Campgrounds, RV Parks Adding On-Site Restaurants, Specialty Menus

Visitors finding some locations offering everything from breakfast comfort foods to prime rib and smoked and barbecued salmon

Tuesday, June 16 2009 11:35   Camping
Most people know they can keep their vacation costs to a minimum by staying in campgrounds and cooking their own food. But travelers are also discovering that some campgrounds and RV parks have on-site restaurants where the food is so good it's worth the drive just to eat there.

"The campground industry is clearly evolving when it comes to food service," said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds ( "Some parks offer coffee and donuts or pancakes in the morning, while others offer basic food service items in the afternoons and evenings, such as hamburgers and hot dogs.

"But there are a handful of campgrounds and RV parks that are finding great success with their own on-site restaurants," she added "which offer everything from award winning salmon to comfort foods, like biscuits with gravy and baked chicken."

Several of these unique campgrounds and RV parks are located in the West.

One case in point is Kamp Klamath RV Park and Campground in Klamath, Calif. The 33-acre park already has plenty going for it as a vacation destination, being bordered on three sides by Redwood National Park, plus having one-quarter mile of frontage along the Klamath River.

But Kamp Klamath is also gaining notoriety for the quality of its smoked salmon, which has won seven regional cooking competitions in the past five years, including smoked salmon tasting contests in the annual Yurok Tribe Salmon Festival in Klamath as well as smoked salmon tasting competitions held at the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, Calif. and the Jackson County Fair in Central Point, Ore., some 200 miles to the northwest.

"People vector in from all over the world just to taste our salmon," said Kamp Klamath owner Aaron Funk, who opened a 12-seat restaurant in his park last year after initially gaining fame for his smoked salmon, which he slow smokes in the campground over red alder.

Funk's restaurant, the Big Foot Grill, also has a tasty menu, with everything from homemade blackberry pancakes with blackberry syrup to barbecued salmon and chicken as well as several Tex-Mex dishes. Guests can also barbecue their own meats. The restaurant has become so successful that Funk has tripled its capacity this year to accommodate up to 28 guests.

Funk also offers his guests "all you can eat" salmon and chicken bonfire barbecues on Saturdays throughout the summer. "We've had people from Europe, Asia and Australia contact us to make sure their stay at our park when we're having our live music and bonfire barbecues," Funk said. Visit the Web site at or call (707) 482-0227.

Bill and Carolyn Strong, owners of Sundermeier RV Park and Conference Center in St. Charles, Mo., have developed a similar following.

While travelers often stay at their park because it is located near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Trail, many also camp there so that they can eat at the park's restaurant, the 92-seat Beef Eaters Restaurant.

"We are famous for our prime rib and our steaks and clam chowder," Carolyn Strong said, adding that the restaurant has had the same chef for the past eight years. "We've even had people from the East Coast taste our clam chowder and say, ‘This is better than what we have at home,'" Bill Strong said.

Motor Home magazine named Beef Eaters Restaurant the number one restaurant in RV parks and campgrounds in 2005. Sundermeier RV Park also has the Banquet Center of the Little Hills, which caters wedding receptions, corporate and social events, and has the ability to host visiting bus tours. Visit the Web site at or call (636) 940-0111.

Campland by the Bay in San Diego, Calif. is one of the city's premiere campgrounds. Visitors can play in the sand at its private beach, take a sailboat from its marina, and enjoy many other activities. There are hookups for RVs, and spaces for tent camping.

Campland by the Bay also provides catering services for local residents through its restaurant, the Hungry Wolf Café, which specializes in "awesome Southern barbecue," according to Kimberley McAnally, a park spokeswoman. The San Diego Union-Tribine named Campland the best campground for 2008, and the Hungry Wolf Café placed third for best barbecue in all of San Diego. Visit the Web site at or call (858) 581-4200.

Here's a sampling of other special restaurant and food service offerings by campgrounds and RV parks in the West:

Discovery Ministries in Eminence, Mo.: This Christian-adventure campground, which features RV and tent sites as well as three cabin rentals, offers family style dining. "People rave about our biscuits and gravy mornings, our vegetable cheese chowder or chili noons and our spaghetti nights, not to mention our oven stew, chicken tetrazzini, vinegar coleslaw and chocolate cinnamon cake," said park spokeswoman Colette Freeman. "They really are the best in town." Visit the Web site at or call (573) 226-3213.

High Plains Camping in Oakley, Kan.: This park offers complimentary morning coffee from Kansas's own Blacksmith Coffee Roastery as well as complimentary tea from Kansas's Cloud County Tea Company. Visit the Web site at or call (785) 672-3538.

Palms RV Park in Dickinson, Texas: This park is building an all new on-site sports grill called Backe's Bullpen, which is expected to open in July 2009. "It's going to be Astros-themed, with plenty of signed baseball memorabilia," said park spokeswoman Susan Evans, who added that the restaurant is part owned by Houston Astros pitcher Brandon Backe.

"The restaurant will be 2,800-square feet with a large palapa-covered patio. Guests will be able to walk over and enjoy lunch and dinner daily and breakfast on the weekends," Evans said, adding, "There will be plenty of sports watching opportunities as well as great music. Outdoors, customers will be able to enjoy a game of horseshoes or washers while they wait for their food and enjoy a beverage." Visit the Web site at or call (281) 957-5533.

For additional camping and RV park information, visit, a national website with listings of private campgrounds and RV parks, many of which offer online reservations.


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