Answer: It depends.
This summer we stayed in several KOA Kampgrounds and had a wide range of experiences and amenities. Whether or not you decide to get and keep a KOA membership will depend on the places you end up staying.
KOA Kampgrounds are privately held campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada. There are over 500 of them scattered around North America and they typically cater to larger RVs with dump stations, water, power and cable hookups. They also offer showers, laundry facilities, breakfast and coffee, and other amenities like lounges and playgrounds for children. KOA Kampgrounds also have some beautiful deluxe "kabins." These little wood cabins cater to people who don't have a camper and don't want to sleep in a tent.
We decided to try out a KOA membership for the year and see how they ranked. We purchased a $30 Value Kard to save 10 percent every time we camped at a KOA. You can also earn redeemable points for each stay. Depending on the location, it would still cost us about $40-$75 per night, so the 10 percent didn't really do anything for us. I don't think we will re-purchase the card, but I think we will still stay at a KOA while on the road. This is why:
The five best things KOAs have going are:
1. They are conveniently located
Those little red and yellow signs on the side of the road mean that a KOA is within just a few hundred yards of a highway exit. This is great when you are tired and don't want to drive to a state or National Park for a camp site. Also, many KOA Kampgrounds are within just a few miles of many National Parks and scenic areas. Our St. Mary KOA, while not the best place to camp, was five minutes from the park entrance.
2. They have a great KOA directory
Both the online and print KOA directory is very helpful when looking for a place to stay. I planned my "western state" trip around the availability of KOA Kampgrounds. The paper book came in real handy when cell service was unavailable.
3. Members get priority
From both the KOA App and via phone, you can make a campsite reservation at any location. If you are a member, you get priority if the campground is filling up. This is useful in more popular areas.
4. Showers and laundry
At each KOA we stayed at, the showers and laundry facilities were clean and convenient. The Great Falls KOA in Montana was hands-down one of the most beautiful campgrounds I've ever been in and had amazing showers in an atrium full of plants.
5. Other amenities
It was a blessing to swim in the Green River, Utah KOA swimming pool when the temperatures hovered around 100 degrees. It was also great to have fast WiFi in other parks. These amenities (if they are consistent and useful) will keep me coming back to a KOA.
However, teardroppers might not get as much bang for their buck at a KOA. We do have a choice to stay in a tent spot with no hookups or in a convenient pull-through spot with power and water. However, the price difference is negligible. I stayed in tent sites that were around $35 and a pull-through spot that was $45 per night.
When you stay at a KOA, you are paying for the amenities. So when searching around for a place to stay, check on those and weigh whether or not the extra cost is worth it to you.