Jo Ann Mickelson

Fuel prices are up, but that’s not stopping camping enthusiasts from hitting the road.

Campground operators across northern Arizona are seeing a significant increase in occupancies this year, which they expect to continue through the summer months, according to a press release. 

“It’s shaping up to be a big year. The phones are ringing off the hook,” exclaimed Jo Ann Mickelson, who owns and operates J & H RV Park in Flagstaff, in addition to serving as executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Arizona ARVC).

Other parks are having a similar experience.

“We’re making reservations right and left, regardless of the fuel prices,” said Frank Pease, who manages the 71-site Meteor Crater RV Park, which is just off Interstate 40 on the road that leads to Meteor Crater.

Pease said heavy tourist traffic is coming in both directions across northern Arizona.

The Grand Canyon Railway in Williams is experiencing an 8% increase in bookings so far this year compared to last year, while overnight stays at its RV park are up 7.6%, according to Hinch Knece, a spokesman for Xanterra Travel Collection.

Kampground of America Inc. (KOA) parks in northern Arizona are also up 4% to 6% over last year’s figures, according to Clint Bell, whose family business, Kampgrounds Enterprises Inc., which owns the Flagstaff KOA as well as two campgrounds in Williams, the Grand Canyon/Williams KOA and the Williams/Circle Pines KOA.

“There’s vacancy here and there, but it’s harder for extended stays,” Bell said.

Many northern Arizona campgrounds not only host travelers bound for the Grand Canyon and other national parks and attractions, but Phoenix and other desert area residents who are looking for a place to go to escape the heat.

Much of Mickelson’s summer business, in fact, is long term stays with Phoenix area RV enthusiasts who escape to her 7,000-foot elevation to escape the hot summer weather.

Sue Radford, who owns the 32-site Arizona High Country Campground in Show Low, said her 6,400-foot elevation park is already booked with long-term RVers through Oct. 1, though she does have the ability to accommodate a small number of overnight travelers, depending on the size of their RV.

The Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds publishes a statewide campground directory, the Arizona RV and Camping Guide. Consumers can order the 2018 guide by emailing a request to [email protected]

The association also provides a digital version of the guide through its travel planning website at www.GoCampingInArizona.com.