Camping Junction West RV Park in Colorado

Camp Colorado had the opportunity to speak with Mary Garlan, one of the owners of the Junction West RV Park. She shared with us about what makes this 20 year old RV camp so special, and why campers keep coming back year after year. Listen to our full interview here:

Junction West RV Park Camping

Camp Colorado: I’m talking with Mary Garlan today. She’s one of the owners at Junction West RV Park, in Colorado. How’s it going today, Mary?

Mary Garlan: It’s going great.

CC: So, let’s talk a little bit about how long the park has been there and how it got its start.

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Mary Garlan: We bought the park a little over six years ago, in June 2007, but the park has existed for over 20 years. I don’t know how it got started. I don’t know a lot of the history, but the sites that we have now, I know, when the RVs were smaller, they used to put two rigs in those sites back-to-back, and now we do one rig in the site. So, they’re double-wide, and it used to be out in the country, surrounded by farms. And there’s kind of a funny story that you used to not be able to put people with dogs against one of the fence lines because it bothered the cows on the other side. Now we’re on the edge of Grand Junction, kind of halfway between Downtown Grand Junction and Downtown Fruita. And easy access from the Interstate, which is only half a mile away. So, we’re more of an in-town park, but we do have the scenic views of the Colorado National Monument and the Book Cliffs Mountain Range and the Grand Mesa. So, we’re in this little protected valley.

CC: Yeah, the photos that you have on the website are absolutely gorgeous. It looks great out there.

Mary Garlan: Well, thanks. We do take a lot of pride in being part of the outdoor recreation community here, in Colorado. And people come here, to Junction West, to enjoy our area, and so we’re considered a destination area park and our job is to make sure that the guests have a great time, visiting wineries, going on hikes, going fishing, going hunting, visiting the Colorado National Monument – all of those kinds of activities that get them in the outdoors, and then we provide them a comfortable, safe, and relaxing place to enjoy their evenings after their day of fun.

CC: Now, what are some of the more popular activities at the actual RV Park itself?

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Mary Garlan: Here, at the park itself, we have a splash pad, and so we’ve had families gather around the splash pad and the kids are in it, and sometimes grandma and grandpa edge their chairs closer and closer and find themselves in the spray as well. So that’s very popular. We have a nice big lawn area, and we’ve done a couple of outdoor concerts this year and potlucks with the guests. This year we also had a central fire pit, and we made that kind of a gathering place and we did some singing around the campfire and smores, and just a community campfire experience. And then the last thing is that we do a lot of our guests travel with their pets and dogs in particular, and so we’ve expanded our dog run. And we find that people are gathering at the dog run, so we’re making that another gathering place and going to do some lawn games and things there; and that’s just still in development.

CC: You don’t always hear about potlucks at an RV park. It sounds like you guys really foster a strong sense of community there.

Mary Garlan: We do. We’re fortunate to have a mix of guests that come in year after year for a month or two months at a time, and then our nightly guests. And so, we kind of try to foster for our guests that come back here year after year or folks that are staying for a season; that we foster that sense of a neighborhood that you can feel comfortable to go next door to your neighbor and borrow a cup of sugar, or that kind of thing. But at the same time, maintain that traveler park, because the energy that you get from travelers who’ve just come from somewhere interesting or are on their way to somewhere they’re excited about, or have just had an adventure of the day, going rafting. That energy is fantastic in the park and really keeps it to be a traveler’s park where people have these sense of: “This is a fun place,” and they want to be here.

CC: It sounds like you like what you do there.

Mary Garlan: I do. I came from high tech. I’m an engineer by training, but the hospitality industry and greeting our guest – basically being a concierge and a tour operator, so to speak, or a tour guide – is a fun business to be part of. And hospitality overall is fun, but the outdoor hospitality or the campground industry, I find that 98% of the people you meet are fun and interesting, and that makes my job interesting.

CC: Yeah. So, are most of the rentals there long-term or is it mostly a night here and there, or what’s the mix in the park?

Mary Garlan: I’d say it’s about half and half. We tend have quite a few folks, like I said, that come back year after year and stay for a month or two months or three months, but we also, with being half a mile from the Interstate, get a lot of one-night stays. And one of our marketing goals over the last several years has been to increase the number of advance reservations for multi-night stays, and I have to say that this year is a year we really saw that sharp increase of people who called ahead and said, “We’re coming into Grand Junction for three days and we want to be at Junction West.”

CC: Oh, that’s fantastic. So, what are some of your favorite attractions in the area? What does Mary do if she has a little bit of downtime and is able to get away?

Mary Garlan: I would say one of my favorite things is to go into Downtown, because there’s over 100 outdoor sculptures and they’re climbable or they move, or they tell a story, and they change every year. Not all of them, but some of them change every year, because they’re just on display for one year and then a new exhibit is put there. And they’re just a wide variety of styles. And whether I have, you know, an hour or I only just have an extra fifteen minutes after I go to the bank, I just enjoy taking some of that in, and our Downtown is in really nice walking downtown. There’s tall trees and flowers, and all that stuff, so it’s easy to get to. And then the second thing that I do a lot is when we have guests from out of town especially. I take them up and I grab a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers and some fruit, and we go up on the Colorado National Monument and have a picnic up there, and just look out into the canyons and do some short hikes. And just be part of the canyon experience up in the Colorado National Monument. And I tell people don’t miss that, If you didn’t have it on your list, put it on your list. And so many times people come back: “I would’ve missed it. I am so glad you sent me up there to see that National Monument. It was spectacular,” and it is.

CC: You’re making my desk seem less appealing with this talk about wine and cheese, and going out to this park. Sounds great. All right, well, that’s all I have for you this morning. Thank you so much, Mary, for taking some time out of your day to chat with us here, at 50 Camp Fires.

Mary Garlan: You’re sure welcome. It’s always fun to introduce our area to new people.

CC: All right. Take care.

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