When Cali called me up and told me that she was doing some camping I was excited. It had been a while since I was around a campfire. She wasn’t sure where but the first night would be in Flagstaff, AZ. I headed up Interstate 17 to Flagstaff.
I am used to camping in the Northwest and other locations in the Western US at “hunters campsites”or state or national parks with walk in sites where you don’t necessarily see too many other people from your campsite. These hunter sites are sites that are generally just off of logging roads or forest access roads. You just drive out into the woods or along the river until you find a spot off of the side of the road with a bit of a clearing and maybe a fire ring. These are free to stay at and they are a great base camp to explore the woods, do some fishing, or shooting. Noise and neigbors are not generally a problem. Staying up drinking some beers around the campfire and howling at the moon until the sun comes up doesn’t ruin anyone else’s good time. Tons of trees and space for privacy and the ability to spread out.
When I was close to Flagstaff, Cali informed me that she was setting up camp at the KOA Kampground. I have been to a few KOA Kampgrounds before but most of that experince was in an RV. From what I remembered they were not what I thought of when I recalled camping. She informed me that our site had electricity and a pretty decent WiFi signal. Camping with WiFi. This would be different. I must admit that I was a little put off by the idea in my head of camping in the forest near Flagstaff morphed into a commercial campground in Flagstaff. I ended up having a great time and was pleasantly surprised.
We set up our site or parking spot as I refered to it. The highway was visible from the site. There were a few trees for shade but not much privacy. The campground was not full so we were able to get a site away from most of the occupied sites. We got logged onto the WiFi network and made sure we were charging phones and tablets on the electrical outlet at our site. At this point kind of bummed about the fake camping experience. Then I learned that there was a state wide fire ban in Arizona that included campfires in pits and rings. Blasphemhy! Sleeping in Flagstaff with no fire in a parking lot near the freeway? Camping this was not. Cali calmed me with a tasty beer and we went to grab dinner in Flagstaff. Downtown was a quick 5-10 min drive from the KOA. Short drive into town from our campsite? That was the first distinct advantage over what I was used to. I was used to maybe a 30 minute drive back towards town just to get a cell phone signal and a couple hour drive to get back to somewhere with a choice of restaurants. So we checked out some restaurants online and decided to check out (name of first place). We had a beer here. Decent outside patio. The only location of the daily menu is on a chalkboard inside. The menu did not look bad but we decided that we wanted to see what else Flagstaff had to offer so with a search of some reviews we decided to check out (terrible restaurant reviewed at this link). After some not so great food and a few mediocre beers we headed back to our KOA campsite and decided to turn in. Kampsite? In the morning I woke and headed to the showers. I was starting to see some perks to camping in town versus what I was used to. This KOA in Flagstaff had very clean showers and facilities. Could have to do with the “No pooping in showers” policy. (insert pic). On the way back from the shower I noticed a food truck..er trailer with a seating area and headed over to check it out. There they offered hot breakfast for sale. The menu included pancakes, eggs, breakfast sandwiches, and more all made to order. I grabbed Cali and we headed back for some breakfast. The food was decently priced and not bad at all. Plus it was served with some great customer service. After breakfast we decided to check out the nature trail at the campground. Nothing fancy but there were placards with information on the local fauna and flora. A little dated but great for a post breakfast walk nonetheless. To get your heartrate up a bit higher the KOA also offers bike rentals along with other wheeled vehicles. As we packed up to head up to the Grand Canyon, I recollected that this was not a bad way to go at all. WiFi, electricity, clean showers and bathrooms, hot breakfast, bike rentals, and a 5 – 10 minute drive into Flagstaff AZ with a great selection of eats and drinks. I would definitely return to this campground to check out more of Flagstaff, AZ even with a fire ban.