Thursday, June 1, 2023


New RV parks coming close to a National Park near you; one opens this summer

It all began with the children. Thomas and Shannon Connelly wanted to help their two children earn Junior Ranger badges by visiting National Parks around the country. It was during their travels that the Connellys discovered many campgrounds in disrepair. They noted the lack of cleanliness and amenities along with unsuitable RV sites and poor customer service. The Connelly’s, owners of a construction company out of Chattanooga, TN, decided to launch a series of new RV parks.

Make it better

Thomas Connelly, a real estate agent, hotel developer, and builder, wants to make the camping experience better—much better! He announced his newly conceived brand, “Roamstead,” on April 18, 2023. (“Roamstead” is a combination of the words roaming and homestead.) Connelly’s intention is to bring better hospitality and customer service to the burgeoning RV and travel industry. In short, make the entire camping experience much better for everyone.

Connelly described his hope like this: “Exploring the outdoors doesn’t have to be dirty, uncomfortable, or outdated. We hope Roamstead will not only enable current adventure seekers to enjoy their experiences more, but we also hope it will usher in more outdoor destination travelers who’ve been previously intimidated by, or unattracted to, the thought of camping.”

Roamstead campground features

Connelly is already hard at work on his first Roamstead campground. He’s purchased a former Jellystone Park campground (Imagination Mountain) near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The nine-acre campground is being upgraded to include approximately 50 RV sites, 18 cabins, nine yurts, and eight tent sites. The lodge pavilion features three rooms for visitors to rent, as well.

But wait, there’s more!

Connelly also wants future visitors to know that the campground will also provide a playground, fire pits, and an activity yard. Roamstead plans to offer movie nights, food, and beverage options (dinner and breakfast items) along with a collection of local and regional beers. Connelly clearly wants to appeal to a wide variety of travelers and believes that this segment of the travel industry will continue to grow.

The first of many Roamsteads?

Long-range plans include the construction and/or acquisition of at least ten additional Roamstead campgrounds, all located near National Parks. We can’t wait!

Get out there!

For the Connelly family, Roamstead is a dream come true. As a family that enjoys the great outdoors, they’re eager for other folks to get out there and explore our great country, too!

Roamstead’s website is up and will begin taking reservations on August 1. Check it out here.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Neal Davis
1 month ago

Thanks, Gail! This is especially intriguing because the developers are from our approximate location. Very curious to see prices. Expect they will be relatively high (>$85/night), but we’ll see.

1 month ago

An article that makes this Developer sound like the “2nd coming,” adding campground availability, when in fact
that is NOT the case. This guy has simply purchased a small existing glampground, is doing a little renovation, and will still be charging outrageous rates.

He is doing nothing for camping. In fact, one could argue he is just a new player in the problem we constantly discuss at RVTravel regarding availability at a reasonable rate.

Not knocking he and his family’s business decision. It was the article and headline that was misleading us into thinking he was doing something that would help.

1 month ago
Reply to  Spike

I kind if read it the same way. I’m happy for the family and the success they have had in Real Estate development including hotels and hospitality. This is mostly an addition to compliment a successful family run business model. Nothing altruistic about it.

1 month ago

Well a bit disappointed because the sites for 45Ft RV is NOT Available. So I have no idea of pricing. I didn’t bother to look for anything shorter. Some mentioned only 9 acres, yep that’s tight. Why would everyone want all those extras- Spa, beers varieties, movies etc. That’s not camping in the wilderness as they claimed to experience. No TY. Nice spin on words for a Glamor RV Resort.

Steve H
1 month ago

We never stay in Jellystones or KOAs, so we certainly aren’t going to stay in a Roamstead “glampground” at prices like that.

Marie Beschen
1 month ago

Hey, at least they are “do’ers” and not just “complainers”! Good for them!

Neal Davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie Beschen

What Marie said. 🙂

1 month ago

Only 9 acres for all those sites, cabins, yurts etc? Sounds too crowded for me.

1 month ago

They even charge extra for pets! Just like the motel/hotel industry

1 month ago

Those prices! Yikes
1 month ago
Reply to  Margaret

Family type amenities and near National Parks – whatcha expect?

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