At KOA, we pride ourselves on having campgrounds that offer a range of possibilities for people who love the outdoors — as a vacation resort, a place to stay and play, a stopover from A to B and a base camp from which to launch all of your adventures. In fact, with all the musical festivals, fairs, racing events and other big-scale happenings coming up this summer, KOA is perfect.
If you set up camp for a few days and start to explore, you never know what you might run into. From the Essence Festival in New Orleans to the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, from the Red Sky Music Festival in Omaha to the Nerdapalozza in Orlando, from Bonnaroo in Manchester to the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, there are hundreds of events this summer where you can get in the mix. And with KOA as your base camp you’re free to wander and explore in any direction, knowing you’ve got a nice friendly place to stay for the night.
One of our KOA chroniclers, Chris Epting, went wandering recently and here’s what he stumbled across. For a big list of many of the festivals going on this summer, click here. Find your favorite then visit KOA.com to find a campground to act as your home base.
So I was headed out to the desert in Indio, California to cover the famous Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Every year they bring in the biggest names in country music and this year was no different — Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley and dozens of other artists would be featured at the spectacular three-day event which is one part concert, one part camp out and one part barbecue spectacular.
I’d be interviewing many of the artists for a series of articles I was writing and so I wanted to stay close to the concert site. How relieved I was to not just find a nearby KOA in Banning, California, but also smiled when I saw the full name of the place — the Banning Stagecoach KOA. Some nice name harmony in Stagecoach — so without any adieu, I booked a campsite and hit the road.
Conveniently located just off the 10 Freeway not too far from the festival, it sat tucked away like the nice desert hideout that it is. The pool was so pretty and the dog run so nice and wide that I wished I’d brought both a bathing suit and the family dog Marilyn (who fell in love with a KOA in Utah last summer). But there was some work to get done down the road so we checked in, checked out the well-stocked store for some supplies we’d forgotten, then made our way out to Stagecoach — the music festival.
The days out there were wondrous. Sure, the temperatures broke into the low 100s but the music was incredible, as was the crowd — some 60,000 plus. To the sounds of Luke Bryan, Alabama, even Steve Martin who was there with his bluegrass outfit, we filled up on some of the best pork belly, ribs and tri tip we’d ever had.
We met Tim Uschyk who runs E & E Peel’s Italian Ices, made with fresh Meyer lemons and local Valencia Oranges. This generations-old family business saved a lot of parched country music fans while we were out there, including us. And at night, we simply hopped back on the 10 Freeway to our KOA.
For me, there is nothing like a desert dawn, so as I awoke and enjoyed the rose-colored light on the nearby mountains leading up to the artsy town if Idyllwild, I almost didn’t like the thought of leaving — even though we were off to hear some of the best country music on Earth.
As usual, when we use a KOA as a base camp while exploring the area, it quickly started to feel like home. A family of bunnies, complete with a few babies, was poking around our campsite each morning we left — and at night we heard not traffic, but coyotes.
At Banning, I wish we’d had some time to visit in the evenings, as people sometimes do, wandering up to neighboring fires. There was a nice rec room for some ping pong, some horse shoe pits, a tetherball set up — just the sort of old-school attractions that make any and all KOAs so welcoming. Not to mention lots of wide-open space and jaw-dropping views of the San Jacinto Mountains.
This summer, my goal is to find a KOA where we can relax for a day or two and not leave at all. Just enjoy the company, the serenity and peace of mind that comes with finding the perfect place to kick back and do lots of nothing.
See you down the road, at the next KOA,
– Chris Epting
Chris Epting is a long-time lover of the road and great outdoors. He’s also a true believer in KOA, a journalist and an author of 20 travel-related books. He’s traveling the country this summer, as usual, chronicling the wild and wonderful experiences he while staying at KOA.