Campsite managers share love for outdoor, working out of doors experiences

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A view of Bear Lake shows campers on a beach. Thousands of people come here every year to enjoy the water and camp. (Hannah LeSueur)

Campground Managers shared insights into their experiences managing, maintaining and living near campgrounds across Utah.

According to Statistica, more than 53 million people went camping in America last year, and the number of outdoor adventurers is growing steadily, both in regular and RV camping.

Terri Wahlberg, the head receptionist at Garden City’s Bear Lake State Park, said she sees thousands of visitors coming and staying at the various campgrounds available throughout the year.

“We have a huge park with 10 different entrances, so we do a lot of different things,” Wahlberg said. “We have four campgrounds on the east side of the beach, and then we have a full marina.”

Pitches are available for campers at Trail Lake. Campers have access to a picnic table, fire pit, and bathrooms during their stay. (Hannah LeSueur)

Wahlberg said each of the four campgrounds she helps operate has different layouts and perks, giving campers plenty to choose from.

“All of our campgrounds are available for reservation through either Reserve America or Stateparks.utah.gov, where you can see all available ones,” Wahlberg said.

Tennessee’s Lindsay Whimpel said she works as a reservations clerk at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, answering calls, booking reservations and answering questions from people interested in camping in Zion National Park.

Campers stay next to the Green River. Permits must be reserved in advance to stay at these campsites. (Hannah LeSueur)

Whiimple said most of the administration is done off-site or near the campground, but they don’t have anyone staying there all the time.

“The campground is part of our resort, so having a campground host isn’t really necessary,” Whimpel said. “We have a number of staff who can attend to any issues that may arise during your stay.”

Beth Ellet, of St. George, Utah, said she helps manage Settlers Point Luxury RV Resort. She said they just had their grand opening at the end of August.

Trial Lake is near campgrounds. Campers have easy access to fishing and boating here. (Hannah LeSueur)

“We’re a luxury RV resort with lots of amenities,” said Ellet. “There is a pool, hot tub, pickleball courts, basketball court, putting green, dog park, dog wash facility, and two laundry facilities.”

Ellet said she’s helping facilitate a similar process of guiding campers to their ideal spot to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. She said that one of the benefits of running an RV park is that campers have the flexibility to stay or go whenever they want.

“We have some who just come for overnight stays and we have some who come on weekends,” Ellet said. “Some people stay here for up to three months.”

An aerial view shows a campground in Moab, Utah. This is a very popular campground, especially for BYU college students. (Hannah LeSueur)

Wahlberg landed her position as campground manager by starting with something simple at the park and then working her way up.

Wahlberg said she started working on the beach. “When that position opened up, I applied for it and got it,” she said.

Wahlberg said her husband works as Garden City’s fire chief, so they’re at Bear Lake all the time.

“We go camping, hiking, biking, the whole nine meters,” Wahlberg said.

Whiimple began her campground manager career as a Recreational Guide at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. She also enjoyed all the outdoor benefits of working in the park.

This is another view of Trial Lake Campground. Campers can easily pull their cars or RVs into a parking lot for their stay. (Hannah LeSueur)

“I loved being able to do off-road activities,” Whimpel said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do and I got paid to do it.”

Whiimple said that when she was a guide, she stayed at the resort and started horseback riding. She worked there for a year, but then moved to Tennessee with her husband.

“I wanted something where I could work from home if I moved,” Whimpel said. “I asked to switch to an outside reservations role because I was already familiar with the resort.”

Whimpel said that because of the tools they have in place for online booking, she is able to manage the resort easily and effectively, even remotely.

This is a view of a campground in Canyonlands National Park. Campers are allowed to backpack and stay overnight next to the Green River. (Hannah LeSueur)

Ellet said she found her job through an RV park connection while looking for secure employment in the area.

“I met the owners by accident while it was still under construction,” Ellet said. “I wasn’t really looking for this position, but it sort of fell into my lap because I was available.”

Ellet said she enjoys working there in St. George because she can spend time with her grandchildren, play pickleball, and enjoy the growing variety of entertainment.

Wahlberg said she loves camping in Utah because it’s so different from one end of the state to the other.

“The most unique thing is that we have such a big difference between the top of Utah and the bottom of what we have for recreation,” Wahlberg said of camping in Utah. “We have Bear Lake with snowmobile trails in Logan Canyon, the park and campground; then you have all the way down to the red rocks in southern Utah.”

The Green River flows through Canyonlands National Park. Campers have access to it during their stay. (Hannah LeSueur)

Whiimple also said she loves her job because she can enjoy the peaceful sunrise every day and hear the birds in the trees.

“In particular, the most notable aspect of our campground is how quiet it is,” said Whimpel. “Our resort as a whole can accommodate up to 1,000 guests in total, but since everything is spacious it’s a very peaceful place to camp.”

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