We Are Addicted To KOA Camping! by Bonnie and Bill Neely

It was with excitement we took our RV out of storage this year and eagerly drove toward the wonderful KOA welcome as we traveled across the USA. Traveling Highway I-40 this time we stopped first at Buffalo, TN, KOA for an overnight at Exit 143. Although it is not named a Journey KOA, Sam, who greeted us told us most people spend one night in this convenient and lovely small KOA nestled in the beautiful forest of Tennessee. It is located halfway between Nashville and Jackson, TN, and is a great place to break the drive across this long state.


We noted that the swimming pool is one of the prettiest we have seen in campgrounds, and it felt so good after 10 hours on the road in July heat! The K9 Kamp was a welcome place to let our little dog run and explore in safety. There is also a volleyball court and horseshoe pits and all the clean amenities you need at a campground, whether you are in your vehicle, a tent or camping cabins. Pizza delivered to your site is available for the asking, but using generators is not allowed.


Next we returned to one of our favorite KOA’s, where we have stayed several times at Bristol/Kingsport, TN.  This is a very large KOA built on a lovely hillside, but all the sites are level. If you arrive before 7 P.M. you can have supper in the pretty Rocky Branch Cafe in the office/store. Or you can have your choices from the menu delivered to your site…a great help for tired travelers who don’t wish to unhook from their tow vehicle.


Whether it is your small pet travel companion or your horses, each has a special place at this campground: the K9 park or the grassy fenced paddock. Family fun activities abound here, almost as if you are at a sort of amusement park. The gigantic jumping pillow is a favorite for all ages, and the large, well-equipped two fenced playgrounds are shady choices for all youngsters. There is a basketball and badminton/volleyball court, blongo, horseshoes, and even pony rides on Saturdays. The Game Room is also fun. This is an excellent KOA for long stays and just a short drive to the Bristol Race Track and the new Country Music Museum. What a fun place to stay!!


For a shorter day of driving, we checked into Virginia’s Natural Bridge KOA just out of Lexington. This is a very large KOA park nestled beneath beautiful Virginia forest of trees with most sites in full shade. Set up and down a hillside, there are so many fun discoveries to make, whether you are camping in your own rig or staying in the variety of cabins or pitching your tent in the well-kept grassy tent sites. You can reserve a site with your own deck, firepit and grill. We arrived for the fun, annual Christmas in July where families have a variety of themed activities for all day on Saturdays, since everyone wishes Christmas came more than once a year.


From this KOA a visit to the historic natural wonder just 10 minutes’ drive away is a must. Natural Bridge was surveyed by George Washington and granted later to Thomas Jefferson and is a gigantic rock formation created by the river and it towers higher than Niagara Falls.  The lovely, level walkway beside the river leads to the Monacan Indian demonstration village and on to the Salt Petre mines used for finding sodium nitrate for gun powder in the early American wars. The wide, accessible trail ends about 20 minutes farther at beautiful Lacey Falls.  In the evenings at dusk there is an impressive Light Show with emphasis on Biblical Creation stories. Ticket prices are nominal and the parking lot will accommodate RV’s. After centuries of various ownerships, this 1500 acre historic forest and natural wonder has been preserved for posterity and becomes a Virginia State Park in October 2016. There is a beautiful hotel and several choices of dining. A shuttle to and from the Natural Bridge trail is free for anyone who does not wish to navigate the 137 steps down to the trail.