Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Welcome sight for travelers

By Will Bublitz

A welcome sight for weary travelers arriving in Limon with RVs or housetrailers is the KOA Campground located on the town’s eastern side.

Limon’s KOA campground has been in operation since 1969. Wendy Hemingway and Paul Steiner have owned and operated it for the past 10 years.

“Paul and I love this campground and working for ourselves,” Wendy said. “We really like the independence of owning your own business.”

Managing a large campground like Limon’s KOA Campground takes a lot of work. The local campground has 60 campsites and four cabins on six acres.

“Most of our RV campsites have full hookups of water, sewer and electricity, as well as WiFi and cable TV,” Wendy said. “In addition, we have six tent campsites. Also, our four climate-controlled cabins have only beds inside. The restrooms and showers for our guests are located next to our campground store.”

Wendy and Paul’s KOA Campground is more than just a place for travelers to park their RVs or pitch a tent. It also offers food and recreational opportunities.

“Every morning from Memorial Day to Labor Day I’m cooking breakfast for our guests,” Wendy said. “We have a full kitchen in the campground’s clubhouse where we serve pancakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee. It’s an all-you-can-eat breakfast for an additional fee.”

The campground’s clubhouse also has a pool table, foosball table and video games for guests to enjoy. During the summer months, a 15 x 27-foot outdoor swimming pool is open and available for use by the campground’s guests.

The headquarters of Limon’s KOA campground is its office where check-ins and check-outs take place. Also located in the office is a small store where  some groceries, T-shirts, souvenirs, propane and RV supplies can be purchased. Additionally, the store  has a small Hunt Brothers Pizza parlor where guests can purchase hot pizza to go.

Wendy and Paul explained that summers are always the busiest time of the year. During that time, their KOA Campground is usually filled to capacity every night.

“About 99 percent of our business is overnighters who just stay the night and leave in the morning,” Wendy said. “I’m on the go from 5 a.m. to about 11 p.m. every day. I get really tired out, which is why we hire employees in the summer to help out.”

While hectic, Wendy said the summer is also a great time to meet people at the campground.

“I just love meeting all kinds of people who stop here from all over the U.S. and the world,” she said. “Lots of them coming or going from different national parks like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s fun to talk to them.

Wendy said her favorite part of the summer is in July.

“For two weeks in July, the harvesters come to stay here,” she said. “The parking lot of the old Flying J next to the campground looks like a John Deere dealership with all the combines and tractors parked there. The harvesters are very interesting people. The Zeorian family who were featured in ‘The Great American Wheat Harvest’ film stays here every July.”

While the summers are always very busy, Wendy said the number of travelers staying at the KOA Campground during the rest of the year has been rising.

“The campground business used to be very seasonal, but today more people are retiring earlier and traveling,” she said. “Even younger people are spending more time on the road to do their jobs or go to school. So our business is now more year round.”

In addition to overnight travelers, the KOA Campground also hosts some guests who stay for weeks at a time.”

“It seems like every year there’s some new project going on and the workers stay here,” Wendy said. “There have been workers from road projects, as well as from the wind energy projects and oil drillers.”

Wendy and Paul have been the owners of Limon’s KOA Campground since 2004. They moved here from Black Hawk where they both worked in the casinos for years.

“Paul is originally from Arvada and I grew up in Littleton,” Wendy said. “I was working in Black Hawk as a cocktail waitress when I met Paul who was a blackjack dealer. He can shuffle the cards the fastest I’ve ever seen. It was magical to watch him.”

After getting married, Paul and Wendy continued to work in Black Hawk for several more years.
“We finally decided we wanted our own business,” Wendy said. “Paul really wanted to buy a campground, but the ones in the mountains were too high priced and the seasons were too short. When we found out there was a KOA for sale here, we bought it and moved here.”

Wendy and Paul said the move to Limon was a good decision.

“We love it here,” Wendy said. “We’ve made some really good friends in Limon, and we were really happy to learn at how much this town has to offer. And I was really surprised at just how big Limon’s Fourth of July fireworks display is when I first saw it. I also just love the Car Show and its fireworks display.”

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