Thursday, June 1, 2023


Operating an RV park: The event of the season was a huge success!

By Machelle James
So much has happened in the last two weeks that I had to take notes so I wouldn’t forget to write about it! First off, we had our first “Fire in the Sky” UTV Off-Road Adventure at our RV park! This is an event for guests who like to ride either side-by-sides (SXS) or similar off-road vehicles. We had an almost-sold-out campground. And we had tons of visitors who were finally able to see what our campground looks like.

Riders patiently waiting to start the night ride.

Imagine going on guided trails with a leader and a tail-end rider to keep everyone in line and safe. We had a night ride that was so popular that we had to offer two different riding options. One group had a 20-mile loop and the other was a 30-mile loop in a different direction. AJ led the 30-mile ride and they all had so much fun, riding through the forest with the moon shining bright above them. They came back safely and they all sat around the campfire saying how much fun they had.

AJ leading the night ride for his group.

Day 2 was an ALL-DAY RIDE. Again, two groups of riders that rode 70 miles and one that rode 90 miles. After a wrong turn, one group came back after being gone for 9 hours! All came back safely and they were hungry! The company we partnered with had a BBQ restaurant deliver meals to the campground. They fed 150 people, and it was really good BBQ with pulled pork, coleslaw, and baked beans.

Vendor booth area
Aliens and wooden truck Jenna was gifted!

After dinner, the Saturday night activities began at the RV park. AJ and I have never been involved with an event like this, and WOW was it eye-opening!

Not only were there amazing vendors, but the prizes that were donated were incredible! From wooden Aliens, off-road tires, light bars, lighted whips, shocks, accessories, a wooden carved monster truck and so much more. We were in AWE of the generosity of the donations for this event!

There was an unexpected, very special visitor at the campground!

AJ, Travis Walton and Machelle

We even had an unexpected visitor show up Saturday night! Travis Walton, the gentleman the movie “Fire in the Sky” was written about, stopped by. Since our UTV Fun Run was called “Fire in the Sky,” it was so fitting that he showed up to speak about his Alien encounter. He was so humble and kind that he is invited to come back next year and partake in the rides and be a part of this Alien-themed adventure. Next year, we are having prizes for best Alien-themed decorated site, decorated SXS, and best Alien costume!

I can say that AJ and I were exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. We stayed up late and sat by the campfire with our campers, really getting to know them. It is funny because you never know who you are going to meet. Everyone is dressed the same – in jeans and T-shirts – and they are here for a good time. They come for a vacation – an escape from their everyday lives. We have met the most fascinating people! There is just something special about a campfire, a beer, and getting to know your fellow RVers.

While we said our goodbye’s, cleaned up and prepared for the next wave of arrivals, we both were in AWE at how much fun were having! Yes, it was a lot of work. But it also was a lot of fun. Is it really work when you are enjoying what you do?

The seasons are changing here

As we prepped for our towns’ Annual Fall Festival and Oktoberfest the following weekend, we noticed something. The seasons are changing. It suddenly got dark at 6:30 p.m., and the temperatures are dropping at night and the early mornings. Oh, boy. Here comes the best weather of the year! We split and bundled more wood for the campfires that we know our campers love so much.

As we welcomed the next campers for Oktoberfest, it was PERFECT weather here. A little rain, a little sun, and a whole lotta fun! Our town had four live bands come in to perform over two days at our local park. From Rhythm and Blues, to Country and Rock-n-Roll, we had it all.

We learned a valuable lesson from the people that showed up. Friday night was a bust as everyone was tired from traveling and just wanted to relax. Come Saturday, they all wanted to party all night at the park! It was a huge success and a big moneymaker for our town. Next year, the word from the Chamber of Commerce (I’m on the Board) is that they are going to combine the Lumberjack Games with Oktoberfest. Now, that event will certainly bring in the spectators! Chainsaws, beer and ax throwing. Count me in – because I so want to see this myself!

Winding down our first season, and plans for next year at the RV park

As we wind down our first season, we are seeing the reservations slow down as of last week. This will be a good indicator of how we move forward with events for next year. We have great feedback and ideas in the works. I’ll keep you posted, as we were told the concrete for our check-in and store will be poured in the next two weeks! I hope it’s true, as I hope to have photos for you to see the progress.

Thank you for following our Campground journey and See You in the Trees!

And please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, built, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.



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Diane Mc
1 year ago

Machelle…one word…Wow! My husband and I are so happy for you and AJ. It is so exciting to see the fruition of your dreams. Lots of work, but seems you both are having the time of your lives. Continued success. God bless.

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thank You Diane! I was reviewing old photos from the beginning to the end and teared up! So much work we did, yet I already forgot the pain! Now moved on to learning to be a business owner. What a wonderful, crazy year we’ve had! Thank you for the kind words of support!

Ed D.
1 year ago

Good morning Machelle,
Sounds like you had a great time with the night rides. I have always said that 90% of any job is liking what you do and who you do it for. The “other” 10% is just doing the job. It is obvious that you guys have found your calling and are enjoying it to the fullest. Just the fact that you are having these events the first few months since you opened, shows me that you are doing what you love! I just wish we could have been there this year. Next year, we will make it a point to visit you. Good to read your column again and keep reaching for the stars!

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! Sorry it took so long to respond! We are truly enjoying our end of season as we come to the last 4 weeks. I have good notes for next year and events we want to add to our calendar. The smiles we have seen these last few weeks are just making my heart melt.
We just had the ground dug for the store – so stay posted for those photos. We hope to see you next year, so please come out and visit!!

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