Can’t decide between Hipcamp and KOA? Here’s what to know.
We’re always working to make getting outside simple, but we also know that with the number of campgrounds, camping, and RV park options out there, it can sometimes be hard to understand the differences between all of them. Have no fear—we’re here to help you understand the difference between KOA and Hipcamp.
Hipcamp is a website and mobile app (Apple // Android) that helps travelers discover and book one-of-a-kind outdoor stays from tent camping and glamping to RV spots, cabins, and treehouses in the US, Canada, and Australia. Some may refer to Hipcamp as “the Airbnb of camping,” but it’s more than that—it offers the opportunity to stay on unique ranches, farms, beaches, and land preserves via a community of private landowners and stewards. By unlocking access to these otherwise off-the-map places to get outside, Hipcamp offers unique spaces to serve as private overnight oases or basecamps for extended adventures, whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, or with a big group.
While no two Hipcamp locations are exactly alike, what all Hipcamp sites have in common is that they help travelers escape the crowds and create new outdoor experiences. Hipcamp sites are typically outside of cities, and range from tent campsites in upstate New York that provide access to wild mushroom foraging to an authentic Navajo hogan in Arizona, where you can participate in Indigenous cultural experiences.
Since each site is unique, Hipcamp listings detail what sort of lodging is provided (a flat spot for your own tent, a provided canvas tent for glamping, a cabin, an onsite Airstream, etc.), what amenities are available (toilet, wifi, showers, potable water, etc.), how many guests can be accommodated, and other essential information, such as whether or not pets or campfires are allowed, and if the site is wheelchair accessible.
KOA is a chain of campgrounds, cabins, and RV parks across the United States and Canada that can be booked online or by phone. For the most part, KOA sites are traditional campgrounds and campsites, meaning they are family-friendly sites that have bathrooms and playgrounds and can accommodate RVs, campers, and tent camping. Some KOA sites, however, are large, resort-style campgrounds with staff-led activities, pools, cable, and restaurants. On each KOA location’s website, you can see campground amenities, maps, and details about whether pets are allowed.
Because KOA is a franchise, the sites are independently owned and operated by individual entrepreneurs, and the style of campground, amenities, and services can vary dramatically by location. Most KOA sites are geared at families, so you’ll usually find a lot of kids and kid-friendly activities and amenities.
Determining which option is better for you, Hipcamp or KOA, depends on your travel style and goals. If you enjoy more traditional campgrounds and like camping around a lot of other people, then KOA might be the best choice for you and your family. However, if you prefer to camp in more unique surroundings and prefer fewer people (or none at all), Hipcamp is the clear choice.
Also keep in mind that while children and families are welcome at most Hipcamp sites (some cabins or glampsites may have a minimum age requirement for children), Hipcamp does not specifically cater to families. Children are more than often welcome, but you won’t find 10 other families with kids sharing the same area, which may be the case at a KOA campground.
Travelers that use Hipcamp also have a better opportunity to get to know the owner of the site (known as a Hipcamp Host) and engage with the land. Many Hipcamp Hosts offer Extras as additional ways to connect—whether through an onsite horticulture class, time with farm animals, or a fresh-from-the-ocean seafood dinner.
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