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Casino Campgrounds Make An Ideal Home Base

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Whether they call it gambling, gaming, wagering or tempting fate, RVers no longer have Vegas or Atlantic City as their only options when feeling lucky. Within a three-hour drive of 17 of the country’s 20 largest metropolitan areas, travelers can play a slot machine or an exacta, double down or try to fill an inside straight. Not all states allow gambling, of course, but enough of them do to accommodate RVers willing to hit the road to explore a wide variety of casinos, many of which feature a multitude of attractions unrelated to gambling. Some casinos either offer on-site RV parks or are situated close enough to campgrounds to grant RVers easy access to their favorite games, while allowing them to sleep in the comfort of their rigs. A roundup of casino/campground combinations follows. Good luck!

Pechanga Resort & Casino/Pechanga RV Resort
Temecula, California

If they search hard, RVers may be able to find a more impressive casino, an RV park laden with more amenities and a golf course that flaunts similar undulated beauty, though each component would likely be independent of the others. In the West, however, no better trifecta exists than Pechanga, where these three entities mingle seamlessly on the same swath of upscale desert real estate.

Though Temecula, located off Interstate 15, south of I-10, has established itself as one of the country’s premier wine regions, grape connoisseurs from Los Angeles, San Diego and beyond would be wise to use Pechanga Resort & Casino as a base from which to explore the area’s wineries. Or they could skip the sipping altogether, since no real reason exists to leave this all-inclusive resort until it’s time to head home.

Pechanga Resort & Casino/Pechanga RV Resort

Pechanga Resort & Casino/Pechanga RV Resort

The Pechanga RV Resort is only steps away from the casino and golf course (the RV park skirts the 10th fairway). The resort offers 168 tree-shaded, full-hookup sites (including 25 pull-throughs) and features a pool and two spas, two clubhouses and a full-size barbecue grill. Each site is separated from those on either side by a lush swath of grass, and Wi-Fi is available throughout the park. As wonderful as a stay in Pechanga RV Resort can be, it will be even better when RVers accumulate enough Players Club Rewards points in the casino to earn free nights.

Of course, since the service at Pechanga RV Resort is impeccable, a shuttle runs among the RV park, golf course and casino, granting everyone easy access to all of the property’s attractions. After playing a course so immaculately manicured and free of blemishes that some golfers may wonder whether the grass is uniformly painted green, those who have tested their skills against this demanding, hilly course will likely consider Journey’s End restaurant, located in the clubhouse of the golf course Journey at Pechanga, the perfect 19th hole. So impressive is the view from Journey’s End, in fact, that guests wouldn’t even have to dine in this restaurant to feel sated. Pechanga Resort & Casino has eight other on-site restaurants, serving meals of superior quality and amazing variety.

For those RVers wishing to check out the hotel, 64 suites exist among 517 luxuriously appointed rooms, all of which are just minutes away from Spa Pechanga, where guests can work out the kinks that didn’t quite relax during their health-club workouts.

Pechanga Resort and Casino, (888) 732-4264, www.pechanga.com;

Pechanga RV Resort, (877) 997-8386, www.pechangarv.com.

Terrible’s Lakeside Casino and RV Park
Pahrump, Nevada

Within sight of towering Mt. Charleston, RVers can try their luck on the nearly 7-acre man-made lake, pursuing largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill, or they can try to hook themselves a jackpot in the swanky casino. Located about an hour northwest of Las Vegas and light-years away from the bustle of the Strip, Terrible’s Lakeside is so popular that the park’s 159 full-hookup sites are filled almost exclusively by snowbirds from October through April. First-time visitors to this luxurious park often become regulars, and dozens of rally groups hold annual gatherings at Terrible’s, so RVers intending to visit this park, located four miles west of Highway 160, should make reservations well in advance.

Featuring 30- and 50-amp connections, cable TV and concrete patios, the sites average 55 feet in length, and some of them include picnic tables. Fire rings and barbecues line the lake, and the swimming pool and spa complement the lake’s swim lagoon.

Merely a pitched coin away from the campsites, the Western-themed casino features slot machines and video-poker machines. Terrible’s second Parhump property, Terrible’s Town Casino, delivers even more Old-West atmosphere, in addition to table games and a sports book. Sometimes being terrible can be a good thing.

Terrible’s Lakeside Casino and RV Park, (888) 558-LAKE, www.terribleslakesidecasinorvpark.com.

Circus Circus Casino/KOA Circusland RV Park
Las Vegas, Nevada

Circus Circus Casino/KOA Circusland RV Park

Circus Circus Casino/KOA Circusland RV Park

Ah, to be a kid again – the kind of kid who can gamble and imbibe legally, of course. On the famous Las Vegas Strip, Circus Circus Casino captures much of the showy frivolity that P.T. Barnum did yet surrounds its arcade games and circus acts with games of chance. Adults can flip cards or toss dice while children or grandchildren vie for stuffed animals, and everyone will gasp or smile at the various circus acts that are free for the viewing.

The truest family-friendly option on property is the adjacent Adventuredome, in which roller-coasters and other rides tempt kids of all ages. Even though the rides cost money, if travelers’ luck is running cold in the casino, they can pay for the rides and actually feel as though they’re saving money.

In the shadow of the 3,767-room hotel, KOA Circusland RV Park is the only RV park on the Strip and delivers location-location-location to the RVers who stay in its 399 full-hookup sites. More than 101,000 square feet of gaming area are within an eye-blink of the park’s swimming pool, spa, arcade, convenience store and pet run. As fun as Circus Circus is, though, it’s probably best not to dress like a clown at the blackjack table.

Circus Circus Casino Las Vegas, (702) 734-0410, www.circuscircus.com;

Las Vegas/KOA Circus Circus, (702) 733-9707, www.koa.com.

Silverton Casino Lodge/Oasis Las Vegas RV
Resort Las Vegas, Nevada

Silverton Casino Lodge/Oasis Las Vegas RV

Silverton Casino Lodge/Oasis Las Vegas RV

If RVers enjoy the convenience, dining options and recreational pursuits that a megalopolis such as Las Vegas provides but loathe trying to negotiate the Strip, they can accomplish a win-win by staying at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort, then taking a shuttle to the Silverton Casino. The latter provides the requisite slots, table games, poker room, keno and sports book but also delivers the unexpected: a 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium that has been named the best free attraction in Las Vegas and a 165,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops on-site.

Across I-15 from the Silverton and three miles south of Mandalay Bay, Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort provides a tranquil base in which RVers can relax. A beachfront family pool, waterfalls and an adult pool and spa contribute to the accuracy of the resort’s aquatic name. A natural-grass 18-hole putting course, horseshoe pits and a fitness center provide ample ways to unwind, and a pet park and seven separate pet runs allow four-legged guests to perambulate. Standard, deluxe and premium sites, including pull-throughs, deliver 20, 30 and 50 amps, and all sites offer free cable and telephone access.

Silverton Casino, (866) 722-4608, www.silvertoncasino.com.

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort, (800) 566-4707, www.oasislasvegasrvresort.com.

Casino Queen Hotel Casino RV Park
East St. Louis, Illinois

From a lawn chair in their campsites, RVers can look across the mighty Mississippi River and watch the setting sun bathe the St. Louis Arch in golden light. In the foreground of this gorgeous vista sits the Casino Queen Hotel and Casino, a short shuttle-ride away from the RV sites, some of which are 70 feet long and all of which are carefully maintained. Although the 142-site RV park is closed November through February, the casino is open year round, and Casino Player magazine has consistently rated the Casino Queen’s slots among the country’s loosest. The fact that the Casino Queen also offers $2 blackjack and 25-cent roulette doesn’t tip the odds in the players’ favor, but it certainly eases the pain of a losing streak.

Of course, if RVers decide to stay at the Casino Queen RV Park, they will likely feel victorious on all fronts if they watch one of the casino’s shows, eat at its fine Prime Steakhouse and explore the nearby St. Louis Zoo, the Science Center as well as Laclede’s Landing.

Casino Queen RV Park, (800) 777-0777, www.casinoqueen.com.

Coushatta Casino Resort/Red Shoes RV Park
Kinder, Louisiana

In the southwestern part of the Pelican State, 23 miles north of I-10, sits an establishment that understands quality and delivers it in spades. And hearts and clubs and diamonds. Coushatta Casino Resort features more than 2,800 slot machines, more than 70 table games and a 22-table poker room, where Texas Hold’em can be played legally, unlike in the neighboring Lone Star State. The entertainers who play Coushatta include the biggest of big names, such as Reba McEntire, and the casino features six restaurants under its roof. The adjacent golf course, Koasati Pines at Coushatta, may be a tongue-twister, but it also has received a 4.5-star rating from Golf Digest, and golfing RVers will likely warm to the fairways that wind through wetlands among pines and live oaks.

The adjacent Red Shoes RV Park has enough amenities – a two-acre lake; tennis, basketball, volleyball and shuffleboard courts; a swimming pool; and two bathhouses, for example – to entertain those travelers who do not gamble or play golf. Though only about 300 yards sit between the casino and the RV park, a shuttle makes the trip easier, increasing the time in which to strike it rich.

Coushatta Casino Resort, (800) 584-7263, www.coushattacasinoresort.com.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Aligning a casino with a campground in this history-filled Black Hills town is a simple task, but pairing up specific ones can be baffling, since RVers can mix-and-match according to their gambling preferences and their camping needs. Should RVers stay in the Deadwood KOA Kampground, using the free shuttle down Main Street to Mineral Palace is a great way to get to the more than 350 slot machines? Or maybe it would make more sense to hop the city trolley at Whistler Gulch RV Park & Campground, which features a heated swimming pool and free Wi-Fi, then step off the conveyance at the Midnight Star, owned by Kevin Costner? RVers seeking more of a rustic camping environment, one that will allow them to trout fish in a pond on-site or easily head into the Black Hills on their four wheelers, may prefer to stay at Fish ‘N Fry Campground, then take a shuttle ($12, but riders receive $12 in Deadwood coupons) to Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort, The Silverado or to the Lucky Nugget Gambling Hall, the site of Wild Bill Hickock’s shooting (yes, the history books say Saloon #10, but the story involves more than just aces and eights).

Although not a winter RVing destination, Deadwood is within easy striking distance of all kinds of attractions, from lakes and streams and riding trails to golf courses and Mount Rushmore. So RVers can’t really go wrong with whichever stay-and-play combination they choose.

Deadwood Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, (800) 999-1876, www.deadwood.org.

Turning Stone Resort Casino/The Villages RV Park
Oneida, New York

In Central New York, about a half hour east of Syracuse, such a spectacular complex exists that fans of all-inclusive resorts may decide not to leave, once they’ve experienced Turning Stone. From Bingo Hall to Keno Lounge, Poker Room to roulette tables, Turning Stone serves up ample gaming opportunities with flair to spare. And yet its 2,400 slots (called Multi-Game machines here) may be enough alone to lure players to the property. The property itself needs no gambling accompaniment to appeal to many a traveler. Heavy hitters such as Vince Gill and Travis Tritt play the Showroom, 10 restaurants cater to everyone, two spas keep real-world stresses at bay and the nightclub Lava titillates. Yet the spectacular golf may be even more impressive than the rest of Turning Stone’s attractions. Five first-rate courses earned Turning Stone the Second Best Resort Facility in the Country by Golf World’s Readers Choice Awards.

All of these vacation options exist just a short shuttle ride from The Villages RV Park. This facility features 175 paved, full-hookup sites, all within shouting distance of the two ponds, one for paddleboats, the other for fishing. A recreation area accommodates basketball, volleyball, tennis, horseshoes and bocce, and a heated pool and Jacuzzi may appeal to RVers before or after they walk the nature trail. In other words, RVers who experience Turning Stone by staying in The Villages (open mid-April through late October) will be playing a sure thing.

Turning Stone Resort Casino/The Villages RV Park, (800) 771-7711, www.turningstone.com.

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