By Chuck Woodbury
It’s difficult to find an RV park in Seattle. There are few to begin with, and the good ones are booked much of the year. One park close to downtown Seattle is the KOA in nearby Kent. I visited it twice last month after hearing reports from readers that it was not up to KOA standards. They were correct.
I have stayed in KOAs for 25 years. As a member of the media, I was often given free passes. I bet I’ve stayed at 150 parks altogether. I had always found KOAs to be of predictably good quality. They were clean, safe and usually quiet. They have served many RVers well.
My first stays were back in the mid-1990s. My young daughter knew the KOA logo before Ronald McDonald.
But in all those years, I never saw a KOA as neglected as the present-day Seattle location. If I were the owner of another KOA franchise, and learned of the shabby condition of this park, I would demand it get removed immediately from the system. What a terrible example it sets for most of the other KOAs as a good place to camp with a family. If I were camping with a child I’d stay in a Walmart parking lot before here. And for $65 a night (full, 50-amp hookup)? Are you kidding?!
EXPIRED LICENSE PLATES
In an email I told KOA PR man Mike Gast that on my most recent visit I counted 17 RVs with expired license plates, about 20-25 percent of the park’s occupants. Some had expired two, three — as long as six years ago.
I ask you, would you want to hole up with a bunch of permanent residents with messy sites, whose RVs were not even street legal?
I asked Gast to explain why the park would accept so many RVs with expired licenses. He wouldn’t comment.
How often do you stay at a KOA park? Answer poll below.
He told me the City of Kent wants to condemn some of the park’s land in order to expand and extend the current levy structure along the Green River to enhance flood protections. “The land condemnation,” he wrote, “could involve as many as 40 current sites at the campground. The current legal action precludes the owners from making site improvements, etc. on the park.”
Does that mean the owners can’t fix the broken washing machines or the unsightly bathrooms? Or maybe repair campsites where RVers step out their front doors into mud on rainy days? Maybe they could fix potholes on the neglected park roads.
I told Gast that comments on RVparkReviews.com from 12 years ago noted similar poor conditions to what I recently observed — an old, tired, congested and overpriced park. Why didn’t the owners fix it up way back then?
He responded: “I can tell you that our new VP of Franchise Services is planning a specific visit to the campground in the next few weeks, and is taking along his director of quality assurance.” Is it just a coincidence that my note to KOA that I would be publishing this editorial and the promised inspection came at the same time — after more than a decade of critical customer reviews?
What others say
•Yelp gives the park 2 stars out of 5.
•Trip Advisor gives it 2.5 stars out of 5.
•Allstays.com gives it 2 stars out of 5.
•RVparkReviews.com gives it 2.5 stars out of 5, among the lowest rankings of all parks in the Seattle area.
See for yourself
•Pics of the the KOA along with the run-down bathrooms.
•Reviews on Yelp including photo of the laundry room with four broken machines.
•Reviews of the park on RVparkReviews.com.