A Family Affair for 40 Years: J & H RV Park
Like many National ARVC members, Jo Anne and Harvey Mickelson never planned to own an RV park. They were already the successful owners of a window and door company. Harvey’s parents owned the land adjacent to their business, which made it easy for delivery trucks to access their loading dock. But then in 1982, Harvey’s parents decided to sell the land and gave Jo Anne and Harvey the first option to buy it. So in order to preserve their delivery access, the couple purchased the property, which was an old rodeo ground with people camping in trailers on it. They ran the campground as it was for about a year and a half before deciding to start over to build a much better campground.
Since Jo Anne and Harvey weren’t campers themselves, they wisely did some research before creating their new park. They bought a used RV in Phoenix and hit the road, visiting RV parks throughout California and Arizona to learn how other parks operated. They picked up a lot of useful tips, including the value of camping and taking showers at their own campground to better understand what guests were experiencing and to see if any changes should be made.
The Mickelsons began making improvements to their campground that included putting in new utilities and an updated shower facility and they reopened J & H RV Park in 1984 with 87 sites. Some early visitors to the park even noted what a “goldmine” the Mickelsons had there.
Jo Anne says she and Harvey continued to “improve and improve” the park, and eventually converted the original 87 sites into 52 full hook-up sites to accommodate larger rigs. They also joined National ARVC (then called the National Campground Owners Association) and thanks to a letter writing campaign by many of the Mickelsons’ satisfied guests, J & H RV Park won its first National ARVC Small Park of the Year award in 1995. Since then, they’ve won it two more times, in 1998 and 2003. They have also been named the Arizona Small Park of the Year several times, with the latest being in 2022.
Over the years, the Mickelsons also became very involved in the industry. Jo Anne served two terms as president of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (AZARVC) as well as a six-year term on the ARVC Board of Directors. Harvey served as president of AZARVC’s Northern Arizona chapter and also served on the board. Both Jo Anne and Harvey have been presented Arizona’s Jack Denton Memorial Award for service.
The Mickelsons credit their campground’s success to their willingness to “go the extra mile” for their guests. “We call ourselves a community,” Jo Anne says. “We want to treat everyone who comes in here the way we want to be treated.” They’ve even gone as far as accompanying guests to the hospital (and sadly, to the morgue) when necessary. They’ve also cried with people who lost their beloved dogs and have created a memorial garden at their dog-friendly park.
The Mickelsons have found that it’s helpful to have a sense of humor when running a park. Harvey offers to park guests’ rigs if they need some extra assistance, knowing that parking RVs can lead to arguments among couples. They advertise the service with a humorous sign that says, “Marriage Saving Valet RV Parking Available: Inquire Within.”
Jo Anne says their park has a lot of rules, including a strict non-smoking policy, and they enforce these rules to be fair to everyone. Guests appreciate the consistency of knowing what they can expect. The park is seasonal and welcomes guests ages 30 and over.
The campground’s 98 percent occupancy rate serves as proof of its success. “We have a big following,” Jo Anne says. “If you don’t book with us a year in advance, very seldom can you get in.”
Like so many National ARVC member-parks, J & H RV Park is a family business. The Mickelsons have a blended “Brady Bunch-style” family. Six of their children and many grandchildren have helped out at the park over the years. “Our kids are really great,” Jo Anne says. Their daughter Angie Chance, a graduate of the National School of RV Park and Campground Management, is the general manager of the park and the Mickelson’s oldest son Patrick, who is a CPA, helps with the bookkeeping. Recently, their son Matt took a month off from his job as a construction supervisor in Kentucky to rebuild the showers at the campground. When Jo Anne told him, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you doing this,” he said, “All my life, I’ve looked for a way that I could repay you all for that you’ve done for me, and this was it.”
“I’m so proud of my parents,” Angie says. “They work so hard. My Dad is still out every day on the tractor and my Mom is in the office every single day. Between them, they have 80 years of experience. That’s a lot of knowledge. It’s been such a joy to get the training through them for myself that they’ve received from National ARVC. The fact that they’ve been as active as they’ve been in the industry had really pushed their success.”
To celebrate their park’s 40th anniversary, the Mickelsons hosted a party on June 5th. They invited people they’ve worked with, local business owners and, of course, their guests. But that won’t be the end of the Mickelson’s celebrations this year. In November, 21 members of the family are traveling to Scotland where Jo Anne has rented a castle that was built by one of her ancestors, a member of the Chisholm clan who later migrated to the United States and blazed the Chisholm Trail.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this if we didn’t have the RV park,” Angie says. “It allows us to do a lot of things that a lot of people never get the opportunity to do. My parents set such an amazing example for all of us. We’re very blessed as a family to have them work so hard for us. I couldn’t be any more grateful for what they’ve done for our family.”
Congratulations to the entire Mickelson clan for achieving this 40-year milestone and best wishes for many more years of success.