Campsite managers share love for outdoors, running outdoor experiences

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

Campsite managers shared insight into their experience managing, maintaining and living near campgrounds around Utah.

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

Terri Wahlberg, the main receptionist at the Bear Lake State Park in Garden City, Utah, said she sees thousands of visitors come and stay in the various available campgrounds year-round.

“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.”

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

Wahlberg said each of the four campsites she helps run have different layouts and perks, giving campers a wide variety to choose from.

“All of our campsites are reservable through either Reserve America or Stateparks.utah.gov where you can see all the ones that are available,” Wahlberg said.

Lindsay Whimple from Tennessee said she works as a reservationist at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort answering calls, booking reservations and responding to the questions of people wanting to camp at Zion National Park

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

Whimple said most of the management is done off site or near the campsite, but they do not have someone staying there constantly.

“The campground is part of our resort, so there isn’t really a need to have a campsite host,” Whimple said. “We have a bunch of staff that can help take care of any issues that arise during your stay.”

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

Trial Lake is located by campsites. Campers here have easy access for fishing and boating. (Hannah LeSueur)

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

Ellet said she helps 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 leave whenever they want.

“We have some that come just for overnighters, and we have some that come on the weekend,” Ellet said. “We have had some people stay up to three months here.”

An arial view captures a campsite in Moab, Utah. This is a very popular camping spot, especially for BYU college students. (Hannah LeSueur)

Wahlberg landed her campground management position by starting with something simple in the park, and then working her way up.

Wahlberg said she began working at the beach. “Then when this position opened, I applied for it and got it,” she said.

Wahlberg said that her husband works as the Garden City fire chief, so they are by Bear Lake all the time.

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

Whimple started her campsite management career as a recreation guide at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. She also enjoyed all the outdoor benefits of working at the park.

This is another view of the Trial Lake Campground. Campers can easily pull their cars or RV’s into a parking space for their stay. (Hannah LeSueur)

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

Whimple said when she was a guide, she stayed at the resort and got into 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 when I moved,” Whimple said. “I asked to switch to an off-site reservation role because I already had familiarity with the resort.”

Whimple said she is able to easily and effectively manage the resort even from a distance because of the tools they have set up for online booking.

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

Ellet said she found her job through a connection to the RV park while looking for a safe place to work in the area.

“I just happened to know the owners while it was still under construction,” Ellet said. “I wasn’t really looking for this position, but it kind of just fell into my lap because I was available.”

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

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

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

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

Whimple also said she loves her job because she gets to enjoy the peaceful sunrise and hear the birds in the trees every day.

“The most notable aspect about our campground specifically is how quiet it is,” Whimple said. “Our resort as a whole can house up to 1,000 guests total, but because of how spread out everything is, it is a very peaceful place to camp.”

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