The Salinas / Monterey KOA is conveniently located along California highway 101, near Salinas and Monterey. The campground is about seven miles from the coast and is roughly a 12 minute drive to Salinas or a 20 minute drive to Monterey. The campground works well as a base to explore the attractions in Monterey and the surrounding area.
We stayed for one week at the Salinas / Monterey KOA in mid-May of 2016. Booking early, we had no problem securing a 50 Amp pull-thru site with full hookups. We found the campground staff friendly and helpful.
This is a very basic, older KOA which, sadly, is in need of renovation. The campground generally felt cramped, with sites very close together and with no green-space between them. The main short-term area had the feel of camping in a large black top parking lot.
Encouragingly, the campground is under new management (about a week as of our visit) and renovations are apparently underway. Repairs visible during our visit include: the campground lanes and campsites had been freshly resurface with asphalt; the office and camp store building had been freshly painted and other repairs were in progress on the building; wooden fences were being replaced; and a pet walk had been freshly graded along a fence line. The swimming pool was still closed during our stay and was badly in need of cleaning or, perhaps, other repairs.
One section of the campground provided sites for monthly or seasonal stays. Given the extensive agriculture in the Salinas area, many of the long-term visitors were seasonal workers with older rigs.
We generally find that KOAs are pricey for our tastes, but we are willing to pay for the convenience for short stays or if there are not better alternatives. For seven nights at a 50 Amp pull-thru site, along with our Value Kard Rewards Discount and a $10 for one night promotion, we paid about $45.40 per night.
Amenities On Site or Nearby
The campground provides a small general store with basic groceries, household goods, camping supplies, souvenirs and tourist info for the local area. A gas station is across the street from the campground entrance and a Safeway is across the CA-101. Other supplies and amenities are available nearby in Prunedale or Salinas.
Accessibility – 2/5
Although the campground is conveniently located from highway CA-101, accessibility is not the best. For larger rigs, the campground recommends calling for directions, rather than relying on GPS directions. The reason for this becomes clear when approaching from the south – the entrance to the campground lies immediately around a sharp left curve and is at a sharp angle back to the left, requiring a very tight left turn which could be difficult for very large rigs. The approach from the north requires only a right turn at a more moderate angle.
For the most part, navigating through the campground was reasonably easy, with some care required on tighter turns or when passing other vehicles encroaching on the lane. Some sites could be difficult to pull into for larger rigs, depending on how closely parked other vehicles or rigs are.
Some areas of the campground would be handicapped accessible – others, not. The restrooms and showers in the main building would pose difficulties for handicapped access due to steep stairs, and narrow access alley, door ways and stalls.
Facilities/Amenities – 3/5
The campground offers most of the basic amenities expected from a KOA – full and partial hookups sites (but no tent sites), rental cabins, laundry room, playground, picnic area, restrooms and showers. The camp store featured a nice choice of local wines. The swimming pool was under renovation during our stay. Facilities are clean, but are showing their age and could use repair or renovation. Staff was friendly and helpful.
Site quality – 2/5
Sites are very basic, including only the full or partial hookups, cable TV and a picnic table. A few of the sites also provided a fire pit. Sites are level and surfaced with asphalt or concrete. Sites are generally wide enough to accommodate slide-outs. Most pull-thru sites are of ample depth to accommodate larger rigs. Sites feel very cramped, with little separation between sites, and have little or no shade.
The campground electrical service did not seem completely reliable, as Saturday morning we experienced intermittent low voltage conditions over the course of several hours. The low voltage tripped our Power Management Interface(PMI) which disconnected our rig from shore power. We enabled our inverter to run on solar/battery power and turned off the 50 Amp breaker to prevent the PMI from cycling. At intervals over several hours we checked the 50 Amp service until it finally improved.
Scenic Value – 2/5
The campground is on a hillside and faces green forested hills across the frontage road and CA-101. The campground landscaping is mature, with large eucalyptus, pine and other trees in some areas. However, the wide expanses of black top crowded with RVs and general run down appearance of the park detract from the scenic value.
Location/Isolation – 2/5
This campground is on a hillside facing the busy CA-101 freeway. Despite an intervening frontage road and some trees and shrubs, there is much road noise, both from the freeway and the frontage road. Campsites are very close together, lending no feeling of privacy or isolation.
Paws Friendliness – 2/5
The campground welcomes pets, but has few pet-friendly areas. Most campsites are very close together with little room to tie out a pet and with no surfaces other than asphalt or concrete. The asphalt surfaces of camping areas and roadways may become very hot on sunny days – too hot for sensitive paws. There are some grassy areas, but these are mainly for play and picnic areas and not for pet use.
The campground does not have a fenced-in pet run, but does have a designated pet walk area along one side of the campground. The pet walk is a wide strip of dirt recently graded out of the hillside along the campground boundary facing the frontage road. The area is not well fenced – the existing tattered fence-line needs replacing. The surface is fine powdery texture dirt – the dust clings to everything and will become a muddy mess when wet. The pet walk does, however, have potential. Under the new campground management, simply fencing in the pet walk area and surfacing it with another material would considerably improve the pet friendliness of the campground.
Overall Rating – 2/5
Overall, the Salinas / Monterey KOA would be a convenient place to stop for a night or two, but not much longer. Our week-long stay felt rather too long.
We could receive only weak Verizon signal for our MiFi hot spot internet access at this campground. After deploying our cellular antenna and cradle booster with the MiFi device, we received weak to moderate Verizon signal and had internet access, although the bandwidth was consistently low (1.3-3.5 Mbps). The campground provided free WiFi, but we did not use this during our stay.
The water at this campground tested moderately hard – we added our water softener to the water filtration stack.
A number of attractions are within easy driving distance from the campground:
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Cannery Row
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Seventeen Mile Drive in Carmel-By-The-Sea
- Scenic drive along the Big Sur coastline
- Visit the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz
- Tour local wineries