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Three years ago, Heath came to me with the idea to start a campground. Buying or building a campground, we didn’t know. We just wanted to own one of our own.
Supposedly while we were in Australia, we sat down and wrote down all our ideas on a napkin at a restaurant (the way super official entrepreneurs do), but I have no memory of this. Then again, it’s been three years and two pregnancies ago, so what do you expect?
Finally, after three years of online shopping, in-person touring, and endless researching, we announced last month that we’re under contract on a property!
It. is. happening.
BTW you can read this blog post OR listen to Heath & I chat about the property on this week’s podcast episode:
How We Found (And Decided to Buy) This Property
Pre-pandemic, we kicked off 2020 with a plan to tour some of the top-rated RV parks in the country and learn what made them stand out and why campers loved them. Our plan was to visit the best while we shopped for our own property, but plans change and we spent most of the year hopping around western Colorado looking for a campground opportunity.
We toured many parks, falling in love with some, only to find at least one big reason why it wouldn’t work out.
Then in July, Heath was neck-deep in fundraising for Campground Booking and Ellie switched from two naps to one and we decided to take a step back from actively searching for a campground so we could give the right things more attention.
So OF COURSE on August 2nd, a week after Heath secured financing and we weren’t thinking about a campground at all, we get a message from a guy named Scott in Montrose, Colorado with a property he’s selling that would be perfect for a niche campground.
We were off in Leadville camping on forest land at 10,000 feet but set a time to meet and tour the property in September when we would be back in Montrose. Heath drove Ellie to the meeting with him so I could get some work done that morning (entrepreneur moms will take every free second they can get!) but not even an hour later, Heath calls me and asks me to walk from our RV to the property to check it out.
The 3.5-acre plot was formerly a school that closed a few years back and sat abandoned for a while. There was graffiti and all the windows were busted out. It wasn’t exactly the kind of place that you walked in and thought wow, this is awesome!
But it had potential.
Three huge classrooms, the old gym/cafeteria that could easily host 100 people for events, a kitchen, bathrooms…kind of everything we would want in a building on our property.
The acreage boasted big trees with a creek running the property line.
But the numbers didn’t work.
Because of the small size of the property, we were looking at around 24 RV sites based on a civil engineer’s drawings. To make the numbers profitable, we needed to charge too much per night. Plus, one of the main reasons we loved the building and wanted to start our own campground was to facilitate events like our RV Entrepreneur Summit. At 24 sites, there was no way we could host everyone.
So we moved on. Looked at other property to build in the Montrose area (because it’s gorgeous and growing and the views are 😍). And kinda pushed this property to the back burner.
Then 80 acres of ag land went up for sale next door to the property and Scott pounced. This gave us a HUGE opportunity to connect these two parcels of land and expand our campground. He talked about parceling off around 12 acres adjoining the 3.5 acres and including the creek as our property line (because camping when you can hear water running by is ALWAYS better). The opportunity went from meh to super interesting overnight.
At exactly the same time, Heath got an offer to sell Campground Booking.
And I told Heath we were expecting baby #2.
You can only imagine what it was like in the Padgett household as we:
- Tried to decide to sell CB and negotiate the deal and do due diligence and started closing
- Got the news that our campground dream could actually happen and started getting details in writing and started closing
- Spent a lot of time puking (well just me, Heath & Ellie were much less affected by my pregnancy)
February, March, and April were a stressful blur.
With Campground Booking sold, we had more cash on hand allowing us to put the 30% down that’s expected for a deal like this. We signed a contract, close next week, and here. we. go.
Building a Campground
How wide should an RV site be?
How much space between sites?
How far back should the sewer hook-up be?
Should we opt for all 2-way roads or throw in 1-way?
How do you build out a hiking trail?
These are the questions we’ve been bouncing around the past few months and even more so the past few days as we get ready to dive into working with a civil engineer to design our park. It will likely take 3-4 months to get plans and approvals to break ground.
Which means we will have an empty property with sunny mountain views, 15-minutes away from a national park all to ourselves all summer….but more on that in a sec!
Building is by far the most daunting part of the process for me. There are hundreds of little decisions to make.
From crazy things like are we really going to mine our own gravel and then turn the giant hole in the ground into a pond? And if so, where on the property would a pond look prettiest and how can we build our campsites around the water for maximum beauty?
To basic decisions like what color should these cabinets be? What hardware would best complement the aesthetic for the rest of this room that we haven’t furnished yet? WHAT DOORKNOB SHOULD GO ON THESE DOORS?!
It’s a lot. Our summer will be full of making decision after decision. We’re simultaneously excited and overwhelmed! But isn’t that true of all new businesses?
Come Stay at our Park?
Because we will have the property starting next week, we hope to host people this summer—even though it will be primitive boondocking! Well, the RVs have it primitive since it’s just an open field with a few trees. People will have access to our co-working space, kitchen, laundry room, showers, and coffee bar. Oh and most importantly, 1 GB fiber internet.
If you’re passing through western Colorado any time, we’d love to host you! More details once we close next week 🙂
Every July 4th, we end up somewhere random. Last year:
Because we’ve spent so many holiday weekends in parking lots, we would love to host a small gathering of fellow RVers who want a place to hang out for the busiest camping weekend of the summer!
It’ll be boondocking as I said, but if there are people in the area who want to camp, it would be a fun impetus for us to start furnishing our co-working space, getting the internet set up, and seeing how we can utilize our new space.
RV Entrepreneur Summit 2021?!
Our favorite part of any of our businesses is hands down our RVE Summit. We get to spend a whole week chatting with travelers about business ideas and hearing from speakers on how to start and grow a new business.
Last year was supposed to be our last in-person gathering…COVID probs. As promised, we will host another RVE Summit at our own property! We are looking at potentially doing a boondocking-only Summit in September (mostly because we don’t want to wait alllll the way until 2022 to see people!).
But these are just ideas!
Like with everything we’ve ever done, we have no idea if it will really work out until we put it out there and try. So if you’re looking for a place to travel this summer or already have plans out here in Colorado and want to boondock with us, do let us know! Comment on this post or shoot us an email 🙂
Time to Start Building
When we’ve shared our plans for a modern campground experience, we’ve been overwhelmed with support and ideas from people like you. Buying a campground and specifically now building a campground is the scariest risk we’ve taken in business and it means so much to us to see all the messages of support, encouragement, and offers to help make this big dream happen!
So thank you, thank you, thank you.
We close on the property next week and can’t wait to share what this process is like as we move forward! Thank you all for coming along on this journey with us 🙂
PS The mockup at the very top of this page is one of the many ideas we have for creating outdoor community space at our campground! Seeing designs of what could happen is so exciting! 🙂