Gila Bend KOA wins Arizona ARVC Park of the Year award

GILA BEND, Ariz. — Gila Bend KOA has won the Medium Park of the Year Award from the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Arizona ARVC).
The statewide award, issued last week during the association’s annual convention, was the latest industry recognition for the 130-site park and its owner, Scott Swanson, who won KOA’s 2018 Rising Star Award in November.

Arizona ARVC’s Park of the Year Awards are given annually to parks that deliver extraordinary guest experiences as a result of all-around excellence in operations, professionalism, marketing, customer service and industry involvement.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” said Swanson, who also serves as president of Arizona ARVC. Swanson runs the Gila Bend KOA with assistance from his mother, Sandy Catalana, and his dog, Winston, who accompanies Swanson as he makes his rounds through the park.

Swanson partly credits his success in Gila Bend to his continual investments in improvements, the latest of which are a new heated swimming pool; a new 2,500-square foot veranda with a fireplace and seating outside his recreation hall; and a 1,500 square foot restroom/shower building with a dog wash station.

“People love this secluded desert park,” Swanson said, adding that his overnight snowbird business was up 36 percent this winter while his monthly business increased by 19 percent.

But Swanson isn’t resting on his laurels. He plans to focus this summer on “chip sealing” his older black-top roads to help keep the dust down and reduce noise as people drive through the park.

He also plans to make campsite improvements and to replace a portion of the park’s sewer connections and to improve them with 2-foot by 2-foot concrete pads. “Our goal is to have all of our sites with new spigots, sewer, gravel and landscaping before our 2019-2020 season,” he said.

All of this is a dramatic change for the Gila Bend park, which Swanson purchased in 2015 when it was a largely undeveloped campground known as Augie’s Quail Trail RV Park. He subsequently joined the KOA franchise network and proceeded to develop the Gila Bend park using proceeds from the sale of his previous park, Leaf Verde RV Park in Buckeye, which he also co-owned and operated.

Swanson left his previous career as a freelance Hollywood producer for the RV park business in 2010 when his family needed help running Leaf Verde. Swanson ended up falling in love with the RV park business and joined AZ ARVC to network with other park operators and learn as much as he can about emerging consumer camping trends as well as the best practices of campground and RV park operators in Arizona and across the country.

Swanson has been president of Arizona ARVC for the past three years. He is also president of the Gila Bend Chamber of Commerce, a post he has held for the past two years.

For more information on the Gila Bend KOA, please visit its website at The Gila Bend KOA is one of about 100 parks affiliated with the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts, the statewide travel planning website.

SOURCE: Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds press release

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt has been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year. She is the owner of In Good Company Communications and can be reached at

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