Tulsa NE / Will Rogers Downs KOA, Claremore, OK

This KOA Journey is about 33 miles east of downtown Tulsa with tolls or 37 miles without and about 85 miles from Joplin, MO. I took the turnpike (Hwy 44) from Choctaw and the toll for a motorhome towing was $12.25 at one stop and $2.25 at the final stop. Save your receipts so you aren’t paying double. This is the only KOA I’ve ever stayed at that wasn’t family owned. It’s run by an Indian Nations corporation and unfortunately, there are some differences. The grounds were neat and well kept and there were security trucks driving by every couple hours. But I could still tell that those running the show were low paid employees and not those taking pride in a family business. For example, someone had left two bags of garbage at the end of a site near me and they were still sitting there 24 hours later. I mentioned it to the office girl and she was surprised too as they had been mowing that day. They had been picked up by the next time I walked by.

Will Rogers Downs is a racetrack and the KOA is actually on the grounds of the racetrack with a casino nearby. It’s a large park with 300 full hook up sites advertised but about half of those appear to be occupied full time by the casino and racetrack employees. Don’t expect to get a spot in the back row where the trees are because those look like full-timers. There is a road from  Highway 20 that goes through the campground to the casino so expect traffic from 10:00 a.m. on through the night. Unfortunately, many of the people passing through weren’t obeying the speed limit so be aware if you are walking your dog.

As always, this KOA has a Kamp K9. Although it didn’t have any full size trees and was out in the sun most of the day, my dogs still enjoyed visiting 2x a day. It parallels the racetrack and I’m not sure if you are allowed to use the dog park during races but there was a shade cloth on the adjoining fence to keep nosy dogs from bothering horses so maybe you can. There is also a little store with laundry and men’s and women’s showers and restrooms. Across the road, and in the area I was camping, there is a meeting place that can be rented. The most expensive sites are back in sites up against the racetrack which feature full grassy lots. I was across the road in a gravel pull thru site but also had plenty of grassy strips for the dogs. And all the way back are the full time sites before reaching a row of trees.

When I first checked in, I decided to ask if I could move after 1/2 an hour because I was next to one of the gravel roads and was worried about dust. In preparing to move two sites over, I noticed that my 30 amp plug was very hot, much hotter than normal. After moving I checked my plug throughout the day and it stayed cool at the new site. Later that day, I was conversing with two ladies at the dog park and they stated that a man with a brand new travel trailer had totally fried his entire electrical system and had to move to a hotel while awaiting repairs. So be aware that some of the shore posts here might not be wired properly. I’ve since had advice from my son (an electrician) and he highly recommended purchasing a multi-meter and checking always before plugging in, which I have done. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this.

I visited the little casino one night for dinner and have to say, I was not impressed. I decided to get my dinner to go as the restaurant was nothing more than a little cafe with most of the items either pre-made or cooked on a grill. Definitely misrepresented on the website. The casino was small and smelled strongly of cigar smoke so I chose to not even do any exploring. I’m not trying to be Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible but I will say that the staff was not very professional and, although my reuben sandwich wasn’t bad, there were pieces of hamburger meat from the grill stuck on my bread and cheese. Three of the staff, including the cashier and a security person, were standing at the counter gossiping the whole time I was there, while I ordered and while I was waiting for my order. They appeared completely oblivious to myself or the few other customers who were there.

I was here at the KOA Journey during the week so can’t comment on the weekend crowds but, other than cars driving back and forth and the heavy equipment from current track and road repairs being made, it was fairly quiet. Part of that might be because there was a heat warning the week I was here so not too many people going outside for any length of time. The office and laundry don’t open until 10:00 a.m. which I find rather late in the camping world of business. I went over one morning about 9:30 to do my laundry and got surprised by locked doors. The laundry room is clean and modern and only $1.00 per wash or dry which is better than a lot of campgrounds.

When you make reservations, ask to be in Section B, which I think was the nicest. I was in Section E and ended up at spot #14, which wasn’t bad but more gravelly than Section B and farther from the dog park and the laundry. The office confirmed with me that my section was $2 a night less expensive than the other section. Online reservations give you a description of the various types of sites but don’t say where they are on the map.

This KOA Journey is not far from the turnpike, is easy on/off, and has a multitude of pull-thru sites. Although many of the trees are young and still small, there are lots of grassy strips throughout. If you want to explore historic Claremore (home of Will Rogers) or spend some time at the racetrack or the casino, this would definitely be very convenient for travelers.

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