who don’t want to sleep on the ground but want something other than a crowded tent site or standard cabin, KOA has RV sites available nationwide at all locations except Canada.
Fans of RV camping might enjoy the unique experience of a permanently parked Airstream. KOA offers rentals of Airstream travel trailers, which Wally Byam designed in 1929. These vintage, rounded, bullet-like vehicles look iconic with their shiny, polished aluminum finish.
For a next-level camping experience, book teepees, yurts, train cars, and various other lodging options.
Long Term Stays
Long-term camping vacations are available at KOA, and most sites offer seasonal promotions and long-term pricing for prolonged stays. If you want to remain for more than 28 days, you must contact your local KOA and make a reservation.
Some campers stay for many weeks, while others spend the entire winter as snowbirds. All year, modern-day nomads tour the country in their RV. KOA will work with you to find the ideal location for whatever length of stay you choose.
How Much Does It Cost To Stay at KOA?
Your state, the type of camping you intend to do, and the time of year determine the cost of your stay. KOA campgrounds for RVs average $41-$80 per night; camping cabins average $54-$250 per night; and tents average $24-$80 per night.
They determine the price based on the number of nights you stay. Campers receive up to 55% off for long-term stays. Long-term campers should expect to pay between $600 and $700 per month for a KOA campsite.
A $100 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot for one month.
Any day usage or overnight guests will be charged to all seasonal guests ($7.00 per adult, $5.00 per kid). A Seasonal Guest Pass costs $275.00 for the whole season. Additional fees apply for golf carts ($100), pump-outs ($15), refrigerators ($50), and winterization ($75).
Why Is KOA So Expensive?
The privately-owned campsite organization tends toward a higher expense than other non-affiliated sites. Several things, including amenities and events, increase the price.
They provide pools, clean showers, and bathrooms, all of which require employees to maintain. Some sites include cable TV, propane, bike rentals, firewood, fishing, Kamp K9, and Kamping Kitchens.
KOA Campgrounds Family Camping Zone
Families take bicycles and hayrides around the campground to enjoy nature without leaving the campsite. More active families play basketball, volleyball, or tennis.
At night, free movies, bingo, and competitions with prizes keep everyone busy until it’s time for bed—and then it’s time to wake up early again!
As part of its family-friendly vibe and commitment to providing an affordable option for travelers on any budget, all memberships include access to theme weekends at select locations throughout the year. From April through October, they offer themed camping weekends with events such as Christmas in July and Come to the Carnival Weekend.
Signing up for a KOA membership saves you 10% off daily registration. You will also gain reward points that you can use for cash off future stays. And members get a free night of camping during Value Kard Rewards Appreciation Week.
A Good Sam membership gives you access to 10% off 2,000 campgrounds and RV parks for $29 per year. Passport America offers 50% off at 1,450 campgrounds for $44 per year.
Unfortunately, these campgrounds set rules for when they will accept discounts, like on off-season dates.
How Much Does a KOA Annual Membership Cost?
KOA memberships cost $33 a year and last until you renew. There are three different membership levels: Base, Bonus, and VIP.
Base members receive a KOA Rewards account and can purchase or renew that account for $33. Bonus members must accumulate 6,500 points annually to qualify for the next level, VIP.
Once you’ve achieved VIP status, you’ll be able to keep it for free for as long as you want—you just have to keep accumulating 20,000 points every year.
Points don’t roll over from one year to the next; if you don’t reach 20,000 by December 31st of any given year, you’ll lose your VIP status and have to start over again in January with 0 points.
KOA Membership Benefits
A KOA membership provides several perks. One of the most significant advantages is a 10% reduction on the KOA nightly rate and a free night during KOA Rewards Weekend. Here are some of the other membership benefits:
- Loyalty Points: Members who stay regularly earn loyalty points. Use your KOA loyalty points to get a discount on future trips.
- Roadside Assistance: Allstate Motor Club offers RV Road Help, which includes road and towing service, tire replacement, fuel delivery, lockout service, a $30 discount on one year of Allstate Motor Club membership, and more.
- Financing: Financing for a new RV loan or refinancing your current RV loan with up to $400 in free KOA camping.
- Coupon Savings Program: Additional savings are possible through the KOA coupon savings program, which includes thousands of coupons.
- Exclusive Deals: Exclusive deals with Geico, Dish TV, Cabela’s, El Monte RV, Road Bear RV, Cruise America RV, and other firms.
Unfortunately, KOA does not provide a corporate-wide military discount at all locations. However, they provide military specials at many of their sites, which the proprietors of each location determine. They vary by location, so contact your site and ask about discounts available to you.
How To Renew Your KOA Membership
Renew your KOA membership in one of four ways:
- Visit the office at a KOA campground and pay the $33 renewal
- Click Renew Now at the KOA website
- Follow the link in the renewal notice in your email
- Send a check with the KOA renewal notice you received by mail
Locate your KOA membership number one of two ways:
- Visit a KOA campground and ask for a key tag with your KOA number
- Open the KOA App, and your membership number will be available to download as a digital image
How To Cancel Your KOA Membership
A KOA member may discontinue their membership account voluntarily at any time by providing a written cancellation notification to the KOA Home Office. You will lose any accrued point balance in the account upon termination.
KOA only offers refunds from the campsite or home office where you purchased it. Once a purchased or renewed KOA Rewards account uses a discount, there will be no refund or partial reimbursement for the year’s account cost.
Is a KOA Membership Worth It?
A KOA membership might be worth it if you plan to camp more than three times per year. After a few visits, the membership with a 10% discount pays for itself. Since KOA sites are usually more expensive than state parks or RV parks, you will appreciate saving money.
KOA campsites make camping easier. You don’t need to bring laundry detergent because they have it on-site, and you can purchase food from their convenience stores. Do you enjoy biking? They rent them on-site, too.
Keep in mind that KOA campgrounds aren’t suitable for everyone. Most don’t have the secluded tent sites you might find at a state park campground. Since sites have free wifi, you’ll have to make more deliberate efforts to unplug.
Here are some frequently asked questions about KOA membership, campsites, and benefits.
Can you sleep in your car at KOA?
You cannot sleep in your car at a KOA. They don’t allow anyone to sleep in a private vehicle unless it’s an RV.
Is alcohol allowed at KOA?
Yes, alcohol is allowed at KOA. However, pools do not allow glass, and public intoxication is prohibited.
Does KOA allow pets?
Pets are welcome at KOA campsites. However, rules regarding pets may range from one KOA campsite to the next. You should call ahead of time to inquire about a specific campground’s pet regulations.
Pets must have current vaccination records from a qualified veterinarian facility, and a copy of all their official documents must be supplied upon check-in.
What is the best KOA campground?
Winner of the Founder’s Award in 2022, the Lost Island Waterpark KOA Resort is the best KOA campground.
Surrounded by corn, this island oasis offers deluxe cabins, RV, and tent space. Receive discount vouchers for the Lost Island Waterpark and Theme Park, then enjoy Adventure Golf and Go Karts.
Finish your day with a gentle bike ride along the beautiful Cedar Valley Nature Trail, or live it up at the Isle Casino Hotel across the road.
What is the difference between KOA journey and KOA holiday?
KOA Holiday parks are designed to be a destination for RV travelers. These campsites offer numerous facilities for the entire family and are geared for more extended stays than the Journey campgrounds, which provide fewer amenities during overnight breaks.
What time can you check in at KOA campgrounds?
Check-in at KOA campgrounds varies by site, but it is usually between 12-3 pm. KOA Journey locations have after-hours check-in times. Check the KOA website for the actual check-in time for your site.
Can you modify your KOA reservation?
You can modify your KOA reservation through the KOA app dashboard or website. A $10 service charge may be waived when a date adjustment is required.
Is KOA privately owned?
Yes, KOA is privately owned, and each site is an individual franchisee. Becoming privately owned meant the company could be free from stockholder responsibilities. They could focus on franchise site conditions instead of pushing to find new land and develop expansion plans for more franchises.
Do KOA points expire?
If you keep your KOA Rewards account active, your points will continue accumulating and rolling over into the following year. They send renewal notices to your email and direct mail. Renew within 59 days of your expiration date to keep your points.