In 2021, Pueblo KOA Journey (Colorado) won Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s (KOA) Campground of the Year Award. Over the last 18 years, the campground has been a part of many travelers’ journeys, but what is Pueblo’s story?
In an interview with Modern Campground during the KOA Convention & Expo held in Orlando, Florida, Carolyn Stowe, co-owner of Pueblo KOA Journey, shared the campground’s story, its struggles, and what lies ahead for the family campground.
Located right off Interstate 25 in the southern part of Colorado, Pueblo KOA Journey is a desert compared to the Rockies that most people imagine when thinking about Colorado.
Pueblo KOA Journey is located near Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge, San Isabel National Forest, Bishop Castle, and downtown Pueblo.
According to its website, the family-friendly campground features pull-thru RV sites, a 24/7 laundry room, and free Wi-Fi/cable.
They also have private RV sites that include a fenced area with a gas grill, patio with fire pit, picnic table, and sunshade
According to Stowe, most of their guests are snowbirds going to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, but they also get guests that are on their way to the Rocky Mountains and west.
Pueblo KOA is a destination where people come and go. But according to Stowe, most of the guests visiting the campground are return campers due to their exemplary customer service.
The uniqueness of the campground and its proximity to breathtaking views of the great outdoors and other outdoor adventures makes Pueblo a special place to visit.
“Most people expect grass shade, and we have cacti and tumbleweeds. When they think of camping, a lot of times they’re thinking of all the green grass and the lakes and the trees,” Stowe said.
More than just connecting people
When asked why she thinks people stay at Pueblo, Stowe said it is because the campground is a good base camp for visitors to the area.
“We’re a good base camp for going to see the Royal Gorge area and to see all the sites in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak, Cog Rail Road up Pikes Peak. We get a lot of people that stay with us so that they can only drive 35 miles north to the Springs or 35 miles west to the Royal Gorge area, and Pueblo does a really good job of promoting the town with festivals, and we have a state fair there,” she added.
Over the past 18 years, Pueblo has seen significant growth but not without the struggle it faced in its beginning,
“We struggled a lot at the beginning because we bought [the campground] in 2004, and everything tanked in 2008. So those were many years of struggling for us. And then we just kept plugging along and said, we need to improve the campground something every year. And it just kept improving, improving until we are where we are now. We won the 2021 campground of the year,” Stowe told Modern Campground.
The future of Pueblo KOA Journey
According to KOA data, in 2016, Carolyn, along with her husband Michael, had grown their business to nearly 16,000 camper nights per year, but the Stowes were unstoppable. In 2020, they had pushed their camper night total to over 21,000 nights, and in 2021, amid the pandemic, they were able to reach the 22,000-camper-night threshold by October 1.
For Carolyn and Mike, retirement may be something they look forward to as their son and daughter-in-law take over the property, but the journey lives on.
“Mike and I are looking forward to retirement, and our son and daughter-in-law will be taking over. But in the camping industry, I hope that the trend continues and gets people out camping instead of flying everywhere and seeing the country,” she said.
“There’s so much to see. Stop with us on your way to see everything else. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” she added.
Featured image from Pueblo KOA Journey.